The Fugitives: Tricking their brains to write happy songs

Besides protesting Russia’s anti-gay policy in a music video, Vancouver band The Fugitives thought they’d tackle another songwriting challenge.

Besides protesting Russia’s anti-gay policy in a music video, Vancouver band The Fugitives thought they’d tackle another songwriting challenge.

Bigger than Luck “was our at- tempt to write a happy song,” said co-founder Brendan McLeod, who performs with other group members on Sunday, March 2, at Bo’s Bar and Grill in Red Deer.

“All we were thinking of is dark things, so we tried to trick our brains into thinking about happy things,” he recalled. What resulted was an upbeat folk song about gratitude.

“We’re always trying to re- mind ourselves to be grateful for being alive, and then next thing you know we’re giving the finger to a red light. So Bigger Than Luck is an attempt to trick ourselves out of ingratitude,” McLeod added in a statement for the 2013 single from the same-titled, bluegrass-flavoured EP.

For the record, McLeod guesstimates The Fugitives’ happy-to-sad song ratio is actually about 50-50 — so it’s good to know that all is not darkness with the musical collective that’s been compared to Toronto’s Broken Social Scene for its influx and out-flux of various musicians.

And somewhere on the sad- happy song continuum is New Year’s in Sochi, the last The Fugitives’ tune to make ripples.

It was released pre-Olympics to chronicle the plight of gay demon- strator Dmitry Isakov, one of the first people targeted under Russia’s new anti-gay propaganda laws for carrying a sign advocating equal rights for gay citizens in a city square.

The Fugitives wrote the song and made the music video in praise of Isakov’s courage (after being arrested, beaten and fired from his job, he went back to the same spot with the same sign), and also to raise aware- ness of what people in 78 countries with anti-homosexuality laws have to go through.

New Year’s in Sochi ends on an uplifting note, said McLeod, “because we like to believe change is coming, and hopefully very quickly.”

What doesn’t happen quickly — for The Fugitives at least — is the re- lease of new full-length albums.

The collective put out an 11-song CD, Ev- erything Will Happen, last fall. But it had been three years since the group’s previous release.

McLeod said there are good reasons for this — he and musical part-

ner Adrian Glynn have been involved with various side projects, including a solo album, novel and play.

Glynn released a critically acclaimed solo album, On Bruise, that got him an emerging artist nomination in the 2012 Canadian Independent Music Awards. He performed tunes from it across the country. And the balalaika player and actor also starred in a new theatrical work, Chelsea Hotel: Featuring Songs and Poems of Leon- ard Cohen, which won rave reviews.

McLeod is a guitarist, spoken-word poet and past Canadian SLAM poetry champion. His debut novel, The Convictions of Leonard McKinley, won the 29th annual International 3-Day Novel Contest in 2007, and McLeod is in the middle of writing another book.

He and Glynn have collaborated in The Fugitives for the past three years.

What makes the part- nership work so well “is that Adrian is the most patient person in the world and I am not. It’s a good mix of personalities,” said McLeod.

The two musicians look forward to their first-ever Red Deer concert, which will also involve a banjo and vio- lin player. “It’s exciting to play in new places because you don’t know what to expect,” said McLeod.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. concert at 2310 50th Ave. are $10 from Bo’s or 53rd Street Music. For more information, call 403-309-2200.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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