"I've always loved winter, but this one sucks," says Matt Ellis, bassist of Cape Breton pop band Mardeen. The long-time four-piece is hitting icy roads to tour new EP, Silver Fan, a three-song atmospheric adventure that was recorded in Halifax after a creepy cabin experience in Quebec. "We rented a place north of Montreal to write songs," Ellis says. "It was called a chalet, but we got there and it was a decrepit shack with a couple beds and it was super scary. I'll start to sound like an insane person but I know there was presence there, and I called it Silver Fang. Like, we saw someone outside the door and then the beds collapsed at the same time. It's hard to explain but we were even showering with the door open because it was awful to be alone in there."
So they wrote an EP about it, and the eerie vibe shapes Mardeen's first release since 2012. Best friends since childhood, Ellis says there's ultimate trust between Mardeen's songwriters: "An idea just comes into your head. Usually me or Jon [Pearo] bring a melody, then we all get our paws on it, then we re-shape it seven times," he explains. "But we never regret the end result."
While Mardeen find they appeal to niche audiences, their songs are instant pop-rock classics. Last year, Mo Kenney and Joel Plaskett covered Mardeen's hit "Telephones" on Kenney's In My Dreams. "It was unreal," describes Ellis. "Mo is such a respected songwriter and it was really nice for that page in our catalogue to be bookmarked. And she knocked it out of the park; she and Plaskett just killed it. As cliche as it sounds, it was nothing less than truly an honour."
Friday, February 20 at 8pm
The Seahorse Tavern, 2037 Gottingen Street