THE NATIONAL

Collective Concerts & Indie88 Present

THE NATIONAL

This Is The Kit

Sat, December 9, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm

Sony Centre For the Performing Arts

Toronto, ON

$64 - $104

Sold Out

This event is all ages

Special offer! A copy of The National’s new album, Sleep Well Beast (available September 8, 2017), is included with every ticket you order for this show. You will receive an email from Official Community with instructions on how to redeem this offer within one week of your ticket purchase.

The National has partnered with PLUS1 so that $1 from every ticket will go to saving lives, revitalising communities, and transforming global health through Partners In Health Canada.  www.pihcanada.org

THE NATIONAL
THE NATIONAL
Four years have passed since the release of Trouble Will Find Me, and to the outside world it might have seemed like the members of the National spent that long interim working on everything but new National songs. But in September 2014, two months before the band headlined the 20,000-seat O2 Arena in London, Aaron passed along the first set of musical sketches to Matt. “We really didn’t take much of a break,” says Matt. “We started working on this record the minute we finished touring the last one. The only break we took was from the constant pressure we put on each other.”

“We didn’t feel like rushing it,” says Aaron, who produced Sleep Well Beast. “People thought the National went away, but we were just working on ideas.” With members now living in five different cities, the band made an extra effort to get together in the same room – sometimes in studios in upstate New York, or out in Los Angeles. “We’ve always worked on demos together,” explains Bryce. “But this time we were actually in the same physical space doing it.”

“When we all lived in Brooklyn we rarely did these kinds of week-long sessions” says Scott. “This time we got together for long stretches, just to mess around and experiment without deadlines or distractions.”

In February 2015, Aaron and Bryce convened for a series of writing sessions in an old church in Hudson, New York. Then, in the spring of 2016, Aaron completed work on his own residential studio, Long Pond,in upstate New York, where most of the album was recorded. “It’s the first time we have had a space of our own where we can keep all our instruments and work on songs any time, day or night,” says Bryce. Aaron adds, “The space was designed specifically for the band to make this album, with an open plan and no control room so that everyone could be wired up and playing all the time. The idea was to loosen the reigns and formality of our past recording process and allow for experimentation from beginning to end.”

Bryan describes it, “Getting drum sounds in a previously untested room was a seriously fun exercise in trial-and-error learning, in a group setting. Time disappeared, the sun set, and then the massive frog population in Aaron’s pond started singing.”

While the studio served as the home base, the band also sought outside collaboration. As part of a weekend residency at Funkhaus in Berlin, Bryce and Aaron invited guests to plug in and play along with instrumental tracks from the National’s work-in-progress. Bryce says, “We spent a week in East Berlin in this beautiful 1950’s communist-era recording studio with tons of musicians from very different backgrounds, just letting them listen and react to the music we’d been cooking for so many months within the band.” “It was a very interesting way to collect new sounds and process existing ones,” says Aaron. Late in the process the band convened an orchestra in Paris to record Bryce’s orchestrations for the songs before returning to Long Pond to mix the album.

There are songs on Sleep Well Beast that are instantly recognizable as the National, but others are much harder to classify. The lyrics are about “trying to come clean about the things you’d rather not,” says Matt. “Some of it’s about marriage, some of it’s about my relationship with Aaron and the band, some of it’s about train tracks and dancing.” Guitar solos appear like never before, yet on some songs guitars account for only a tiny fraction of the music. “It was important that we genuinely explore new territory and risk falling on our faces, or not make a record at all,” explains Aaron. “This album feels complete to me.”
This Is The Kit
This Is The Kit
“I’ve been thinking a lot about truth and storytelling and the way that stories and truth change over time according to who’s telling them or who’s listening to them,” explains Kate Stables, the core around whom This Is The Kit has been built for the past ten years.

Now four albums in, the story of This Is The Kit is itself one of time and change and listeners. It has carried Stables from Winchester to Bristol to Paris, across tours and festivals and the admiration of critics and her peers, among them The National, Sharon van Etten, Chris Thile (of Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers, and now the host of A Prairie Home Companion), as well as Guy Garvey and much of BBC 6Music.

And the story has now led to Moonshine Freeze, This Is The Kit’s Rough Trade debut, and her most sonically accomplished and compelling album to date. For their fourth LP, Stables wanted her band – Rozi Plain, Jamie Whitby-Coles, and Neil Smith – involved from the start. “They’re three of my favourite musicians, and what they do with their separate projects and what they bring to the band is brilliant.”

Stables once again enlisted John Parish (PJ Harvey, M. Ward, Perfume Genius) to produce; they had previously worked together on the band’s 2008 debut. Parish’s known brilliance for capturing a close-mic’ed vocal is felt here: Stables’ uniquely-textured voice is brought to the fore, and – following the tradition of exquisitely strange troubadors like Karen Dalton, Will Oldham, or Robert Wyatt – is simply arresting.

The themes and patterns that emerge in Moonshine Freeze encompass folklore and oracles, memory, language, secrets, superstition, lives out of sync, and “the strange accidental fortune-telling nature of the writing process”: ideas fed by the writing of Ursula Le Guin and Alan Bennett, the African folk stories collected by the ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey, by grey coastal days and the taste of blood and copper coins.

“With a lot of these songs I can picture them all in the same environment,” says Stables, “the same colors and the same lighting. They all happen at night where there’s a small amount of light in a dark place.”

With “Hotter/Colder,” for example, she thinks “about Durdle Door at Lulworth Cove [in Dorset, England], where you swim out under this archway and it’s just insanely deep dark water teeming with seaweed, and it’s very easy to get totally freaked out by what is under the water. Those colors and that light is in throughout the album I think. Shadows in the darkness and not quite knowing what you’re looking at.”

The album’s title track, “Moonshine Freeze” comes from a clapping song taught to Stables and her daughter by a friend. “At the end it goes ‘moonshine, moonshine, moonshine – Freeze!’ and everyone has to stop moving,” she explains. “And it really pierced me somehow. I think there are certain lines and melodies and little rhythms that hook into you and send your brain in spirals.”

Somewhere between them, between the extraordinary closing piano swell of “Solid Grease” or the arresting banjo line of Empty No Teeth, and the buried rhythms of long ago, This Is The Kit create something quite mesmerizing, a sound seemingly unbound by time or place.

Kate Stables has long been an exceptional songwriter, but with Moonshine Freeze has comes the thrilling sensation of an artist truly finding her voice: as if these are the stories she has been waiting to tell, these the dark coves and shadowy glens she’s been longing to lead us through.
Venue Information:
Sony Centre For the Performing Arts
1 Front Street East
Toronto, ON, M5E 1B2
http://www.sonycentre.ca/