Posted in Arts, Top Arts

The Strumbellas bring vibrant indie rock to Commodore

David Ritter talks about the band’s recent success

Ontario based band the Strumbellas is coming back to Vancouver hot off of the international success of their single "Sprits."
Ontario based band the Strumbellas is coming back to Vancouver hot off of the international success of their single "Sprits."
Image Credits: Josh Goleman

When vocalist and keyboardist David Ritter answered my call, the Strumbellas had just left the stage at the Austin City Limits Festival, and the band would soon be heading to an autograph signing. Such is the life of a band whose latest album, Hope, has seen huge success this past year.

They’ve been touring for the better part of the year, both in North America and abroad, and they will soon be coming to Vancouver for two shows at the Commodore Ballroom on October 16 and 17, with the Zolas as openers.

Ritter isn’t complaining about the band’s touring schedule, though. “It’s good to be busy,” he said. While they don’t get home to Ontario as much as they’d like, they are looking forward to returning home to Canada to continue their tour. Ritter said he’s quite familiar with Vancouver: his sister used to live here, and he had some friends who attended SFU.

With the success of Hope’s first single, “Spirits,” the band has been pleasantly surprised. “We certainly had no idea that it was going to take off the way it did,” said Ritter. They were happy to find out people in Belgium and South Africa were connecting with the song.

“You always hope for this, but it’s hard to tell with your own work,” he said. “Sometimes you think it’s amazing, and sometimes you think it’s terrible.”

In an interview with iHeartRadio, lead singer Simon Ward mentioned that his favourite part of “Spirits” is the bridge, and talked about its creation:

“One cool thing about ‘Spirits’ is the bridge. I wrote that right after I was watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and I was trying to write a song in the vein of that end scene when Indiana picks the right cup and when he pours it on his dad. So I went to the computer and was trying to write an inspirational movie theme-esque song, and it was a violin piece, and then eventually we were like, ‘Oh crap, we don’t have a bridge for Spirits.’ I found that and plopped it in there.”

Audiences can expect the band to interact with them a lot during their concerts, and Ritter said their favourite thing to do is to get the crowd to sing along; not just to “Spirits” but, especially in Canada, to some of their earlier songs that fans will also know.

While their Canadian audience has been built up slowly — touring to small venues like the Railway Club, and gaining a following along the way — their recent success has changed things. “Now we roll into a place we’ve never played and there are hundreds of people who know our songs,” he said.

When the band arrives in a new city, the one thing they always try to do is find some good food. “We don’t get a lot of time to enjoy the sights, but we try to sneak away for an hour and have one good meal.” In Austin, he’s hoping they can find some good tacos or BBQ. When they’ve been to Vancouver in the past, they’ve usually eaten at Japanese restaurants suggested by Ritter’s sister.

Not only can fans relate to the band’s music, but also their love of finding good food in a new city.