ABOVE: Watch an interview with CJ Hinds, Alex Norman and Swavek Piorkowski of illScarlett.
TORONTO — A decade after its debut, Canadian band illScarlett is back on the scene with a self-titled release — its fifth full-length album and first in five years.
Singer Alex Norman said he and bandmates Swavek Piorkowski, CJ Hinds and Justin Zoltek were busy playing gigs all over the world.
“I guess we got caught up in that,” he explained, “and we finally realized we had to start writing, so we started writing.”
A six-track EP in 2012 kept fans happy until illScarlett was able to get into the studio with David Kahne (The Strokes, New Order) to start crafting the 13 new songs featured on the album.
“You never know what’s going to happen. I think we’re a little bit more confident in our writing now and how we put songs together,” said Norman, “but every studio is different, every experience is different.
“We’re always learning and we’re always making mistakes. We just try to make the right mistakes.”
Though commonly described as a reggae-rock band, illScarlett’s sound borrows from a number of different genres.
Norman said he grew up listening to Motown but was also into punk music. Piorkowski named Queen and Nirvana as inspirations. Hinds cited reggae and metal as personal influences.
Piorskowski said Kahne also had a hand in shaping the songs.
“Some songs that we thought weren’t going to be as heavy turned out to be extremely heavy,” he recalled.
The first single from the new album is “Down For Whatever.”
The band is aware of the power of music videos, which can go viral and bring in new fans from all over the world.
“We do a lot of videos because you can do it so easily nowadays and it’s a lot of fun,” Norman said. “It’s just another expression of the song. A visual expression. Videos are awesome fun.”
Using social media is also key to the success of illScarlett.
“I’m always glued to the phone and sending pictures, posting on 广州蒲友 and all that kind of stuff,” said Piorkowski.
Norman said it’s crucial to keep people interested. “There’s so much out there. For people to be interested in you, you really have to give them a lot. There’s so much amazing things out there that’s so accessible to everybody so you really want to get in their face.”
illScarlett hopes to hit the road in Canada later this year in support of the new album.
“There are so many great places that we played in Canada and we haven’t been there in quite awhile,” said Norman. “So we’re going to get back there.”