Combatting the chaos: Canada’s Alvvays head to Clockenflap on first ever Asia tour

Alvvays play Sasquatch music festival in Washington, US, 2015. Pic via wikicommons (David Lee)

The catchy melodies and sweet sounds of Canadian indie pop outfit Alvvays invite some inventive descriptions.

Their music has been variously described as like a “gentle cloud of fuzz” or perfect for a “postadolescent-heartache playlist.”

It’s sparking, it’s dreamy, it’s winsome, it’s beachy. It’s also jangly and sugary.

But, while critics struggle for the perfect adjective, Molly Rankin, the band’s front woman, keeps focused on a more straightforward task: chasing the perfect pop song.

“We’ve always had a balance of loud and sweet,” Rankin said to Coconuts, in a recent phone interview from Toronto, where the group is based.

“I think I would just get bored if I just kept writing the same songs over again or making the same sounds over again.”

“I just really enjoy pop music, I like writing pop songs, so I’m on a continuous hunt for the perfect pop song. I don’t really care where we fall into as far as adjectives go, it’s more making people feel things, making myself feel something by melody.”

Four years after their eponymous 2014 debut album swept them to the tops of US college charts, Rankin (vocals), Alec O’Hanley (guitars), Kerri MacLellan (keyboards), Brian Murphy (bass) and Sheridan Riley (drums) are heading to Asia for the first time.

The five piece will play this year’s Clockenflap at Hong Kong’s Central Harbourfront, between stops in Malaysia and Japan.

The trip, says Rankin, has been a long time coming.

“We had intended on making a trip to Asia on our last record,” she said of 2017’s Antisocialites.

“So this is long overdue for us. We’re all excited about it, the line-up looks great. It’s a long flight, but it’s going to be fun and chaotic and we’ll just have to roll with any chaos.”

The chaos of a “whirlwind” Asia tour is a far cry from the members’ sleepy hometowns on islands off Canada’s east coast.

Even the thought of playing to fans in Asia still feels a bit “surreal,” said Rankin.

“It’s completely humbling, never in my wildest dreams did I think that anyone in China or Japan would ever hear our music,” she said.

After several years of playing venues in the US, UK and Europe, Rankin said she’s learned, somewhat, to deal with getting comfortable on stage, while “combating the chaos” of touring to still find time to write.

“I require alone time to conjure up imagery for songs, and I think that the second record we made is a lot of that,” she said.

“The themes are actually striving to find time on your own and just to be yourself apart from things that don’t matter.”

Clockenflap starts next week and runs Nov. 9, 10 and 11 at Hong Kong’s Central Harbourfront. Acts this year include David Byrne, Interpol, Jarvis Cocker, Cigarettes After Sex, Irvine Welsh, The Vaccines, Erykah Badu, and many more. Three-day passes and tickets for individual days remain available here.

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