Navigating the Canadian musical landscape as an independent artist travelling coast to coast can take its toll, and Hamilton’s The Reason are no exception. There have been many highs, but in between all of the measurable achievements and success, there are the lows, wastelands and pitstops, which leave even the most road-experienced and hardened feeling “hollow”, a feeling resonated throughout the band’s latest offering Hollow Tree.
The newly released six song EP produced by Howard Redekopp (Mother Mother, Tegan & Sara, The New Pornographers) at Vancouver’s Greenhouse Recording Studios chronicles the relatable story of coming to terms with, and taking stock of where one is in one’s life. “The title really is an analogy for the band in many ways,” says lead vocalist/guitarist Adam White. With any true story, people come and go, but The Reason’s main members, Ronson (bass), Nelan (guitar/keyboard/vocals) and Adam White (vocals/guitar) remain at the core of the band, having developed a lifelong kinship and a penchant for making music together.
Throughout the EP the band once again showcases their ability to craft memorable songs with hooky guitar lines, and have also incorporated strings, horns and piano. The lyrics run a gamut of emotions and speak to self-examination, self-doubt, frustration and introspection. For instance, lead track “Drive Me Home” is a straight-ahead poppy gem inspired by Ryan Braun, a player on the Milwaukee Brewers who was wrongfully accused and suspended for using performance enhancing drugs. “I tried to put myself in his shoes as to what he was going through during that time,” explains White. “The lyrics metaphorically relate to anyone who has been wrongfully accused of something, though they did nothing wrong. His reputation was sadly tarnished as a result.”
“Those Days Are Dead” is a musical shout-out to the band’s early, edgier sound. The track is about coming to terms with the state of the music industry and navigating through it. Another highlight, “Don’t Fail Me” is probably the anthem of the EP, with lyrics about giving something one last make it or break it shot, whether it be a situation or a relationship. The song features some great guitar playing from Ryan Guldemond of Mother Mother and JUNO winning Jesse Zubot manipulating his violin through many effects pedals.
Throughout their career and various incantations, The Reason has achieved nationwide radio success, received several award nominations and critical acclaim. The band’s last album, 2010s Fools, amassed an impressive amount of accolades in the months following its release. The band toured with Arkells and Hollerado and the single “The Longest Highway Home” hit the top five on the Billboard Canadian rock charts. The album was also awarded both the Rock Album of the Year and People’s Choice Album of the Year at the 2010 Hamilton Music Awards. In the decade that The Reason has been a band, they have managed to build a longstanding and loyal fanbase, who have supported them through five studio releases. Remaining as passionate and motivated as ever, the band hopes that the release of Hollow Tree, leaves the listener feeling anything but.