Sunparlour Players originated in the mind of Andrew Penner, but over the last few years, after extensive touring, Sunparlour Players can now be called a group. Michael “Rosie” Rosenthal joined up with Penner during the recording of the debut album Hymns For The Happy which was released on the Baudelaire Label in 2007. Now, the band releases Us Little Devils (Outside Music), their third album, and without a doubt their most diverse and strongest effort to date.
Growing up on a tomato farm in southern Ontario, Penner had his first musical experiences singing in the choir of a Mennonite church. These roots had an influence on the subject matter of Hymns For The Happy.
The songs were about finding a home and settling in new places. It also references farms and migrant workers with songs like “If the Creeks Don’t Rise.”
Their sophomore album, Wave North, was recorded at Blue Rodeo’s Woodshed Studio in Toronto, Ontario. The band experimented with homemade microphones, percussion, horns, strings, and a choir.
Teaming up with New York producer Jeremy Backofen (Felice Brothers, Frightened Rabbit), they tore apart their songs and built them back up with a sonic force that hadn’t been discovered yet by the band.
Wave North was on many “best of” lists of that year and word had begun to spread about their live show, helped by shows with Mumford and Sons, Blue Rodeo and Plants and Animals as well as their own rigorous touring schedule of shows in barns, backyards, theatres, and of course, clubs. The cathartic and euphoric live show was where the band won fans, converts and accolades and it’s the live show that they’ve managed to bottle in this album, Us Little Devils.
Us Little Devils sees the band continuing to expand their sound, embracing some electronic and pop influences.
This is the first record that features just the members of the band. For the better part of 2011, Penner has been performing in The Grapes Of Wrath at the prestigious Stratford Festival. During his time at Stratford, Penner took up in a secluded century old schoolhouse where the album began to take shape.
Often Rosenthal would make the venture down the 401 to write and record. “We wanted to capture the energy of the two of us in a room with no distractions”, said Penner. To help achieve this the band brought on Chris Stringer (Timbre Timber, Ohbijou, Rush) to produce and the band shuffled between the old schoolhouse and the Lincoln County Social Club Studio in Toronto.
The band also has a strange and unique partnership in Canadian music, a sponsorship with Bernardin Home Canning to help support their line of homemade mustards and jellies, “Sunparlour Preserves.”
The Sunparlour Players play at The Royal tomorrow night with Cuff the Duke and Ottawa’s Kalle Mattson.