The following was originally published on Exclaim.ca.
By Jessica Lewis
Winter Gloves’ pleasant melodies and playful attitude make something that works, especially when they’re singing about youth and awkward situations. Their songs have slightly evolved since 2008’s About a Girl, with more keyboards and a bass. They’re moulded into quick pop, and that’s just what frontman Charles F wanted. He took over as producer for this effort, realizing he desired his songs to be to the point, but full of life. For songwriting, he turned to his not-so-happy teen days, but while producing, he grew into the project, knowing what he wanted from his band and how to execute it. All Red was recorded quickly, but the band were given an extension to go over everything again. It’s clean and sparkly, but itches to dance with youthful frustration. “Strange Love” uses a sturdy bass background that moves into a synth chorus, while “Plastic Slides” and “We Need Transportation” have great guitar strength and harmonies. “Use Your Lips” and “Trap the Mouse” get sexy, with darker grooves, but “Gym Class” and “Tooth Fairy” go a little more childlike. The Montreal quartet achieved their goals with this album, so let a little dance out in celebration.
“All Red is about awkward dance floor moments,” can you elaborate on that?
Charles F: When I’m playing music, I write songs about high school. Not that I liked or miss high school; I hated it. But there’s something awkward about it. I’ve got a younger brother; he’s 15 years old. We’ve got almost 14 years between us; it’s really strange. So I can see my life through his, but 14 years later, which is really great. When I see him telling me about high school stuff, I just realize how awkward all this is. I remember stories about high school, but I didn’t really like high school.
If you didn’t like it, are you drawn to the youthful energy while you’re writing?
Maybe; it really happened naturally. I didn’t want to make a high school record; I’m not talking about that every song. Every song is a different topic, but sometimes it’s 100 topics at the same time. Sometimes I just don’t even understand myself.
You don’t know what you’re writing about?
It’s just images I see and stuff that I want to write about; it just ends up being what it is.
Tell me about All Red.
We started to work on the project right after the release of About a Girl. There are a few songs that were written right after About a Girl in 2008. And then the other half was written two weeks before wrapping up the project; it was really strange. Basically, All Red is like, probably still around high school and then dance floor, awkward situations. But as I said, there are a few fresh songs that we did two weeks before that sound really different. Now, when I’m listening back to the album, I really hear the album in two different parts. The first one being the new songs and the other being the songs that have been written for a while. We have our studio now in Montreal. We thought, “let’s produce it ourselves,” so I started producing it and writing songs. The cool thing that happened too was I got to work with each of the guys separately and I really liked that. Instead of getting all the band together and just jamming and trying to find ideas, I wrote every part, but when I wanted to write a drum part, I would be with Patrick [Sayers]. At the same time, it was really intense because I was the producer on it, and I was also the artist, so sometimes you just end up not knowing what you’re doing. You have a big day and you’re like, “okay, that was just a waste of time” and you do the same thing over and over again.
Do you like being a producer?
I really like it. At first, I didn’t want to do it, but I’m so stubborn, so it was just a better idea than having somebody else do it. I mean, next time for Winter Gloves, I would like to have a co-producer, somebody that has more experience and a crazy engineer that drinks a lot of coffee. I would like those people to work with me because the thing is, you just end up doing everything, which is kind of crazy: record the vocal tracks in the afternoon, at night you listen to the whole thing and then in the early morning, editing. I got a lot of help from Vincent [Chalifour] because he’s an engineer, so it made it a little easier.
Did you produce the first one?
The first one we did with John Drew. We recorded About a Girl in one week in Toronto, ON, so we didn’t really have the time to get exactly where we were going. We went back to Montreal, produced the other half of the record, recorded the tracks and mixed it ourselves. It was a good experience to work with a producer, but we didn’t have time to make something happen.
That made you want to do it yourself this time?
Yeah, exactly: have more time; working ourselves; it cost us money to have space to do it; go everyday. You don’t feel like you’re renting a studio with a crazy producer, which I would like to do one day, but now for the money we have, it made more sense to do it myself.
Are you kind of a perfectionist?
Yes and no, it depends. Some stuff I really wanted the way I wanted and sometimes the way I wanted is not perfect.
Did you guys have any big disputes while recording?
Not much. I’m a big fighter. In the studio, I used to try to be the good guy and I’m not doing that anymore, so everybody’s afraid of me, so that’s good.
You’re really drawn into making dance-y music. What are some of your influences?
I started very young with Michael Jackson, but now I’m more listening to a new band I really like called Class Actress; I think they’re from Brooklyn, NY. And I’m a big fan of LCD Soundsystem and Damon Albarn of the Gorillaz.
But you came from different music.
Yeah, that’s true. I started out as a drummer in a jazz band. So I wasn’t really into jazz music, but I was really enjoying playing it for a while. I was just too lazy to listen to long piano solos and drum solos, and I was a little bored with all that. Even if it was really good music, I just wanted to write music to the point: short, a few verses, a chorus and then another song. I didn’t want to write long songs with bridges.
So you came from music you decided you weren’t interested in anymore. Do you think that will happen again?
I don’t think so; it doesn’t feel the same way. Jazz music was just playing standards, playing old songs that have been played for many, many years. The music was a tool for us musicians to express ourselves as a drummer or a piano player or upright bass player and we were just playing the songs, but the goal in my band would be to perform. Now it’s a little different. My first goal is to write songs that I like that I hope people will enjoy and dance on it, and I want to play those songs live. They’re more personal than the other stuff I was doing. (Paper Bag)