|Edmonton singer-songwriter Corb Lund.
It’s always darkest before the Apocalypse.
That’s the lesson Corb Lund has learned lately. But really, it isn’t as bad as it sounds.
“I had a tumultuous couple of years,” the alt-country singer-songwriter confirms from his Edmonton digs. “It’s not like I was going to jump off a cliff or anything. But I was sort of in the doldrums.”
No wonder. In the three years since his album Losin’ Lately Gambler, the hurtin’ Albertan saw that title become a reality. He dealt with the death of a beloved uncle. The end of a 13-year relationship. Serious illnesses in his family. And a year-plus stretch of writer’s block.
But with his usual mischievous wit, the 42-year-old Lund has turned his pain to gain. His seventh studio disc Cabin Fever — out Tuesday Aug. 14 — is a rich twangfest laced with blackly hilarious songs about heartbreak and drinkin’, suicide and murder, guns and gravediggers, goth girls and German motorcycles, and even the end of the world. Much of it is a far cry from typical country fare. That’s because Lund is not your typical big-hatted picker ’n’ grinner. Here’s how Lund plays by his own rules:
He’s all about the party
“I’m not sure how apparent it is listening to it, but making the record felt different from the previous ones. We recorded it much more casually. It was really a loose atmosphere. We started at 2 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. and went late and tried to make a party out of it. We had lots of beer. Not that we were hammered, but we were half-cut. I deliberately tried to make the whole thing fun and just sort of a buddy hang, and get a record out of it as a byproduct. And it worked.”
He likes it rough
“I really like music that’s rough around the edges. I don’t care if there’s a bad note here or there or if a guy’s out of tune. I actually gravitate toward that more than the pretty, perfect, pristine stuff. When you get into the studio yourself, it’s hard to remember that, because you wanna fix everything. But I went out of my way to keep that in mind. So there’s the odd rough edge, or parts we could have played a little bit better. But to the benefit of the overall vibe, we left it all in.”
Who needs love songs?
“I don’t focus on them too much. I write ’em if I feel ’em. But it bugs me that a lot of songwriters, their default setting is relationship s—. I’d rather write about cars or horses or guns; whatever I’m into. I’m an inquisitive person. I get fascinated by topics and dig into them, and it comes out in the songs, whether it’s military history or home renovations or apocalyptic readings. I’m lucky that people give me latitude. Not everyone’s label would be happy with an apocalypse song. But it works for me. I’ve never been a fan of music that doesn’t have some dark texture to it.”
Big Brother is coming
“I always have two or three books on the go. I’m reading all the Orwellian stuff — 1984 and Brave New World and Handmaid’s Tale — and freaking myself out. I don’t want to get into politics, but it seems like the government is becoming more and more invasive, and we have less and less privacy. So I went back and read 1984 for the first time since high school and it’s really eerie. He really nailed it. So yeah, the next album is going to be all about dystopia. Ha!”
He’s a player
“When I was trying to write songs, I spent time in a bunch of different places. I was drifting around. I went to Vegas for a couple of months to play cards and write. I did well at cards. I played in one of the World Series tourneys a couple of years ago. I made a few bucks. But I’m off poker now. It’s lost its mystique. I enjoy the game, but part of the reason I was into it was because there was a subculture. But that’s played out now because it’s on television every day.”
He’s on the cutting edge
“So far, I’ve still got all my hair. My dad and both my grandpas are cueballs, so I’m waiting for the hammer to drop. But I’ve already established the hat, so I’m good either way.”