The Actual Goners have arrived with their self-titled EP and latest single Cannonball — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
“It’s an attempt to verbalize the feelings of restlessness I’ve experienced throughout my life,” says co-frontman Duncan Symonds of Cannonball, the Canadian roots-rockers’ latest single. “It’s about moving from one place to place, leaving behind people and relationships, all while trying to maintain a sense of purpose and routine in the shuffle. Five years ago, I was living in Louisiana and travelled between New Orleans and Baton Rouge regularly on a Greyhound bus. On one hand, it was the least exciting part of my time there but, on the other hand, it represented so much of the ‘coming and going’ and urgency I’d felt. I’d listened to the music of New Orleans and Louisiana for some time and, ultimately, that’s what had called me.”
There are a few nods to those inspirations in Cannonball, Symonds explains — the main riff reminiscent of Cajun slide guitarist Sonny Landreth, and a drum groove summoning sentiments of legendary funk drummer and founding member of The Meters, Joseph Ziggy / Zigaboo Modeliste. It’s only right: Along with inspiring and inhabiting the vibe of their EP, New Orleans and its French Quarter play a definitive role in the band’s origin story. “I was visiting Duncan while he attended university in Louisiana,” co-frontman Tristan Armstrong recalls. “At the end of a momentous night, I suggested we get matching tattoos to commemorate the evening.” Symonds clarifies: “Bumblebee tattoos. He suggested we get matching bumblebee tattoos.”
Having a slightly clearer head in that moment, Symonds made a more practical counter-offer: When he finished his degree, he would move to the same city as Armstrong to start a band. That’s how B.C. natives Armstrong and Symonds ended up in Toronto and forming The Actual Goners with fellow west coasters Phill Albert and Ryan Farley, along with Albertan Carlos Aguilera.
The Actual Goners EP and Cannonball land on the heels of breakthrough and critically acclaimed preview single Diamond Dust, a song that “celebrates the joy of shared experiences,” Armstrong says, setting the scene. “It’s about those moments when you’ve felt like you’re truly on the same plane as those around you.
“The imagery in the song is an amalgamation of two different evenings spent wandering around on adventures with friends, far from the city, under the stars… While inebriated. The first is a story that was relayed to me by a friend during a long car ride to his family’s cottage in rural Quebec. He had spent the prior evening taking hallucinogens in a field on a farm and talked in great length about the amazing sense of connection that resulted from his experience. The second is about my own experience trekking around with friends one night in Ucluelet, British Columbia. The five of us had walked from our cabin out to Amphitrite Point, where there is a historic lighthouse. It was a particularly dark night but, once we had made it through the woods to the edge of the Pacific Ocean, the lighthouse beam was at full power, circling around us and creating an amazing spotlight on the trees from where we had emerged.”
Keenly tuned ears will hear a sound modelled after modern heavyweights such as Jason Isbell and Wilco, alongside an astute homage to the likes of Neil Young, The Band, John Hiatt and Tom Petty. The band’s time immersed in the music cultures of New Orleans and Nashville tints their well-blended and expansive sound.