On the right path

Inspired by scholar Michel de Certeau, Mitten Claps do things their way

A little over a year after releasing its debut self-titled EP, local indie-pop duo Mitten Claps is already following it up with a brand new extended play called Tactics.

The band consists simply of vocalist/guitarist Jonathan Hildebrand, 30, and his kid brother Randall, 24, who plays drums and contributes some backing vocals.

The siblings started playing together about five years ago when Randall moved from his  hometown of Altona, Manitoba and joined his brother who had already been living in Winnipeg for a few years. 

“In the early days it was just quite a bit of practicing,” Jonathan says. “We were sort of expecting to have a bigger band. We were writing some parts we couldn’t do with two people, but eventually we decided to just settle with the two of us.”

While not a lot of time has passed between the release of the band’s EPs, there are still a few things that set the two releases apart.

“The songs on the first EP were quite acoustic-based and we sort of filled them out more this time,” Jonathan says. “The new EP is still a little soft and subdued, but we wanted a bit more of a dirtier sound, something a little more aggressive, though I wouldn’t really call the EP as a whole aggressive.”

“We’ve gotten a lot more comfortable writing and playing together, something I think shows on the new EP as well,” Randall adds. “We’ve been practicing these songs for awhile and we’ve had a lot of time to try and make these songs as interesting and creative as we could.”

The band also got more serious when it went to Home Street Recording Company to work in an actual studio with Jeffrey Patteson (Dust Adam Dust, Eagle Lake Owls) at the helm.

“We mostly just recorded the first EP in our apartments,” Jonathan says. “But last winter we went into Home Street for a weekend and tried to get as much out of those two days as we could. 

“It was a bit of a challenge using a click track, we’re not recording veterans, but in the end everything seemed to come together how we wanted.”

The title, Tactics, is inspired by a French scholar named Michel de Certeau, who wrote a chapter in his book The Practice of Everyday Life called “Walking in the City”, which distinguishes between the two theoretical concepts of strategies and tactics.

“I just liked the idea of finding a path regardless of what people are trying to dictate and that’s basically what his concept of tactics is,” Jonathan says. “I also love cities. I love living in them and walking through them, plus the songs span through some different rural and urban settings.”

Aside from some local shows and a music video, the duo has already started to think about some new material.

“It would be nice to finally do a full-length somewhere down the line,” Jonathan says. “It would also be nice to tour, but I just became a father so I don’t know if we’ll be able to do that this time around.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 10 of The Uniter (November 6, 2013)

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