One of the perks of being a teacher is you get summer off. You can enjoy the sunshine, and get away from the students you love/hate for ten months of the year.
If you’re Shane Larmand, art and music teacher at F.G. Miller High School/Junior High in Elk Point, and resident of St. Paul, you’re spending your summer releasing your debut album and touring the province.
Last year, Larmand entered his three song EP, Steamroller Dreams, in Sunrise Records Local Artist contest. He won runner-up thanks to the large volume of votes from the community.
“I was actually down at a Sunrise Records store and they were like, ‘If you want to consign your EP, why don’t you submit it for this contest?’ And I’m like, that’s a great idea,” said Larmand.
As he was gaining traction, work began on a full-length album recorded and produced in Bonnyville at 302 Productions.
On this ten song record, titled You Are My Home, Larmand reaches deep into the catalogue of songs he’s written over the years. Some are up to 25 years old, and many have changed over time.
“Sometimes they’re brand new and old at the same time. You might have a song that’s kicking around, and you change your viewpoints, you change your perspective on life, and all the sudden this new chorus pops out and it was the key. It was what this song needed.”
“There some songs that I know that are done, and others that I wrestle with.”
The title track, You Are My Home, is the one that’s changed the most over the years. What used to be a slow finger-picking song, is now more upbeat and rockier, despite its emotional lyrical content.
“It addresses some tough lyrical themes. A really tough time our wife and I went through in regards to her health. So it’s interesting how it’s got this upbeat sort of energy, but yet the lyrics get a little bit tougher.”
The first song, Steamroller Dreams, might remind the listener of Neil Young with a pronounced country flavour. The closer, Rocky Mountain Train, picks up in the middle of the song, allowing the electric guitars more room to rock.
How Larmand describes his songs and sound is “shadowy blue songs of prairie anxiety and mountain love.”
Larmand’s tour is a combination of playing at Sunrise Records locations and bars “that were willing to take a chance on a guy they’ve never heard of before.” Five hundred copies of the album will be available throughout Sunrise Records stores in western Canada. It kicks off July 17.
“It’s quite the little adventure. It’s across Edmonton, southern Alberta, across to a bunch of southern Saskatchewan…I’m really excited for it.”
If there’s one challenge at touring the way Larmand is, it’s the management aspect.
“The whole challenges of running your merch table and playing, and at the same time trying to promote and do some video. Meanwhile you’re on stage strumming a guitar and busy with that, so management with all that is going to be a challenge…but I’m super stoked. It’s going to be great.”
After the tour, Larmand is craving the opportunity to get back in the studio to record a followup record.
“I’m already thinking of going back in with Jeff and the boys down there maybe next year in the winter once we get past all this stuff. Hey, there’s lots of songs that got to get recorded. There’s no sense sitting on your laurels.”
There’s only one other debut left for Mr. Larmand – teaching English 30-2 in the upcoming school year.