Purveyors of: Heartbreakingly humourous indie-pop
File Next to: Courtney Barnett, Yo La Tengo, Rapport
Playing: Sunday, September 27th 2020 with Kadeema on Facebook Live!
The song “Not a Complicated Person” jumped out at our writer when he was making dinner while listening to an NPR All Songs Considered playlist on an unnamed streaming service. He considered the song to be laugh-out-loud funny – especially the line “no one drops by unannounced anymore, like they used to do on ‘90s TV” – as well as achingly pretty, in a way indie-pop rarely is nowadays (get off my lawn, etc.) Who was this band? Down Time was their name. He looked them up, and discovered they were from Denver, Colorado. Right on.
The chill mountain vibes have cleared rubbed off on this trio – who started off 2020, an otherwise normal year at that point, by releasing their debut album, Hurts Being Alive. This fantastically titled full-length, the follow-up to their 2017 debut EP Good Luck!, was produced by fellow Denverites, Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore from the fab pop band Tennis. The result is a winning collection of self-deprecating indie-pop anthems. Vocalist Alyssa Maunders’s humorous, bittersweet celebrations of mundane, everyday wonders will be stuck in your head all week.
Though the pandemic has dashed Down Time’s touring plans for the (down) time being, we were thrilled to hear they were down (sorry) to perform a cross-border livestream, from their time zone to ours. Wavelength co-founder Jonny Dovercourt talked to Alyssa to find out what’s going down in Denver.
Hello from Canada! It seems like a scary time down there in America…. How are you all holding up?
Hello!! Yes, it is scary. We wonder every day WTF might happen next. There has been a lot of beauty too, but please wish us luck in this election. There is a lot at stake! We are holding up just fine, considering. The three of us feel a lot of gratitude for our current situations, which includes love from friends and family. Although this time has been one of the most difficult we have experienced in our lives, we are trying to rise to the challenge and make the most of the situation. We are staying in touch with people and doing a few shows here and there to help stay connected to the music community as best we can!
Did you expect your band name (Down Time) and album title (Hurts Being Alive) would be so timely?
Haha, no. The sentiment of that title felt timeless to us even before the pandemic. Now it just seems like a really accurate snapshot of what we are all STILL going through. Being an artist in this world often feels like an uphill battle and you wonder why you do it. But that feeling comes and goes and is punctuated by lots of really nice moments and achievements. We all really resonate with the bittersweet-ness that life can bring.
Has the band been active during COVID? Are the three of you able to jam together?
The band has been more active in the last 2-3 months. Before that, we were taking some extra space to evaluate the situation. We have been lucky to be able to jam together. We decided to mingle our small households, because we are basically family and only live a few blocks from each other. It’s an essential part of our lives that is hard to imagine living without. We truly feel for the bands that aren’t able to do so at this time.
And how has the Denver music scene been dealing with the pandemic? Any socially distanced shows or intriguing online happenings?
There have been a few socially distanced shows, but only very recently. We didn’t feel like we knew how to navigate that as a band and we had been diving back into “writing brain,” which really doesn’t leave much time to get a set ready when you’re outta practice! We are now trying to do a bit of both and preparing for a few live shows including this online one with y’all.
The lyrics to “Not a Complicated Person” are funny and charming. What are your favourite ‘90s TV shows?
We all grew up watching Full House and lots of Disney channel stuff, Seinfeld, Fresh Prince, The Wonder Years, Boy Meets World.
If Denver was a TV show character, how would you describe their personality?
Maybe like a “best friend” type character who really likes the newest fad or sneakers.
What do Toronto and Canada mean to you, if anything? (We won’t be offended if it’s not much of anything – honest!)
We don’t know much!! Wavelength is really cool though and it seems like Canada and, maybe Toronto specifically, have an appreciation for seeking out new artists and building a unique music culture. It’s inspiring to see creative partnerships across national lines during a time like this so THANK YOU so much for having us. We have limited experience with Canada as a band but would love to tour there one day.
What was it like working with Alaina and Patrick from Tennis on Hurts Being Alive?
It was a real dream come true. They were super fun to work with and we learned so much. The three of us all really admire those two and their work ethic, and becoming friends with them throughout the process was such an unexpected treat!
Have you been working on any new tunes recently? Any new recordings in the pipeline?
Yeah! We are planning to record a single at some point in the next couple months and we have a bunch of new tunes that we have been writing over 2020. Normally we would have worked out the songs over months of live performance, but we are learning how to write in a different way and it’s going pretty well!
What are Down Time’s favourite down time activities?
Evening walks, cooking yummy foods together, drawing, listening to other records we love on repeat, roller skating….
If you could be the opening act on your dream concert bill – whenever live shows return, of course – who would the mid-billed and headlining acts be?
Big Thief and Cate le Bon, or Michael Nau and Widowspeak, or Chad VanGaalen and Alex G. Not sure what the orders here would be, but playing or touring with any of these people would be so cool.
What are you most looking forward to doing when (if??) the pandemic is over?
Hugs, touring, and not being afraid to share bites of food with friends again.
You can catch Down Time Sunday, September 27th for our cross-border online show with Toronto’s own Kadeema. Catch it all 7-9pm EDT on Facebook live! (That’s 5-7pm Mountain time, Denver pals.)