It’s not easy to describe an ensemble that looks like a heavy-metal band, touts acoustic instruments, and molds a sound drawn from just about every musical tangent imaginable. But describing The Duhks is a moot point, for the only way to appreciate the dynamics and delight of this Canadian five-piece is to see them live. Having recently returned from Austin — where he accepted two Folk Alliance awards on behalf of the band — guitarist Jordan McConnell offered a little insight into what we can expect when The Duhks close out the current season of Sings Like Hell on Saturday, March 25.
You draw your musical inspiration from a range of genres. How does that typically manifest itself within your sound? Everybody in our band comes from a different musical background. Scott’s passion is Latin jazz. Leonard’s main influence is old-time music. Tanya is classically trained and plays all kinds of fiddle styles. Jessica grew up listening to funk and gospel and country. Punk rock and traditional Irish music are my great loves.
In working that way, how often do you surprise yourself with the direction things take? Every single time. Someone will feel really strongly about a song they would like to do and I might think it’s absolutely ridiculous. I sit there and grumble, not wanting to do it. But at the end of the rehearsal it is likely to be my favorite thing to play. The songs might start in one place, but they inevitably end up somewhere totally different. … That’s the fun thing about our band.
This isn’t your first visit to Santa Barbara, is it? I actually got my first tattoo in Santa Barbara. It was with Pat Fish down on State Street. When I was 16 or 17 I was obsessed with the idea of having a tattoo and I found Pat Fish’s Web site. A few years later I had a bit of money laying around and flew down there and got it done.