Cam Penner and Jon Wood awake around 9 a.m. to a picturesque Kootenay landscape, head into the studio and start putting “meat on the skeleton.”
This was the daily routine for the duo during their recording of their fourth album together, Sex & Politics.
“We work until 2 a.m. have a feast at the end of the night, we sleep, get up and do it again,” Penner said. “Drink from the same jug and howl at the moon.”
Originally from Manitoba, Penner’s musical journey has taken him through Chicago, London and Barcelona. Now living in a remote mountain property between Castlegar and Nelson, Penner decided on settling down in B.C.
“I think I was looking at where is the second half going to be, you know? Where do I want to put it down. I like the anonymity of living out in the bush and growing tons of food, living by the river, I mean who doesn’t love it? It’s paradise,” Penner said.
In the idyllic setting the two recorded Sex & Politics on Penner’s handmade sound machine in what he calls his “studio shack.”
Sex & Pollitics is their fourth album together and the seventh album for Penner. Something intangible gets captured in such an isolated setting.
“It’s a great place to throw ideas against and it’s a great place for them to land,” Penner said. “The solitude, the darkness, the emptiness all those things provide a place for it. Also there’s no family around, there’s no friends around.”
The idea for the album name came out of a conversation between Penner and a fellow volunteer at his local homeless shelter.
“We were working an overnight shift at the shelter and just talking about everything and at the end of the shift, I said goodbye and she says ‘sex and politics, what else do you want to talk about?’”
The album features some “heavy-duty” lyrics, exploring themes of economic disparity and more.
“It’s also a sexy album. The movement, the groove, you know, there’s some blatant songs like Honey. There’s a darkness and a sexiness, which is important, you want both sides, for me, I do, I don’t know what everyone else wants,” Penner said. “They’re important. Things that keep me moving, keep me young.”
Penner and Wood are celebrating 10 years as a musical duo, meeting for the first time in the midst of a tour.
“We played 27 shows in a month and it just stuck. I think we just found something, we knew there was something there,” Penner said.
The longevity of the musical kinship can be attributed to one thing, Penner said: living eight hours apart through two mountain passes.
“If anybody says ‘hey what’s the secret to a good marriage?’ Don’t live in the same city and make sure there’s two mountain passes in between you and you’ll stay together forever,” Penner laughed.
The two have made a name for themselves in Europe since their initial meeting, hoping to bring that enthusiasm for their music back home.
“It’s always been tougher (in Canada). In Europe, we do really well out there. Our music is being used on TV out there on the BBC and even in the Netherlands, Belgium and wherever. It’s getting better. I don’t think people really know who we are in Canada,” Penner laughed. “I think, maybe I’ll blow my own horn here, but I think we’re going to pull the rug from under your feet.”
Cam Penner and Jon Wood play the Dream Café on Sept. 16. Tickets are $14. For more information visit www.thedreamcafe.ca.