Arkells has gradually built a following across Canada since 2008, but the response to its latest release, Morning Report, has been so enthusiastic it even took manager Chris Taylor a little by surprise.
“When we started this album cycle we were happy to sell a couple thousand tickets in markets across Canada,” Taylor told Pollstar. “It’s really graduated over the life-cycle of this record, and the band has been working really hard since it was released in August.
“Our big summer date, June 24 in Toronto at Budweiser Stage, which is about 16,000-18,000 tickets, sold out in a day. We were hoping it would sell out by the time the date came up. But it really pointed out to us that we’re really not sure where the ceiling is now in the Canadian market.”
Arkells’ sound has graduated from punk-influenced themes of working, drinking and fighting to broader pop themes, employing gospel choirs and horns for a hybrid that owes as much to Motown – they’ve been known to play entire barroom sets of Motown classics – as, say, MC5.
The four-piece, named for Arkell Street in the band’s hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, is making headway in the U.S. as well, particularly in border markets like Detroit, Philadelphia and Buffalo, N.Y., where the band is getting healthy radio support.
The four-time Juno winners have made an impression with festival bookers this year, with sets scheduled at Coachella, Shaky Knees, Bunbury, Sasquatch!, Osheaga and Mo Pop fests. The band is also booking after-shows and one-offs in between festival appearances, and Taylor is looking at support and headlining plays later in the year.
“I’ve been in this business for a long time, worked with a lot of artists and this band is one of the hardest-working bands I’ve worked with,” Taylor said. “They’ve been going pretty much nonstop since the record came out and we’re going to keep going as long as people will have us.”