Solarus talks new album, fun stuff and future plans (Part 2: The Interview)

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Solarus founder and lead guitarist, Lucas McArthur shares some interesting insight into Solarus and their upcoming album.

Did you catch the review for Solarus’s upcoming album, A Dance With Tragedy? Click here to see what LDN_Reverb has to say!

It’s been a busy two years for Lucas McArthur. Not letting the circumstances of the world get in the way, he and his band forged on to create their upcoming, masterfully crafted album, A Dance With Tragedy (check out Part 1: The Review here).

Along with any labour of love, there’s often some solid insight and a funny story behind it. Lucas McArthur takes some time out of his busy schedule to enlighten us and answer some questions about Solarus and their new album.

Take it away, Lucas!

Lucas McArthur
Credit: Ryan Miles Leblanc

Reverb: What is the story behind ‘A Dance With Tragedy’?

McArthur: Regarding the story of how it came to be, a lot went into the creation of this album. First off, it’s always the goal of a band to grow, to be better, and to always say something substantial with what they write. So, these were the driving forces behind the creation of the album. This album’s writing process began mid-way through 2019 and saw a lot of changes occur in the interim: namely the global slow down due to the pandemic, and a lineup change following the departure of our original drummer and bassist (Nich and Mark). Sarah and I really helmed the writing of this album and were fortunate to find members who shared our enthusiasm for the direction we were going in. By the time our 2 new members, Chris and Daniel were recruited, the album was written and had entered production. 

Ultimately, we wanted to write a record that musically out-classed what we had previously done, and we know we succeeded. This was in part to changing the way we wrote and in part to the ambitious vision that we had for it. We wrote this album with a concept story in mind. Bu,t as the writing proceeded, it became more of a guiding point for creativity more than anything. There’s still a strong semblance of lyrical story within this album, but we are very proud that it can also be ingested on a song-by-song basis. 

By the time the album was wrapping up and time came to examine it as a whole, ‘A Dance with Tragedy’ turned out to be the obvious title. It simultaneously captures the calamity of the story we had weaved into the lyrics, and the dreaded feeling everyone experienced over the past two years. ‘A Dance with Tragedy’ is really an allegory about finding meaning and purpose in an otherwise purposeless world. It just really seemed too relevant to ignore.  

Cover art for Solarus album, ‘A Dance With Tragedy’

Reverb: What was the writing process like during the pandemic? How did you all make it work?

McArthur: The writing process was more or less similar to how we’ve always written our music. I write the majority of the music and Sarah handles the lyrical/melody afterwards. The only difference, in the context of the pandemic, was that I resorted to recording a lot of the instrumentation myself and sending it all to my producer for production. The biggest factor in this album was how Sarah and I really pushed each other creatively. This was definitely the most challenging album that we have produced to date, but it was by design. 

Normally, Sarah and I are just so stoked to be producing music together that, sometimes, the excitement overrides our perspective to make changes or optimize certain things. I’m not sure if I can speak for Sarah in this regard, but I definitely learned a lot from her during the making of this album. Without Sarah as a bandmate, I don’t think that Solarus could ever be what it was meant to be.

Sarah Dee (left) and Lucas McArthur (right)
Credit: Nightrunner Photography

Reverb: What’s the funniest thing that happened during the recording of the new Solarus album?

McArthur: This recording process has run the gambit of emotional highs and lows for sure. But, the funniest thing?Man, that’s a good question. I think it would have to be during our filming session for our music video, ‘A Dance with Tragedy’. Troy attempted a rad jump-spin for performance sake and ended up nearly going through the wall! As a cherry on top, the fog machine promptly sprayed him in a haze while he lay on the ground in a heap. It was the most comedically perfect timing! Just the biggest crash and burn! We (Troy included) cannot express how hard we laughed, and who knows? Maybe we caught it on camera and will show everyone this legend’s moves one day!

Reverb: Speaking of your video for “A Dance with Tragedy”, what was it like working with The Agonist’s Vicky Psarakis? How did this collaboration make you feel?

McArthur: Vicky is just the best! She’s an absolute professional at what she does and a pleasure to work with. Vicky was the first and only artist that we considered for the track and we were delighted that she loved the track and had agreed to collaborate with us on it! We had always been a fan of The Agonist and how they carry themselves. We shared the stage with them at the last show we played in 2019, before the pandemic. So, naturally there was a little familiarity there to build off of to kickstart this collaboration.  

It was definitely a challenge in the sense that we had never done a ‘collaboration’ like this before. There was a lot of game-planning and execution of details that made it a valuable experience. We have had experience with guest vocals before with Matt Marinelli, of Borealis, in our first record. But that was a very different beast, since that was largely performing already-existing vocal melodies. Whereas this was a song where Sarah, Vicky and myself tackled the vocals together. It kind of felt like we were nurturing music and getting to know one another at the same time. 

I can’t say enough good things about Vicky; she went above and beyond and has been ridiculously supportive of our endeavours — even to the extent of arranging involvement in a music video with us!!! How cool is that?!?!?!  It truly made us feel grateful knowing that someone as esteemed as her believes in what we do.

The Agonist’s Vicky Psarakis, from the Solarus music video, “A Dance with Tragedy”

Reverb: What can we expect in the coming months for Solarus?

McArthur: Absolutely! Obviously, our album is coming out December 17, 2021 so that is exciting in of itself! In addition to this, we still have multiple music videos lined up to release before and after the record drops. There’s also a cover tune that we are currently trying to get wrapped up. We also have a show coming up on the same day as the release in our hometown London, Ontario at Rum Runners (London Music Hall) which we’ll be headlining. There’s talks of doing a live recording of this show, so supporters and fans alike ought to be excited about being a part of that! We sure are! Other than that, we are currently trying to line up shows for 2022 to keep the momentum alive and well! Lots on the horizon!

Reverb: What are your top 3 favourite albums of the year?

McArthur: That is an awesome question. If I had to pick the 3 albums that released in 2021 that spoke to me personally the most I would have to say:

1. Evergrey – Escape of the Phoenix

2. The Agonist – Days Before the World Wept (EP)

3. Bodom After Midnight – Paint the Sky With Blood (EP) – Moreso just sentimentally favour this one due to the early passing of Alexi Laiho, one of my earliest inspirations.

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