The First Aid Kit is a pretty good name for a band. But after singer-guitarist Darryl Smith started the band in 2006, he soon found out just how catchy a band name it was when people started to ask for tickets to his shows in Sweden.
"People were asking for guest list spots to shows from us and we kept having to be like, 'Sorry, but that's not our band,'" he says about discovering the two-piece Swedish folk group with the same name. "They got big and messed with our plans a little bit."
But Smith had no real plans to start a rock band when he came out to the east coast to work on his law degree. Upon arrival, he met up with old friends Conor Hancey and Matt Davidson---whom he had originally met at a summer camp in Ontario as a kid---and decided to form a band.
Sounding like Wolf Parade with the lyrical hooks of Bruce Springsteen, the three songwriters were then rounded out by Amy Bollivar on synths and Tynan Dunfield on drums to create a dynamic power pop five-piece with gang vocals to spare.
But there was still the question of a new name.
"It was a really painful process, because you'd come up with a good one and then find out it was taken," Smith says. "Even if it was some LA band with a MySpace that hadn't been updated in five years; if it was taken, we would just shut the idea down."
Inspired by the creatively stagnant period of television during the 2010 Writers Guild of America Strike, Smith decided to name his band after the culturally significant moment and call the group Writers' Strike.
Finally deciding on a new name, the band restarted its career and booked time with Halifax's Sonic Temple, teaming up with in-house engineer Darren van Neikerk to help produce the album.
"I think for the first time we had someone who took on the producer role. All the other times it has been us in studios self-producing kind of, like making all the judgment calls. It was nice to kind of defer that to someone else," Smith says of the band's work with van Neikerk, adding that his objective ear made their new recordings some of their strongest to date.
"We want the songs to have the impact that we feel like they do live, and I think he helped us get there by scrapping anything that was unnecessary."
With a full LP in the bank, the band decided to release three songs from their upcoming full-length---"Stay Down," "New York City" and "Splitting Images"---as an online only EP to keep fans interested until their LP's release in the spring.
Reinvigorated by their time in the studio, the band decided to partner with Rich Aucoin---Smith plays guitar in his live band---to release a split seven-inch of the single "Stay Down."
"I thought about how punk bands did split seven-inches and that's what bands used to do with other friend bands, and Rich is probably our best friend as a band," he says, adding that it is the first time both artists will appear on vinyl. "It felt mutually advantageous because Rich got to pump out a song immediately after his record came out and it's something people can get excited about again."
Let's just hope there isn't some Swedish Rich Aucoin no one knew about to confuse matters.
Writers’ Strike w/Jenocide, The Sensibles Friday, January 6 at The Seahorse. 1663 Argyle Street 10pm $8
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