By ERIC SCHELKOPF
Led by the sweeping vocals of Andrea Lo, Vancouver quintet The Belle Game continues to garner critical acclaim for its debut full-length album "Ritual Tradition Habit," released in May on Boompa Records.
The band will likely garner more fans when The Belle Game, www.thebellegame.com, makes its Chicago debut by performing Nov. 1 at Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave., Chicago. Bear Mountain and Hawaiian Lion also are on the bill.
The show starts at 9:30 p.m. and tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door, available at www.ticketweb.com.
I had the chance to talk to Lo about the band's upcoming appearance.
Q - Great to talk to you. Of course, you will be playing in Chicago for the first time on Nov. 1 at the Empty Bottle. What have you heard about the Chicago music scene and what are your expectations for the show?
Chicago is a major Midwestern city, so I can only expect that the music scene in the city is diverse, bustling and exciting. It's our first time in the city but the second or third time for our friends Bear Mountain, so we're very excited to meet their fans, and hopefully we'll leave a good impression as well!
Q - This seems like a pretty grueling tour. The band will perform almost every day from now until mid-December. Do you like being on the road that much? How do you prepare for such an intense tour?
Going on tour can make you feel like you're Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day," except that it involves carrying gear to and from places (hotel, venue, venue, hotel) and spending a lot of time in a van with the same people.
It can also be an emotional roller coaster. When everyone has been eating Tim Hortons and Starbucks wraps for 10 days straight, nutrition is low and people get moody.
But if you're lucky, like I am, to be surrounded by your best friends and those who (for the most part), know how to make light of of the dark, then you're in good stead. Not to mention the reward of playing a good show, the goal and the hope keeps the momentum and motivation going strong.
This is our first "Big Kids Tour" as we've never been out on the road for longer than 13, 14 days, so in a hypochondriac frenzy I went out and bought every blend of liquorice tea, a kettle, a nebulizer, vitamins and as many hippie and ancient druid remedies as I could possibly afford.
Q - You recently released your debut album, "Ritual Tradition Habit." What were your goals for the album and do you think you achieved them? Is there a meaning behind the album's title?
The album has acted more as a facilitator for us achieving our goals, with having it out we're finally projecting the image that we want. At the beginning of the year before we released the album, we all sat down and shared our hopes and goals for the band and I'm happy to say that we've checked a good amount off our list in the latter half of this year.
We're just in the process of completing our first venture into the states, and in November we'll be making our way over to Europe for the very first time, so those are two big check marks off our list.
The title "Ritual Tradition Habit" manifested as a result of us coming to the realization of a common theme that was playing out within our songs. It focuses on those three things exactly, on a personal kind of level.
We bring these things into our lives whether they are something passed onto us from parents and generations before us, a result of the environment that surrounds us or the behaviors and reactions we have subconsciously learned to take on in order to protect ourselves while going through our lives.
So, ultimately, the album is about the struggle and apprehension we encounter when we reach the fork in the road of deciding if we keep with what we've come to know and what we've come to be, or if we make the choice to work hard and push past into unfamiliar territory (whether physically, psychologically or spiritually) so that we can be closer to our true potential.
In short, it's just about growing up and making choices.
Q - The band teamed up again with Kheaven Lewandowski for the video for "River." What concept did you have for the video? What did Kheaven bring to the table in creating the videos for "River" and "Wait Up For You"?
For "River," we handed the concept and creation of the video entirely over to Kheaven. He wanted to explore the meaning of the song through a character in a subculture completely unknown to him and many others whilst creating a feeling that was something people could strongly empathize with.
Kheaven and his team are a very very talented group of people. The shots are always breathtaking and the concept is never simple or shallow.
We feel lucky to be able to work with such incredible minds.
Q - You have received critical acclaim for your powerful vocals. What made you want to join the band and who are your biggest musical influences?
I joined the band by a major fluke. There was no set intention of being in a band or even being a musician myself, one event just rolled into another, time passed and before I knew it we had released an album.
The challenge of confronting my fears, doubts and insecurities on a constant basis is one thing that keeps me along this path. That and my bandmates, I guess they're an important part of the equation as well.
Currently I'm listening to a lot of Mount Kimbie and Tulpa, but the first album that ever made my ears really perk up was Yeah Yeah Yeah's "Fever to Tell."
Q - How do you think the band's sound has evolved and in what musical direction do you see the band going?
I think we've evolved by learning to cultivate our own style as opposed to trying to replicate what we enjoy listening to.
We recently completed a two-week music residency at the Banff Centre for Arts, which was directed by Kevin Drew. I'm not sure if it was purely the rivers of rose quartz that ran underneath the town, the glacial mountains, or the incredible, expansive and innovative minds we were surrounded by, but something shifted within us.
What we thought was going to be simply a retreat to write and rehearse turned into the complete reinvention of our attitude towards our creative process. I see us letting go, talking less, and just playing more, allowing the art to flow more naturally instead of trying to control and structure every aspect of it.
What exactly will come from that I'm not sure, but I guess we'll find out!