Queen's University — Since 1873
1st November 2011

Limestone foundation

The Gertrudes return to their Grad Club roots for the launch of their new album

The Gertrudes originally began as a fluid group of seven to 14 members, but currently the band has 12 members.
The Gertrudes originally began as a fluid group of seven to 14 members, but currently the band has 12 members. (Supplied)

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The Gertrudes’ vocalist Annie Clifford describes their music as “the kind of thing I’d want to listen to before I die.”

She said “Six Jars,” the second track on their new release, Till the Morning Shows Her Face to Me, would be a good song for someone’s mortal end.

“It has this transcendent feeling,” Annie said. “It’s death rock.”

But the band’s other members disagree. Trumpeter Paul Clifford, Annie’s brother, quickly interjected after her description.

“I think we agreed on indie folkestra as our genre,” he said.

It’s this clash of opinion that gives the Gertrudes their eclectic sound.

The 12-person group is a reincarnation of the Backyard Sex Band that frequented the Grad Club between 2006 and 2008.

Seven to 14 members of the fluid group performed at least once a week to Queen’s students and local regulars before they solidified themselves as the 12 current members of the Gertrudes.

“I think it’s interesting in the band that more than half of us have gotten our degrees and nobody’s traditionally employed like that,” Paul said.

Five members are Queen’s alumni.

Clifford said marriage, children and day jobs make touring difficult for the band.

“We tour on weekends,” Annie said. “Starting [at 5 p.m.] on Friday we’re on tour.

“We’re road warriors. But by nine o’clock Monday morning we’ve all got to be back at work.”

All 12 of the Gertrudes were born and raised in Kingston, a place Annie said holds significance in their songwriting.

“One of the things I love about Kingston is that people care about relationships with one another,” she said. “You wind up with this self-selected group who would rather invest in relationships than money and find other civic-minded people like themselves.

“You don’t even have to go past Portsmouth Avenue to find inspiration here.”

The first track on their new album, “Derby Girl,” is an ode to the local roller derby team. The cover artwork is by Cecily Taylor, a local artist and Queen’s graduate.

In “Six Jars” sounds of Skeleton Park can be heard in the opening.

“It’s not only taking inspiration, but it’s taking sounds from the city itself,” Clifford said.

The Gertrudes will head to the Grad Club on Nov. 2 for the release of Till the Morning Shows Her Face to Me. Annie said she has one reservation about the debut.

“I’m a bit worried my mom’s not going to like it as much,” she said. “It’s a little mellower and she likes to party.”

The Gertrudes release their new album tomorrow at the Grad Club. The show starts at 9 p.m.

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