Crown Lands have always been a study in contrasts—and that goes beyond the unique cultural composition of Jewish multi-instrumentalist Kevin Comeau (he/him) and Two-Spirited Mi’kmaq singer/drummer Cody Bowles (they/them). On their 2020 self-titled debut album, Crown Lands resembled a raw blues-rock power duo harboring latent prog-rock affinities, vacillating between dirty boogie grinds and pastoral reveries. But on Fearless, the Oshawa, Ontario, group doesn’t sound so conflicted—because they’ve fully and unapologetically surrendered to their rock-opera ambitions. “We live in a world of 15-second bite-sized clips,” Comeau tells Apple Music. “But there’s a storytelling format within the multi-part suite that just really captures our imagination. And that’s why we’re trying to preserve that art form and carry that torch.” Pulling narrative inspiration from Dune, Arthurian folklore, the Mars rover expedition, and “hypothetical astrophysics,” Fearless is nothing less than Crown Lands’ application to be the new Rush—and according to Comeau’s hero-turned-texting buddy Alex Lifeson, the job is theirs for the taking. But while Fearless’ staggering side-long suite, “Starlifter: Fearless Pt. II,” readily conjures the sound and scope of Rush’s 2112, the album is clearly the product of 2023, its fantastical, character-driven plotline functioning as a parable for real-world discussions about capitalism, colonization, and Indigenous struggle. Here, Comeau and Bowles provide a track-by-track guide to help you navigate the story of Fearless. “Starlifter: Fearless Pt. II” Kevin Comeau: “We were reading a lot about star lifting and Dyson spheres, and the idea that an advanced civilization could harness technology to physically move stars and harness energy directly from a star. And we figured if anyone was going to have the power to do that—to literally colonize the solar system—that power would end up in the hands of the wrong people and be used in the name of corporate greed and profit. So, we came up with the idea for this all-powerful syndicate that is harnessing the power of the sun and destroying the planets that surround it. And through various refinements, we ended up with the character of Fearless representing the Indigenous person rising up against the colonizers.” “Dreamer of the Dawn” Cody Bowles: “This was intentionally made as a breath of fresh air for people after such a long piece like ‘Starlifter.’ We wanted something super upbeat.” “The Shadow” CB: “There’s more of an ’80s Dio vibe on this one.” KC: “And ’80s Ozzy, for sure. We weren’t sure about this one because it was in that proto-metal world that we inhabited on the earlier records, but we had been pulling away from that and going into the more orchestral world. When we recorded White Buffalo, our label was like, ‘This is great, guys—but maybe on the next record, do more singles?’ And of course, the first thing we ended up writing was [the 18-minute] ‘Starlifter’! So, we pulled out the music for this, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It slaps!” “Right Way Back” CB: “‘We went down to Nashville [to record] the day after Neil Peart passed [in 2020]. [Producer] Nick Raskulinecz was like, ‘Come on down. We’ve got to do this—you guys are the ones to carry the torch.’ It was a very, very emotional time. We listened to and watched all these unreleased, behind-the-scenes recordings [of Rush] and just kind of commiserated over that loss. And then Nick let me play one of Neil’s kits that he used on the Clockwork Angels tour—I tracked the drums on ‘Right Way Back’ and ‘Context: Fearless Pt. I’ on that kit.” “Context: Fearless Pt. I” KC: “We had first released ‘Right Way Back’ and ‘Context: Fearless Pt. I’ as a double A-side single [in 2021]. And the world that we developed in the music video for ‘Context’ with [director] Blake Mawson just felt so rich that we wanted to dive back into that world. This world had clearly been ravaged by war and had this dying sun, and we kept trying to dive into the question of why that would be. That’s how we ended up developing the idea of this evil corporate syndicate that is destroying these planets in the name of profit.” “Reflections” KC: “We wrote this song about our own relationship, and the way that we had to reconnect as friends in the post-COVID world, where we were separated for two years. We went from living in a van together, and then all of a sudden COVID hit, and we didn’t know how we were going to write music anymore because all Crown Lands music is done by us in the room together. It’s very much this alchemy that comes out of us when we’re creating this energy in the room. ‘Reflections’ was one of those first songs we ended up writing together after COVID, and it’s about honoring the different places we may be in our lives, but still trying to respect each other.” “Penny” KC: “There are a lot of heavy pieces of music on this record, and ‘Penny’ breaks it up in a really nice way as a musical interlude. And the key of ‘Penny’ flows perfectly from the synth pads that I use on ‘Reflections.’ It just felt important to include it because we’ve both grown so much as musicians, and this is a piece of music I had written a long time ago, but it still felt very relevant to me.” “Lady of the Lake” KC: “Obviously, we were pulling from Arthurian legends, and we kept reading every iteration that describes the Lady of the Lake, and it’s always this goddess figure who only seems to exist as a way to serve the men in the story. She shows up and is all like, ‘Here’s the sword, Arthur!’ And we thought, ‘What would happen if the Divine Feminine was like, “Nah, fuck it—I’m taking this power into my own hands.”’ We liked flipping that legend on its head a bit.” “Citadel” KC: “This piece is built a lot more around keyboards than the rest of the record is, because it felt like that sort of palette was missing on the album. As we were writing it, there was a conscious effort to make it the album closer. It creates the same atmosphere that we tried to do on ‘The Oracle’ but in a bit more cohesive way. It’s a folk song that celebrates the land defenders and water protectors.” CB: “Specifically, the land defenders in Wet’suwet'en [British Columbia]. Obviously, how they’re portrayed in the media is not good. The media likes to slander these people who are defending the land and their water and their sovereign territory. And we just thought that was so disgusting. So, we took classic archetypal imagery from traditional medieval European cultures and superimposed this narrative of Indigenous land defenders on top of it to demonstrate how they should really be celebrated as heroes. Because they’re some of the last people who are truly defending our Earth for the benefit of all people and not for the benefit of someone's profit.”

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