About Crown Lands
Sounding bigger and bolder than the average two-man band, Crown Lands are a Canadian duo whose approach is indebted to the sound and swagger of classic rock. Mixing the influences of hard rock with progressive and psychedelic sensibilities, Crown Lands don't let their small size keep them from making music that can fill up a mammoth space. The band first caught the ears of a significant audience in their native Canada with the 2017 EP Rise Over Run, while their self-titled major-label debut, issued in 2020, found them adding more polish and firepower in the studio, and the 2021 single "Context: Fearless, Pt. 1" is a loving homage to their prog rock heroes.
Crown Lands were formed in 2015 by Kevin Comeau, who handles guitar, bass, and drums, and Cody Bowles, who sings lead and plays drums. Both men were raised in Southwestern Ontario, though when they first met, Comeau had been living in Los Angeles and trying to make a career in music, playing in a reggae band. Comeau was back home visiting family for the holidays when he met Bowles, and the two quickly bonded over their shared love of vintage rock sounds, especially Rush. Comeau moved back to Ontario, and the two were soon jamming regularly and started playing out with their material. They chose the name Crown Lands as a reference to Bowles' First Nations heritage (he's a member of the Mi’kmaq nation), the name referring to territory seized from the indigenous peoples by the government. Comeau and Bowles were faced with the question of bringing more musicians on board or getting more gear; they chose the gear and adopted a busy touring schedule in Ontario. As they gained experience, they decided it was time to go into the studio, and their debut EP, Mantra, was released independently in August 2016.
The five-song EP sold well locally, and a year later they brought out their second effort, the six-song Rise Over Run, which attracted more media attention than the first. They expanded their touring schedule, and in addition to headlining club shows, they were opening for a diverse variety of major acts, ranging from Jack White to Primus. After playing a show with Rival Sons, the headliners put Crown Lands in touch with producer Dave Cobb, best known for his work with country individualists like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell, and also experienced in rock through his work with Marcus King, All Them Witches, and Needtobreathe. Through Cobb, Crown Lands landed a recording contract with Universal, and he produced their self-titled full-length album, which came out in August 2020. The band were ready to hit the road to support the release, but the COVID-19 pandemic had shut down touring options, so they bided their time by cutting an acoustic EP. Wayward Flyers, Vol. 1 included four original tunes and a cover of Neil Young's "Birds." Crown Lands also shot a new video for "End of the Road," a song informed by true stories of indigenous women and their harsh treatment on the infamous Highway of Tears.
Meanwhile, Crown Lands had been working on a song called "Context: Fearless, Pt. 1" which found them digging deep into their love of progressive rock, especially Rush. They originally began working on recording the track with help from Terry Brown, who worked with Rush on several of their early albums, and playing the song on the road strengthened the arrangement and their performances. In January 2020, the duo had the opportunity to go into the studio with Nick Raskulinecz, another producer who worked with Rush, to cut a more refined version of "Context: Fearless, Pt. 1." The session became a tribute to Rush drummer Neil Peart, whose passing had been announced the day before, with the group working up another song, "Right Way Back," that explicitly paid homage to their hero. After cutting the vocals remotely, yet another Rush associate, David Bottrill (whose credits included mixing their album Vapor Trails) was brought in to mix the material. "Context: Fearless, Pt. 1" and "Right Way Back" saw release in March 2021. ~ Mark Deming