Manitoba mainstays form local supergroup

Creating music, touring and exposing oneself to the world — these things are rarely easy. But for the members of New Wales, forming a new band with a combined century of music-industry experience between them, is cause for a new kind of stress.

“The anxieties are a little bit different now,” said David Pankratz — a member of the newly formed Winnipeg super-group.

“We just have so many balls in the air right now — I think there’s 10 or 11 kids between all of us. We’re all working full-time jobs.”

Pankratz, along with fellow Manitoba music-world mainstays Sandy Taronno, Matthew Harder, Rob Mitchell and Jamie Taronno, created New Wales as an outlet for a breezier facet of their musical expression — an offset to the worries that come with balancing family, work and artistic creation.

“There really wasn’t any pressure to create anything specific,” Pankratz said.

“I think, if anything, writing for so long — we’ve been writing for 20 years together — we kind of just wanted to write songs that were fun, but still had some depth to them.”

However, even the best-laid plans go astray, and Pankratz said hints of darkness still wormed their way into New Wales’s surging pop rock.

Their debut single “Winnipeg,” said Pankratz, “has some of the darkest lyrical content I’ve ever put into a song.”

“But the idea, initially, was just to try to keep things light and fun.”

The single stays true to Pankratz’s goal of crafting songs that can be played from car speakers, top down — but there’s an inescapable weight to its searching lyrics, a weight that comes naturally when creating in a city as complicated as Winnipeg.

“For these songs, I was kind of trying to draw on the city itself and our experiences here,” he said.

“It obviously changes the way we think about things.”

Pankratz describes the song as embodying the democratic nature of New Wales — the creative veterans coming together and sharing ideas freely, massaging songs into the best versions of themselves.

“‘Winnipeg’ I had written pretty much in full, but then when I brought it in I really wanted all the guys to kind of put their touch on it,” he said.

“It was a fun group effort.”

This synergy will soon coalesce into more singles with shows to follow. For now, the band carries on with their tricky balancing act — taking life’s stresses, joys and harsh realities and molding them into something new.


New Wales plays at the Good Will Social Club Dec. 4 and at the Park Theatre Nov. 8.