Drawing inspiration from the George Floyd protests and the ongoing struggles for meaningful Indigenous reconciliation here in Canada, Tortue take a decidedly political turn with their first new release in more than three years.
Fredericton progressive rock trio Tortue have been pairing personal lyrics with highly dynamic song structures from the very beginning. Going back to the group’s 2016 debut album Summer In Algiers, and 2018’s two song follow-up, Slither, Tortue have always been adventurous musically, and meaningful, lyrically.
On the group’s latest single, Petty, Tortue sidestep past lyrical themes of anxiety, depression and belonging and break their three year recording hiatus with their most politically charged song to date.
“Petty was a song that happened during the pandemic, of course,” says Tortue’s Aidan Bullock. “There were a great many important and tragic events during those two years. First, the George Floyd protests, which then sparked a great deal of protests in Canada. Not only were people of colour affected by this but Indigenous peoples as well. We as a band can’t possibly ever put ourselves in their shoes, but I wanted to try and write something that brings light to the situation. Some of the lyrics are influenced by interviews with our friends about their lives as people in these demographics. We hope we did them proud. We really wanted to create something that makes people think about how petty it is to hate someone for their skin colour or culture.”
Unlike a lot of Tortue releases which often dive head on into complex rhythms and arrangements, the band took a deliberately softer approach with its new single in an effort to draw more attention to the song’s lyrics and its message of tolerance and understanding.
“I really wanted the lyrics to shine,” said Bullock. “I wanted it to sound how someone might reflect on something. We are a rock band of course, and to really drive the message home we made it nice and loud at the end, but with classic Tortue dynamics and odd time signatures.”
Petty is the first of two new Tortue songs planned for release in 2022. Following the departure of drummer Matt Blanchard and the introduction of drummer Gage Kelly, Bullock sees no rush to jump at recording a full album anytime soon. He’s more content just staying busy writing and rehearsing and figuring out the strengths of this new lineup.
“Tortue so far has been practicing and writing for a year in secret,” he said. “We all have different tastes so it makes for interesting writing sessions. For me personally, as I have grown my appreciation for pop music has grown as well, so maybe subconsciously that’s affecting my writing. We also have learned how to use space in songs to our advantage. Sometimes not playing your instrument is more important than playing just to fill space. We are doing well and hope to book more shows soon.”