"All of the sudden, it was okay for people listening to punk and rock to also be going out to clubs and dancing," says Nik Kozub, leader of the dance-pop outfit Shout Out Out Out Out. "There [isn't] much distinction between crowds anymore. That's continued and gotten bigger and bigger."
Shout Out Out Out Out is a huge part of this growth. The electro groove sextet has, since 2004, been wowing crowds in their hometown of Edmonton and beyond with a sound that brings live instrumentation and a punk ethos into the world of dance-floor bangers.
This year, the band is taking an even bigger step forward with the release of their third album, Spanish Moss and Total Loss. The album title and its theme evoke a kind of nostalgic melancholy, but you wouldn't be able to guess that from the disco pulse of tracks like "How Do I Maintain Part 3" and "Wayward Satellite."
The spirit of the record, says Kozub, came out of a particularly inspiring vacation the vocalist/bassist took to the southern U.S. two years ago. "I'm always having a stressful time and working a lot, so time away is always special to me. On this trip, it was so cold and gloomy at home, and going on vacation where it was really hot and seeing Spanish moss and sweating ... it was so wonderful. Then thinking about having to return to real life and getting back to the grind. It's celebratory and remorseful at the same time, which is kind of like our band in general!"
Kozub and the band brought spirit to life on Spanish Moss, particularly in the two songs whose titles combined to make up the name of the new album. "Spanish Moss" is a Latin-flavored swinger that lingers in the room like humid air, while "Total Loss" rests in a disco pocket lightened even more by a sweetly humming synth line.
Tying the two together, as with most of Shout Out Out Out Out's work is Kozub's vocals, which he sends through a Vocoder, the voice synthesizer that gives his singing a robotic tone. And, for good or for ill, it also works to often obscure the lyrics.
"I like the idea of the vocals being another electronic instrument in the band," says Kozub. "While they and the lyrics are important to me, I'm just as comfortable with the being treated as another instrument and not focusing on lyrical things."
Embracing their electronic side has been the driving spirit of Shout Out Out Out Out, ever since the boys in the group left the world of punk and rock that got them started as musicians. Now that they are fully immersed in it, the band won't be turning back anytime soon.
"It's become more clear to us the way we want the band to sound," says Kozub. "It took us a while to learn all the technology and get a handle on how we wanted to build the songs, but it has really changed the way that all of us think as musicians."