Animal Nation bookends music career with Our Time in America 

Garnet Clare's forthcoming album tackles ups and downs of last half-decade

click to enlarge Our Time in America is due out some time this spring, COVID-19 pending. - Photo submitted
  • Our Time in America is due out some time this spring, COVID-19 pending. Photo submitted

Need a break from the unending weight of the global pandemic and resulting economic turmoil?

"Peach Blunt Sunday," the first single from Animal Nation's swan song album just might do the trick.

Bathed in a warm, hazy melody, it's like a sonic balm for your overstressed soul. Lyrically, the track sums up the last few tumultuous years of "Tall Man" Garnet Clare's life, during which he moved to Portland, got married in Cuba, and was unceremoniously kicked out of the U.S.

That narrative thread is a launching point for the forthcoming album, Our Time in America, which Clare said is likely his last as Animal Nation. It was set to be released in April, but with the entire country shut down due to COVID-19, that's up in the air.

"Ten years ago, I would've been on the internet 10 hours a day trying to find the way to get it in people's hands," Clare says from his Vancouver apartment where he's been self-isolating for a week. "I just wanted to make it for myself and tell my story. I wanted to bookend my career with a finished album."

Here's what happened since Animal Nation's last album, It's Good To Be Us, five years ago. Then a Whistler hip-hop duo (with Mike Armitage), they toured the country, made a solid video, and planned to come back home for a "big, homecoming, video release tour in Whistler," says Clare, who grew up in the resort.

Only, it didn't go quite as planned.

"I contacted all the bars and promoters there and no one would book us," he says. "I was pleading to people. I was like, 'I'll guarantee we'll fill your bar. You haven't seen us in a few years. We got good!' It absolutely broke me and that's when we stopped making music as Animal Nation. I decided to move away from everything and move to Portland. It was super heartbreaking to reach the pinnacle of your career and not have local [support]."

At the same time, he adds he understands that some of those same people saw the group when they were still finding their feet and might not have known how much they had grown.

But the move south of the border felt right. He met close friends, married his girlfriend, and stepped away from Animal Nation. Before the move, he had a stockpile of music from over the years.

But after settling in Portland, lyrics began to pour out. "I was incredibly inspired," Clare says. "I knew I had something really good. I had about 15 pieces of really, really good music I really enjoyed and I ended up having 12 songs written."

Eventually, he decided he wanted to whittle it down to eight songs and focus on the theme of his and his wife's time in America, hence the album's title.

"I tried to keep it as focused and about one thing as possible," he says. "It has a coherence."

Since moving back to Whistler before settling in Vancouver last August, Clare has started working in the film industry and even expanded his interests to include drawing.

It seems the relentless drive to spend all his free time pursuing music has slowed—and he's OK with that.

"Being a 30-something-year-old guy, you want to spend your formative years gaining skills that will help you in your coming years," he says. "Being good at rapping doesn't help you much in your 30s. My favourite skill I acquired—besides my beautiful wife—is I can speak in public with no fear at all. That's amazing."

Likewise, although there have been plenty of bumps along the way—namely being kicked out of the U.S. when they tried to cross the border to head home to Portland—Clare says he's grateful for where he is now.

And he's happy to have the chance to release one more record for no one other than himself.

"My passions have shifted, but over the last few months I was spending five to eight hours a day finishing it up, getting the art work done, I made the website myself," he says. "I'm really proud of it."

The release date for Our Time in America is up in the air, but stay tuned to ourtimeinamerica.com or instagram.com/tallmanraps for more information. In the meantime, check out the new single on any streaming platform.

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