Exclusive: An Interview With Clayton Burril From Hillsburn

By: Kat Harlton
Photos: Paul Aarntzen

Indie-rock quintet Hillsburn recently released their new album The Wilder Beyond, and are currently on a cross Canada tour in support. We had the chance to catch up with  Clayton Burrill (vox/guitar) to discuss songwriting, inspiration and what’s next for the band.

Kat: Can you talk about the inspiration behind your latest album ‘The Wilder Beyond’?

CB: We knew we wanted to maintain more control over the recording process than we’d had in the past. Practically speaking, that meant having Paul do the engineering and mixing, and doing almost all of the tracking in his apartment. Doing things that way gave us more time, more creative freedom. We didn’t have to make the compromises we’d made on other projects.

The Wilder Beyond is made up of songs Paul wrote over the past four years or so, including a few he wrote towards the end of the process when we identified particular types of songs we felt we needed to round things out. And once we’d put them all together we realized there was a theme of exploring alternate realities or lives, paths not gone down or explored.

Kat: What is your songwriting process like?

CB: Paul writes all the songs. He writes on different instruments and/or with his computer. He always says songwriting is what he does for fun if he has time and space to himself the songs just seem to come.


Kat:  Could you speak a little on your musical idols or role models?

CB: We’re all over the map that way. A few of us are big fans of The National. I love the way they’ve slowly built up a career over 20 years or so. There was no moment where they clearly broke. But we’ve all listened to a million different things in different genres so it’s hard to point to very many specific influences.

Kat: What’s on your playlist right now?

CB: We’ve got a van playlist on the go at the moment so we’re all listening to the same thing. There’s some Taylor Swift on there, Pinegrove (one of Clare’s favourites), and tunes by some of the artists we’re sharing bills with on this tour.

Kat: Have you ever been given any advice in regards to your music career that you felt you really connected with or made an impact?

CB: Not really. I think we’ve learned the hard way to trust our own instincts and not to be too eager to bring on new partners just because you imagine they can offer you something you think you need. I wish someone had told us that at the outset but I’m not sure it would have sunk in then anyway!

Kat: What can your fans expect from you next?

CB: We’ll be touring in support of the new record for the foreseeable future. Generally, I think people can expect our sound to keep changing. None of us is content to leave things as they are. We’re always poking and prodding.

For more info on Hillsburn and their tour schedule please visit: http://hillsburn.com

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