Life looks a little different for musicians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

James Shiels of The Color explains spring and fall are traditionally their busiest seasons. Their last show was March 8, before 70 shows eventually were cancelled because of the on-going health situation.

"Everything just looks a lot different," he says, adding they don't have a clear timeline as to when concerts will resume. 

However, he says it's important to remember the industry is hurting as a whole. "We're all in the same boat... it affects all types of gig workers, sound techs, riggers, there are promoters where their livelihood doesn't exist right now."

A computer screen shows songwriters in a virtual meetingShiels explains they had been writing for a new album for nearly a year, but took time this spring and summer to collaborate over video messaging apps to connect as a band and write.

"You gotta find ways to get creative," he adds. "For us, it's a season to use our time to do some other things we've needed to do."

"We've never had this amount of time to sink into the creative process," he explains. "And we found ourselves coming up with songs, melodies and lyrics that we're really excited about it, songs we don't think we'd have written had there not been a pandemic."

In total, they wrote more than 60 songs, and are in the process of narrowing down their favourites for a new album expected to drop in the new year.

He notes they tackled the deeper themes on their hearts during 2020 including the Christian response to suffering, and who God is during a pandemic, along with lighter songs to bring joy and colour during dark times.

The pandemic has also allowed them to spend more time in their home communities in the Pembina Valley and Shiels says they've had constant reminders of the continued local support.

Looking to the future, Shiels says excitement is building. Earlier this month the band played its first show in months, a drive-in concert near Portage. "It felt incredible to actually play our instruments in front of people again... most of the cheering was in the form of honking, that was a new experience."