What began as the band’s namesake and getaway for inspiration, The Besnard Lakes’ yearly retreat to their cabin at Besnard Lake in rural Saskatchewan was nearly compromised after a ring of fire surrounded it for several days last year. Perhaps the realization of the ephemerality of things near and dear to the band helped to further enhance their expanded soundscapes and soaring psychedelia in their fifth album, A Coliseum Complex Museum, to be released tomorrow on JagJaguwar. I was more than happy to have the opportunity to interview bassist and vocalist Olga Goreas about the band’s upcoming album, the supernatural influences surrounding their music and visuals, and where the inspiration for their always catchy and intriguing album titles stemmed from (we can thank Texas for this one).
ANON: A Coliseum Complex Museum is strikingly upbeat and it’s been mentioned that your record is about “beginning again”. What sort of new beginnings does this album represent for you?
Olga Goreas: Well, our last album Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO was made after the death of my father, which meant of course there was a more personal and introspective quality to it. The new one, suffice to say, is definitely the yang to UFO‘s yin and can really be described as an extroverted album. The songs are lighter, airier and generally more concise. However, it’s still very much in keeping with the sonic qualities of our previous albums. It kind of irks me when people ask what makes this album stand apart, as though we’re not allowed to sound like ourselves!
ANON: Where did the name for your upcoming LP, A Coliseum Complex Museum, originate from?
OG: Jace came up with it. We were touring through Texas, maybe somewhere closer to New Mexico, and he saw a road sign that said “Coliseum, Complex, Museum”, with arrows pointed in different directions, and he thought to himself that it would make a really cool title for something. It’s a pretty evocative collection of words, and makes you think what if such a place actually did exist. It’s very meta-modern, or whatever you’d like to call it!
ANON: Where did the inspiration for the natural and supernatural visual elements in your most recent music video, “The Plain Moon”, stem from?
The Besnard Lakes – The Plain Moon
ANON: Currently a five piece band, you’ve also performed renditions of your songs as an extended 17 piece band. How would you describe the differences between these sets? Do you have a preference performing as a 17 piece or a five piece?
OG: The difference I suppose is that with a 17-piece we can perform more album-like renditions of those songs that have strings, horns, double percussion and/or back-up singers. But then again, we can still play some of the more elaborate songs with a 5 piece band as well, it just ends up sounding rockier and in-your-face. I have to say that I really like the diversity that you get from the big band ensemble, and I like the flexibility of the 5 piece. It’s really an apple and oranges situation to compare the two however. I do like coziness though, so being a 5 piece allows you to get comfy and deal with things on a day-to-day basis.
ANON: Being that your band is comprised of two couples, how does this affect the creative process and being on the road for long stretches of time?
OG: Ah, the couples question. I mean, it’s the same as making any relationship work, you need to communicate effectively with each other. Having Sheenah and Robbie there has been absolutely wonderful from my standpoint because there’s a certain solidarity there now. We can relate! With Kevin I suppose he’s so used to there being a couple in the band that, oh well, here comes another couple… I mean, I can’t say for sure. All I can say is that as long as you keep your ego in check it makes for a kinder, gentler band in most cases.
ANON: How would you describe the DIY music scene in Montreal? How has it changed over the years?
OG: I would describe Montreal as a world-class musical mecca. As far as the DIY culture, that has mostly developed part and parcel with the global creative climate. You can make a decent sounding record on your own and have it reach ears half the world away far easier now than 15, 20, 30 years ago. In the case of Montreal, it has flourished and become known as an ideal place to live the bohemian life, and maybe not have to have three day jobs at the same time. We’re situated close to Europe and generally populous regions in Canada and the U.S. Canadians, in my opinion, have a bigger sense of wanderlust than the average person. We live in this crazily vast country where it’s pretty easy to get to a wide-open space and be able to hear yourself think. Maybe that plays into the richness of the scene here, and for sure the bilingual aspect plays into it too. At least that’s the way that I characterize it. It’s really “open” here, in every sense of the word.
ANON: You’ve maintained a close relationship to Jagjaguwar Records since your 2007 album, The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse. What makes Jagjaguwar especially stand out as a record label?
OG: Jagjaguwar has been a great label for us, purely based on my first impression, because they showed an interest when nobody else did. When we were first approached by them, it was just a really nice, easy, unbullshitty introduction to each other. Since then the label has become a much bigger deal, but we’re still afforded the same treatment as we had in the early days. They’ve been there for us and that to me is the most important thing.
ANON: What touring plans do you have in store for the rest of 2016?
OG: We’re doing some shows locally in the end of February and early March, then we head to the UK/Europe end of March through to middle of April. We head to the Midwest U.S. end of April and early May and then in June we’re going to be hitting some more U.S. and Canadian cities. Keep an eye out on our website and Facebook pages, as there will be more to come! We’re going to tour the shit out of this album!
For those living in New York, The Besnard Lakes will be traveling to New York City for a one-off record release event at Rough Trade on Saturday, January 23rd. At no cost, the band will be performing a matinee show and signing copies of their album afterwards. You can find out more information about the show here.
Trish Connelly is the Austin-based guru who does booking and promoting at Cheer Up Charlies under The Nothing Song. She’s always down to collaborate and plan a show or event in town. She’s an expert with mixtapes (for all musicians out there you’ll want to send her your stuff!), and making connections with the cool kids. She may have a tad obsession with comics and Corgies, but she keeps it under control. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.