The Besnard Lakes wait for the right record
by Chris Morin
The Besnard Lakes
The Besnard Lakes are named after a northern Saskatchewan body of water in a remote, lush part of the province. It’s a fitting moniker; the band’s waves of densely layered sounds conjure up lonely images of ethereal and slow burning boreal rock drones.
And having released a steady stream of albums since their inception in 2003, The Besnard Lakes — comprised of the husband and wife team of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas — have emerged with their latest record, the mysteriously-titled Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO. And while the LP carries much of the same vibes of their previous work, the album’s success was almost immediate with its nomination to the Polaris Prize long list.
However, according to guitarist and former Reginan Lasek, Until in Excess says that the album had almost taken on a far more inauspicious tone.
“With this record we decided we wanted to put it out sooner than our usual three years because every record we’ve done comes three years after the one before it,” says Lasek. “We wanted to pick it up because people forget about us. And when we go on the road we have to remind everyone that we’re still a band.
“But it turned out to be really stressful because of these self-imposed deadlines,” he says. “We started realizing that the material we were working on wasn’t where we wanted it to be. So we scrapped the deadline and at that point we started to relax and then it all started to flow.
“And this was all three years later, just like all the other records before.”
While the band is known for its heavy-reverb guitar riffs, and ghostly vocal harmonies that hum and drone-like synth lines, Lasek takes a cue from Brian Wilson, adding in densely layered sonic harmonies.
It’s not quite a Beach Boys sun-soaked pop album but there are plenty of hooks buried beneath the endless delay pedals.
“It’s always great that people like them, but we’re always making these records so that we’re happy,” says Lasek. “If we had put out that first record I don’t know what would have happened. We scrapped a whole bunch of shit and started over again. I guess the reaction means that people recognize that it’s all a labour of love and the space between the records means that we care what we put out.
“We’re not just throwing a bunch of crap at the wall and hope that people are going to like it.”
In addition to his bandleader duties Lasek also runs Breakglass Studios, which has produced albums from the same Montreal scene that catapulted bands like Arcade Fire into Grammy Award winner status and Wolf Parade into the highest echelons of indie rock stardom. It’s a situation that pulls him off the road, but Lasek says that it’s been instrumental for the band’s distinct sound.
“The whole reason we started a studio was so we could make records at a leisurely pace,” says Lasek. “We don’t ever really rehearse. We let the studio help us write our songs. And when we go into work we only get pieces of songs and we put them all together over a series of months. It’s how we’ve always done these things.”
With the success of The Besnard Lakes’ most recent album, Lasek says that the band is looking forward to playing for a home crowd.
“We’re pretty lucky considering that I’m from Saskatchewan. Most bands will only play Regina or Saskatoon, or else they’ll just skip the province completely. Whereas we play both cities and do really well.
“Some bands think it’s awesome that we can play there because they don’t draw very well there. But I like to think it’s because I’m the hometown kid.”
The Besnard Lakes play the Cultural Exchange on Saturday, June 29. Tinsel Trees open. Doors at 8:00. For more information visit culturalexchange.ca