Band of the Week: The Besnard Lakes

Music Features The Besnard Lakes
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Hometown: Montreal, Quebec
Fun Fact: Frontman Jace Lasek owns and operates Breaklass Studios, the recording haven of choice for Wolf Parade, Islands, Stars and Sunset Rubdown, amongst others.
Why They’re Worth Watching: The band's psychedelic walls of sound and falsetto harmonies drive straight to the music-loving heart of every non-believer.
For Fans Of: The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Roy Orbison

The Besnard Lakes are one of those bands that defy description. Try to imagine a sonic Frankenstein made up of Beach Boys harmonies, Pink Floyd’s gloomy psychedelics and the occasional burst of Queen-like bombast. Throw in a little Roy Orbison, and you’d begin to develop an approximation of The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse's sound. These musical touchstones make for quite a unique sonic mosaic on this, the band's second album, which is all the more interesting when you consider the band’s roots. On its debut album, 2004’s Volume One, the group dabbled in the kind of dream pop Kevin Shields would be proud to call his own. The between-album transformation is one that frontman Jace Lasek is more than content with. “I don’t want to be known as a shoegazing, boring live band," he says. "Because we were, and we aren’t that anymore.”

Speaking to Lasek (who together with his wife, Olga Goreas, forms the core of this Montreal six-piece), it’s clear how proud he is of this new album and the buzz that’s accrued leading up to its release. At the same time, though, he is levelheaded enough to realize that the band’s location has probably helped a little along the way. “Because we’re from Montreal, we probably get a little more attention than we would if we were from anywhere else,” Lasek opines.

But while residency in a current indie rock buzz city may have opened a few doors for The Besnard Lakes, it’s a luxury that Lasek feels won’t extend to many future bands from the area. “I think it’ll probably happen pretty soon," he says. "I’m kind of cynical about the whole industry, but there’s still a glimmer of hope that [the press] will judge Montreal bands by the quality of their music and not just the hype machine that surrounds them.”

When talk turns to the inner workings of The Besnard Lakes (the band has endured multiple lineup changes over the years, with Lasek and Goreas serving as the only permanent fixtures as well as primary songwriters), the impact of having a husband and wife working together side by side - and the inherent difficulties of such a situation - inevitably comes up. “It actually helps us in our relationship," he says. "Normally, we actually don’t get to see much of each other because I’ll be in the studio and she’s working too. So when we tour it’s almost like a vacation together. If I was with somebody else, she probably wouldn’t understand why I’d want to be in the studio for twelve hours straight or why I’d want to go on the road for a month and not get to see her.”

It should be noted that the twelve-hour studio sessions Lasek speaks of really only apply to the other bands he works with. Despite the seeming luxury of owning and operating his own studio, Lasek is wary of adopting a leisurely attitude to recording his own material. “I could make it so that I’d never finish," he says. "I mean, I could spend a week just working on guitar sounds. So, I set rules for myself because the studio has to make money by other bands booking it. When we get in here, there’s a plan and we maximize our time.”