Monday, November 29, 2010

Baker's Dozen: Interview with Loon Choir

(image from Loon Choir's website)

Baseball manager Leo Durocher once said "Take a look at them. They're all nice guys (people), but they'll finish last. Nice guys (people). Finish Last." I don't think Durocher had Loon Choir in mind when he uttered these words back in the 1930's. After all, the "nice" people that make up Loon Choir (Derek Atkinson, Nicole Yates, Jamie LeClair, Khary Byron, Dan Larmour and Brad Sheffield) are finishing anywhere but last. Their track "New Forewarnings" was firmly etched in the fifth spot on our Pancake Perfection Mix. Recently I had the chance to interview, via email, Loon Choir in our latest installment of our Baker's Dozen Interview Series.

TB: What is the story behind Loon Choir?

Loon Choir: We formed in early 2009 and clicked right away; we recorded a home-made EP and were playing shows by spring. We set our sights on not sounding like any one other band or even genre. Each member of the band brought their own list of influences (from dance and hip hop to folk, grunge and art rock) and the LC sound tends to reflect this. We made a "proper" record with producer James Bunton in early 2010 and have been playing regularly since. We thrive on the passion and energy which is put into the music and given back by audiences at shows.

TB: 2010 marks the two year anniversary of the band. What has amazed/impressed/surprised you most about what you've been able to accomplish or do in those two years?
LC: I think what has amazed/impressed/surprised us the most is how many great bands there are out there fighting the good fight. It has been really amazing to share the stage with some bands we had already been fans of and also to learn first hand about great bands we didn't know.
TB: May saw the release of your first full length ("proper") record Expansion Forces. Almost six months later, do you still feel the same way about it as you did when you released it?
LC: We are still very proud of EF and feel it was a great collective effort to record it with the production support of James Bunton of Ohbijou. However, we are very excited about our new songs and are looking forward to recording and releasing them in 2011. We learned a lot from EF in terms of production and promotion while there are things that we will do again on the new album, there are some things we will certainly try to do a little differently.
TB: Some of your songs, lyrically, revolve around nature. Why is this?
LC: As a band, we all feel strong connections to the natural world and reflecting that in song is important to us. Also, from a poetic perspective, we tend to use natural images to convey and symbolize other emotions and interaction that we are writing about.
TB: Loon Choir was nominated in the Xpress Best of Ottawa 2010 Reader's Poll in the categories of Best Band, Best Album and Best New Band. Obviously you don't start a band to receive accolades and awards, but what would it mean to you if you had been able to win one (or all) of the categories?
LC: We were quite honored to be nominated in the Xpress Best of Ottawa 2010 Reader's Poll. While we didn't win, we feel it is a reflection of our local community recognizing the hard work we put into the music and for that we are very grateful. No, we don't make music for awards and accolades but they are significant in getting our music to new audience so we definitely appreciate the recognition when it does come our way.
TB: You've played shows at a number of cafes. What do you like about the cafe scene?
LC: Cafe's are great to us because small spaces (packed with people or not) make for intimate settings to demonstrate our art. We occasionally will play acoustic based shows with out drums and obviously the cafe scene marries well with that. Most importantly, we find that at cafes there is often a strong sense of community, an appreciation for the arts and a willingness to give something new a chance.
TB: How have fans and casual observers responded at your live shows?
LC: We have been really fortunate to have great responses from audiences at shows and this definitely goes a long way in keeping our positive energies high. We are not making much (if any) money at most shows, so having people showing genuine respect and appreciation for what we do is often the most significant reward from a show.
TB: You mention on your website, loonchoir.com, that you performed with a number of bands including Ohbijou, the lovely feathers, Pree, Rubik, Minto and the Ghost is Dancing. What have you picked up from watching these bands perform?
LC: More than anything, we've learned that letting loose and trying to play in the moment goes along way in making shows more authentic feeling; which usually equates to a more entertaining show for the audience.
TB: Speaking of your website, the design is very unique. It features a variety of bright colors and sketches of the band members. Then, each link is decorated with band reviews and lyrics written on lined paper. Where did the idea for this set up come from?
LC: The idea for our website mostly came from our web-guru and bass player, Jamie LeClair.
TB: It seems that promoting other bands, venues and booking agencies is pretty important to you as you have a section on your website entitled "our friends" with a thoughtful write-up on each. Why share the love? Shouldn't the site be for shameless self promotion?
LC: We're nice people.
TB: What are Loon Choir's plans for the rest of 2010 into 2011?
LC: We are doing some touring before the year is over throughout South Eastern and Western Ontario. In the new year, we intend to record and release a new full length album, which is pretty much all written and ready to go! We plan on playing even more shows in 2011 and we're hoping to establish a strong presence on the summer festival circuit.
TB: Does Loon Choir get the chance to do much cooking? Any special recipes you care to share?
LC: The girlfriend of our synth player is a bit of a cook/baker and has provided the band with a few delicious cakes and sweet treats for the road. The hit single being her white chocolate cranberry granola bars...I believe the recipe is a secret :)
TB: Famous Last Words?
LC: Is a great book by the brilliant Timothy Findley.
Note: Until we can pry that secret recipe away, here is a possibly similar one.

Here is another Loon Choir track:
Loon Choir-Bricks

And the previous one:
Loon Choir-New Forewarnings

Buy Expansion Forces here.