A not-to-miss Montreal band that plays all too infrequently is Our Book and the Authors. Like many bands, their sound is hard to qualify, but indie-folk-electro seems about right. On the scene since 2009, Gabriel D’amour has kept this thinking man’s band alive through good times and bad. I talked to him about Our Book and the Author’s new release Equals and the history of a band.
Rachel Levine (RL): For those who aren’t familiar with the band, can you introduce Our Book and the Authors?
Gabriel D’amour (GD): The band itself existed since 2009, before we launched our first self-titled album. It’s a home studio project that I had going on my own and people started hopping into the project because they saw something fun and the potential in the music itself. My roommate was a drummer and joined in. Then a colleague at work who also made music on his own started participating in the band as well, and that’s where we got our stage identity and started doing shows together. Then we got a bassist. From there on it was a roller coaster. The first album was launched in 2009 and it was well received and people enjoyed it. I was surprised because I was making music for myself, not for other people.
RL: Did the band line-up change since inception?
GD: Our bassist is different now and he plays in two bands and the drummer plays in many bands. The composition and arrangement is shared between Jean-Christian Arod and myself. We composed most of the stuff on our computers and shared ideas. If we need the drummer or a bassist, we’ll ask [Pete Patélle and Pierre David-Girard] to join us in the studio. Pete and Pierre are part of the live band. So, there’s a different dynamic live.
RL: Is there a difference in the sound too?
GD: The album sounds different. There’s a lot more acoustic elements in it. Live, we try to twist the songs in a way so they sound good live. We could just run this off computers and on stage, but I don’t think it would be that interesting and energetic. So, in terms of energy, there’s a big difference. The sound and compositions themselves don’t really change. But in a live show, its more exciting and fun to give more grit and grind to the songs. We have to have fun too.
RL: What should we expect from your new album, Equals?
GD: What people should expect and what I wanted was a more mature sound, more complete and complex in terms of arrangements and identity and lyrically as well. While working on it, I felt like I was growing in terms of my artist side of me. Obviously, I can’t just make music all the time, so these things go slowly. I wanted this album to sound more professional. I have that techy side of me. When you listen to the songs, they have certain particularities and little sounds that stick out. Overall, there’s a lot more live instrumentation too, so it was a different process in terms of recording. We went to studios to record drums and bass.
RL: The album has only five songs?
GD: The Equals CD is half of our second album. We didn’t have the funds to mix and match whole album so we split it in two. The way people consume music these days, it won’t affect much. It will keep the ball rolling and we’ll get the second part out soon enough. I should also say that this album has taken a lot of time to make and produce because we had problems that got in our way. We worked with a mixing engineer, but it didn’t work out. It was a learning process for all of us.
RL: Tell me a bit more about the songs themselves. Are there any that you are particularly excited about?
GD: Well, yeah, there are the ones that stand out: By the sea and Equals and Opposites. They stand out because they’re different. One’s a bit more electro and dub-steppyish. The other one is more straight forward rock. They have mood. I’m proud of those songs because they’re good examples of the growth and the evolution that we’ve had and capture the way we’ve moved forward with the sound as well.
RL: By the Sea is a great title. How did the song come about?
GD: It’s a song I made inspired by a road trip with a friend and I was going through a rough time. Obviously, rough times and sadness inspire certain musicians and that’s my case. I’m more productive when I’m not doing well. It’s sad and ironic, but well.. I was inspired. I felt distance with a lot of things in my life and I wanted my lyrics to reflect that. I was listening to a lot of British European electronic music, and that comes out in the song itself.
For example, when we were on the trip, it was a last minute thing that we went on in September and it wasn’t the best period of time to go to the East Coast, to PEI and the Îles de la Madeleines and it was grey and raining a lot. Some of the lyrics in the song talk about what happened to the sun. It reflects what happened during that period to me. What happened to the sun, it’s what happened to the good times.
RL: Do you think of yourself as more of a lyricist or a composer?
GD: I wouldn’t be able to say. I’m not as good as I’d like to be in both. I’m always looking to improve always my compositions and my lyrics as well. I’m constantly searching for better ways to express myself, both in the music itself and in terms of the lyrics. It’s a constant search.
RL: Are you ready for the launch?
GD: Obviously, I’m excited about the launch. We’ve had rough times as a band as well. A band is a four person relationship. It’s like a marriage with so many people and we all have our aspirations and goals. It’s hard to mix all those aspirations and egos together. We’ve had some rough times and even thought about letting everything go and stopping it because we weren’t doing well. Especially after the mixing issue, we were depressed. But, we decided to go on. I’m eager to get feedback from the people. So many people talk about the first album, how they like the songs and are inspired. I don’t take compliments well; it’s awkward because I’m not looking for it, but it’s good to get them. I think, “Not only am I happy, but someone else is…” And that’s great.
Check out Our Book and the Authors tonight at Casa del Popolo (4873 St Laurent). Shows are at 7 and at 8. Free.