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Junior Boys go the distance

Recording an album when your bandmate lives across an ocean from youcan be tricky, but if you're as determined as Hamiltonian-based bandThe Junior Boys, distance is no obstacle to creating good music.  

Recording an album when your bandmate lives across an ocean from you can be tricky, but if you're as determined as Hamiltonian-based band The Junior Boys, distance is no obstacle to creating good music.

To record their new disc, Begone Dull Care, the electro duo, which features Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus, didn’t share Mp3s via e-mail. Instead they laid down tracks the old fashioned way, by traveling between Hamilton and Berlin — where Didemus lives — to work on music face to face.

“It was expensive, but it worked out because I got elite status on Air Canada now,” jokes Greenspan. “I wasn’t interested in doing that whole sending things off. We’re big believers that the equipment and conditions all play a central role in where music is going to go. For us patching things together through MSN doesn’t seem exciting.”

That being said, the twosome did write things independent of one another, so it wasn’t like they were racking up long distance charges discussing each musical move. That separation, says Greenspan, is another reason why trading emails didn’t make sense for them. “Because of that impendence it was even more important that we didn’t swap files,” he says. “At a certain point it would become why are we even doing this together?”

While they might have produced a solid album if they had just sent each other MP3s, after listening to the album, which is based around the films of Canadian filmmaker Normal McLaren, it’s easy to see why they had to write this together. The disc is easily their most meticulous record of their career, though, Greenspan says, they tried to make it sound spontaneous. That was a challenge that McLaren dealt with as well, Greenspan explains.

“He was attacking a problem I dealt with — how do I make something feel like it’s free flowing despite the fact it’s been very difficult to make,” says the Junior Boys vocalist. “We don’t just write songs in two or three instruments, it’s much more complicated than that.”

Greenspan hasn’t quite figured out how to reconcile those opposing forces, but he does think “the tension between being spontaneous and complex creates a unique thing.”

In the end the band created a spare, yet upbeat collection of airy tunes, layered with electro sounds and, in a few cases, ’80s grooves.

There’s no question this is a pop disc, though with some nearly seven-minute songs it’s not as conventional sounding as some previous work. Greenspan says this was intentional — he didn’t want to make “tidy” pop songs so he tacked on some extended outros.

“This album is about the process of working so we tried to let people hear that,” he explains. “In the past we had so many ideas we wish we could have used but we had to distill them in the pop format.

“It often does create a better end product,” he adds, “but we wanted people to hear what these tracks sound like as we go through it.”

 
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