If The Most Serene Republic were a country, and not a musical outfit, it would be “communism working perfectly.”
At least according to producer, keyboard player and self-declared tyrant, Ryan Lenssen.
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“Imagine Stalin with a good sense of philosophy, an understanding of the human condition, and running purely on logic and reason and you’ve got an idea of how our collective works,” Lenssen says during a phone chat about the band’s upcoming tour and stop in Ottawa this weekend.
It’s a brainy notion from the co-founder of one of Canada’s most heady bands. The ensemble of 20-somethings, who hail from Milton, Ontario, have had their share of critics — both for and against their orchestral, lyrically layered art pop creations.
Since forming in 2003 the band, who are now part of acclaimed Arts & Crafts label, have aimed to go against the mainstream, radio-friendly pop vibe. But for that, Lenssen makes no apologies.
“I remember three years ago when people were labelling us as no-talent hacks. Now with the last record everyone forgets the past, but we’re still no good because we try too hard. But everything we do we’ve always done it completely on our own and at least we’re talked about,” Lenssen says with a wry chuckle.
The Most Serene Republic produce the kind of music that most certainly won’t appeal to the masses. It’s complicated sound that can take some time to fully appreciate and digest. Though their debut release Underwater Cinematographer, is different from a later E.P. titled Phages, which is even more divergent from their latest album Population, all are equally demanding of the listener.
“I know it’s against the grain but the whole idea of our records has always been to listen to it from beginning to end,” Lenssen says. “You can’t just open up a novel, read one chapter and expect to understand the entire work. It’s taking things out of context.”
Which is why a live show might just be the best place to discover what The Most Serene Republic is all about — as both musicians and a collective. Just be sure to catch the start and stay until they’ve all played out at the end.
The Most Serene Republic play at Zaphod’s tonight, with guests The Diableros. Tickets are $15 through www.ticketweb.ca.