By Kevin Klemp
EDMONTON – Vancouver’s Jesse LeBourdais has been a staple in the Canadian acoustic punk scene since he began performing in 2012. Over the last five years, Jesse has zigzagged his way across the country, playing hundreds of shows and multiple festivals armed only with his acoustic guitar, energetic live performance and commanding voice. As Jesse begins the cycle of releasing his fourth full-length, his music has begun to evolve with the addition of a full band, which in turn has altered the way he records his music.
“Most of the other albums were written only partially, with the rest of the details being added while I was in the studio,” explains LeBourdais.
“This is the first album where we had the music, drum parts, everything done and rehearsed before entering the studio.”
The new album Grief, Intensity, Friendship is a slight departure from LeBourdais previous albums sonically and conceptually, but the anthemic vocal hooks, acoustic songwriting and painfully honest lyrics found in his earlier work remains. The reason for the changes in production style came from working with the legendary Vancouver based engineer/producer Jesse Gander at Rain City Studios.
“Working with Gander was really great,” LeBourdais recalls.
“He’s very easy to work with and had some great suggestions and ideas, which I was worried about at first because I can be really opinionated about details as well.”
Thematically the album stays true to its title. The 12 songs are born of the pain of loss, the strength of friendship and the excitement of things to come.
“Last year was tough in a lot of ways, I lost some good friends and the songs are informed by grief in that aspect.”
Lyrically, the new songs explore the grief and loss through experience, but also explore some self-deprecating topics such uncertainty and self-doubt. For those who have met Jesse, these topics might seem antithetical to his open and inviting personality.
LeBourdais opened up about the duality, revealing, “I’m not sure why I write songs like that. I tend to punish myself for my mistakes and blame myself. I also find it strange to be promoting myself as a product. I’ve never been good at that side of the industry, schmoozing with the right people and networking.”
For many years, LeBourdais insecurities surrounding the music industry have manifested into a strong DIY ethic regarding the production and sale of art.
“I’ve always thought people pass onto other people so much that they are able to do themselves.”
This attitude not only bleeds into his music but also into Falter Farms, his coffee roasting company he started last year that can be found at his merch table.
“I’ve gone too long without a boss,” Jesse explains.
“I’ve gone too far to turn back now.”
Grief, Intensity, Friendship was released online on July 10. You can listen to the release at https://jesselebourdais.bandcamp.com/. Physical copies will be available at the Buckingham on August 31 (Edmonton), a location TBA on September 1 (Calgary), and September 2 at the Silver Buckle (Medicine Hat).Buckingham, Friendship, Grief, Intensity, Silver Buckle