Last week I had the pleasure of hanging out with one of my favorite local bands, Po Lazarus, while they were in the studio recording their first full-length record. For this follow up to their self-titled EP, they chose to return to Seratone Studio in Griffintown, Montreal. It is owned and operated by Simon Petraki, who was responsible for recording the band’s first EP and is reprising that role on the full-length. This time around, the band brought in extra behind-the-scenes help in the form of the album’s producer, Johnny Griffin. Johnny approached Po Lazarus upon seeing them play at his family’s NDG bar, Honey Martin’s. Johnny is a musician in his own right, and part of a band called John Jacob Magistery. This fact sheds some light on the chemistry I witnessed between him and Po Lazarus. It was as if he was a member of the band, voicing encouragement, advice and criticism just as freely as the rest of the musicians in the room.
Watching Po Lazarus work was like watching a well oiled machine with many different parts. Given the calm and ease I witnessed while I was there, I was curious how working on the full-length compared to the EP in regards to the stress felt by the band. The answer was simple, they feel a shitload more pressure. The goal with the EP was to get it released quickly while learning as much as possible about recording. The full-length required much more thought and preparation. They explained that the writing process was harder than recording because at least by the time they’ve undertaken the latter, the songs themselves have been arranged.
As an outside observer, the recording process seemed painstaking and tedious. While one person was recording in another, larger room and able to communicate with the control room via microphones, the rest of the band sat around eating, chatting and occasionally chiming in with an opinion on the performance being recorded.
While I was there the band was tracking guitars for “Kathleen,” one of ten new songs that will likely make it onto the album. The only track being carried over from the EP is the anthemic crowd favorite, “If You Are Alone.” When I asked if the lyrical content of the album had an overarching theme this time around, the answer was again short and simple: growing up.
Aside from the fancy equipment (to my inexperienced eyes), Seratone Studio has a simple and vintage vibe. There’s a broken clock in the shape of a vinyl record, and a picture of James Brown sitting thoughtfully at a mixing console- no doubt a symbol of the care and talent Simon Petraki hopes to bring to the music made in this place. With physical representations of music in mind, I asked the band how they planned to release the album. To the delight of my penchant for the outdated, the answer included CDs, a digital release and vinyl (the latter admittedly being sort of a pipe dream.) As for when they’ll be finished in the studio and releasing the album, they’re still in the very early stages and reluctant to make any promises. Do me a favour and don’t take too long boys; I can’t wait to hear what will likely be my favorite record of 2015. Thanks for letting me be a fly on the wall of your creative lair. As a fan, the view was priceless.
Written by Brian Charles Clarke