The Breezes break out of Breakglass with their debut LP

For four years, local band the Breezes have been working on bits of their eponymous record in bursts at Breakglass Studios. On the eve of its long-awaited release (tomorrow!), members James Benjamin and Daniel Leznoff discuss the challenges and benefits of drawn-out production. Bonus: a music video for “Promethean Eyes.”

The Breezes, photo by Mamoru Kobayakawa

In these modern times, where brevity and economy are king, is releasing a meticulously arranged and produced studio recording considered going against the grain? The Breezes have been lurking along the edges of the local music scene since 2006, so it’s not surprising that in the making of their long-gestating debut full-length, which finally comes out tomorrow, no sonic expense was spared.

So where have they been hiding? At Breakglass Studios, mostly, albeit in the form of extended, educational hangouts peppered with intermittent spurts of recording time. One of the group’s three main songwriters, James Benjamin, is one of the in-demand studio’s co-owners, but even that didn’t mean having all the time in the world to fiddle about. The place was, and remains, booked solid, so The Breezes was recorded in one month in Aug. 2008 and at various points in 2010 and 2011.

“We would come in for a day and not be able to finish it, and then come in another day. We’d wait for openings,” recalls Daniel Leznoff over brews in the commons area of the studio, which is outfitted with a terrific collection of NES games. “A lot of stuff would be unfinished. We’d come in, record, and it would be great, but it wouldn’t be until a year later where we would be able to add strings. We had to build everything piece by piece.”

“Because we knew we didn’t have a lot of time,” adds Benjamin, “the sessions had a bit of added excitement. It was fun, having to get those songs out of us.”

True to their moniker, the record is brisk, warm and easygoing. It harkens back to the lush psychedelic-pop recordings of yesteryear, and while studio techniques like Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound were certainly an influence, Benjamin recently did work at Breakglass on albums by very modern outfits like Purity Ring and CFCF, and they too provided him with insights on how to approach his own work.

“What’s currently in style in terms of mixing is to choose particular frequencies and really push those forward to create a sound that stands alone,” says Benjamin. “The wall of sound is about having it all come up together. At times, I’m trying to take from both.

“It’s a different era economically now in the studio; almost no one can afford to spend a month in the studio, so it’s important to take what is fantastic about the studio, what’s fantastic about your set-up at home, and combine them.”

Leznoff provides a good example of how to bridge this divide: at home, he’s prolific with GarageBand, but in the case of the album, everything was made in the studio, from conception to recording to mixing.

“We [himself, Benjamin and Adam Feingold] do stuff on our own, separately, then we get together and fill everything out as a group,” explains Leznoff. “You could say we’re separate songwriters existing as a band, and you could look at this as a compilation, although I haven’t thought about it like that until now.”

The three songwriters (the group’s fourth member is Matthew Oppenheimer) have their own distinct styles within the loose, summery pop framework, but it’s Benjamin’s mixing expertise that ties everything together. So in order to receive the full, panoramic Breezes experience, one might want to break out the fancy headphones.

“They’re pop songs, they’re catchy, and if you listen to them once, that’s cool,” says Benjamin. “But there are little touches — whether on the right or the left, or panning all the way over, or a sound that just appears on the record for a second. A lot of thought went into it; we wanted something we hope has lasting power because it’s more thought-out in scope.”

Adds Leznoff: “This record is very handmade; it’s a band album.” ■

The Breezes launch their album with CFCF and Suite at la Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent) on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 8 p.m., $10

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