Fire/works dig deeper on their new record

Shenanigans, launching this evening at a theatre near you, was a creative experiment in discipline and honesty for the Montreal band.

Fire/works. Photo by le Petit Russe
Montreal’s Fire/works are living up to their reputation for creating musical and narrative landscapes of cinematic proportions by launching their sophomore record (a set of accessible but artfully atmospheric folk/pop songs, Shenanigans) at a major film institution: the Cinémathèque Québécoise.

“There will be abstract projections, but not movie scenes,” says singer/guitarist Jonathan Peters, half of the band’s creative core, the other being drummer David Lagacé. He explains that the band (now a quartet live, with the addition of Francis Ledoux and David Dupaul, will perform behind visuals created by a friend who works at LittleLab, someone they’ve entrusted entirely with the conception of the imagery — even Peters hadn’t seen them when we spoke yesterday.

In following up their 2012 record Grand Voyageur, Fire/works launched into creative mode with no specific goals or plans in place, only a rigid work schedule.

“We recorded at Vox Studio in Mile End last February, and we only had two weeks to do it — 14 days for 12 songs. We basically had to finish a song a day in order to meet the deadlines,” he explains. “Before we go into the studio, we only have guitar and vocals and everything starts to live during the recording process, but we had 12 strong songs that we liked, we did it as fast as we could and it came out like that. And actually I think it’s more profound and more true to who we are than if we had had any conscious concept.”

As for the album’s title, Shenanigans, the word’s obscurity among francophones, and a good number of anglophones, was part of the appeal. (For the record, shenanigans, according to Google, = “1. secret or dishonest activity or manoeuvring, 2. silly or high-spirited behaviour; mischief.”)

“We were looking for something different, maybe something that sounded African, or from another language,” Peters says. “We were thinking of creating a word out of nowhere, but ‘shenanigans’ came up and it just sounded great. For French people, it means nothing, all of our francophone friends have no idea, but I think there is a connection between the record and the feel of the word — compared to Grand Voyageur, it’s more deep but also more eclectic and more edgy. It just felt right.” ■
Fire/works launch Shenanigans at the Cinémathèque Québécoise (335 de Maisonneuve E., Salle Claude-Jutra), 5:30 p.m., free