Noisy rock trio Lungbutter have been kicking it around the local scene for much of the decade, but up until now had little recorded output to show for it, unless you own a cassette player.
It took a bit of cajoling from Constellation Records to make it happen, but the band finally has a kick-ass long-player to call their own. Entitled Honey, the album is more bee sting than sweet confectionary: vocalist Ky Brooks, guitarist Kaity Zozula and drummer Joni Sadler pummel their songs as much as they play them. If you’ve ever seen them live, Honey faithfully reproduces those electric shows without compromise.
In some form or another, a few songs on Honey have existed for as long as five years. For Lungbutter, mutation is as important a creative element to their sound as creation.
“That’s something we’ll do pretty often: we’ll come up with a song, it’ll feel good and we’ll play it a bunch,” explains Sadler. “Then we’ll take it back to the drawing board, re-arrange it, add things and change elements. Songs never really feel finished to us. They’ll reach a point where they’re feeling really good, but things always have a tendency to shift.”
For instance, “Solar” was born during their “metal phase” but has since been radically re-purposed and slackened. “Maryland” was at one point shelved and eventually re-written.
“That’s a big part of our narrative arc — going from eight minute-long songs to all songs under five minutes,” says Zozula.
As for why Honey is only seeing the light of day now, the trio admits they’ve recorded before, but whether it was mixing via email or poor timing, two earlier attempts to hammer out an album were left on the cutting room floor.
With all three being in Montreal at the same time, which isn’t always the case, now seemed as good a time as ever to enter the studio.
“We all have other things on the go — creative, academic and professional — and we wanted to make sure we had the time to record it the way we wanted to, and to have the headspace for it as well,” says Sadler.
Adds Zozula: “I’m thankful for the fact that none of us have ever said we needed to professionalize the band in a certain way. It’s really been a project that operates at whatever pace we want.”
Once they were at studio Hotel2Tango, the trio tried to keep things as loose as possible, with producer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh encouraging them to do their thing. They recorded off the floor and slammed a smattering of overdubs afterwards to give it extra sludge. The end result is the three of them almost shouting the parts over each other, yet it somehow all comes together as a single harmonious unit.
“This was our first opportunity to spend time in the studio for a couple of days and not do everything in an afternoon like we’ve done before,” says Sadler.
“This is such a fun band to be in, it’s fun to be able to relive it by putting on a record. It’s important to our personal history,” says Brooks.
And was there any worry about duplicating such a highly regarded live sound?
“I never felt that way because I think what we do is obnoxiously simple, so you record it in a way that’s obvious and you get what we get,” explains Brooks. “I feel like if anything, I thought maybe we’d overdo it modifying what we had recorded. You can mess with something too much. When we jam, the energy is there. Sometimes the most interesting times are when we’re jamming just the three of us, even more than when we’re playing in front of people.”
Adds Zozula: “I didn’t want so much structure that it would take away my favourite part of the band, which is our scrappiness, our chaotic side.”
Sadler agrees that it was about going with the flow.
“Being an intense perfectionist, it butts up against the raw music we make. I love that element of it, but sometimes it’s hard to keep my inner-perfectionist in check. It’s a matter of finding the right balance of having it sound right, but with a little spontaneity.” ■
Lungbutter open for Fly Pan Am as part of the Suoni per il Popolo festival at la Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent) on Saturday, June 15, 9 p.m., $20