Caesar Sant is a four-year-old child prodigy with a gift for playing the violin.
- Posted on Oct 19th 2010 4:30PM by Jason MacNeil
And just like that, Bryson was on a plane New Year's Day bound for Manitoba to spend the next six days recording material with the group, material which would become 'The Falcon Lake Incident.' The album -- primarily recorded over the short span in January -- hits stores Oct. 19, with MapleMusic releasing a CD version and Kelp Records putting it out on vinyl.
"They said there was a visiting artist program in Manitoba [Manitoba Film & Music], so if we did it here, maybe we could get some funding," Bryson tells Spinner. "It went around the table and they were into the idea. Right away Jason said, 'I don't want to record in the studio, we should get out of town.'"
"Out of town" turned out to be a lodge in Falcon Lake, a roughly 90-minute drive east of Winnipeg and site of The Falcon Lake Incident, a May 1967 event where local resident Stefan Michalak claimed to have encountered a UFO. But the only thing Bryson and the Weakerthans encountered -- aside from some bitterly cold days -- was a very tranquil setting.
"It was professional yet very casual," Bryson says. "We had fires and there would be these tame deer staring in through the windows while we were recording. If somebody wasn't there, they were either still in bed in another cabin, or on snow shoes or cross-country skiing."
"The way we were able to record allowed us to record a lot faster than had we made it going into a studio from four to ten everyday... We got a lot more work done because the clock was kind of thrown out the window. We were recording acoustic guitars and there would be noise because Jason would be making lunch, or dinner was being planned and there would be chopping of vegetables. People just existed. 'Maybe don't open the fridge for the next three minutes.'"
The biggest obstacle -- aside from briefly heading out to a bar to watch Canada battle the US in the World Junior Hockey Championships -- was electrical issues which they literally solved with a pinch.
"We had to work around in the evenings because there was some kind of power shift that happened and all the amps started buzzing really badly," Bryson says. "We had to hook up these electric contraptions where you would hook up -- it sounds crazy -- one end to the bridge of the guitar and the other you would have to put on your skin down by your hip, and that grounded the sound. You would have to clip this metal clip to your skin."
Bryson also says that he would have been pleased with an EP's worth of material, but the recordings went better than expected.
"The idea in principle wasn't always executed, but I would form the formation of the song where the verses would happen and stuff, and then ideally just threw it up in the air, let them knock it around and see where it landed," he says.
At 10 songs, 'The Falcon Lake Incident' has 'Raised All Wrong' and 'Anything and All' as bookends, and features several nuggets like the alt-country-tinged 'Fell Off the Dock' and the up-tempo pop charmer 'Metal Girls,' a song which Bryson wrote about returning to his old stomping grounds.
"I hadn't been around there much since I was younger," he says. "Just coming back and living here made my brain stroll back down memory lane; it made me think about being an uncomfortable teenager and really unsure."
"It was also partially inspired by going to the grocery store and seeing the girls who I went to high school with, where they seemed untouchable," he says. "Now they're just women walking around a grocery story with a cart and kids like everyone else."
Another keeper is 'Wild Folk,' a tight pop tune which contains a rather interesting jazz-hued instrumental coda.
"We finished it and just kept going, and then had to make sense of what we played because we'd never played it before," Bryson says. "So it was listening and figuring out this end we made off the floor .. [to] make it actually functional."
Bryson and the Weakerthans played a handful of shows this summer, but will mount an extensive Canadian tour supporting the album in February. It's anyone's guess if a second album might be down the road, but Bryson says he's quite fond of the experience.
"I feel really fortunate they took time out of their lives to do this for me," he says. "Their band is a fair amount more successful than my solo career so there was a compromise for them to do something like this with me when they could be doing something else. It was never lost on me and will never be lost."