Published Jan 01, 2006When Raising the Fawn decided to record their new batch of songs at Sarah Harmer's home studio, outside of Kingston Ontario, the natural setting provided some interesting twists to the process. "We recorded [last] March, when winter was still clinging to the world, and she has two lovely wood-burning stoves that heat the home," says lead singer and lyricist John Crossingham. "Doing simple things such as tending to the fire or walking outside in the woods helped to immediately decompress you." Another happy accident was the antique nature of Harmer's house, where the creaks of "Christmastime in the Fields" are the doors on her wood stove, and, as Scott Remila explains, "We actually brought mics outside and recorded Dylan and I chopping wood for the chant part of Until it Starts Again.' The house and surroundings played a really special role in giving the record a nice laidback feel in parts."
Laidback certainly does, at times, fit Raising the Fawn's third full-length, The Maginot Line. Other times, it can be a monster of sound due to the incredible spaciousness allotted to the emotions within the songs. Writing for the first time as a group as opposed to Crossingham calling the shots Maginot expands their sound while shortening the actual length. "We were very consciously avoiding the songs being too long," Crossingham says. "At around seven minutes, many of the songs are still longer than the average band's tunes. I really wanted us to truncate the arrangements a little try to pack as much variety into a slightly smaller space. The key was to not sacrifice how meditative our music has been in the past, which we all really love. Keep the space between the songs, allow everything to stay patient." Remila adds an appropriate analogy: "They're shorter, but they weigh the same and have the same guts. Maybe like a Mike Peca type song instead of a Zdeno Chara or Todd Bertuzzi type of song."
While Crossingham is a sometime member of Broken Social Scene, the absence of BSS members on the album proves this band to be an exception to the unwritten Scene rules. As for questions of influence, Crossingham clarifies: "I feel the more appropriate word is inspired. I don't think we sound at all like BSS, and there are no guests from the band on the record. BSS inspires me and the band to be as bold as possible with the music that we make." Remila, a non-BSS member, notes, "I like that we're close personally but we're also on the perimeter of the whole BSS map musically. We're doing things our way and with our own team around us."
The press notes for Maginot state the inspiration behind the title came from the idea that barriers are not enough, and one must kill the grudge instead. Pressed on this mysterious notion, Crossingham admits, "Music just allows me the option of doing something positive with some of the things that piss me off, rather than having them sit and fester. Some of the music I make deals with those emotions. It's as simple as that." Indeed, ingrained within all the crescendos, quiet interludes and crashing climaxes is the undeniable feeling of newfound confidence and purpose. Remila on the other hand, takes another, more succinct, tack: "I love a good mystery." If mysteries sound like this, then so do we all.