Published Nov 16, 2011If you're going to make music, you might as well go all in. That's the philosophy of Saskatoon quartet Foam Lake. The four brothers who make up the band -- along with their sister -- have taken on the task of building a recording studio.
Over the past few years, the Ross brothers have all been active in other groups, including Slow Down, Molasses, the Blood Lines, the Warbrides and Chiba. In 2008, they formed Foam Lake, naming the family band for the town where their grandparents lived. Vocalist/guitarist Paul Ross says the studio project grew out of problems they had getting Foam Lake's newly released debut album, Force and Matter, recorded.
"We were supposed to record with Kurt Dahle from the New Pornographers," Ross explains in a recent Exclaim! interview. "We were getting together some funding but by the time we did, he had to move back to Vancouver. We would have had to go to Vancouver and live there for three weeks, which wasn't an option. It was totally out of our budget."
But Ross says that disappointment resulted in a family collaboration that they hope will pay for itself -- and bring down the cost of recording their own music.
"We had to put our own money into this, too, but if it was just on travel it would seem like a waste. I'm already a gearhead and so are my brothers, so we figured we might as just get some important pieces of gear that would make it all work together."
Ross says the studio -- currently under construction -- is actually the second part of their recording venture.
"We already have a studio here in an old converted church. My sister bought that church and also the hall. And we're pooling our abilities and some money together to build that hall into the studio now. It's a family operation. We have a lot of support from each other."
Although the hall studio is a work in progress, the church has already been used for recording. In addition to Foam Lake, Saskatoon bands such as Ultimate Power Duo have recorded there, as well as Eamon McGrath.
"The church is a living space as well," says Ross. "It's where my brother lives, so it's been kind of shared studio and living space. But it's too disruptive of their lives to have a studio in their house all the time, so now there's the hall where all the gear can stay and we can mostly record there and do a couple tracks in the church too if we want to."
Ross says the church is a unique room that lends itself well to expansive sounds and a warmer tone. Foam Lake's own debut, Force and Matter, makes use of the roominess of the church studio's sound. The band fill the generous space with synthesizer, new wave-tinged vocals and -- even on the quieter, rootsier tracks -- dramatic, reverberating guitars. It's a promising debut from both band and studio.
Force and Matter is out now, and Foam Lake will be playing a CD release party at Amigos in Sakatoon on November 26.