Lemon Bucket Orkestra Offer Five Signs of Hope in Bleak Times

Photo: Carlos Garaté

BY Peter EllmanPublished Dec 1, 2017

Lemon Bucket Orkestra's latest record, If I Had The Strength, is based on one Slavic prison ballad and covers a wide range of emotion. However, as bandleader Mark Marczyk put it to Exclaim!, "There had to be at least a glimmer of hope in there. Some people will feel it as overwhelming, supportive hope, some people will feel it as just a sliver of light at the end of a very dark piece, but it's there. It's important for people to feel that it's there." In 2017, hope seems to be in high demand, but our interview revealed several sources of hope for both Marczyk and fans of his band.
1 Family
"I find hope in my wife [and bandmate], and the kid that I'm going to have in January. It's super exciting. I find hope in doing this kind of work. I find a lot of hope in doing work that helps people, with both distractions from negative or destructive impulses, but also to go into feeling those impulses and voicing them in different ways. I find inspiration and hope in that. Creating a child is a pretty incredible thing. Your big, global view just zeroes in, and that's a really valuable lesson in hope — that it doesn't have to be this overwhelming, massive blanket term that's just somewhere out there in the universe. It can be something small and specific that you can hold or almost hold. I can't hold my child yet, but I can feel her. That's hopeful for me."
2 Audiences supporting unconventional artists
"People are listening. We decided as a band that we wanted to play music that's, first of all, not English, which is suicide in the Canadian music scene. Second, we have 12 people in a band that's about community, which is suicide number two, because it's impossible even to keep a five-person band financially stable. Third, to be singing and openly talking about these political issues that are very polarizing and trying to use them to facilitate understanding, conversation and ultimately community building — that's another thing that's a general no-no if you want to make it as a musician, especially as a party band. So we continuously shoot ourselves in the foot, but then continuously, the result is that people want to engage. And that's very hopeful."
3 Collaboration
"I would love to collaborate with Ravid Kahalani from Yemen Blues. I'd love to collaborate with somebody like Shad. His music has a similar intellectuality and Toronto-ness to it, so that it would be great to do something with him. It would be really cool to do something with Arcade Fire, because they're a big band with a big sound, but the type of textures that we could do are completely complementary. We could collaborate with somebody who sounds like us, or is in our style, but it's more exciting to find bands whose sound we like and figure out how Lemon Bucket could change it and bring it into an entirely different world."
4 Promoting peace
"In the beginning, we were just doing it because of this intense desire to express. We all had that young energy of, 'Let's just do it 100 percent,' and now it's realizing what that power is, what that strength is and thinking about how we want to use it and where we want to direct our energy. That's a part of the identity of the band that has evolved over the last seven years."
5 The future
"This year was really a year of expressing. Last year was more tumultuous, because we didn't know what we were going to be doing, what kind of album we were gonna be making and so there was this identity debate. But once we went through that tumultuous period with a lot of arguing, debating, and exploring, this year has been more about 'Okay let's do it!' Next year is going to be about gauging the reaction and seeing how it plays out. We're going to New Zealand in the new year, which is pretty exciting. It's the first time going to that part of the world with Lemon Bucket, and we're going with a new album and a new baby. So that's going to be amazing and intense. Right now we're planning into the first half of the year but after that, who knows? Hopefully we'll be making an album with Arcade Fire!"
Lemon Bucket Orkestra's If I Had The Strength, is out now on Outside Music.

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