INTERVIEW: Vancouver Folk-Punk Jesse LeBourdais

Vancouver folk-punk Jesse LeBourdais has just released his fourth album, Grief Intensity Friendship (reviewed here). It’s a rip-roaring record in which LeBourdais exposes his heart and guts with a splat. Ahead of its July 11 release, I spoke to LeBourdais about the record.

LeBourdais has been busy in the two years since his previous release, The Long Winter. Not only has he been touring in support of that release, he also started his own coffee-roasting business.

Grief Intensity Friendship is LeBourdais’ first release as a “proper band.” He describes his earlier output as “solo songs with added accompaniment,” and is excited about the full-band sound of the new album.

“These songs feel more like I imagine them in my head than any of the other albums,” he says, adding, “and coming from a lot of solo shows, it was relieving for me to have support of other band members. For the first time I felt like I wasn’t alone in the process. I also think it is vastly sonically superior to all my other albums.”

The album was recorded in 12 days over the course of two months at Rain City Recorders with the help of Jesse Gander — the man who has a hand in so many of the best records coming out of Vancouver.

Of working with Gander, he says: “Working with Jesse Gander was super inspiring, because he knows what he is doing — in all aspects of production. It was nice to have someone who is that good of a producer helping to shape it. We recorded most of it live on the floor (as opposed to tons of overdubs) so it really feels like an ‘honest’ representation.”

The songs themselves were written at various points over the two years since LeBourdais released The Long Winter, mostly coming together during the last 18 months.

Like all of his songs, and in the best tradition of folk-punk, the songs on Grief Intensity Friendship are deeply personal to LeBourdais. He tells me that it’s “tough to say [which is the most important to him], because all of them mean something to me. ‘You Were a Rifle’ is always going to be important, because I wrote it about the loss of my friend Todd (Serious, of the Rebel Spell) who tragically died a while back. So it’s a super sad song, but thinking about it makes me think of him, and that always makes me happy.”

He also adds that ‘Gaines,’ ‘Make It Boring,’ ‘It’s Fun!’ and ‘Quite Distant’ are his favourites to play live. When playing shows — or watching them — LeBourdais has a soft spot for the Biltmore.

“I’m a sucker for the Biltmore,” he says. “I wish they did more rock shows. I like the size and the low stage. There have been a few more rocks shows there as of late, so I hope that trend swings back around. I really like the Imperial too — not many shows happen there but I think it is a much better space then the Vogue or Venue for shows of that size.”

When I ask LeBourdais which local bands he enjoys listening to, he tells me that he is “loving Needles//Pins’ new album. They were working on that record with Jesse Gander the same time we were, so it’s nice to hear how different, but awesome, he can make bands sound.”

“There is band called Sightlines that are really good and Alien Boys are another band that I hope more people hear about. “

Click here to read my review of Grief Intensity Friendship by Jesse LeBourdais.

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