Anthony recently had the privilege of getting the inside scoop on Ottawa’s newest band, The Brook. He sat with Sarah Murphy (vocals, guitars, mandolin, ukelele) and Shawn Leadston (guitars, vocals) – Mark Rempel (violin, vocals), Zac Delamont (drums) and Robin Russell (bass) round out the remaining members – to chat about how they starting, recording their debut album, Start Swimming, and their East Coast connection.
Raz Mataz Magazine (RMM): So you’ve been together for about a year now, what has it been like? What’s the chemistry between you all?
Shawn: Well, one thing about us is that we all definitely have an interesting sense of humour. Our sort of funny, awkward band culture really contrasts with how serious we are about our music. It’s nice because it helps us get through problems and differences of opinion really well.
Sarah: I agree, I think as a band we have great chemistry both musically and personally which we’ve been lucky to build so quickly. Mark and Shawn especially play off of each other exceptionally well with the violin and the guitar. They do this super cool duel solo on one of our songs called ‘The Vagabond’ that I think really exemplifies how well they work together.
RMM: What was the process like for your debut album? Do you share in writing, or does one person take the helm for the most part?
Sarah: The way our songwriting process usually works is that I’ll write a lot of the songs on my own and then bring them to the guys afterwards to develop them further. We’ve also had songs grow from jam sessions, and Shawn contributes some of his own songs, too.
Shawn: Yeah Sarah does the majority of the writing, but we do a nice bit of work as a group. The recording process was daunting and mixing it was even more difficult as we were all in separate parts of the country while we were trying to finish it up. Plus our lack of experience and small amount of time to get it done made it real stressful.
Shawn: Mark’s violin work and Sarah’s songwriting are pretty clearly rooted in East Coast music and when you add that in with what the rest of us have to offer it really does create a unique sound.
Sarah: There’s no doubt East Coast music has had a major influence on me. Mark is actually a classically trained violinist but he’s been able to adapt his playing to suit the music that I write quite well.
RMM: How did the band get started up?
Sarah: I actually met Mark and Shawn over a website called The Ottawa Musician right after I moved to the city in early 2013. I was just looking for musicians to jam with but I ended up getting really lucky and finding those guys. A few months later Zac joined us on drums and then Robin on bass this past March.
RMM: What’s it like playing in Ottawa? Do you spend a lot of time down in the market?
Shawn: We play the majority of our shows in or around the market area so yeah I’d say we spend a lot of time there. Playing in Ottawa has been great and we’ve had tremendous support so far. The music scene there is small but there’s a lot of talent.
RMM: What’s the story behind the track ‘Awkward Love’?
Sarah: It’s funny, I actually wrote ‘Awkward Love’ as a joke for one of my friends after a conversation we had about love and relationships. I played it at a few open mics after that and it sort of took on a life of it’s own. I think it’s because its message is something people can really relate to. The song is essentially about being afraid to tell someone how you feel about them and hoping they’ll just figure it out on their own. I often have a lot of difficulty communicating my emotions and find conversations about feelings to be incredibly awkward so I had a lot of experience to draw on when I was writing the lyrics.
Sarah: Funny you should ask, we’re actually on tour in the East Coast right now. We’ve had dates in Montreal, Halifax, Fredericton and Sydney, plus upcoming shows in St. John’s and London.
Shawn: As for recording, we’re planning to start working on our debut full-length release sometime soon. All the material is pretty much written we’ve just got to get started.
RMM: Is there anything you’d like to say to current or prospective fans out there?
Shawn: To our currents fans, we definitely want to thank them for all the support and for sticking with us. We hope to keep growing and hopefully release a kick ass full album in the near future.
For more on The Brook, visit their BandCamp page.
And be sure to check back for a review of their new album, Start Swimming!