Words by Tommy Johnson
Friday the 13th has undoubtedly left a mark on the world’s history. Many believe that the aurora of the date is to be unlucky back to the Gospel. At the Last Supper, thirteen individuals- Jesus Christ and his twelve disciples – were in attendance the night before Good Friday. The thirtieth attendee was Judas Iscariot, who is infamously known to be the one who betrayed Christ.
Mundy’s Bay has zero interest in thinking about the superstition of the day; their debut full-length under Pure Noise’s umbrella Lonesome Valley is about a week away from dropping (March 13) on the date of my conversation with band members Esther Mulder and Victor Beaudoin.
Having been enwrapped in the formidable hardcore and punk scenes of Montreal, the members of Mundy’s Bay looked to set out and create music that thrust them into unknown surroundings musically. 2017’s Wandering & Blue EP and 2019’s Control Room EP pose the richness of 80s new wave postpunk within the tracks. The releases also paved the way for Mundy’s Bay to seize music lovers around the world with conviction.
Lonesome Valley allows Mundy’s Bay to be more expansive and more cohesive than they ever have before. Guided by engineer/producer Kurt Ballou, Lonesome Valley combines the postpunk found in the previous efforts and incorporates elements of shoegaze. Mulder’s warmth within her vocals carries a longing vibe on top of the instrumentals.
OffShelf: What sparked the passion for you to get into music?
Esther Mulders: I grew up singing in a choir in elementary and high school. I did theater and also did piano lessons for ten years. I tried to do the guitar, but it just did not work. I started getting into a lot of indie and folk music; I liked the melodies in the songs, so I tried to write my own.
Victor Beaudoin: Both of my parents were really into music and growing up, I was exposed to Neil Young and bands from the 80s that my mom liked. In my early teens, when I found the punk aesthetic, I thought it looked so cool. I started researching bands I would see on leather jackets.
OS: Was there any DIY scene in Montreal that you could have cut your teeth in growing up? Was it hard to get into venues to play?
VB: In general, Montreal is such a cheap city to live in that a lot of people come here to play music. It creates all these little scenes that are super cool. So many things are always happening here. We got immediate support from our friends. We try to play with different bands; we have played hardcore shows, but we have also played indie rock gigs. We are down for everything because, in the end, we are inspired by everything that we consume art-wise.
OS: How long has the band been together as a group?
VB: Ummm…five years?
EM: Yeah. Five years. The guys have all been friends for a long time, and I moved here, we got together. Will jammed at the same jam space that we had.
VB: It was a happy accident that brought us together. [laughs]
OS: When did it become clear that this band was going to be something more than all of you just jamming together?
EM: Obviously, when you first start a band, you don’t really know what to do with it, it’s hard. Then you write one song, and it kinda clicks, and it goes from there. That’s when we knew that we had a few songs that were good. So we wrote and wrote and then we tried to find our sound. It’s like anything; it takes time and practice.
OS: Do you remember your first show as a group?
EM: Yeah, it was umm…
VB: It was fucking hot. [laughs]
EM: It was really hot and it was in this really small record store in Montreal. There were a lot of people that came; we had a lot of supporters. It was an afternoon show that had five different bands playing all day.
VB: The store has been open for over twenty years now. Maybe twenty-five years now. They have been a very important part of getting underground records in Montreal in the late 90s, so it was an honor to play there.
OS: You mentioned that you wanted to take your time with Lonesome Valley. Was this purposefully planned?
VB: We did purposefully take time off because when we started the band, we tried to do our best in a DIY way-hit the road and do as much as we could. For the first few years, it went pretty well I would say; we were pretty busy. We kept working and circling in a bus. At one point for us, it was either take the time to make a record we love and elevates us as artists or are we going to hopefully strap a couple of songs together and make another EP and keep the band on the road. It was great, and we put the time in [recording Lonesome Valley]. We experimented; we actually recorded the album almost twice. We did some very good demos that we thought we made the album, but the opportunity came to work with Kurt. When that happened, we decided to write more songs and get into the studio and have the most fun weekend.
OS: The original demos that you worked on before Kurt – were they all scraped, or did some make it into Lonesome Valley?
WL: The song “Moonlight” was on the original; Kurt just remixed it. In general, we did not scrap at all; we reused some of the songs. Pretty much the album we wanted to make, we made it. We just took a bunch of tries to do it.
OS: How was working with Kurt? Was he pretty hands-on, or did he allow you to do whatever you wanted to do?
EM: He was very involved in making sure the songs could be the very best that they could be. It felt like he was on our team; he helped me with a couple of the songs with singing and the melodies. It was a very good collaborative experience.
WL: And I think that way that Kurt produced the album… he pushed our sound to its fullest. He used everyone’s capacity, and he’s got great knowledge of sound. He could match the right amp, mic, or pedals to whatever the part of the song was, something that we had an idea that we were going but nothing like how we could see the song and elevate them.
OS: I saw that the band spent two straight weeks recording the album. Being altogether 24/7 had to help in terms of flush out the songs more freely.
OS: Before going to GodCity Studio, did you record the original tracks together, or was it done individually?
VB: When we started to work on the album, we recorded a lot on weekends and whenever it made sense to record. At GodCity, we were so immersed in it. We were staying there in the apartment over the studio; in the evenings, I would try more pedals. The next day I would come in and tell Kurt what I tried. It was a more immersed experience, and I think that’s why the record the way better than we wanted it to be.
OS: Tell more about the meaning behind naming the album Lonesome Valley.
EM: I think that it accurately represents the lyrics and the meaning behind the songs very well. Having a valley as a metaphorical sense of being in an open space and having the album being an open space with all of us experimenting. And it just sounds cool! [laughs]
OS: Esther, I saw that you are heavily in favor of writing about dreams that you had on top of the natural material.
EM: Yep… when I am writing the album or the songs, I’m writing poems a lot and piece them together as a song that fits the music that everybody else writes. I have opinions for the music, but I let the band do their thing, and I write on top of that.