Five Questions With… The Besnard Lakes’ Jace Lasek

It’s always exciting when a new album by The Besnard Lakes arrives, since the Montreal psych-rockers generally like to take their time. True to form, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings—out Jan. 29 on Flemish Eye—is the group’s first release since 2017 and finds them returning to the cinematic soundscapes of their earlier work with a nine-track, 72-minute suite focused on death and rebirth.

That seems to be what the band has experienced recently from a creative standpoint, having parted from their longtime U.S. label and pivoted from writing the shorter, less sprawling songs featured on their previous full-length album A Coliseum Complex Museum. It was an approach that was admittedly an appeal to the shorter attention spans that streaming services take advantage of, but the experiment ultimately prompted questions about what The Besnard Lakes actually represented.

The answer brought co-founders Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas back to their original mission to combine the best of their shoegaze and prog influences into a heady sonic smorgasbord as opposed to bite-sized morsels.

To celebrate the release of …Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings, The Besnard Lakes will perform full live-streamed concerts on the first Fridays of February, March and April. To purchase tickets, go here, and for further information go to thebesnardlakes.com.

How does the new album stand apart from your previous work?

We REALLY took our time with this one. We had no deadlines, and at one point even thought about cashing in our chips and calling it a day. As we sifted through half-finished material we realized we definitely had enough material to make at least another couple albums, so we slowly started chipping away, throwing songs out, bringing new songs in, trying to sculpt the album into a single piece of work, something we had tried to do in the past, but never had the luxury of time to execute.

What songs on the new record are your favourites and why?

Thunderstorm is a favourite just because of its classic old time Besnard vibe. It’s also a tough one to play with all those fucking chord changes, and we’re always up for a challenge.

The band has endured a lot of changes in music over the past 15 years. What is it about your sound that you feel resonates with your audience?

I wish we knew! We just feel so blessed that we’ve been able to do this for as long as we have and that people actually still care to have a listen to see what we’re up to. We haven’t changed our sound to suit the times, which may be part of it. We are a familiar lighthouse in this chaotic world. 

You've got a series of live stream shows planned for the next several months. How are you preparing for those?

Oh boy, it’s tough here in Montreal. We have an 8 p.m. curfew because of Covid so we have a very short window each day to rehearse with everyone’s schedules. But we are treating the shows like a live performance, so we will have lights, lasers, strobes and fog working!

What's your mindset looking ahead to hopefully playing concerts again this year?

We’re cautiously optimistic. These live-stream things are fine, but they really don’t replace the live show. We love playing live and we really miss it. We have tours tentatively planned over the next 10 months, so we are crossing our fingers they will go ahead, but one can never be sure of anything anymore.

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