BY MARK WEBER
Armed with an array of finely-crafted new tunes via their latest CD Forgiver, Yes We Mystic plays Bo’s Bar & Grill in Red Deer on June 23rd.
On April 29th, the Winnipeg-based band released their debut full-length album, Forgiver. Described as being full of lush, “Atmospheric guitar tones, delicately woven melodies, explosive drums, and aching lyrics, the record is a howling wind coming from a place of irrefutable honesty.”
Produced by Jace Lasek (Patrick Watson, Wolf Parade, Land of Talk), the album follows the band’s 2015 two-song EP, Vestige.
“Vestige was our transition to what we are doing now,” explains Adam Fuhr (vocals, guitar). Rounding out the band are Keegan Steele (vocals, mandolin, synth), Jordon Ottenson (drums, electronic drums), Jodi Plenert (cello, keyboards, vocals) and Eric Ross (violin, synth).
Forgiver acts as the group’s sonic ‘Rosetta Stone’, laying out everything that they have picked up since their formation in 2011, as well as the innovative approach to songwriting that they have held with them since the beginning.
The band takes instruments, ideas and sounds from wherever they can to craft something that is all at once exhilarating, heartrending, pummeling, and grand.
“We try to pick bits and pieces from all sorts of styles and kind of make something as unique as we can,” he said, adding that the phrase cinematic rock in a sense describes what they are focused on. But really, there are no limits – melding rock together with folk, hip-hop, and R&B, strings and mandolins together with synthesizers, pedals, samples, and vocal effects. “They come up with songs that can mellow and groove but climb in an instant to towering, frenzied heights,” according to a release.
“Thematically, Forgiver unpacks a mix of emotions pertaining to people in our lives who left us blindsided, wanting, scared, or amazed, either through death, separation by the passing of time, or by sudden, bewildering betrayal,” said Fuhr.
“It explores the different manifestations of forgiveness, and asks whether we can reconcile our capacity to forgive with our own self respect.”
Teaming up with Lasek came through going through a bunch of their own favourite records from over the years and noting a common theme amongst several of them – Lasek had produced several.
“Me and Jodi were going through my record collection and pulling out all the great Canadian indie rock records that we loved,” he recalls. “Jace was the name that connected all of those records.”
They reached out to him and it just so happened that he was interested in taking the project on. “He had the month of June free and that was when we needed to make the record – it all came together so perfectly.
“He’s great because first and foremost he wanted to reflect our vision and he wanted to bring that out, and help us achieve what we wanted to achieve,” he said. “He helped us shape things sonically and he’s a really great guy for doing things in a bit of an experimental way.”
Meanwhile, the band is heading east on this tour first of all, then they drive straight from Toronto all the way to Red Deer.
“Red Deer kicks off the western Canadian half of the tour,” he explains. “We’ve done a lot of crazy drives, but this will be the craziest of all,” he laughs of the cross-country trek to the City show.
But the band is thrilled to be presenting their latest tunes to audiences nation-wide. They recently returned from a tour through a few European countries including Germany, France and England.
“We didn’t know what to expect, but there was a really great reception. We are actually going back to Germany in the fall again.”
For Fuhr, an introduction to music came early. “I started playing the piano when I was four years old,” he said. He had wanted to play the violin initially, but his folks opted to start him off on the keys at first.
“I ended up just loving the keyboard, so I took lessons for 10 years. Although I was never very good at reading music, I did have a pretty good ear,” he chuckles. He later picked up the guitar in his later teens and something clicked as well.
“I started writing my own stuff from there,” he said, adding he was self-taught on the guitar as well.
As to the roots of the band, Fuhr had known Steele since they were kids.
“We went to elementary school together, and we were involved in all sorts of creative projects together all through the years – from films to being in plays together in high school. I think in high school, I was thinking I was going to be an actor,” he said. “Even after high school, I took theatre and film in university. But the bands were still going on and I later realized that’s what I loved.”
Yes We Mystic has evolved since its inception, and there’s been a few line-up changes along the way.
“This current line-up is more or less a couple of years old,” he said. And there’s no doubt there’s a powerful creative chemistry among the members. The band has been praised as ‘the purest orchestral pop, and charged with a fearless creative energy’.