Republic of rock

The Most Serene Republic solidify their creative independence with their new label, Home of the Rebels

The Most Serene Republic may have got their start as the Robin to Broken Social Scene’s Batman but over the last decade have stepped into a limelight all their own.
Image supplied by: Supplied
The Most Serene Republic may have got their start as the Robin to Broken Social Scene’s Batman but over the last decade have stepped into a limelight all their own.

From bad times comes inspiration for The Most Serene Republic, including their newest EP, Fantastick Impossibliss. Such a unique title, naturally, required a bit of explanation. Pianist and back-up vocalist Ryan Lenssen described how he and lead vocalist Adrian Jewett, created the character “Fantastick Impossibliss.”

“We were going through some hard times and there were some problems with our personas,” he said. “He was fantasy sick. I would never be able to find bliss. This is who I am, this is how it is. It was an artistic expression of our longing to have a tomorrow; we really needed to get that out.”

Beyond the profound meaning, the recording process took a new approach from their last record …And The Ever Expanding Universe.

“The direction that it’s gone in this time is different,” Lenssen said. “We went back to having produced the album ourselves … I missed being in control behind the board, making the critical decisions … [getting] back to our roots.”

Becoming more creatively independent, the band has formed their own record label, Home of the Rebels, taken from an old song of their’s.

“Let’s not only name the label, but have our motto in the label name as well,” Lenssen said. “You have to know this music is from people who aren’t too concerned with what else is going on in the world as far as stylistic popularity. The coolest people are those that don’t … give a shit.” In response to the changing music industry, their best option was to go their own route.

“In the last five years, the industry has changed more than probably the last 20 years combined,” Lenssen said. “You can’t really be on a label … in the indie world and expect to be making … money without massive amounts of debt.”

After having worked with Arts & Crafts, their former record label, for a number of years, the group still maintains a strong connection.

“They have our full blessing,” said Ryan. “It’s going to be better for us if we get the support from the fans … so we don’t have all these people that would take a cut out of every record we sell.”

With a continuously evolving sound, the band places the onus of influence on the music they listen to.

“Over the years your pop sensibilities change … we sort of go through these little fits of being obsessed, and can’t help but apply it,” Lenssen said. “[But] there are always some strings that continue on no matter what.”

Most Serene Republic has built up a team of talented musicians through the years with every member in the group bringing their own skill set.

“In the early days, it was pretty much Adrian and I that wrote everything. Now … I’ve been able to … just be a producer and less a composer all the time,” Lenssen said. “Everybody … is bringing something. I get surprised out of it and I end up enjoying the music as a fan.”

No doubt it’s this collaboration that has brought about their success, a notable one being their Juno nomination for Heavens to Purgatory, a pop single from …And the Ever Expanding Universe.

“To be recognized on that scale in Canada was a dream come true for me. At first I thought, ‘It’s a scam,’” Lessen said.

“Being … in the room with … those people you’ve always looked up to, I wouldn’t take it back for anything.”

Fans may also find it interesting to hear that, teaming up with Roots and Douglas Coupland, The Most Serene Republic’s music was used for Douglas Coupland’s clothing line.

“Roots thought ‘Pink Noise’ would be perfect for the Douglas Coupland campaign they were doing,” said Lessen. “We did a bunch of promo videos for them, I did the music for their various ads … and they said they were going to make us some clothes out of it.”

Having taken some down time since their last album, the band was able to reflect on their past few years of heavy touring.

“I don’t know if I want to do one of those massive touring years again,” Lessen said. “It detached us from reality. It was a really good experience just to stop and be in one place for a while.”

When speaking with Lenssen, there was a lot of excitement surrounding their current line-up of shows.

“If people want to come see a different kind of show that we put on, this is definitely the time to see us.”

Recalling their days of opening for renowned bands such as Broken Social Scene and The Strokes, the band is looking forward to filling the opening slot for Ra Ra Riot this time around.

“When you’re headlining it’s a completely different position to be in; everything is different,” Lessen said. “This is going to be fun for me; less work, more fun.”

Leaving those aspiring for a career in music with an encouraging word, Lenssen suggests avoiding record labels and agents.

“We live in an independent age. Everything should be home grown nowadays,” Lessen said. “If you have the content and the ability to reach an audience, that’s all you need.”

With high expectations for the upcoming LP, there is always something new to anticipate.

“The next record’s not going to sound like Fantastick,” Lessen said. “It’s always an evolution of something. Sometimes you end up with wings sometimes you end up with gills. This is how new music is made.”

The Most Serene Republic play Chalmers St. United Church with Ra Ra Riot tomorrow at 8 p.m.

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