Population pushes musical boundaries

The Most Serene Republic take on suburbia, family values and the term ‘indie rock’

The Most Serene Republic have a complicated relationship with indie music and the suburbs.
The Most Serene Republic have a complicated relationship with indie music and the suburbs.
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The Most Serene Republic may not have the most serene views on suburbia, family values or what it means to be an indie band, but they do have a rockin’ new record which they will be promoting during their concert tomorrow night at the Ale House.

Released on Oct. 2, The Most Serene Republic’s Population marks a crescendo in their musical arc, which began in 2005 with Underwater Cinematographer and continued last year with their live disc Phages.

Population is a musical feast of lovely. As a record, it’s composed of layered sounds defying genre. Like Underwater Cinematographer, Population uses vocals as another instrument to compliment their overall sound. Lyrics melt into strings and become another ethereal rhythm that beats alongside their gentle drum.

Although this genre-defying album may appear to be an indie-rocker’s dream, Adrian Jewett, lead vocalist for The Most Serene Republic, doesn’t think that “indie rock” is a legitimate classification.

“I don’t think there is any genre of indie rock,” Jewett told the Journal. “I think it’s more the leftovers from the other, more clearly defined genres of rock.

“I think indie rock is a big mess. You could just be a tuba player, playing classical licks at a show and that would be indie music. … Indie rock is that other mishmash of cultures and all the homage to flashback disco rock that panders to the suburban white kid with the polyester pants.”

Despite The Most Serene Republic’s record deal with Arts&Crafts, they make unique music, independent from their counterparts on the label.

“We feel very tied down by the verse-chorus, verse-chorus structure,” Jewett said. “We heard it, we grew up with it, and we realized that we didn’t have to do that any more; we could do something else and it would be a lot of fun.

“Everyone in the band has a different panache for different structures in a song that take you on a very rough trip, an undulating journey to the centre of whatever-it-is.”

For this band, their journey begins with layers.

“It actually comes from Ryan [Lenssen],” Jewett said.

“He writes the song on the piano, and drums are added, then bass and guitar. Ryan is the whole framework and structure for the house. He’s our woodsman, and from there we’re the capricious little interior decorators: ‘What about a couch? That should be a couch right there. What about a table?’”

Somewhere within their musical house, The Most Serene Republic have time to write the lyrics that finish everything off.

Jewett said the band collects pleasure and stories from daily life and transforms that into the musical offering they put forth, both on the stage and in their records.

“[We are] collectors of pleasure every day and living in displeasure as each day goes by, having moments of complete pleasure. We wake up, we have breakfast, and that’s a pleasure,” he said.

“Basically, [we are] writing the highs and lows of everyday life and that is as much as we can say. … I know that when I leave everything I’ll want to know that I crammed my head with as many stories as I could. … It’s very flighty, and that being so, so are a lot of people we’ve met.”

These stories fill Population, although being told more through the emotion-driving score than the sometimes unintelligible lyrics. Jewett explained that The Most Serene Republic’s desire was to make people think emotionally.

“We’re very brain-based now,” he said. “We really do have a second brain in the stomach that functions for more of our animal reflexes. … That’s where we experience all the more carnal emotions. … The body is definitely the sidekick to the brain.

“It’s that partnership, though, that the whole band tends to focus on. It’s what we write about,” Jewett said. “It’s the only battle we have now, between what your mind is saying and what your body wants.”

Despite this, it would seem The Most Serene Republic has another battle brewing—a battle against the breakdown of the family structure and the surge in suburban living. Jewett’s worried about the future of family meals, and he wants to get that off his chest.

“I’m afraid for the future as far as home-cooked meals go and the increase of microwaveable dinners for any family,” Jewett said. “Everyone’s going to university now and there’s a very low percentage of families being started with more of a sense of the homemaker. … No one’s learning to cook and everyone’s going off to school doing career-based things that keep them away from home.”

The focus on suburban life is evident from the moment you pick up Population, which has a child’s cookie-cutter neighbourhood on the cover. But Jewett denies the album was inspired by the band’s hometown of Milton.

“That’s just one of the many components of the album, of what we wrote about,” he said. “When is too much enough? When is enough enough? [Life is] so efficient now it makes me sick, because efficiency leads to no surprises.

“It’s better to talk very little and say something worth very much, than to talk very much and say so very little.”

The Most Serene Repbulic plays tomorrow night at the Ale House at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance.

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