It’s a few days before Mike Petkau Falk’s 32nd birthday, and he’s reflecting on the past 360-ish days.
“Thirty-one was a great year,” he says.
It’s easy to see why. The local musician started his job as artistic director at the West End Cultural Centre; launched the Head in the Sand music community, which includes Royal Canoe, Demetra Penner and Flying Fox and the Hunter-Gatherers; recorded an album with The Liptonians, the band he used to play guitar for; and got married.
He also finished work on Modern Myths, the full-length debut from Les Jupes, the four-piece rock band he’s fronted since 2007.
The group – rounded out by David Schellenberg (bass), Kelly Beaton (keyboards) and Adam Klassen (drums) – celebrates the release of the album with a concert this Saturday, Jan. 15 at Plug In ICA’s new Portage Avenue location.
The album release show comes almost two years after Falk and his then-bandmates Jeff Peters (bass), Patrick Keenan (keyboards) and Ian La Rue (drums) began working on the disc with
Montreal producer/recording engineer Marcus Paquin (Arcade Fire, Stars, Torngat).
Falk initially hoped to record the album in a matter of weeks.
“I wanted to be working on the second record by now,” he says. “But Marcus saw something more in the songs and wanted to take the time to find the right sounds.
“It felt really good to have Marcus see potential in the material,” he continues. “Marcus made it feel like the songs had more of a life than I was allowing them to have at that time. So, it quickly became, ‘Let’s do this right and take the time and work on it.’”
Work on the album was further delayed when Paquin was chosen to help record Arcade Fire’s critically acclaimed 2010 release, The Suburbs.
Modern Myths was worth waiting for, though. The 10-song album is sure to be one of the best local releases of 2011.
Influenced by The National and Nick Cave, and reminiscent at times of Interpol, Modern Myths is a deeply personal record. It’s an engaging rock album that commands the listener’s attention with its impeccable performances and production, topped off by Falk’s resonant baritone vocals.
Falk, who has released two solo records – 2002’s Parapet and 2005’s Don’t Say a Word – believes it’s his most fully-realized work to date.
“Honesty in music is essential,” says Falk, who blogged in June while mixing Modern Myths that “I’m not always sure I was a very honest person in my mid 20s.”
“(Music) should be a natural reflection of you as a person and how you think and relate to other people in the world,” he says. “I always felt that half of Don’t Say a Word was false or contrived, like I was putting on someone else’s hat.”
It’s the honesty in the Les Jupes material and Falk’s passion for it that drew Schellenberg to the project.
“(Mike) doesn’t doubt himself,” Schellenberg says. “He truly believes in this record and this project, and it’s pretty contagious. He really believes this band can do it, and I believe him too.”
So 32 is shaping up to be another great year for Falk. The release show will be the debut performance of a newly minted Les Jupes line-up, and the group will follow it up with a tour of Western Canada in February as well as appearances at Canadian Music Week in Toronto and South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
“Everyone’s on board and everyone’s excited and it’s fucking awesome,” Falk says of the band’s current line-up. “It’s going to make the next wave really exciting.”
Marcus Paquin spoke with The Uniter about working on Modern Myths. Click here to read the interview.
Published in Volume 65, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 13, 2011)