A drunken conversation in a Winnipeg bar got the wheels rolling for Gold Mountain, a new folk-rock-pop band featuring some familiar faces. Jamming officially began in 2011 after vocalist/guitarist Kris Rendina’s old band Talk City opened some shows for guitarist Martin LaFrenière’s technical punk group High Five Drive.
“We got talking because both our bands ended around the same time and I’ve always loved his songwriting,” LaFrenière, who also fronts Clipwing, says. “I like playing any type of music and working with good musicians is key. I’ll play anything as long as it’s with good people and good vibes.”
In 2012 keyboardist Tabitha Hemphill and drummer Dave Jardine joined the band, which really started to take itself seriously this February when it began creating the five-song The Gold Mountain Players Revue EP.
“It’s hard to find musicians you really click well with, but once you finally get the line-up together the momentum really starts rolling,” LaFrenière says.
The band recorded the EP at Broken Ground Productions with JP Laurendeau, who has most notably worked with local folk/country songwriter Del Barber.
LaFrenière set up an open casting call through Facebook. Laurendeau’s pitch impressed the quartet the most, and was brought on board. He’ll also play bass with Gold Mountain at the EP release show as the quartet hasn’t locked in a full-time bassist.
“He’s a super good producer that has a really good set-up in his home studio,” LaFrenière says. “The nice thing about Winnipeg is you kind of get your pick of the litter. There’s a lot of great large studios that do hyper quality stuff and a lot of little guys that can still make their rigs sound huge, which is awesome.”
According to the band the whole process went rather smoothly, except for making sure the guitars actually stayed in tune.
“I was ready to smash those things,” LaFrenière says. “Few things will suck the fun out of a recording session as much as technical issues and that was the only one that we realistically encountered.”
The songs are primarily written by Rendina and contain a blend of folk-rock influenced by Bob Dylan, Queen, Styx and other acts from the ‘60s and ‘70s. “Separation Anxiety” serves as a highlight, featuring pounding keyboards and classically styled guitar leads. There’s also an Old West twist that shapes some of the lyrics and the band name itself.
“I think Kris has a penchant for old-timey sort of stuff,” LaFrenière says. “It kind of makes you think that we’re a band you might see in a saloon somewhere with big mustaches, bowler hats, stuff like that.”
In 2015 the band plans to start recording more material and will have another show booked during the annual Big Fun Festival in January.
“Making music is largely self-gratifying, but we really want other people to start enjoying this band now too,” LaFrenière adds.
Published in Volume 69, Number 14 of The Uniter (December 3, 2014)