by Katie Rankin
After several years in the local scene, Boxer the Horse knows a lot about music, but the band also knows almost as much about Caesars—where to get the best ones in Canada, in Charlottetown and even Caesar-making competitions. With the release of their sophomore album French Residency this month and a national tour with Juno Award-winning group Said the Whale, the guys hope to gain even more momentum, and will most likely drink a few Caesars.
Produced by Alec O’Hanley and recorded during the end of summer and into the fall in O’Hanley’s basement and drummer Isaac Neily’s barn, French Residency was created with a low-maintenance approach. “We did it on a little tape machine for the most part, reel to reel on two-inch tape. It was pretty rewarding to do it like that,” says guitarist and singer Jeremy Gaudet. Gaudet likens recording on tape versus digitally onto a computer to taking a picture with an analog camera versus taking a picture on a digital camera and giving it an analog effect. “Most people probably wouldn’t be able to tell but it’s the satisfaction you get knowing you’re physically imprinting your sound on tape,” says Gaudet.
Some of the songs were recorded with little to no rehearsal, a technique that influenced the sound. “The goal was to record it loosely, and as quickly and as scrappy as possible on old equipment,” says Gaudet. The band recorded about 17 songs, but ended up cutting it down to 11, leaving behind the ballad-y numbers. “It’s kind of a party record,” says bass player Christian Ledwell. Gaudet says they kept the album “intentionally upbeat” since those would be the songs fans would most enjoy.
Since Boxer’s last record, 2010‘s Would You Please, the group has switched up members and who plays what instrument. Former drummer Andrew Woods, now plays guitar, while Neily switched from guitar and keyboard to drums. Gaudet says Woods has a lot more input on the songwriting. “He takes on a much more active role in melodies and chords.” While, with Neily on drums, the songs feature less keyboard than previous recordings. Ledwell, who is also lead singer/songwriter for Milk and Rectangles, joined the band about a year ago. “I really kind of defer to these guys’ artistic direction, so it’s been interesting to learn and play someone else’s style.” French Residency will be released on March 13, with a release show at the Charlottetown Legion on March 23.