by Katie Rankin
North Lakes is a rock and roll band in denial. Or at least they used to be. Leaving behind the band’s more folky, alt-country tinged sound, this month North Lakes release Grand Prix, the fast-moving follow-up to 2010’s Cobra. “We got to the point where we felt like we wanted to make an aggressive rock record because it’s just how we like to play. It’s how we engage with music, it’s reflective of a lot of music we really enjoy,” says lead singer and guitarist Nathan Gill.
Described as “a kick in the blood,” the album boasts eight songs under just 28 minutes. The lyrical concision required for these short songs challenges and interests Gill. “I’m curious about how attention spans operate with the way music is consumed these days,” says Gill. The band hopes this approach will allow listeners to connect with the brevity of both the songs and the album and end up putting it on repeat.
The idea of loops and closed circuitry is most obvious in the album title Grand Prix. However, each song has some connection to the album’s circular theme . “It’s about going around in circles in your head, driving around and ending up in the same position you started in,” says Gill.
The album was recorded mostly at Long Creek Church, an unused Baptist church. Gill, along with drummer Mike Carver, bassist Chris Francis, keyboard player Roger Carter and lead guitarist Chris Robinson, used the space to its advantage. Recognizing the monstrous room’s potential with its vaulted ceilings, the drums were set up on the altar. “And then we put a lot of the guitar amps at different points in the gymnasium in the basement. So we put the amps there for a really cool natural reverb through this basketball court,” says Gill.
Produced by North Lake’s friend and fellow musician Colin Buchanan (Paper Lions), the experience was a learning process for both sides. “It was really good to have a neutral ear to balance ideas off of and give his unbiased impressions of what would be going on,” says Gill. It was also unique because Buchanan knew the songs from their early stages, making his approach to the music personal, with a full understanding. Get your copy of the record at the Grand Prix release show at the Clover Club on May 5 in Charlottetown.