McDon’s House opens doors to bands

Armed with a Canon high-definition video camera and a wealth of audio and video recording experience between them, local musicians Kyle McDonald and John Jerome have created quite a buzz for themselves with their Internet-exclusive series known as The McDon’s House. In the 14 episodes that the pair have produced so far, they have shown that, as opposed to mainstream media shows seen on traditional television, even the smallest of budgets can go a long way to producing a world-class product. The show is arguably a phenomenal outlet for bands to showcase their wares to a potentially unlimited audience located anywhere in the world.

McDonald says that part of the idea for what would become The McDon’s House stemmed from another Internet-exclusive web series that focused on local and regional musicians. That series, known as Sessions With… was a Moncton-based production that ceased making new episodes approximately three years ago. Like Sessions however, The McDon’s House primary goal is to promote and expose talent regardless of mainstream potential, hosting their guests in the cozy confines of McDonald’s basement. Don’t be fooled by the informal surroundings, however. Each episode of the duo’s series could arguably stand shoulder-to-shoulder with like-minded productions that have 10 times the budget of McDonald and Jerome’s work.

Neither are strangers to the Moncton music scene. In addition to his own solo work, Jerome currently performs with McDonald in the band Red Rum while McDonald himself also performs with Cop Shades among other bands.

But in addition to playing music, McDonald has been actively recording bands in his basement studio for well over a dozen years. It was this environment that helped Jerome appreciate just how much work his partner had done over the past 12 years.

“Our band Red Rum started practising in my basement,” MacDonald begins, “and this was essentially the first time that John had been out of his ‘regular’ practice environment. He was definitely aware of me having recorded bands in my basement over the last 12 years but he was seemingly so inspired by the vibe and creation process at my house that one day, he sat down and wrote a theme song about coming to my house to play songs.

“The next day, he played me the song that would become The McDon’s House theme song, and also mentioned an idea about wishing we could somehow capture the moments of bands jamming and recording in my basement.

“Once we started putting our heads together, we realized that what we could accomplish was amplified to such an extent that the possibilities were really exciting for both of us as huge supporters and fans of good independent music, locally and otherwise.”

To date, the duo has made an impressive 14 episodes of The McDon’s House, covering a wide array of music, on local and national scales.

Among the bands included are Moncton jazz fusionists Les Paiens, indie rockers Thee Requiems and Toronto heavy metal band Cauldron. Each episode of The McDon’s House ranges from 10 minutes to 20 minutes with Episode 14 (the band’s final episode for the current season) clocking in at an impressive 32 minutes.

McDonald says the process of making an episode is completely collaborative between he and Jerome. Everything from selecting the bands to be featured to the editing process is a decision that the duo reaches together.

“John does most of the audio pre-production setup with all the microphone placements and cabling. He films the bands’ live performance, while I take care of the audio engineering side by recording it to 16-track. From mixing the audio to editing the filmed segments, we collaborate on the vision we have as to what the end product will sound and look like.”

McDonald estimates that any given episode of The McDon’s House takes anywhere from 10 to 20 hours to complete, from conception to having a final product for public consumption.

At this point, it is a pure labour of love for their craft and not a financial windfall that keeps the duo going. The reception afforded to the duo’s work has surpassed their wildest expectations however with McDonald saying the feedback they have received has been “absolutely overwhelming.”

Although production on The McDon’s House has stopped for the time being, McDonald is confident that he and Jerome will be back in the studio for another round of episodes before too long.

“We have been getting a serious amount of press but the word of mouth factor is beyond anything that we could have imagined. We have tried to diversify the genres we feature to cater to as wide of an audience as we can and frankly, the support has been incredible. At the end of the day, John and I can step back, watch an episode and be really proud and excited with the outcome of this beast that we essentially created on a whim. That is what keeps us going.”

To view any of the duo’s 14 episodes of The McDon’s House, head over to the online home of the series, located here.

Article published in May 20, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript