The Motorleague – Moncton rockers craft honest hymns for the present and departed

Moncton punk rock band The Motorleague has been growing their fan base in New Brunswick and throughout the Maritimes based on the strength of their live show and their melodic, high-energy songs.

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The group is getting ready to celebrate the release of their first full-length record Black Noise, which hits stores nationwide May 19.

For their brand-new record, The Motorleague find themselves associated with Fredericton’s Forward Music Group.

Although they were intending to release the record independently, Forward stepped up to the plate and offered to lend the band their expertise to make sure maximum listeners will be exposed to the group. “It’s fantastic because it feels like we have a team working on the record and pushing the record on our behalf,” says vocalist/guitarist Don Levandier.

“The label has a library of resources and contacts that we wouldn’t have had access to. Plus, having our record associated to a label will help it be taken more seriously by those who don’t know the group.

“Going with Forward seemed like the most logical way to help bring the band to the next level.”

With distribution through indie distribution powerhouse Sonic Unyon in Hamilton, Ont., not only will this be The Motorleague’s first full-length release but it will also be the first national release for the group.

Forward is home to many other New Brunswick bands, but The Motorleague’s record sees the label moving away from the perception it being jam-band oriented.

Guitarist Nathan Jones concurs, stating: “I think our record is definitely outside of the Forward norm to date in terms of expanding the diversity of the genres on their label.

“I think that James (Boyle, label owner) doesn’t want Forward to be pigeon-holed into a certain type of band or sound.”

Black Noise was recorded in June 2008 in Toronto at the famed Chemical Sound studio where others such as Death From Above 1979 and The Weakerthans made records before them.

Ian Blurton, current front man for Canadian rock band C’mon, oversaw the proceedings in the role of producer.

Although The Motorleague and C’mon have shared many concert stages in the past, this was the first instance where the group had a chance to work with Blurton in a different capacity.

“Ian had us try a number of things on this record that were different from what we were used to,” says Levandier.

Asked to elaborate, Levandier said Blurton eliminated him doubling his vocal tracks while also adding other instruments like the trumpet on Hymn For The Newly Departed to help flush out the sound.

“I wasn’t a fan of the trumpet in the beginning,” admits Levandier, “but the more and more I heard it, the more I got used to it. Now, I can’t picture it not being in the song.”

In addition to having a new record to release, the group also has a video for their song Hymn For The Newly Departed being shown on the night of their CD release at the Paramount Lounge.

The video was shot at the neighboring Manhattan Bar and Grill one Sunday afternoon in March.

Moncton video company The Postman, which normally does work for the CBC and Radio-Canada, shot the video and this marks the company’s first foray into the field of music videos.

“It was a long day,” recalls Jones. “We went in at 9 a.m. and walked out of there at 9:30 that night. The extras in the video were at the bar for over eight hours and we ended up shooting footage for six and a half of those hours.”

“We were lucky enough to have 50 of our friends come down and hang out for the day for nothing more than pizza,” rejoins Levandier.

“They simply came just to hang out and see everything go down. It was incredible.”

With music channels playing fewer and fewer music videos with each passing day, some might argue that investing time and even the smallest amount of money into one is like flushing money down the drain.

“We realize that stations like Muchmusic don’t seem to play much in the way of music videos anymore but we will submit it to them nonetheless,” says Jones.

“What do we have to lose?”

Levandier jumps in to complete the thought:

“YouTube is the dominant format for videos these days; iTunes is selling music videos; people post videos on Facebook.

“There are so many other outlets which can be just as effective and give the band exposure that if Muchmusic don’t pick up the video for rotation, it’s not going to be a big defeat or anything.”

“I think that people will be surprised when they see the final cut,” agrees Jones.

“From what I’ve seen, it looks really cool.”

With a brand new record and video in the can, the next logical question for the band would be what kind of touring and promotional efforts they are going to put into the record.

“We are aiming to tour as much as possible without having to quit our jobs,” says Levandier, which echoes the reality faced by many bands throughout the country.

“Our expectations for the record are realistic though; Forward would love us to go across Canada and I would love to do it. I’m also really interested in trying to get the band to Europe for a tour.”

“That’s another definite perk coming from our relationship with Forward,” says Jones.

“They have artists who have toured where we would like to find ourselves touring . . . that brings their contacts (to our) shows.

“We are also very lucky in that we have had other bands like White Cowbell Oklahoma and The Real Mckenzies tell us that if we plan on heading to Europe, they have recommendations they can pass along to us in terms of clubs to play and clubs to avoid. We’re incredibly lucky to have such great people to rely upon.”

Fans of The Motorleague will have two chances to help them celebrate the release of Black Noise on Friday May 8: The first show is an early, all-ages affair to be held at Moncton’s Aberdeen Cultural Centre on Botsford Street with a start-time of 6 p.m.

The second show that night is a licensed show at the Paramount Lounge on Main Street in Moncton.

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