After a whirlwind two years of extensive touring that took them across the United States and Europe, Halifax’s Mauno is taking a much deserved break this summer.
The term “break” should be used loosely however, as the band isn’t giving themselves much time to catch their breath. Despite singer/guitarist Nick Everett saying that the band is taking the summer off, Mauno is currently writing and testing out new ideas in preparation for recording their third album in October. Fans will soon be able to hear what these new ideas sound like as Mauno is gearing up for a weekend jaunt of three Canadian festivals, including stops at Sudbury’s Up Here Festival, Toronto’s Wavelength festival, and Ottawa’s Bon-Fire on Saturday night.
Mauno has a rare ability to combine pop-oriented sounds with lyrics that can often touch on vulnerable human relationships, qualities best exemplified on last year’s acclaimed Tuning. Apt613 caught up with Nick Everett in the midst of a “massive apartment clean” as he prepares to leave for a weekend of festival appearances.
Apt613: I was at your recent show at l’Escogriffe, in Montreal, where Mauno debuted some very catchy new songs. How many new songs will be in your set this weekend, and how much do they expand from songs off Tuning?
Nick Everett: We’re actually working on the new record right now, it’s kind of just starting to take shape. I think on our new songs we’re really learning to simplify things and be more melody-conscious. It doesn’t always work though; sometimes to make things fit in a more simple structure you actually end up making them much more complicated.
It’s a terrifying thing to try, but I think we’ve really succeeded on a couple of the new songs. I find the simple structure leaves you a lot more vulnerable than when you’re playing a ton of notes and keeping yourself busy focusing on what your fingers are doing. Instead, you’re left pretty bare with the emotions.
Some of the songs we’ve toured will be on the next record, and I think now about half of our set will be made up of new songs. Actually, this weekend at Bon-Fire we’ll be playing three new songs that we’ve never played before for anybody.
Apt613: Do these simpler arrangements mean that you’re trying to put more of a focus on your lyrics?
We’re trying to. That’s something that I really want to get better at. I don’t really know what our forte is, but I’ve always been nervous that my lyrics weren’t the band’s strongpoint. This time we’re really putting a lot more thought into the lyrics. The new songs are still only half-realized, so we’re looking forward to testing them out this weekend to see which ones work. They’re at a point where we definitely can perform them, but I know that we’re going to go back to the studio and back to the drawing board in figuring these songs out. There’s a pretty good chance that the final versions of these songs won’t sound anything like they sound this weekend.
Apt613: How much of the new album has been recorded already?
We actually haven’t started yet, we’re gearing up to start recording the new album in October. We thought it would be a good idea to take the summer off just to write and practice. We’re actually going to be recording it with Chad VanGaalen at his studio in Calgary, so it’s going to be a big jump from our familiar home recordings.
We usually just record our albums out of one of our friend’s houses here in Halifax, so this is going to be the first time we really record in a professional studio setting. I haven’t been to Chad’s studio yet and I don’t even really know what it looks like, but one of our friends saw it and described it as “magical”.
Apt613: The field recordings interspersed throughout Tuning really tied the songs on the album together. Would you say there are any themes lyrically or musically running through the new songs you’ll be playing this weekend?
My lyrics seem to always be focused on human relationships. Many of these songs are about the feeling of being really heartbroken in a relationship. A lot of it usually come from a place of wanting to heal, and I think most of these songs express some sort of confessional quality. They’re almost like an admission that we wouldn’t be able to say otherwise.
Apt613: Mauno has played in Ottawa several times, notably there was a big set at the last Megaphono festival. What sticks out to you the most about your Ottawa shows?
We’ve honestly had tons of great shows in Ottawa. Every single time that we come to Ottawa there’s a community that we’re introduced to that seems to grow by a little bit. I’m excited for this weekend, especially because it seems like maybe all the different groups of people that we’ve met over the years in Ottawa will be congregating at the festival. Something about playing in Ottawa just really feels kind of warm. As an outsider looking in, it seems that everyone is really invested in Bon-Fire being a special weekend of music.
Apt613: With a stacked eclectic lineup at Bon-Fire, there’s a strong chance that attendees will discover new favourite artists and sounds. What’s a song form another band playing this weekend that you would recommend listeners check out?
Chad VanGaalen’s work is incredible. We toured with Chad this past year, and my favourite song that he played is called “Pine and Clover”. It’s off his most recent record and I would highly recommend it.
Mauno play Arboretum Festival’s Bon-Fire at Rideau Pines Farm (5714 Fourth Line Rd) on Saturday August 18, 2018. Weekend passes range from $49.99–59.99 and include a shuttle bus to/from downtown Ottawa. Weekend and day passes are available online. Visit arboretumfestival.com for the full schedule.