It’s January; you and your three closest friends are in a studio without heat or insulation; your fingers are freezing, and your dad is behind the board sipping tea, coolly recording your first album in as few takes as possible. While it would be easy to describe that experience as either heart-warming or traumatizing, for Bored Décor, it was close to perfect.
“It was very nice to have my dad record the album for us,” says Neriah Mair, drummer for the band. “He’s a huge snob, like a massive snob, and he would not do that for me unless he was into the music. So, for me to feel like it was worth bringing him in was really nice.”
While the comfort of having someone so close to the band record their debut LP, The Colour Red, was a huge boon, the reality of recording in the winter demanded as short a studio experience as possible.
“It was freezing cold,” explains Nikolas Barkman, lead singer and one half of Bored Décor’s guitar players. “We recorded the whole thing in two live sets [over two days]. Everything on the album was probably done in three takes.”
“We were trying to do it really quickly, to be honest,” Mair laughs. “We were trying not to waste any time.”
Beyond the recording process, the idea of not wanting to waste time seems to be Bored Décor’s modus operandi. The Colour Red is a miscellany of old material — the type of songs that have been rehearsed and polished to the point that they could be laid down live in only a couple tries. Sonically, it’s a joy to listen to, with the band entirely in their element, ripping through the kind of tunes you can’t help but imagine jumping along to in the front row of a show.
What’s more, the addition of their newest member, guitarist Colin Osler, was very much a result of not wanting to waste time either. With the brief departure of pianist and organ player Ryan Quist from Bored Décor’s line-up, Barkman and Mair felt the need to bring someone else on board in short order.
“I had a feeling that Colin would show up and be a really good fit,” Mair explains. “It was instant — first practice, first five minutes, it was very clear it was going to work out.”
Practically overnight, Bored Décor turned from a three-piece into a four-piece, as Quist returned to the band shortly after Osler’s first practice.
“It was very comforting coming into a band and having songs already be written,” says Osler. “I knew Neriah and Nik, and Ryan and I got along well. The process of getting to know them was very much fast-forwarded.”
Despite the immediate closeness and camaraderie of the band, when it comes to writing music, those attributes aren’t necessarily at the forefront of Bored Décor’s creative process.
“It’s not the kind of thing where we’re not nice or anything, I just think we’re all quite strange,” Mair quips.
“I think there’s an element of every one of us individually having very different tastes,” Barkman adds. “[Our] music can be very weird, we’re all over the place in terms of influence.”
It’s a statement that rings true on The Colour Red. Guitar lines that at first sound like they’re from Tony Iommi’s personal catalogue quickly brighten into something more Jonathan Richman-esque; Barkman’s lyricism and vocal styling, at times bluesy and warbling, can just as quickly pop off with a punk punch. It’s easy to see that Bored Décor takes inspiration from all kinds of music, and they’re happy to admit it: from punk to pop, blues to hip hop, and all the weird shit Quist listens to that the band lovingly chides him for.
Speaking to their writing process, the group agrees that they still approach songs with an ear for how they’ll sound live, rather than fixate on what they could concoct in a studio.
“There’s a pretty big divide between live music and recorded music,” says Quist. “If I was writing for recording, I don’t even know if I’d want to perform those songs; it almost wouldn’t be the intended medium.”
Barkman adds, “That’s a record-first, show-after situation, where I think we go in the opposite direction.”
To that end, Bored Décor are dedicated to the idea that their live shows be more than four guys playing music onstage. The notion of performance is one that they hope to push further as time goes on, with Mair suggesting their ideal show would comprise of 40 minutes of music with 20 minutes of other theatrics, but acknowledges the hardships of trying to make that a reality when you’re playing short sets to new audiences.
In the meantime, the band continues to find inspiration watching their peers in action, citing shows from Western Canadian acts like YEP and Crack Cloud who can perform “so seriously, yet so casually.”
“It’s funny because that’s probably the thing that’s happened over the last year that has changed us the most,” Barkman opines. “It’s not our own shows, but seeing other acts and discovering new bands that really give us inspiration musically, but also just through the way that they carry themselves.”
With no time to waste, Bored Décor are pursuing new shows to play and new material to write. Just try and stay warm this time, fellas.
Do yourself a favour and go see Bored Décor’s album release show at Red Gate on September 22, with openers Champion Lawnmower, Watersports and Peggy and the Discount Country Band. There will a subsequent dance party hosted by the wonderful women of D.A.M.E..