Chris Maclean tells how the group grew from a dance band daydream to a rock band reality.
Chris Maclean can pen a damn catchy song. From his days writing and performing with On Vinyl and Stereo Airing (arguably two of Fredericton’s most infectious, catchy and highly danceable pop rock outfits from the past decade) to his present day work as a member of Mayors, it would appear his skill for constructing emotive lyrics and infectious melodic progressions knows no limits.
While Mayors seems the perfect continuum for Maclean’s well-established musical trajectory, writing pop songs wasn’t at the top of his to-do list when he first put the group together.
“In the beginning, Mayors was supposed to be a dance band,” said Maclean. “I didn’t want to write pop songs anymore. We had just finished-up doing a series of LCD Soundsystem tribute shows and essentially this is the same band, with a few exceptions.”
“I had been getting really into electronic music and decided that that was the direction I wanted to take things, as strange as that sounds,” he said. “I wanted to get away from having people listen to my music and say it sounds like Sloan or Matthew Good Band or The Inbreds, and I didn’t want people to think, ‘that guy loves Murder Records. He probably owns every album on Murder Records’, even if that is the truth.”
Between the four members who contributed to the band’s debut full-length, Offers, which drops November 18, Mayors’ collective musical lineage is nothing short of impressive. Tim Walker (bass) and Brad Perry (guitar) are both members of Grand Theft Bus (Perry is also responsible for a wealth of seminal NB recordings through his work as a recording engineer) and drummer Adam Guidry’s list of acts past and present includes The Belle Comedians, David R. Elliott, Yorks, CHIPS and several others.
“Tim is the most rhythmic musician I’ve ever worked with or watched perform,” said Maclean. “What he and Bob (Deveau) have in Grand Theft Bus is pretty crazy to me. Tim wrote all the bass lines on our album and there were even times when I had a song and wasn’t happy with it until he put a bass line to it.”
It wasn’t until the group began hashing out ideas and putting structures to Maclean’s songs, that they discovered their collective interpretation was quickly veering away from the initial idea and directing them back towards familiar territory.
“Initially I thought Brad would be a hybrid guitar/keyboard player in the group, but it turns out he loves 90s rock as much as I do,” said Maclean. “The ideas he brought to the table were fantastic, so after we started working these songs it was evident we had a rock record on our hands.”
So they just went for it. In July of 2014 the band released the EP, Goes On, Falls Off, and began playing occasional hometown shows.
It’s now been a little over two years since that first EP was released and with this week’s release of Offers, Maclean’s love for pop songs has never been more clear or refined. The hooks may be less immediate this time around, but once they hit there’s no shaking them.
Tandy, the first single off the new album, was released on November 8 and is as much a classic Maclean pop song as it is an affirmation that pop music is so deeply engrained in his creative process, the relationship they share is something most of us can only hope to achieve in our own creative pursuits.
“I guess I just gravitate towards pop music,” said Maclean. “I tried to do something different and I didn’t quite get there, but in the end, I’m still pretty satisfied.”
“To me, if someone can actually figure out how to write what they’re trying to write, they’re a better songwriter than I am. I think about songs I want to write and I can’t do it. But I’m still always happy with what I end up with.”
Grab a copy of Offers November 18.