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Modern day sailors

By Dalhousie Gazette Staff

Ryan Lenssen, keyboardist and chief arranger for The Most Serene Republic, is on a break in Ontario before setting off on another jaunt along the east coast. He probably needs it. His band’s touring partners, Toronto’s Meligrove Band, have recently come down with a bout of the Jon and Kate of sicknesses: H1N1.
“I don’t think any of us have caught the swine,” says Lenssen. “But who knows what else we may be carrying.”
Emerging from Milton, Ontario, the band broke free of their hometown confines in the middle of the decade under the wing of Canadian powerhouse label Arts&Crafts.
In the summer of 2005, they opened up for Broken Social Scene and Modest Mouse for the much-hyped Olympic Island concert. Walking on stage amid the swirling synthesizer textures of Lenssen’s many keyboards, the band broke into a plethora of songs on their recently released Underwater Cinematographer. Those in Toronto took note, especially press such as Now magazine and Exclaim!
Their universe has expanded ever since.
“There’s no way in hell I’m going to forget that concert,” says Lenssen. “Unless I continue my habit of drinking.”
Over the next few years, the band endlessly toured while releasing albums and EPs consistently.
“It just sort of happened really quickly, or right away,” Lenssen reflects.
With three albums under their belts, a few big name TV appearances and a string of festival shows, it is hard to believe the band has been around for little more than five years.
With their new album …And the Ever Expanding Universe, the suburban Ontario septet has ditched the Moog synthesizer sounds and guitar trickery of Underwater Cinematographer in favour of something much more classically based. The album is decorated with baroque and romantic woodwinds, brass flourishes, strings and even a banjo. However, this sound is nothing new to the band.
“I think we’ve always had a classical base,” says Lenssen. “But it really came down to ambition and availability.”
For the first time in their short career, the band is able to explore a deeper sonic scope. They also do the unheard of; the album lacks any semblance of pretension generally associated with a rock band getting their Chopin on.
“More resources became available to us and are allowing us to expand on certain ideas,” explains Lenssen.
The result is one of the most ornate records on the Arts&Crafts label, something arguably a certain group of friends could never produce with as much glamour and glitz.
When asked if being associated with such famous Canadian bands as Broken Social Scene and Feist causes problems for the band, Lenssen is taken aback at the thought of it being a hamper on them. He feels that although it may somewhat overshadow some of their press endeavours, it certainly is a help and a blessing to be connected to other bands on the label.
“If I’m reading an article about a popular band and the things they are similar to are things I like, I’m much more likely to go and check out that band than, say, if they were compared to Simple Plan.”
Luckily for Most Serene Republic fans, the band doesn’t seem to be stopping their creative experimentation in favour of a mainstream sound anytime soon.
“The sort of motto we live by is that there is nothing you can’t do when it comes to art,” says Lenssen. “Risk and chance are everything. It doesn’t work so well in the real world. But when it comes to art, it seems to become the golden rule.”


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