Flourish Festival is back for a third year, taking place in Fredericton, N.B. from April 20 to 23. The fest brings together bands from all over Canada with an emphasis on the local New Brunswick scene. We chatted with Brookside Mall about the band’s new EP Preservation that comes out on April 14th via Front Porch Records. It’s a six-song EP with vulnerable lyrics filled with nostalgia as the band dives into previous experiences.
“I think coping mechanism is definitely the best way to put it,” says vocalist and keyboard player Brendan MaGee who wrote the lyrics for the record after the end of a long-term relationship.
“The album came out of a pretty rough time.”
The songs on Preservation were written over a year ago with the exception of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone cover “Natural Light”. The band took a break from recording after MaGee quit his job and travelled for a month and got back into what he describes as great mental shape.
“We were recording the album, we took a long break, so I’m trying to lay down vocal tracks and do them justice, and it’s like I’m feeling particularly less broody than I was when I wrote these songs,” says MaGee.
The songwriter has a habit of recording vocal and piano demos as voice memos on his phone. Those old recordings helped shape Preservation as MaGee used them to tap into the original sentiments of when the lyrics were conceived.
“For some reason, my mind can’t remember exactly the point at which every single note is supposed to go. To draw on (voice memos) and really capture the best possible vision of the song — it’s a weird process, it seems to work.”
Despite lyrics inspired by a dark period and songs also double as a coping mechanism, the end result has a sense of triumph. Hope is present, buoyed by the energy of MaGee’s vocals as he works through comes to terms with the past without throwing around blame. Final track “Garden” opens with the lyrics “seeing clearly for the first time since this last year” and backs up that sentiment with a changing tempo powered by crashing cymbals, subtle backing vocals and a guitar riff that brings closure to the whole endeavour.
From school to pool to trio
The Preservation EP is the second release from Brookside Mall, a band that started off as a duo when first formed in 2014. MaGee met drummer Josh Steeves through a mutual friend and became friends after taking classes together at St. Thomas University in Fredericton.
“We realized we both used to play music quite a bit, but hadn’t really been doing anything actively the last couple years,” says MaGee.
The duo played a show with David in the Dark at the Parkindale Hall in Albert County, N.B., near Moncton in 2016 . After the show, members from both bands played pool together and Brookside Mall acquired a new band member in the process.
“Dylan (Ward), who’s the bass player in both Brookside Mall and David in the Dark, lost the pool game so he had to pony up and play some low-end in the band.”
As for the band’s name, it’s taken from a mall that shares the same name. It’s hard to get to by public transit and MaGee says the interior reminds him of something from Twin Peaks.
“It seemed kind of fitting to pay homage to such a weird, forgotten about landmark in the city.”
Brookside Mall plays Flourish Fest at Read’s Cafe and Newsstand. All ages show $7, doors 6:30/music 7pm. Playing with Fish Food, Owen Meany’s Batting Stance and Future States.
Press photos of Brookside Mall by Michael Mohan