When it comes to the menacing sounds of post-punk, the theme of isolation shows up again and again as an inspiration for the anguished punk hybrid. From bands like Salford, UK's Joy Division to Louisville, Kentucky's Slint, the depressing states of remote towns act as an impetus to break out through music.
But for Noel Macdonald of Long Weekends, his inspiration to start a new band came from an entirely different form of isolation: feeling like the old guy in a Montreal dormitory.
"I was the oldest guy in the program by about five years on average," he laughs, reminiscing about the summer he spent learning French in Quebec. "I lived in a dorm years ago and it was awful then, and it was awful a second time around being in a dorm but way older than everybody."
Prior to departing for Montreal, Macdonald had spent a few years playing in Tomcat Combat and A History Of. He had even toyed around with the idea of starting a new band with bassist Devin Peck that resembled the pop-punk riffage of The Riverdales.
"A lot of bands just never make it off the runway, and that one just kind of didn't come to fruition," Macdonald says of his side project.
So his musical aspirations were put on hold when he went away to study. But after becoming increasingly bored with life in a dormitory, Macdonald borrowed a guitar from a friend and began reworking some of the songs he had shelved. The songs took on a new life, slowing down and taking on a dream-pop and '80s post-punk sound.
"When I came home Devin knew half the songs because we had played them in a band together already, and I had kind of been waiting to play in a band with [drummer] Adam [Hartling], for years and the opportunity never presented itself," he says.
After playing for a few months, the band began a recording assault, releasing their debut Warmer Weather EP in March, and digital single "Shame On You" this past October. Macdonald says the unorthodox recording output was inspired by late local act Long Long Long, who recorded constantly to keep fans, and the band, interested in what it was creating.
With that in mind, the group relocated to St. Margaret's Bay recording studio Labour Day Picnic with Bloodhouse drummer Gabe Wallot-Beale as engineer late last year. Recorded in a single day, the band played the instrumental tracks that wound up on its new Noyes Records seven-inch, Don't Wait Out, with Macdonald recording the vocals later at home.
"We're a pretty easy band to record I think. We just record it all live off the floor," Macdonald says. "I don't think we need too much studio trickery to get our point across."
In fact, Macdonald considers this one of the easiest bands he's ever played and recorded with, adding that the strict garage and punk framework of the three-piece allows him more creativity than he's ever felt before. And Macdonald says that Long Weekends' upbeat post-punk was partly inspired by a pretty poppy album: The Beatles' With The Beatles.
"There's some desperation and the songs are a bit neurotic, which is something I kind of always strive for," he says, laughing. "That's what I like the most about punk music too. It's always a bit neurotic and always tense and someone is always upset about something and never happy, so it makes it interesting."
Long Weekends w/Dyscontrol, Monomyth, Friday, January 13 at Gus' Pub, 2605 Agricola, 10:30pm, $5