Frank Deresti and the Lake Effect’s third full-length album, Hi’s and Lo’s, is an intimate journey that confronts some primal instincts and desires like fear, isolation, and human connection. Told through poetic lyrics, comforting harmonies, and warm instrumentation, it’s one of those albums that you can listen to on repeat and catch different elements every time. The band will be performing live in Collingwood at Simcoe St. Theatre on July 27th. A portion of these ticket sales go towards Kelly Schell, a Liddle Kidz™ Foundation Global Ambassador, in here upcoming volunteer mission to India. More info about that here: https://www.youcaring.com/liddlekidzfoundation-869235 . Ticket info for the show here: https://www.ticketscene.ca/events/18517/ You can also catch them at CROW. Bar and Variety on July 28th. Frank was kind enough to answer some of my questions about the band and Hi’s and Lo’s this past week.
LC: To start, could you give me a quick overview of the names of the musicians in the band at what instrument(s) they play?
FD: The band consists of: myself on vocals, guitar, banjo and songwriting, Jay Case on bass and vocals, Chris Johns on drums and vocals, Josh Norling on saxophone, trumpet, percussion and vocals, and Jay Stiles on keyboards and vocals.
LC: Have you been working with these guys for a long time? And what’s it like to organize a band when everyone’s off doing a bunch of different projects?
FD: I’ve been working with all these guys for several years in various projects. This particular group has been together since 2012. We generally schedule things way in advance in order to co-ordinate everyone’s schedule. Remarkably, considering everyone’s busy lives, it has been fairly easy for us to schedule tour, rehearsal, and recording schedules. Four of us live in the same city - Sault Ste. Marie, ON, so we are able to get together somewhat regularly. Jay Stiles has been living in Austin, Texas for the last couple of winters so we get together when we can and send information / songs / etc. through the internet as needed.
LC: Your songs seem to be really lyrically-driven. Do the words come first when you’re songwriting?
FD: Lyrics are very important to me, increasingly so, I think in recent years. Musical ideas tend come fairly easily to me, while lyrics tend to take a bit more work. Generally my process starts with a musical idea, say a chord progression and a sung melody, followed by a lyrical idea, which eventually gets hashed out into a song. For every song that I’ve written that I’ve kept and eventually recorded there have been several discarded drafts of other songs.
LC: The new album, Hi’s and Lo’s, is wonderful. Each time I listen to it I notice something else. Some of the vibes I’m getting from the album as I sink my teeth into it more, are feelings of hopefulness, with religious or spiritual undertones. Particularly in the songs “Fear”, “Somewhere in the Middle”, and “A Song We All”. And it looks like the album cover might relate to those ideas as well. Did you have certain concepts in mind with this album?
FD: Thank you very much! i think there is a general optimism or hopefulness as you say to my writing. I think that’s just who I am. I also see the spiritual side, although this is never intentional in my writing - it just comes out that way from time to time. To be honest, I often don’t know what I’m writing about until I’m well into the process. It’s kind of fun to discover what it is that I’m singing about and then carry on from there. Generally speaking I try to let the song take me somewhere and then, once I’ve figured out what it is about, try to guide it to completion. Songs are just fairly concise snippets of thousands of thought processes that somehow get funnelled into an audible expression. One of the things I love about this art form is the potential for various interpretations of each song.
LC: Who has been inspiring you musically, lately?
FD: Everybody. Everything. I’m fortunate enough to have a lot of really talented friends and colleagues and it’s exciting to be a part of a community of creative people. My friends, through their example, push me to raise the bar on my own creative work. I’m also continually seeking out new (to me) music and am inspired by different styles and approaches to music-making.
LC: Can you talk a bit about the process of putting the album together? Where was it recorded?
FD: We recorded this album in Duntroon, ON with Craig Smith at the controls. We decided we wanted to get away from distractions and sort of isolate ourselves in a focused environment with the express purpose of coming out with an album that we were proud of. Some of the songs had been written and worked out for awhile on the road. Others were written a few months before recording and worked out in a series of rehearsals at home. We had a pretty clear idea of what each song was supposed to sound like before we left for the studio, so the recording process went very smoothly. Craig and I had been wanting to work on a project together for a few years now, so it all lined up really nicely.
LC: Were there any obstacles that were difficult to tackle in putting this album together?
FD: The main obstacle was initially getting everyone together for a period of time where we could make it happen. Once we did that everything went really smoothly. There were some minor weather obstacles, as we were at the mercy of the Georgian Bay winter, but other than a minor issue of both of our vans sliding into ditches it all worked out o.k.
LC: What do you think is the best place and way to listen to an album? (i.e. in the car, in a listening room, with headphones while running, etc.)
FD: I think albums can work in various contexts. I think you get the most out of the experience if you remove distractions and listen with good headphones, but albums can work well on a long drive as well.
LC: What’s your connection to the Georgian Bay Area? And what keeps you connected to living and performing in Ontario?
FD: We started playing in the Georgian Bay area years ago when we were introduced to Bridges Tavern and Thornbury by Pat Robitaille. Over the course of several visits we met and became friends with a number of people in the area and developed a real connection to the region. Through that initial connection and later through Bruce St. Social Club House Concerts, as well as our connection with Craig Smith and several other area musicians / friends this area has become a sort of home away from home for us. Geographically as well, we are accustomed to and drawn to big water, so that plays a part as well.
LC: What are your thoughts on supporting local and live music?
FD: I think it is crucial to support live music, and to check out as many artists as you can. There are so many great things happening musically in this country that you will never hear of if you don’t get out and see what you can. We are in the midst of an Eastern Canada tour right now and I am moved by the connections we have made with so many people through the live music experience. Go see something! It will enrich your life. Now more than ever I think it is increasingly important to engage in real experiences, real human interaction. Live music events are a great place for this to happen.
LC: Where can people find out more about Frank Deresti & The Lake Effect, listen to/buy the album, and see your tour dates?
FD: You can check out www.frankderesti.ca for information, music, video, tour dates.
Thanks Frank! I’ll be at the Simcoe St. Theatre show on July 27th for sure, and I recommend that anyone else in the area get their tickets now too! It’s sure to be a beautiful evening.
Ticket info here: https://www.ticketscene.ca/events/18517/
Facebook Event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/653514351521303