Emilie Marzinotto and Joseph Donovan
When an album takes six years to make, it’s usually due to a crisis within the band, interference from other projects or a massive creative conundrum. All of these elements conspired to hold back the new album by Montreal’s Receivers — band members came and went, and jobs ate up time, especially that of guitarist/songwriter Joseph Donovan, who’s a full-time producer at Mountain City Studios, which he co-operates with Adrian Popovich. That constant flow of work delayed the release of The Air on the Set, Receivers’ sophomore album — but likely for the better.
“We had a version of this record finished over a year ago,” Donovan says. “We had it mastered and were gonna release it and then I kinda freaked out about some stuff and ended up scrapping songs and remixing the whole thing.”
Though Donovan admits that he got “a little Kevin Shields-ey” in the studio — referring to the legendary obsession of My Bloody Valentine’s main man (who took 22 years to release their third record) — he says that the reworked new record is more focused than its first incarnation.
“That’s partly a function of [producing records for] a lot of different people — you start to see what works, and the stuff that doesn’t work, you see why you don’t like it. I’m constantly having to microscopically look over what aspects work in a project, and that allowed me to distil what it was I wanted to do with Receivers.”
The band’s identity has been built over the seven-odd years since their founding, with the elegant menace of their sound (Emilie Marzinotto’s voice and Donovan’s guitar at its centre) on their first record, Consider the Ravens, and on stage. Live, Receivers’ cinematic lustre is writ large (with a five-piece band), and Donovan is careful not to mess with that mood.
“For me, a record is its own entity and it’s more about vision — having the initial vision and getting it to translate into the recording and then later into the live thing.
“Some of what I didn’t like about the first version of the record were things that felt good to play live but weren’t necessarily what Receivers is about. As soon as you start piling on guitars and playing faster and louder, people just react to that naturally in a live setting, but fast and loud is not what we do.”
Montrealers will have the opportunity to witness what Receivers do at Friday night’s launch for The Air on the Set at Bar le Ritz PDB (where Marzinotto tends bar, incidentally). And by the sound of it, the wait for the third record won’t be quite so long.
“The last couple of songs we added to [The Air on the Set] went really quickly and smoothly, which is not the norm for this band. I feel like we’ve taken a big step in how we want to do things, and that’s exciting for the future. We may have finally cracked the code.” ■
Receivers launch The Air on the Set, with openers the Thin Blue Line, at Bar le Ritz PDB (179 Jean-Talon W.) on Friday, Feb. 20, 9 p.m., $10
Watch Receivers’ tribute to Broadcast singer Trish Keenan (1968–2011) here: