We’ve got a bit doe eyed about the new album from Montreal based trio Afternoon Bike Ride, what with their gorgeous melodies, lo-fi aesthetic and sensitive backings, so when we got chance to talk to the band about the new self-titled record – out today on the Friends of Friends imprint, we jumped at the chance. After all, if you like it as much as us (read our album review here), what could be better than putting the needle (either metaphorically or actually) on the record and reading the thoughts and stories behind each track.
The band, David Tanton (aka Rhoda/Tender Spring), Éloi Le Blanc-Ringuette (aka Thomas White), and Lia Kurihara (aka LIA) formed as a side project to the protagonists solo projects, but has slowly taken over. They say “We each felt like it was a space to experiment with different sounds than we were typically used to making. As we crafted our songs, we realized that our sound progressed into a more refined and intricate version of our beginnings, letting vocals take center stage on some tracks, involving different instrumentalists, spending more time on sound design, incorporating facets of unexpected genres wherever we can.”
The album drops following a couple of EPs and has been picked up not only by us here at Backseat Mafia but by the likes of BBC Radio 1 and 6Music.
Here’s the album, followed by the bands lowdown, track by track
Dog Years Ft. Middle School
Dog years is the oldest song on the album, we started the base during a jam session between the three of us and sent it to Middle School who extrapolated on our ideas, adding guitars and synths. This song is really special to us because it set the path for the rest of the album and the direction of the band. We started focusing more on vocals than our previous work and established our message.
Before The Fall Ft. Ryan Hemsworth
David decided to draw a bath and inspiration hit. He recorded the first draft of these guitars in his bathroom and sent them over to Éloi who added synths and bass along with the initial structure. David sent Lia “and her joyful hum echoes through trees” as a lyrical start for which Lia expanded into the full storyline. This song takes inspiration from Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi and Rachel Carsen’s Silent Spring, depicting a world devoid of nature. Ryan Hemsworth came in with his signature glitches, drums and synth magic flushing out the song and giving it a final structure.
It’s Alright Ft. Imagiro
Imagiro sent us the first 1:30 as just a guitar and vocal demo which we immediately loved. Lia hopped right on and filled out the rest of the vocals and lyrics before Éloi added soft breakbeats and background synths. The final touch was when Eli Bishop sent us around 30 layers of gorgeous strings, elevating the track to another level from where it began.
This one started during the peak of covid quarantine while Éloi began working on the basis of what became the Skipping Stones EP. After making the initial synth lines from the intro, he sent it over to longtime friend and collaborator Ryan Playground who sent back the lead guitar within 30 minutes. Lia hopped on afterwards, inspired by feeling isolated in quarantine and using that space to recognize that there’s always moments to be grateful for. David came on to round out the rest of the track’s elements into its final version.
I Can Only Imagine
Éloi loves creating synths out of unexpected sources so he challenged himself to use Lia’s vocals as much as he could to start a new track, resulting in the synth solo and base of the song. Later, Éloi and David met for a cozy night in baking pot pies and they finished the structure together just as the pies finished setting in the oven. David still felt like something was missing so while on a roadtrip to Nashville with his family, he borrowed his sister’s guitar to pluck out what would become the main guitar layers into his iPhone voice memos.
Binge-watching Terrace House on a rainy day during quarantine, Éloi found inspiration while taking a break between episodes. He made the whole structure of the song and sent it off to Lia. Imagining freer days of travel in the sun, Lia wrote of a bittersweet wanderlust landing on the message of gratitude for the gifts that each day brings.
Grid Search Ft. Sleepyfish
Sleepyfish sent us beautiful meandering pianos and a foley-based drum line that laid the basis for a sparkling collaboration that David took the lead on. It serves as an homage to our previous work, spacious and instrumental.
If I Was a Bird Ft. Kogane
This one came together during a jam session when Éloi resampled his own voice on David’s Casio SK-1 synth which became the opening synth line. Lia added bird-like vocal harmonies during the session which prompted us to name the song If I Was a Bird. We landed on a version but didn’t feel it was right until we sent it over to Kogane who changed it up entirely for the better.
C’était Ft. Naji
We wrote and recorded this in Saint-Côme, QC while at a chalet with 13 other musicians that David organized in December of 2019. We had a session with Naji while the snow lightly powdered outside the windows and the fire crackled away, keeping us warm inside. We set up microphones to capture every bit of that moment and freely started playing guitar, melodica, synths and harmonizing on vocals. From that initial recording, we built the entire song. We collectively decided to write lyrics in french and pieced together the first verses collectively about never wanting to leave that magical place.
It’s OK I’m Here Ft. Eli Bishop
David sent some guitars Lia’s way and between the two of them blossomed the initial structure of the song. Lia’s lyrics reflect breaking out of an anxious mindset and staying grounded. David asked Eli to lay in a couple of string layers and he came back with a whole orchestra, blowing us all away with how perfect it fit the initial track.
Ryan Playground sent guitar and drum stems to Éloi who produced the whole track from there. Resampling from Ryan’s stems, he added synths, drums, and gave it a structure before Lia came in with her soft and subdued vocals. The lyrics are meant to urge listeners to let go of emotional weight, you have to let it go to let it go.
Sprinkler Oasis Ft. Santpoort
This song is a special one because meeting Santpoort is the link between us and our label Friends of Friends. Santpoort came to visit Montreal in the fall of 2019 and we all had a lovely dinner together at David’s place. Afterwards as we were working on the album, Éloi and Santpoort dove into a collaboration, going back and forth to strike the perfect blend of their signature production styles.
Tomorrow Ft. ASO
This song started with David and ASO. David sent him the plucky guitars that start out the track and ASO added in lush synths and his signature swung drums. When he sent back what he did, Éloi added distorted kalimba and Lia wrote lyrics and recorded vocals. Experimenting with her lower register, Lia wrote the vocals about the self growth that occurs each day we’re alive. To finish out the track, we tried adding a bunch of elements but kept stripping it down to how it sounds now, eventually actually losing the original project file due to a crash on David’s computer. [note to all to back up your sh*t!!] We just decided to go with what we still had access to and that’s what you hear.
I’m Glad You’re Happy Ft. Park Bird
Park Bird sent us an instrumental for which David heard the lyrics “I’m glad you’re happy now that you’re at home when you’re on your own.” He sent that idea along with the instrumental to Lia who wrote the melody and finished the verse. David then added more drums, and Lia rounded it out with extra vocal layers.
Lia started this one, a rare occurrence since she works best writing on top of what the guys start. She was fiddling around on her ukulele and out came the first 55s of the track which were kept just as it was originally sent to the guys in demo form. Rise Again is about a comeback, finding your way after losing yourself and metamorphosis into a new self. Éloi spear-headed the next 40s, adding vocal chops, resampling the uke, adding synths and the distorted solo. We weren’t sure where it was going from there so David swooped in and made the entire rest of the song: drums, harmonic structure, guitars, atmosphere. Lia came back for a final vocal part, reusing the idea of the bell-like hums from a christmas track we had just finished that was commissioned of us and ended up falling through.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks so much for reading and hope you enjoy the album!
Afternoon Bike Ride