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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

Return Of The Frog

James Brotheridge
Published Tuesday August 19, 11:30 pm
Former Saskatonians bring prog ‘n roll show back for a visit

Mahogany Frog
Saturday 23

Graham Epp and I are talking about a “map” a few days before his band, Mahogany Frog, sets out on tour. The map in question is a set of scratch tracks they’ve put together that will eventually lead to their next album.

The Winnipeg group (whose members began their careers in Saskatoon), which blends elements of psychedelica with prog, might not cut the kind of figure you’d associate with “a lot of planning,” at least at first glance. But with the help of that map — and the tons of live experience they’ve got under their belts — here’s betting Mahogany Frog will be able to blitz through those songs in the studio when the time comes.

Like everyone else in the band, Epp has a ton of stuff on the go. For this band, being organized isn’t just a helpful trait — it’s the only way it’s possible to juggle the schedules of all the Frogs while making the album they want to make.

“There’s four of us in this band, and we all play in other bands and we all have day jobs,” he says. “We have a lot of stuff.”

Some day jobs may be better than others, Epp says, as both he and wife stay at home to make art and home-school their children. But he’s also quick to say they aren’t micromanaging the at-home schedule.

“Everything just happens. All of the stuff: parenting, work and art, it all happens simultaneously. Like right now, our baby’s sleeping and my wife is making... well, she doesn’t even know right now. ‘It could be an earring, it could be a necklace,’ she said a little while ago,” he says.

“We’re organized, but it’s organized chaos.”

 Into all that, add Mahogany Frog. The group’s working on a followup to 2012’s Juno Award-nominated Senna. According to Epp, they’re well into the process.

“We know what we’re going to record, we have all the songs finished and we’ve been performing them. That’s how we do things. Every album, we’ve always toured the music before we recorded it — sometimes for two years before we record. For this album, we’ve been performing some of it for a while, [although] some of it’s newer, obviously.

“We’ve started doing scratch tracks, the same kind of method we used with our last album, Senna –– we actually recorded everything ourselves, and then we went into the studio and re-recorded everything,” he says. “So we had this map: we knew where we were when we wanted to record. And it helped the engineer know, too, what was happening, to kind of explain what the heck we’re doing. ‘Now, we’re going to do the chorus’ –– it’s not that kind of stuff.”

The new material is keeping the Mahogany Frog feel, says Epp. He’s still playing his Farfisa organ, one someone “sold to me over 10 years ago, and I’m sure he regrets it every day he wakes up,” he says.

“That’s a foundation of our music, that ‘60s, fuzzy organ.”

Although there is one new set of musical tools that’s been creeping into the new material a lot, he adds.

“Some of the new stuff has a lot of arpeggiators and sequencers. Our working title for the new one is 101 Arpeggiators. We’re not actually going to name the album that, but there is one song where that’s basically all I’m doing, bringing in layers of layers of bloopy madness.”

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