Project Mantra set to release new album at Avant-Garde Bar

July 20th, 2017 by  |  Published in Features, New Music, News, Show Announcements

Project Mantra - by Jen Bernard Photography

Project Mantra. Photo credit: Jen Bernard Photography

Project Mantra will be releasing their latest album, Moonlight Over Vagabond, on Wednesday July 26th at Avant-Garde Bar from 7PM until 11PM. I recently spoke with them about the album and upcoming show.

The group is thrilled with their latest project, which you could say has been in the works for the last 10 years. As frontman Leigh Bursey stated, “Some of the songs are a decade old and some of them were written in studio. It’s an 8-track full length studio album. It was recorded in Stittsville and Prescott by 2 different producers. We’re incredibly satisfied and super proud of it.”

Project Mantra has undergone some changes with a couple of members leaving and some newer members coming in to round out the lineup. The album was a little extra special in that sense. Leigh shared, “It’s a really nice bookend album. There’s been some lineup changes and there’s introductions of new members on the record.”

In describing the album, Leigh shared, “The album is very conceptual. The songs thematically all run together into one big story. It’s basically about coming of age and being a 30-year-old punk rocker and having to learn to navigate the real world and still hold on to that idealism.”

Continuing on, he added, “I’m very proud of the record. There’s definitely some hip-hop vibes, there’s some folk vibes, there’s some acid jazz vibes. There’s some pretty lullaby styles. But when it comes down to it, it’s very stripped down folk punk. Definitely a lot of grungier punkier sounds on the record.”

The first single Scream for Me is getting airplay on Live 88.5, as well as a variety of other stations in the region. Project Mantra will be shooting a video for the song soon.

Momentum has been on the rise lately for the band. The group has enjoyed coverage in both the Ottawa Citizen and a full cover feature in the Ottawa Sun.

Next week the band will take over Avant-Garde Bar along with The Railway Hotel Band and The Rifle & The Writer to celebrate the release of Moonlight Over Vagabond. The show will be unique in that the band will be performing with both its outgoing and incoming members.

“We’re actually saying farewell to 2 outgoing members and sort of giving them their swan song. Alex Hodges was in the band for 4 years and Audrey Cahoon for a year and a half and both contributed to this record,” said Leigh. “We’re going to feature the old lineup for a song or 2, but then we’re going to finish off the set swan song style with everybody.”

Many might think Wednesday is an odd night for a release show. These typically happen on the weekend. But as Leigh pointed out, “We’ve got multiple shows through that entire week and this was a date that works for everybody. We’ve got 2 people who are more or less already out the door, who we’re trying to accommodate as well. And more importantly it’s nice not to compete with anything else. We want to own Wednesday. It’s a 7 o’clock show, it will be over in time for those kiddies to get home for school.”

New guitarist Steve Hamilton summed up the show and the album perfectly. “Project Mantra is and will always be a live band first. Our songs are stories, and our stories are finely tuned to tell exactly what we need to say. Live however, they evolve. When we perform live, the stories aren’t ours anymore, they belong to anyone who listens to even a minute of it. When we play live, all the planning and precision can melt away and the song becomes the story, we become the story. The live environment will always suit us better so that the story can morph to each audience it belongs to. Our capital crowds really resonate with our stories and they are always able to reach new heights in front of Ottawa crowds.”

I asked if we could expect to hear the whole album at the show. With a laugh Leigh answered, “Guess you’ll have to wait and see.”

Project Mantra - album release poster

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