Mayors of Fredericton have released their album ‘Offers’ today. The album may be the work of a super group, drawing on the talents of Tim Walker (bass) and Brad Perry (guitar) both of Grand Theft Bus , and Adam Guidry (drums) of CHIPs, but the songwriting all comes down to Chris MacLean, as he turns his experiences of his past life as a banker into pop hits.
MacLean worked at TD. He did the day job thing. Tie-wearing was almost certainly involved. After seven years of that life he called it a day. In January of 2015 he packed it in and exchanged it for a basement studio, piecing together his own album between recordings. He has no regrets.
Savings, investments, and loans might not the sort of thing that puts a spring into the step of most people, but as MacLean tells it, it worked for him for a long time. Much like his album, he looks back on it not entirely without a little nostalgia. “A lot of banking I loved; I took great satisfaction in helping people invest, buy homes, and get themselves out of financial jams. Why I left is a very long story, but all in all, life is too short to make other people boat loads of money and very little for yourself. Also, in any large corporation you are just a number, and I needed more than that. A wise man once told me to always know your worth.”
The theme of moving on, even with some amount of trepidation, rings through the album – from the cover art of a well suited having veered off the road, to the reference of MacLean’s past in the album title, ‘Offers’. Each song strikes as a half-cautious footsteps with a backward glance. Lyrics likes “I’ve been at this for song long, I can’t even dream of what to do, and now I’ve got what I wanted, can I be closer to you, but tell me do you think it’s cruel to depend on you,” from the single ‘Tandy’, admittedly the most straightforward autobiographical song on the album, make for a consistent crux. It reads as a man who is determinedly moving on for better or worse – with bittersweet introspection, and flatly matter-of-fact in his self-acceptance, but still optimistic for the adventure.
MacLean say that even if the album did get constructed around a life of mortgages and compound interest rates, and the subtle but endearing Easter eggs that reference his wife, it really boiled down to group effort. A musical puttanesca, if you will, built on the strength of the band, “I don’t think any ideas for parts were vetoed in this project – we did take our time and worked with structure, but for the most part it was obvious when someone locked into some magic.”
He compares Mayors to a thinking-man’s Grand Theft Bus, inevitable given the band’s members, not to mention Brad Perry’s involvement as both drummer and producer. There’s a familiar and inviting cadence, a similarity in the counterpoint between guitar and vocals, but it’s the warm and fuzzy b-side that leads you to ponder rather than shake your booty in a field. “[Grand Theft Bus] make you want to move. Mayors makes you more listen, I’d say, and think a bit. Brad and Tim are the best to work with and they are very good friends – great ideas, super talented and super positive attitudes Adam Guidry is a great drummer no question, but I think Bob [Deveau] may be one of my top three favourite drummers of anyone.”
“I let go of so much control on this album, and by doing so I’ve yielded a better result – which makes me think for many of my past works – I was the problem. I still haven’t made the album I wanted to yet. I can’t ever be too comfortable in any music I make. I feel like I am back at the bottom of an ever higher mountain at the moment. That’s the best thing about writing and making music: you can do it until the day you die – always a carrot to chase.”
‘Offers’ is an album filled with pop numbers, but the real enjoyment comes from unravelling the dark and vague allusions central to its lyrics. MacLean’s got a deeper story to tell than the veneer might suggest.