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Mahogany Frog says words not necessary in music
Band’s instrumental album nominated for Juno
It’s no croak — Mahogany Frog’s album, SENNA, has been nominated for instrumental album of the year at the upcoming Juno Awards.
The band is made up of four members: Jesse Warkentin on keyboard and guitar, Andy Rudolph on drums and electronics, Scott Ellenberger on bass and electronics, and Graham Epp on keyboard and guitar.
This is the instrumental electronic rock band’s first Juno nomination since the group began in 1998 with just Epp and Warkentin.
"Jesse and I went to school together in Saskatchewan," said Epp, a West End resident. "We met at boarding school, and we started playing music together."
Epp and Warkentin moved to Winnipeg where they met Ellenberger in 2003. They started releasing albums and touring in 2004. The band became whole after Rudolph joined in 2008.
The group has put out six albums, five of which are instrumental. The eight-song SENNA is the band’s fifth instrumental album, and was released in the fall of 2012. It won a Western Canadian Music Award last year for best instrumental recording.
"Sonically speaking, the recording is a huge leap from what we’ve done before," Epp said of the band’s musical growth.
"Any band that’s played together for six albums, they’re going to be a better band," he added.
Epp said just because there aren’t any vocals on the album, it doesn’t mean something is missing.
"Vocals are just another instrument," Epp said. "There’s a lot of other instruments we omitted from our music. I don’t look at music as music with vocals or music without vocals. Mozart wrote instrumental music and also music that has voice. I don’t think it has to be one or the other."
Epp said instrumental music forces listeners to pay closer attention.
"It’s not just rhythm and guitars. There’s melodies, counter melodies, there’s a whole lot to listen to," Epp said. "Vocals may even take away from the song."
Epp said the decision to omit vocals from the past five albums was due to a couple of things — the fact that some of the band’s favourite artists played instrumental music and the too-lush melodies simply left no room for vocals.
"There’s not a lot of room for vocals in our music. We have pretty lush arrangements with a lot of parts, and there isn’t always room for a vocal line," Epp said. "It’s nice to let the notes flow and not rely on a story."
Mahogany Frog will be performing at the Pyramid Cabaret (176 Fort St.) on March 29 as part of Juno Fest. According to Epp, the band is slated to go on at 1 a.m.
Other acts performing that night are The Glorious Sons, JPNSGRLS, Mounties, and Rich Aucoin. Tickets at the door are $15.
The Juno Awards national broadcast is slated for Sunday, March 30 at MTS Centre.
For more information on the Juno Awards, visit junoawards.ca
For more information about Mahogany Frog, visit mahoganyfrog.com
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