Jesse from CAMBRIDGE unplugs.

This is an interview that ran in the Skinny Magazine in July 2009. Jesse's solo CD was a really great listen and summertime album, so I've revisited this interview because he has a new EP out, and a release show coming. All the info you need to hear the music, and attend the show are at the bottom, but first here's the interview. 

Jesse from CAMBRIDGE unplugs.
By: Denis Maile

Upon hearing that Jesse Lebourdais, vocalist/guitarist from Vancouver punk band Cambridge, had released an acoustic CD it struck some interest in my gut. Upon hearing the actual songs on his myspace had me quick to realize that Jesse’s musical talents stretched much further than punk rock. The songs I heard went from upbeat and punky tunes to more somber arrangements featuring piano. There was even a folky bluegrass song, where I’m pretty sure I heard a squeeze box. Basically what I’m trying to say is that there is a colourful range of instruments, song styles and summer anthems. It was high time I caught up with Jesse again to get the down low on the new album and his punk band Cambridge.

Denis: If I titled this interview unplugging but still chugging, would that make sense?

Jesse: Yeah it would! On many levels.

Denis: What made you want to record an acoustic CD? And where did you record it?

Jesse: When we (Cambridge) came home from tour last fall, I had a serious case of post-tour depression and wanted to keep the momentum going, so I wrote 5 acoustic songs in a week. That same week I found this database on the internet of hundreds of old public domain songs that you can do whatever you want with. I took 5 of those songs and reworked them along the same vein of the 5 originals and they all sounded like they belonged together. Then over Christmas, in my parent’s house when it was 35 below, I recorded them all in my old bedroom. Then I kidnapped/hijacked a long list of people I’ve always wanted to collaborate with to play random instruments and sing.

Denis: What kind of material do you cover lyrically amongst the songs?

Jesse: A lot of the songs deal with tragedy. A really good family friend died around the time that I started writing, so I was really sad for a while, and latched on to songs that dealt with tragedy, but from a stoic perspective. The public domain songs helped a lot with the lyrical themes. Some of these songs are like a hundred years old, but are so raw, endearing and have endured generations just by people singing them. Basic emotion put to music.

Denis: The new album is called 'Worst Kind of Ambition', meaning?

Jesse: In this case, it is being inspired by the death of someone who should not of died. Motivation derived from pain I wish I didn't have to deal with. I think it is the best thing I have ever done, but I would trade it all to not have had to go through that shit.

Denis: What have Cambridge been up to since the tour? And what's coming up in the future for the band?

Jesse: We have been practicing and writing tons of new songs for a record that we probably record this fall/winter. Summer is always a busy time for all of us as many members of Cambridge have clinical addictions to camping, fishing and lying in the sun. It's nice just to hang out and write new songs. I'm gonna tour the hell out of the acoustic CD this summer and then come October, when the weather gets shitty around here, we will record and tour. I hope.

Denis: Has Cambridge ever played Cambridge Ontario? Cambridge LIVE in Cambridge. Maybe you could turn it into a DVD.

Jesse: We never played there, but we stayed there for like 4 days. I hate to say it, but the place blows. Maybe the other Cambridge towns in the world are cooler but Canada's Cambridge sucks.

Denis: Other than the show on the 8th where can people find your new CD?

Jesse: From my BMX delivery service, and I think you know how reliable that is. Ha. I'm working on some distro, but mostly I'm just gonna try and play shows. I'm having a CD release show some time in late July so they can get em' there or I'll mail em' one.

Listen to Jesse's new EP here:

And the release show is happening April 8th @ The Media Club, where Jesse will be opening up for the wild punk bluegrass band Larry and His Flask. 


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