The Baudelaires
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The Baudelaires

Waterloo, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | INDIE

Waterloo, Canada | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Alternative Reggae




"The Baudelaires Release Cool Down the Pressure"

“If the Jaguar E-Type were a band, this is what it would sound like”. This bold statement is what greets visitors to The Baudelaires website or Facebook page. Now, I’m a classic car fan, and for anyone to compare a Jaguar E-Type to anything, especially a band for me is close to sacrilege. That is until I actually sat down and listened to The Baudelaires play their own brand of soul/reggae. Well, I can feel confident that the old ‘60s Jag is compared with good company. In line with the car’s sleek design, unique perspective, and moderate pricing for the times, The Baudelaires stack up pretty well.

With their upcoming CD release party at The Boathouse on September 29th, 2012 I had to talk to one of the brains behind this fantastic car, wait, band, you understand. I managed to pull Brent Hagerman away from his dreams of conquest to answer a few questions for me.

Velvet Rope: You are just releasing your first album (Cool Down the Pressure) with Busted Flat Records. Can you tell me the creative process and the different dimensions that go into putting an album like this together?

Brent Hagerman: “One of the main reasons I put this band together was because I was writing material influenced by 60s reggae greats like Desmond Dekker, The Heptones and The Maytals—sort of an up-tempo soul-reggae sound. At the time I was playing in The Jolly Llamas—which were more rock-reggae oriented—and I wanted to move away from the guitar-heavy sound and into a realm that drew more on rock steady and early reggae rhythms (which is also sometimes known as “skinhead reggae” – from about 1967-1972). I’ve always found that era of music impossible not to dance to (and this is from a guy that really shouldn’t be dancing in public!) and part of that has to do with its repetitiveness, both musically and lyrically. So this is the way I approached the creative process for this band – crafting songs that a) fill the dance floor, b) stick in your head after the show and c) have a certain complexity in the midst of simplicity. I think that the foundational Jamaican musicians mastered this last point. The songs can sound very rudimentary until you spend time listening to how different rhythmic parts intertwine or how producers and musicians build textures and affect tones. Even the sonic space left in, say, a dub reggae song, functions to add drama and tension as you wait for the instruments to come back into the mix. So on the one hand I find this music infectious and simple, but on the other hand multi-layered and challenging. These are the kinds of things I think about when writing for The Baudelaires.”

As far as physically putting the album together, we recorded it at Turtleshell Studio in Breslau, which is in a converted barn on a farm surrounded by grain fields—it’s a pretty serene place to make music. The studio is run by the rhythm section of Well Charged, a Guelph reggae band that we play with often. Because we know each other well, it was easy to hone in on the kind of sound we were looking for. We wanted something representative of our live show—we tend to get a little excited when we play live—but we also wanted a bit more of the freedom to experiment that a studio allows. I think Jake Janzen, who recorded the record, managed to capture both these sonic dimensions. For instance, the two dub tracks on the record, ‘Rae Town Reprise’ and ‘Stop Dubbing’, are a mixture of a live dubbing performance in the studio with added dub production after the fact.”

VR: Have you found it difficult to promote the kind of music that The Baudelaires play, either locally or elsewhere?

BH: Not really. The band’s pretty friggin’ awesome. I imagine we could dominate the pop world if we wanted to, but we’re too lazy.

VR: What first attracted you to the reggae/soul that the band plays?

BH: ”I’m lucky in that I didn’t live in Canada for what I believe may be the most boring decade musically in this country—the 80s. So instead of listening to Bryan Adams, Haywire and Frozen Ghost I had the good fortune to be living in Bermuda where I was just as likely to hear a track by Eek-a-Mouse, Yellowman or Steel Pulse at a high school dance, as I was something from the Billboard Top 40. Reggae was the music of the youth culture and so I fell into it (and for it) pretty honestly. I’ve also been fortunate enough to dovetail my musical passions with my academic work as I often research, write and teach on topics related to Caribbean music. This has allowed me to spend quite a bit of time in Kingston, Jamaica, interviewing many of my musical heroes. At one point I was sitting in a studio alongside Yellowman, Marcia Griffiths, Luciano and Jah Cure and thought I fell into some sort of reggae-tourism time warp. I believe I remained smiling for several days after that.”

VR: Tell me a little bit about the dynamics of the band? Big happy family, or angst-ridden souls?

BH: ”Well we were a big happy family until our last rehearsal when Isac - Velvet Rope

"The Baudelaires draw from reggae roots for exciting new sound"

February 24, 2010

The Baudelaires draw from reggae roots for exciting new sound
By Jason Schneider, for NightLife

Meet your new favourite band. Well, at least the Baudelaires are my new favourite band. It’s rare (especially in K-W) for a group to arrive on the scene so fully developed that hearing them for the first time almost feels like you’ve discovered gold. But that was precisely my reaction when I caught one of the quintet’s recent live performances.

It’s not that the Baudelaires are entirely new; the band’s core of guitarist/vocalist Brent Hagerman, drummer Ian Mollison and bassist Chris Robinson previously comprised the reggae rock outfit the Jolly Llamas. But since the addition of powerhouse lead vocalist Isac Hayden and keyboardist Chris De Piante, the reborn Baudelaires have taken that sound to the next level, an all-out soul shakedown party, to borrow the title of one of their showstoppers.

For Hagerman, currently finishing a dissertation on Jamaican music, joining forces with Hayden has fulfilled a desire he’s had for a while to take his songwriting in a new direction.

“I’d gotten into this movement of bands from California like the Aggrolites and Westbound Train who were drawing from late ’60s and early ’70s reggae,” Hagerman says. “It’s really a mix of classic reggae with American soul and R&B. I’m not the guy to front that kind of band, but Isac is. My intention was to blow people away with every show we do, and that seems to be happening so far.”

Indeed, Hayden exudes all of the charisma as energy of an artist like Otis Redding, and his Jamaican roots add depth to the Baudelaires’s message, something Hagerman agrees the Jolly Llamas lacked.

“Isac’s perspective certainly feeds into the philosophy we have for the band. One of his songs is Island With A Gun, which talks about his mother’s decision to leave Jamaica because of violence there. But above all we want people to dance, and his love of guys like Jimmy Cliff and Desmond Dekker really inspires the rest of us to play with that same conviction.”

As the band continues to establish itself as a live act, talk of recording is still in the preliminary stages. However, Hagerman is optimistic that something will be put to tape soon, and get The Baudelaires some of the industry attention they deserve. “We’re narrowing down some songs for a demo, which we’ll use as a springboard to doing an album over the course of the next year,” he says.

“If there is a reggae scene in Canada right now, it’s pretty disparate. There are hardcore reggae bands, but we don’t really fall into that category. There are also a lot of bands that touch on reggae, which could include us, but I honestly can’t see where we fit within the current musical climate. There is an audience for what we do though, because people have responded to this band better than anything I’ve done before. So I am hopeful that we’ll be able to get somewhere with people in the industry who know what they’re doing.”

That should be a cue for those booking this year’s Hillside Festival: get in touch with the Baudelaires immediately! - By Jason Schneider, for NightLife (The K-W Record)

"Baudelaires tighten up"

Brent Hagerman has spent the better part of a decade trying to bring an excellent reggae band to fruition. During 10 years with his former band, the Jolly Llamas, he came awfully close by releasing two exceptional full-lengths, heavy on dub and rock-steady, and Hagerman’s slippery, psychedelic guitar playing. Now, with a new front man (the deeply charismatic Isac Hayden), the recently rechristened Baudelaires have realized Hagerman’s dream.

“I wanted to do something different,” Hagerman said. “I essentially wanted to make a better band. So I looked at the Jolly Llamas and I thought ‘What could we do to tweak this?’ One thing I felt was, I’m a capable guitarist but I’m not a great guitarist, right? And I’m a capable front man, but I’m not a great front man. So I thought ‘Let’s get somebody else to do this front man role’. If I can focus on the writing more, and the guitar, then it’s less work for me onstage. So part of me wanted to bring in someone else to front the band and someone that was a much better singer than myself.

“I wanted a band that people would dance to; a band that people would walk away from and every aspect of that band, from the front man to the rhythm section to the songwriting, was memorable. I think we’ve kind of achieved that, for me anyway. I’m quite happy with the outcome.”

The addition of Hayden as front man is no small victory. He joins mainstays Chris Robinson (bass), Ian Mollison (drums), and Deeps (keys). Not only does Hayden free Hagerman up to take his guitar playing further into outer space, but he’s also given the reggae authority (Hagerman) a fantastic voice and editor.

“I wanted something that was a bit more focused on 60s reggae, like Toots & The Maytals. It was still very up tempo, fast music. It was made for dancing and it was heavily influenced by American soul and gospel, and that’s the kind of thing I wanted to go toward. And in that music there (aren’t) a tonne of lyrics; there’s a lot of repetition because it’s made for group singing. So working with Isac really helped me capture a bit more of that vision. Isac’s always like ‘Ya know, you got too many words in here. You gotta take some out.’ So I pared down the writing, and I’m kind of a wordy guy, right? The very first song on the album, “Shame, Shame”, has hardly any lyrics. I started to realize that by doing that, by having less lyrics, it opened up the songs a bit more for Isac to bring his own interpretation to it, and also to focus a bit more on the things going on beneath the words, like the rhythm.”

The Baudelaires’ debut, Cool Down The Pressure is now out on local label, Busted Flat Records. Hagerman scoffs when I question why a niche label for reputable folk, blues, and roots artists would add a party-rockin’ reggae band to their roster.

“Ya, but we’re awesome,” he said with a laugh. “I think that was the only reason (label head Marc Logan) wanted to work with us. He started coming to see us soon after we got together and he was a fan of what we were doing and a fan of the music. There’s a connection through a sort of roots scene. This is Caribbean roots as opposed to American roots, but it’s still all roots.”

With a label in place, and the best band he’s ever had waiting for him to count in, Hagerman, musically, seems as fulfilled as he’s ever been in. Whether getting the crowd moving with tight, rock-steady rhythms, or chilling them out with wide-open psychedelic soundscapes, The Baudelaires can do little wrong.

“One of the most enjoyable experiences ever for me is playing onstage with this band,” Hagerman gushes. “This rhythm section, we’ve played together for a decade now, sow when there’s live dub stuff that we do, it’s very improvisational and we kind of feed off that. And it’s a heck of a lot of fun.”

WHO: The Baudelaires’ CD Release Party

WHERE: The Boathouse

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 29

DOORS: 9 p.m., 19 - The Record

"Baudelaires ramp up reggae on ‘Rudeboy Mixtape"

The Baudelaires' latest album, "Rudeboy Mixtape," is a showcase for their encyclopedic knowledge and love of Jamaican music.

The Waterloo band — featuring frontman Brent Hagerman (vocals, guitar), bassist Chris Robinson, drummer Ian Mollison and keyboard player Rich Jones — incorporate reggae, ska, dub, rock-steady, and dance hall throughout their second album, which will be made officially available at a CD release party at The Boathouse in Kitchener on Oct. 21.

For those unfamiliar with the term, 'rudeboy' originated in 1960s Jamaica to describe a subculture of sharp-dressed, disaffected youth not unlike British mods of the same era. The term (sometimes shortened to 'Rudie' or 'Rudy') morphed in the late 1970s to describe fans of the 2-Tone ska revival led by bands like The Specials, Madness, and The English Beat, and is immortalized in songs such as The Specials' "A Message to You, Rudy," and The Clash's "Rudie Can't Fail."

Given the variety of sounds on the album, Hagerman said the idea of a mixtape was a natural choice.

"The concept originally was that we started thinking of the genre of music that we play kind of as a rudeboy mixtape," he said. "In the Jamaican context, it kind of meant 'gangster' in the '60s, but in the 2-Tone era, and the punk era in the '70s and the early '80s in England, rude boys are more like people that are in that scene. So it's what someone like that would listen to, and that's kind of what we play, it's kind of what I write, and so that's where that name came from. And then I noticed that with these songs, a lot of them were about reggae or about that culture, and so then I thought that was something that tied them all together. They're all songs about that culture, but they're also coming from that culture."

Key influences are name checked throughout "Rudeboy Mixtape," including The Aggrolites (on "Baby Don't Come Back," which also features local singer-songwriter Lynn Jackson on backing vocals), legendary Jamaican drummer Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace (on the instrumental "Horsemouth"), Lee "Scratch" Perry (on the tribute song, "The Upsetter Strikes Again"), and the late-'60s cover "Mix Up Girl" by The Creations.

The band's comprehensive knowledge of reggae and Jamaican culture is felt throughout the album. Hagerman has a PhD in religion and culture, and wrote his dissertation on reggae legend Yellowman and his use of the Afro-Caribbean religion Rastafari. Hagerman also teaches classes on popular music at a post-secondary level, including courses on the history of rock and roll and popular music cultural studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, and a course on the 'art of rock' at Conestoga College, though he says "reggae always finds a way" into his curriculum.

Hagerman's in-depth knowledge of Jamaican music allowed him to create the mythic character of the 'Dubcutter' on "Rudeboy Mixtape" tracks "None Shall Escape The Dubcutter's Judgement Day" and "Dubcutter," about a fictional maker of 'dubplates,' or exclusive re-recordings of hit songs used by Jamaican DJs to win "soundclash" sound system battles against rival MCs.

All of that said, "Rudeboy Mixtape" is more a celebration of Jamaican music, as opposed to a lecture about its history.

"It's probably not actually something that I've really thought about consciously," said Hagerman about the potentially educational aspects of the music. "It's more that it's music I really love and so I guess that's why I write about it."

Added Robinson: "It's certainly not an academic exercise, it's just that you pick up this stuff because you listen to it all the time and you're into it, so you just sort of acquire it."

The Baudelaires formed after the breakup of The Jolly Llamas, a band in which Hagerman, Robinson and Mollison performed for a decade. After that band "petered out," the trio decided to take their music in a new direction.

"It was a bit rockier than I wanted to be, it was a bit more rock guitar-driven and kind of a rock reggae sound," Hagerman said of The Jolly Llamas, adding that listening to The Aggrolites in particular inspired him to pursue a different sound. "I started listening to them, and really fell in love with that sound and wanted to capture that. And what they do, in my opinion, is they essentially dig into that Toots and the Maytals era of Jamaican music, which was 1967 to 1969, and it's this sort of rock-steady and early reggae period and it's really upbeat, as opposed to when you think of roots reggae that is often much slower tempo. It's upbeat but it's not quite as peppy as ska, and I really, really liked that, and so I started writing that kind of stuff."

The band's 2012 debut, "Cool Down the Pressure," was recorded as a five-piece, but the current lineup came together about three years ago when Jones joined the band and Hagerman took over as lead singer. Like its predecessor, "Rudeboy Mixtape" is available on Busted Flat Records, and was recorded at Turtleshell Studio in Breslau, Ont. with producer Jake Janzen, who played bass in Guelph reggae band Well Charged. The studio is in a barn in the middle of a cornfield, a somewhat unlikely setting for a reggae album, and one that Robinson said occasionally led to some cross-cultural antics.

"At one point in the summer, we were out there doing some recording and we got a bit of downtime, so we were out in the back behind the studio having a beer or two, and shooting off B.B. guns at beer cans along the edge of the cornfield there," he said with a laugh." The perfect redneck experience whilst you're making a reggae album." - Waterloo Region Record By Neil McDonald


Rudeboy Mixtape (Busted Flat Records, 2016) 

Cool Down the Pressure (Busted Flat Records, 2012)



The Baudelaires Mind the Bollocks

Currently the Baudelaires are touring a ska-reggae salute to the Sex Pistols on the 40th anniversary of Never Mind the Bollocks


Imagine—you're 18 again and borrow your (cooler) older brother's car.  He's left a Baudelaires tape in the stereo so, as you pull out of the drive, you plunk it in. It ka-chunks and whirrs in his crappy tape-player and then suddenly it's like a reggae/ska tidal wave has picked you up and thrown you miles inland to some neglected but crucial heartland: a vaguely familiar realm of twitching, melodic guitar, bowel-shuddering bass and drums, and old-school bubbling organ. You pull over. Who are these guys?  They're playing the sweetest and most dangerous, perilous rocksteady - like reggae before the college-boys took it from Bob Marley.  You reach down and crank the bass until the windows rattle.  It's like the Specials jamming with Toots and the Maytals.  Or Jackie Mittoo mashing it with the Clash.  Maybe some King Tubby in those occasional dubstorms that twist deep into your dancing cortex? You drop the car into drive, your arm hanging out the window and your hand furiously beating out the crooked beats on the doorframe as you head for the highway—that re-built old route back to where they let riddim rule.

Band Members