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Not afraid to be catchy

The charming guitar hooks of McGill’s Laurent Bourque

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It is not bold to claim that Montreal is known nationally, and even internationally, for its dynamic, diverse, and exploratory music scene. Especially when compared to its smaller and more sensible neighbours such as Ottawa, artists of all types flock to our metropolis craving its opportunities for creative input and output.

For Laurent Bourque, Montreal seemed like a logical progression after his education at Lycée Claudel, a French secondary school in Ottawa. Now a Political Science major at McGill, his move to Montreal may be beneficial to his pursuit of higher education, but even more essential in nourishing his music – a lifelong passion.

At the age of nine, Bourque began with guitar lessons and later formed a band with one of his childhood friends, with whom he still performs. “Marco [Taucer] and I were in a band called the Spark, but just as everyone grows up and changes, our music has evolved since those times.” Before his move to Montreal, Bourque had been performing in Ottawa for over seven years, playing his first show at the age of 13. Today, he writes all of his own music and lyrics, and is looking to sign his first completed EP, What We Talk About.

If he must, Bourque cites R.E.M., the Counting Crows, and Ben Kweller as influences on his sound. “My music is melody-driven with a pop-rock influence, although I don’t find my music sounds like anyone else’s. I just appreciate their well-crafted pop sound,” he says.

When it comes to writing music, Bourque possesses a sincere, natural talent. Although not formally trained in music composition, nor studying music like some of his band-mates, he does not find any sort of antipathy between the two camps. “Musicians may bring different skills and knowledge to the table, but it usually leads to collaboration rather than division.”

And what does Bourque think of this dynamic and diverse Montreal music scene? “People can write whatever music they want, and I prefer to play music that is more pleasant to the ear because that is what I like to hear. I don’t have a pop-rock sound because I know that more people will like it – it just comes out that way. It’s supposed to be uplifting – and I wouldn’t make music that sounds odd just for the sake of being weird.”

Compared to bands which force originality to the point of aggravating or alienating their listener, Bourque’s clear and unabashed regard toward melody and music is, well, very nice.

Bourque plays La Tulipe (4530 Papineau) tonight, along with Taucer (melodica, vocals), Dan Foreman Mackey (bass, vocals), Zoe Speed (keyboard, xylophone, vocals), Nicholas Schofield (drums), and Patrick Cruvellier (violin). They will be playing after Caroline Keating, solo piano, and before Miracle Fortress – a well-known Montreal band and recent recipient of the Polaris Music Prize.

Tickets for Laurent Bourque’s show are $14 and can be purchased at The doors open at 9:00 p.m. and the performance starts at 9:30 p.m..