Concordia Grads of Po Lazarus Talk Navigating the Montreal Music Community

From left: Joshua Carey and Paul Mascarenhas released their debut record Ways to End the Night as the band Po Lazarus. Courtesy Xavier Legault

On a brisk October afternoon, Joshua Carey and Paul Mascarenhas of the local folk rock band, Po Lazarus, are beaming despite the slow fade into winter.

The group released their debut record Ways to End the Night towards the end of September. The record is packed with tunes that will serenade your heart in the unforgivable cold of the fall season. Since then, they’ve been preparing for a number of local shows that have sprung up on their calendar.

The release comes at a time when wet and chilly weather starts to rule the city and force its inhabitants into hibernation. Po Lazarus’s debut record offers an excuse to stay warm at home on cold nights, instead of spending another late study session at Reggie’s.

For the Concordia grads, Po Lazarus’ album is a milestone.

“It feels great,” Carey said. “For years, we just wanted to hear our own CD. We would be recording on our iPhones or whatever phone we had back in the day and be like ‘Cool!’ So this is a big step forward in that.”

Carey and Mascarenhas are finally seeing years of hard work manifest in a physical format for people to engage with. But it wasn’t a solo effort.

The collective support from the Montreal music community has undoubtedly helped the band members develop and gain confidence. Johnny Griffin, a friend and a fellow musician, helped produce the album. Griffin happens to be the leading member of John Jacob Magistery, another local band in the local rock scene.

“[Griffin] definitely influenced us a lot,” started Carey. “His records are pretty different from ours but there’s a big influence amongst each other.”

Another local group that influenced Po Lazarus, Carey added, was the Frisky Kids, which he called a “cool throwback to the late 60’s garage-rock sound.”

Despite attending a university that caters to many kinds of artists, Concordia’s role in the band’s development was unconventional.

As to what classes they took that helped heir music careers, the two promptly responded: “Reggie’s!”

Hanging out at the student bar in the Hall building downtown, Carey explained, helped the band establish a routine of meeting together and writing songs. “We would be in class and be like ‘Let’s get outta here and grab beer and write a song,’” he said.

The first gig they ever performed was also at Reggie’s. “We took a shuttle bus back from Loyola Campus at 11:30 p.m. and played a Bob Dylan song,” Carey recalled. “That was the first time we ever played on stage.”

Trying to get into the music scene is a challenging endeavor—a fact that most aspiring artists can relate with almost too easily. Both musicians offered advice for students working on their own tunes and who one day want to make a living off their art.

“As long as you feel that you’re being genuine and are inspired by what you’re doing, then keep pushing for it,” Mascarenhas said. “Eventually it’ll happen for you, that’s essentially what we’re going for.” The two also noted how important it is to keep a circle of people “who love doing the same thing as you” to remain inspired.

Po Lazarus has a show coming up on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Café Campus, and this is just the start for the up-and-coming band. CJLO, the radio station based on Concordia’s Loyola campus, just accepted to host Po Lazarus in residence and produce an EP with them for free, according to Carey. The project
so far, he said, is going smoothly but dates and other details haven’t been decided yet.

“We have all these new songs we want to record, around four to five. We aren’t too sure about all the details yet, but it’s shaping up and the EP should be out by January,” Carey said.

Po Lazarus’ record, Ways to End the Night, can be found on their bandcamp page.

Po Lazarus Album Release Show // Nov. 5 // Café Campus (57 Prince Arthur St. E.) // 8:30 p.m. // $12 in advance, $15 at door