Looking to photograph Mean Creek, I went to meet the band at their practice space in Brighton. The room was in a large, nondescript building, and when I went to the back door, I wasn’t even sure I was in the right place. There were three guys smoking and I asked them if it was a practice space. They nodded, and asked which band I was looking for.
“Mean Creek,” I said.
“Mean Creek plays here? I’ve been to one of their shows, they’re awesome,” one of the guys said.
Aurore Ounjian, singer and guitarist in the band, popped out of the back door to show me in. One of the guys asked if she played in Mean Creek.
“Yes,” she mumbled.
“You guys are awesome,” he said.
That interaction, while to the point, exemplifies the reputation of Mean Creek, who just released their latest album “Local Losers” on April 8. They’re ubiquitous. They’re one of the hardest working and best known local acts in Boston. The name of their new album is a cheeky and self-deprecating nod to being that local band. It’s them owning the term.
“There is a bittersweet quality to this record … I kind of knew his time with us was coming to an end,” said Holland.
He said one of his favorite parts of the record was documenting the work he made with Wormwood. For Holland, there was a lot of heartbreak on the record.
“There are a couple songs about my relationship ending … there is a lot of that on the record,” said Holland.
Keene too feels that a lot of the record comes from relationships.
“[There are] a lot of songs about girls,” Keene laughed. “I wanted to move to San Francisco. I was love with this girl there and I was feeling very strange … we got back from tour and had no money and nothing going for us so I wrote ‘Cool Town’ about wanting to leave Boston and go to San Francisco.”
Keene said that songs like “Night Running” and “Cool Town” are very much like “driving on the highway” kind of songs. He thinks the band’s touring experience last year has imprints all over the new record. Simplicity was another trait the band strived for.
Keene thinks the band has gone down a path that’s more punk.
“The whole point of the record is to get back to the music we loved as kids, to the music that inspired us, so punk rock music and stuff. We wanted to make the songs bursts of energy, short and sweet,” said Keene.
Another aspect of the record that each member is fond of was working with Chris McLaughlin at 1867 Studios. Ounjian calls him a silent member of the band. The recording studio is a hidden gem in Chelsea.
Like any labor of love, the record wasn’t easy. Wormwood was about to have a child, leading him to leave the band and eventually be replaced by Kevin McDonald. Each member has a full time job, and coordinating the practicing and recording weighed on the band.
“It wasn’t grueling, but a little grueling,” said Holland.
“At the time it was very frustrating, I’m surprised we even made the album because we were all going through different things,” added Keene. “Eric was having a baby … it was just very hard for us to get together and play. I’m shocked the album ended up being the best one we’ve ever made.”
The resounding message from the band though, was that despite adversity, they had created one of their favorite records to date.
“I think it’s our best record, and I know that’s cliché,” said Holland.
“Local loser Chris Keene calls local losers, local losers,” joked drummer Mikey Holland.