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Folk rock duo Builder and the Banshee unveil debut album at the Vault Café

Local couple recorded ‘A Hand Holding the Matchbook’ in their living room
Nanaimo duo Builder and the Banshee – guitarist Mike Harding and vocalist Laura Kelsey – are unveiling their debut album A Hand Holding the Matchbook at the Vault Café on Saturday, July 20. (Photo submitted)

For the past three years the music that Laura Kelsey and Mike Harding made could only be heard at their live shows.

That changes on July 20 when the Nanaimo couple, who make up the acoustic folk rock duo Builder and the Banshee, unveil their debut album, A Hand Holding the Matchbook, at the Vault Café.

The pair spent the past two years recording the album in a makeshift studio in their living room and lead singer Kelsey said it feels good to finally hold it in her hands, even though “CDs are kind of passé.”

“I even have given some CDs to people and they say, ‘Well, where am I going to play this?’ … so it’s kind of bittersweet because finally we’ve got an album, but no one can really listen to it,” she said.

“I think about how these songs have come about and morphed and changed and they grow and get filed down and then at the end of it we get to produce a hard copy of it. I find [that] very satisfying,” said Harding, lead guitarist.

Kelsey said they took their time to make the album sound as good as possible with the resources they had. She said the do-it-yourself approach suits the record’s autobiographical tone. Kelsey made a microphone pop filter out of pantyhose and a clothes hanger and because the room wasn’t soundproof, the couple waited for the quietest time of day to record. On one of the tracks Harding’s squeaky chair can be heard. He said the home recording was more work than expected.

“It was a learning experience and I certainly love learning,” Harding said. “I love doing different things and seeing what I can do myself and what we can do with a little bit of gear.”

Kelsey described A Hand Holding the Matchbook as a personal record with songs about their relationship, like Wild, in which Kelsey describes missing Harding the first time they were apart. Harding said he and Kelsey are outdoorsy people and the album has an environmental angle as well, but discusses those issues without a “doomsdayer” attitude.

“It’s more like, ‘OK, let’s live in now. What can we do now so that we can continue to enjoy our lives throughout our lives?’” he said. “That might be a common trend throughout the world right now.”

WHAT’S ON … Builder and the Banshee album release concert at the Vault Café on Saturday, July 20 at 9 p.m. Tickets $10 at the door.

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