“Ottawa’s own kings of swirling, psychedelic, electric folk,” —Dav Fot, CKCU fm
Listen to the first track: “Vancouver Riot” here.
ALBUM LAUNCH: APRIL 4 @ ATOMIC ROOSTER
with special guests
FOUR-STROKE and ERIN SAOIRSE ADAIR
We started recording at the Gallery Studio in the summer of 2012. The video posted above is from that period, where we recorded the rhythm section for all 13 tracks. Dave and Matt were in the main booth, while I recorded a scratch vocal/guitar track behind the board with Dean. That was how we spent the first two days in the studio. After that I was able to sneak in and do a couple days of guitar and vocals. And before the end of 2013, Derek put down most of his parts–but during the second session, he quit the band. And I ran out of money. Fortunately, as if by some grander design, my old friend Kirk Stanton had just arrived in town, after being exiled from Montreal. It took me another few months to raise the funds, but he got in there and did some amazing things. When we had it all mixed down, Bova Sound was the only place I could conceive of it being mastered. The final layer of varnish was on–all that was left was money for printing. And that, I’ve only acquired recently. Album launch is imminent! Long live the new flesh! –January, 2015
In high school I made a lot of comics, its sort of what I wanted to do. Then I got more into “fine” art and the irreverent humour of the likes of Robert Crumb and other “underground” comix. Someone who shared my sensibilities was an American kid, name Ryan Hennessey. While he was a student at Carleton, I was doing my last year at Canterbury. This would be the mid-90’s. We were drinking cheap pitchers at Roosters one afternoon when I told him about my band name idea. That it could be spelled however anyone wanted, a purely phonetic nom. And he said I should spell it a way that had not yet occurred to me, F-A-Y-S. He remembered seeing “The Fays” on a family or neighbour’s mail box back home. He returned to New Hampshire later that year. And in 1997, I titled my first cassette release as “In Earnest” by “The Fays.” Earnest was the name of a family kitten that had died. About ten years later, I was at a pay phone on Gladstone, talking to another friend from high school. And he asked, “Did you hear about Ryan?”
I had not. He had died, I was told, of an undiagnosed heart condition. There are people in our lives we always expect to see again, and he was one of them. He loved music. He loved The Smiths and Stereolab. And he loved to tell a story, particularly if it was about one of his exploits.
This album has been dedicated to him.
Although it sounds a bit like a sausage party–its definitely not a boy band. I would be remiss not to mention the great and continued contributions of Tara Holloway (courtesy of Light Organ Records–new album “little ghosts” available February 24). She was on our first live-off-the-floor demo album “7 of 9” (2009) singing back-up on “Self-Centretown.” And reprises her part on the “War Tower” version, including an operatic performance on “Our Song,” and also blessing “Speed of Crime” with her awesome presence. Another local talent I wanted to bring in the studio was Shanghai Restaurant‘s own China Doll. And she ripped it up. Her lead vocals on “Fred’s Song” are unforgettable. The First Lady of karaoke-drag also sings on “Self-Centretown” and “Basement Band.” It was such a pleasure–I only wish I had more parts for her (next record).
The track “Two Wrongs” shows how much we’ve changed since 2009. The bridge is very different. And to exemplify that starkness, I brought in a big gun, Tony Dunn. He plays three instruments (piano, and two saxophones) on the bridge alone. Its a really groovy sound, which is surprising for a band like mine! I must say that I am quite proud of what we’ve made here. I walked over to Standard Media on Florence Street to drop off the files, and in a week or two, we will have ourselves a new baby. For childless people, this is as close as we come to procreation. –February, 2015
Our baby was delivered, or picked-up rather from the private delivery company on Friday, March 20 at about three in the afternoon (long story shortened: I prefer using Canada Post). Regardless of War Tower‘s arrival, it is alive and sounds beautiful. All thirteen tracks are there, the cover looks great. But for one glaring omission. In the credits, where everyone that contributed to this record is listed, I forgot one of the most important names. Matt Kidd: bass. The constant danger of doing everything yourself, is making mistakes. And I still can’t believe I forgot about the bass player. He’s only on every track. His bass line for “Honeychild” is a large part of what makes that song. So Tara looks at me and goes,
“Well, you know what you have to do.”
“O god, what?”
“Open every CD and write in Matt’s name.”
“WHAT?! THAT’S CRAZY! I CAN’T DO THAT TO A THOUSAND CD’S!” Then the inevitable sticker idea started to float around. The final humiliation. You can’t really afford to have an ego in this business. Unless you’re Morrissey.
Since Friday I’ve been stuffing envelopes. I sent out about twenty-five CDs yesterday, and I’ll be sending out another twenty-five tomorrow. Not as expensive as I thought it might be with the raise in the price of stamps. Its still tough to do the independent label thing in the age of austerity. But then its tough all over. Due to cut backs, soon all that will inform us on climate change will be the Farmer’s Almanac. –March. 2015
Great thanks and appreciation to Atomic Rooster, Erin Soairse Adair and four-stroke. It was a brilliant evening on Bank Street. I couldn’t have asked for more. A lot of people were blown away by Erin’s performance. Her songs deal with really serious subject matter, balanced with a strong sense of humour. She is one of those rare Ottawa artists that walks the walk. She actually attends direct actions and gets her hands dirty in this town. All too often the peace-loving folkies and Anarchist punk rockers of this city are conspicuous by their absence on the streets. As if singing or listening to protest music was enough somehow. We have never had that luxury or privilege. “I WANT DRUGS!”
One of the highlights of the evening was seeing my parents walk in during four-stroke’s set. There was a small mosh pit in front of the stage. They looked rather disoriented, and I quickly found them a table they could share with a couple of my friends–all the tables were taken–which is cool.
It was about 20 after midnight when we started our set. Our new drummer, Graham Fairley did a bang-up job. And also joining us on stage was Tara Holloway singing back-up.
War Tower is now available for sale at both Compact Music locations on Bank Street. Next show is Zaphod Beeblebrox, April 24 with Jesse Dangerously and The Lindbergh Babies. Check out this video a friend of mine made for “Crime Pays” (below)! –April, 2015
Its been a busy a few months, and many more people to thank. There are too many names, and some that would rather go nameless–but we’ll give it a shot. First, to the good folks at CKCU for supporting the band forever, and especially lately. With special thanks to Dave Fot, and Bill Guerrero for playing the shit out of War Tower. Great thanks also to CFMU (Hamilton), CFUV (Victoria), and CFBX (Kamloops) for inexplicably adding this album to your playlists. And thanks are due to Ride the Tempo, for sharing the video for “Crime Pays” (above).
i would also like to thank Catherine Chapman for including us (me) in her film (above/below). Bill C-51 is just one of the many reasons to bring down the current Canadian government. Not to suggest that Harper is the only problem in this country. He only makes it more obvious. Our “democracy” is not very democratic. It is more like a plutocracy. And as such, leaves little to protect the “rights” and “freedoms” we supposedly have. Making our laws and Constitution meaningless.