A six year literary account of the making of People Will Talk.

Return to Sanity

With things recently developing in their small-scale manner, I now recieve more and more generous comments from friends and peers such as “Seems like things are going well- I hope you guys make it”.  I can do little but smile to myself and brush it off, but with due appreciation of how it was intended.

“Making it” has a very different definition these days!  There was a time long ago, that the idea of “making it” meant a six month tour of europe and an article in rolling stone magazine…maybe a gig at historic Maple Leaf Gardens.  And that was only the beginning.  And then over the years, “making it” became a more modest, but honourable definition- to sustain a career as a musician enough so you could work hard enough to pay your bills and still have enough left over to enjoy a reasonable lifestyle.  “Making it” now just means doing enough so you don’t go crazy.  The same impetus that urges you to start writing songs when you are twenty, starts taking you over in your late twenties, if you don’t deliver on them.  “Making it” now is feeding that monster- that tender thing that once once made you so curious about the world of music you knew so little of, which then rose tenfold (like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors) and demands equal progress on your part to match every interval of its own growth.  “Making it” now is a bit like appeasing the beast.  And it often feels like your sanity is at stake- the more of yourself you have invested, the more you stand to lose.

Which is why today was so nice.  The beast was fed quite well today.  A whole new experience…a whole other world.  Today was the first day of our recording at Phase One, and it was really exciting.  With our producer, Steve, and Phase One’s own Senior Studio Engineer, Michael Jack, we were in good hands from the get-go, and things went great. It was really hard work too, mind you, but it was good, and most importantly, it was really fun.  Being a newbie at anything, when interest is there, has its advantages (unbridled enthusiasm, often).  All said and done, we were able to accomplish a good amount for what was our first day.

The goal for the day was really to dig into most of the “bed” tracks for the songs.  That especially meant drums, and some bass.  Thankfully, we were able to get drum tracks for every song nailed down today, thanks to some remarkable playing by Stefan Sezniak.  Stefan is a session drummer who has played on albums and tours of many great Canadian artists, including Hawklsey Worksman.  We recorded the “beds” live on the floor with me singing and playing guitar as a guide, Devin playing bass, and Stefan laying down the drum tracks.  It was his tracks that we wanted- hence, I wasn’t singing for “performance” and it didn’t matter if I made any mistakes- it was only the drums that we were going to keep.  Similarly, Devin wasn’t under gun for good performance either.  However, if he did give a good performance, we were more inclined to keep it, because of the close interplay between drums and bass (combining to form the rhthym section of any band).  If you get good chemistry on a live take, it’s always better than single-tracking.

Anyway, all of this was not an easy task, but will make everything that we do tomorrow that much easier, because it’s done.  “Climbing Trees” was the toughest.  Sometimes I don’t realize myself just how complicated that song can be- just because I never thought we’ve ever written any complicated songs, but there definitely are a lot of changes and dynamics to account for.

“The Sweetest Things in Life” went pretty smooth.  We have made some structural changes to some sections, but it was still a piece of cake in the end.  What was a real surprise however was “The Haunt” and how easily that one came together.  We were having some real issues trying to tighten the song- it felt repetitive and mundane at times with the same rhthyms and melodies constantly being emphasized.  But after working with Steve in preparation up to the weekend, we were able to workshop the song to the point were a lot of new changes in dynamics gave the song a whole new feel and sharpness that it didn’t have before.  The challenge once again was since this was so new for us, how were we now going to explain these changes to Stefan?  But, this fear was short-lived, as Stefan took all of two takes to nail it.

But the highlight of today was “Bonded”.  This song came alive today in the studio with tremendously successful drums, bass, guitar, vocals tracks being done.  Sitting in the control room with everybody at the end of day, sipping on a well-earned beer,  and hearing the mix of the day’s work on this song, was a moment I won’t soon forget.  With just those four basic tracks and some backing vocals, it just sounded incredible.  I just can’t wait to see what else is going to happen.

Suddenly “making it” doesn’t feel so far away anymore, when you have days like this.  For a moment, when you are sitting together listening to the music that you’ve just recorded, and it sounds wonderful to you, it’s a version of “making it” that I’ll buy.  After all, the goal is in the process- and if you do not relish the pockets of joy in that, then you’ve made nothing.

Let the Countdown Begin

Not to sound repetitive, but as you may know or not know by now, we are in the process of recording our first EP.  It will be 4 songs and serve as an appetizer for the release of our first full-length record.

You can count on some more frequent blogs from this point in, as I want to well-document the process.  Even getting to this point has been tough- and I want to attempt to remember as much of what happens as possible.

I suppose I have often put unnecessary pressure on myself when it comes to recording these songs.  There are many routes we could have gone for the recordings, but a major influencing factor for me to choose the path that we did, was the quality and sound that we would be getting, with the patht that we have chosen.  I dont want to put these songs through anymore “workshop” quality recordings.  They are ready, and we are ready to give them a “final” quality.

We are going to be going into Phase One Studios in Toronto.  I went into Phase One a few weeks ago with our producer, Steve Skratt, to check the place out, and see if it was right for what we wanted to do, and of course, see just how much a recording session would cost us.  I have to tell you- walking into the studio and seeing all of the gold and platinum records tastefully plastered all over the walls was incredible.  At first, it was definitely intimidating.  But after I got over the initial reaction, a rush like no other welled up inside me.

Phase One studios has I think 3 main studios- A, B, and C.  All of the studios have world-class acoustics and equipment…but Studio A…Studio A, Steve and many others  have told me, is the Shit.  It’s a fully loaded Cadillac.  Steve wasn’t lying.  We walk in, and the rush I get is even bigger.  The control room is Enormous with a massive mixer board like the kinds I’ve only ever seen in movies about huge bands making monster records.  And the recording room, too, is Sweeeeet.  It’s big and the acoustics are great.  There are also 3 isolation booths.  Isolation booths are much smaller rooms within the larger studio space that give you the space and environment needed to allow you to focus on just your part, while mixing what you are playing over just the way you want it.  If I’m singing, and I want to hear more bass because I feel it will help my performance, I turn up the bass track.  All that music comes in through headphones I’d be wearing, and I sing into a mic to record my vocal track.

We are working with a Engineer by the name of Michael Jack.  From what I’ve heard- Michael Jack is the Shit.  I’ve looked him up online and he has a very impressive resume having worked with some of the best and most talented artists on the planet.  On our visit, our contact mentions that just a few weeks ago, Bono was in Studio A doing some recording with Michael.  When you hear things like that, it’s pretty hard to keep from being intimidated!

Part of me is scared- but a big part me feels an excitement I’ve waited many, many years to feel.  Somehow I am not as intimidated as I definitely would have been a few years back, and that’s because I’ve lived with these songs for so long.  Both Devin and I have brought them into existence, nurtured, and given them a place in the world.  And it seems now that we have done that for as long as we can remember.  We know them inside out, almost with parental instinct.  And we have tremendous faith in them.  The point is- you put me in that studio to play on any other record, and with any other person’s songs, and the truth is that I dont belong.  I wouldnt be able to handle it or cope with the demands, and I would be far too intimidated to give good performances.  But with our songs- I know I belong.  I know that just like us, our songs have waited a long time for this.  I know they are ready.  I know I am ready.

The Basketball Metaphor

There is a reason that I am a big fan of basketball.

Basketball provides a template for the great.  They do something amazing at any given point.  They excercise their will on the game.  I sometimes wish ordinary life was like that.

A few months ago, Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a single game.  He was in a rhythm, in some sort of zone, that no one else had reached before.  He made the all of the men that played this game that fueled one of the biggest multi-million dollar businesses in a country full of mulit-million dollar businesses, look like little boys.  For just one moment, he was the ultimate king…not because of luck, or serendipity, or even  decision-making…he just took full control of a situation and dictated his own outcome.  I like basketball for this reason.  It is the same reason that Michael Jordan won 6 total championships…3 before his first retirement, and 3 more after he came back.

We all wish we had that much control over our lives.  In individual sports, we expect it- we expect Tiger Woods to dictate his fate every time he steps out on the golf course.  In team sports, we rely that much more on the abilities of our teammates to contribute enough to ensure the succesful result.

In basketball- it is both team and individual all at once.  It is the perfect combination of people management and personal will.  This is why I like basketball so much.  It is to find a way to bring together all of the gifts of the people you know, and yet instinctively rise to the occasion individually when there is no other option.

Basketball is about playing on a team, but taking matters into your hands when it counts most- when there is no where else to turn to.  This is why I find it the most compelling sport.  It is where a player shares the ball for 3 1/2 quarters, and then commands it for the last six minutes.  Why?  Because he needs teammates.  And then, when they have done all they can, he needs to prove himself totally.

In life, we are all too often scared to put that pressure on ourselves.  We will always need people to help us achieve our goals.  But, we are often to frightened to excercise our will on the game, when they are not able to help us, or when things don’t go our way- when we are down in the fourth quarter.  I know I am.

But, we are fortunate.  We can actually afford to put that type of pressure on ourselves over a period of time- where it is melted across various mundane activity and not isolated under the blinding light of a single shining moment.  It is our competitive advantage.  The hard part is to take advantage of it.  The hard part is… to “Be like Mike”.

Alter Ego

I’ll never forget the scene in Spinal Tap when David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel reveal the dark, godless force of Stonehenge.  It stirred a deep, spiritual connection to a world of sinful fantasy, dark power, and glorious hell.  In this extravagant world of spontaneously combusting drummers, one can feel a totally different kind of freedom.  This the world I think in which Lana Laro must have been born.

Who is Lana Laro?  The simple answer is that they are a side-project of bassist Devin Hannan and long-time band friend Geoff Primeau (aka front man Johnny Wang), who wrote two albums worth of songs, all from the wrong side of the tracks.  But Lana Laro could quite well be much more- a possible Yang to Lickpenny Loafer’s comparatively understated Yin.

With Devin (Colobrious Hammerstein) switching to the role of Satriani-inspired shred guitar, and Arunachal (Stanley “Skinz” Upwood) exploring painfully loud and ultra-traditional rhythms on the drums, Lana Laro might well be Lickpenny Loafer’s alter-ego…the Gollum inside our Smeagel.  With frontman Johnny Wang leading the way with his “No Holds Barred, and No Sensitive Subject Matter Left Unoffended” approach, the band serves up a promising mixture of audacity, insobordination, and punishment.  Add ex-bandmate and notorius Windsor bassist Matt Daviau (Mercutio Skidavarious) to the fold, and the circle is complete.

On April 1, 2006, Lana Laro will play its first and possible only show ever.  On April 1, 2006, the demons will come back to Earth one last to reminisce about the glory days.  On April 1, 2006, the world will experience sonic Armegeddon, if only for one more day.

Lana Laro is about rockin’ out- F’n A.  It’s about not giving a S—.  It’s about driving on a Highway to Hell, and growing bigger horns at every pit stop.  It’s about letting everyone know that Hades is still around, and he’s sick of our cultural revolution.  It’s about sticking a guitar (real or air) in your hands and turning the volume up to 11, when everyone else around can’t go higher than 10.  Lana Laro is about preserving the true essence of Rock n’ Roll- something none of these pansy, artsy-fartsy, progressive, new-age, self-important, I-don’t-know-what-a-distortion-pedal-sounds-like “artists” would know about.  Which is why Lana Laro was probably born in the world of Stonehenge- the most dark, fantastic, mysterious, and spiritually powerful rock in the world.


It has been a long time since I have chosen to write.  I’m not entirely sure why that is.  Sometimes I see online, these people, that are capable of constructing wholes sentences and paragraphs together on a far more regular basis and am left in a mixture of amusement and awe.  Awe because I admire them for being able to express so much.  Amusement because I just cant believe they have so much to say.  No- thats the wrong word…sounds a bit condescending…as if they shouldnt have so much to say.  No I guess it’s still mostly just awe, but only amusement because I find it tough to relate because I’m so used to squashing my ideas and thoughts long before they run their way down to my pen…err, keyboard.

I feel like I havent had that much to say in a while…or at least enough to warrant an entry.  But I was thinking recently about definition.  Or more specifically, how we choose to define ourselves.  It is well enough understood, that we choose to define ourselves by certain things – our hobbies, our jobs, and the people around us.  Superficially, there are several more such things.  This is not to say our jobs or our hobbies, or the people around us only contribute to us superficially.  I only mean that they come fully equipped with titles and words that we come to be associated with, on a superficial level.  Meaningfully, they can translate into much more.  But irrespective of what it is that defines us, I think meaningfully, we are defined by passion, commitment, and love – feeling strongly about something, sticking to it, and ultimately loving it.  This applies to anything- our work, our art, our loved ones, and our beliefs and values.

What drives us to cling to the things that we feel ultimately define us?  For some, it is the same set of parameters we have always felt connected to.  Some of us have maybe known for a long time what we want out of life.  For other it is a bit more confusing…or at least challenging.  I feel more and more certain that I fall into the category of the latter.  There is an accompanying aimlessness in almost everything I do!  The danger here is that there is a “search” which accompanies this aimlessness that can often be a trap- a vicious circle of asking questions and getting momentarily satisfying answers.

But in the end, I think it is an innate compulsion- that need to define ourselves.  But in order to feel that definition of self, we must first look to our knowledge of self. Those who have knowledge of the world around them becomes wise and learned, but those we have knowledge of themselves become truly complete.  I think one of the biggest challenges we face growing up in the Western world is just this.  It seems that although we are blessed with the opportunity to Be who we want to Be, we often have no clue as to Who we Are.  We instead, rely on defining ourselves by something…or by someone…or even somewhere.  In what we do and who we are around, we become temporarily comfortable with who we think we are.  We often lose definition through simply experiencing less of what we truly enjoy, who we truly enjoy being around, or being where we truly belong.  We lose the person we want to be with or lack the  progress of work we so desire, or transport ourselves to a foreign place, and we become shadows of our former selves.  But the truth is that by living outside the boundaries of those three parameters…by allowing ourselves to wander past those boundaries of comfort…we discover considerably more about ourselves than we ever knew.

The Bottom Line (Devin Hannan)

After our gig at Holy Joe’s on May 28, a friend of mine, whose musical taste and opinion I hold in high regard, mentioned: “I liked your bass playing, but I really missed hearing your lead guitar stuff…”  Ah, a bittersweet compliment – because, while I still hold the guitar closest to my heart, my new passion is for the bass…

Guitar has been my “primary” instrument until recently.  I have been playing guitar since I was 12, whereas I picked up bass, mostly to supplement my sketch recordings, when I was 19.   I was a lead guitarist in a cover band for years, most of my major musical influences are guitarists, and guitar is still my primary song writing tool.

My motives to put down the guitar and pick up the bass for Lickpenny Loafer were, at first, utilitarian.  Last summer, Ron and I were in the process of writing and/or developing many of the songs you’ve heard on the website or at our shows.  At that time, it seemed more important to establish a solid rhythmic foundation on many of these songs than to concentrate on ornamenting them with lead guitar work, particularly if we hoped to play them live with drums.  Hence, I took upon the relatively daunting challenge of becoming a full-time bassist after years of lead guitar indoctrination.  I knew that I could not let my influences as guitarist fall by the wayside – but I wondered if there could be a way to incorporate my lead guitar “intuition” into my bass playing without hurting the song?

It seems that, traditionally, bass in rock music has fulfilled two important roles: 1) as a timekeeping instrument that helps to define the rhythm and tempo of a song; and 2) to define the chords being played and guide the progression.  Thus, it is the bassist’s responsibility to link the somewhat polar functions of rhythm and harmony into a logical groove – a unique and interesting task I think, and certainly different from that of lead guitar…The more I got into playing the bass, the more I started liking it because it is so different from lead guitar – kind of a refreshing new musical culture for me – it’s a less glorified role in the band, for sure, (less chance to “show off”) but on the whole, it is more substantive.  In a way, I think the glory of bass comes with the nobility of being unobtrusive, but unquestionably essential.  That is, in rock, you can have a band without lead guitar, but you can rarely have a band without bass.

Often overlooked in rock, however, is the potential for the bass to play a lead role in the creation of melody.  Particularly in a band like ours, which is, at the moment, composed of only three individuals playing drums, bass, and rhythm guitar/vocals, there is an abundant opportunity for the bass to adopt, to a certain extent, the role of primary melody maker.  It could be the lead guitarist in me, but one of the things I try and bring to most of our songs is a distinct melodic presence on the bass; somewhat of an attempt to break the stereotypical moulds within which rock bass has come to be defined.  I think this is fairly evident on songs such as “The Haunt” and “In Retrospect” where there is considerable melodic movement, particularly in complement to the vocal line (as opposed to the drum beat).

However; it is a fine and often precarious balance that must be struck between creating interesting melodic lines and staying true to the rhythmic foundation of the song.  Occasionally I find that a an archetypal approach to the bass best serves a song’s purpose – for instance, in songs like “Missed Kiss” and “Beware The Sirens”, which I feel are purposefully spare and heavily emphasize rhythmic aspects in their instrumentation, the only melodic nuances I contribute are bridging notes from one chord to the next.  While some lead guitarists may view this as “boring”, the challenge in this style of bass playing is not necessarily devising creative lines, but rather having the considerable endurance and concentration required to pulse 8th notes with mechanical precision for the entirety of a 7 minute song (as in “Beware the Sirens).

Even within the confines of one song, I think there is considerable room for both melodic and rhythmic emphasis on bass.  On the song “Paratoxic”, I begin the verse with a simplistic walk-down bassline that essentially connects the chords and gels easily with the drums.  However, for the chorus, I attempt to change the rhythm and note selection in a manner that accentuates Arunachal’s vocal line.  It was kind of tough to nail as a band at first, but when we got it right it sounded great – there’s a cool melodic interplay between voice and bass, without sacrificing some serious bottom end when the chorus rocks out…

My favourite bass line at the moment, the one I wrote for “Climbing Trees” (you can hear a version of it in the downloads section), is a combination of heavy rhythmic emphasis and some weird choices of melody.  Furthermore, it is physically quite a work out for both the left and right hand!  Take note that Arunachal wrote the song – when I first heard him play “Climbing Trees” on acoustic, my mind was ringing with bass line possibilities – the song is a great melting pot of interesting harmonies.  Apparently Arunachal didn’t have the same positive view of this song until I contributed the bass line; now I think we both agree it’s one of our best songs in our repertoire.

I look forward to the time (likely in the studio) when I’ll be able to contribute lead guitar lines to a number of the Lickpenny Loafer songs.  I certainly have some ideas spinning around in my head.  But for now, I’m happy laying back and orchestrating the groove…

Time is a Slinky

A 3-piece band playing live- it took a while even to get to this point.  Time is a slinky.  It expands and contracts in much the same manner that a slinky does.  Sometimes you are waiting for what seems like an eternity for something to happen.  And then there are times when everything is happening so fast and so quickly, you are almost overwhelmed.

Time is completely and totally inconsistent.  I minute may always equal 60 seconds, but when you factor in the human condition- well… time toggles violently between an instant and a lifetime.

Nonetheless, it feels good to get to a point where we are playing rock n’ roll shows again (that’s what drums do don’t they?  make everything rock n; roll).  Like the subject in The Thinker, I was always moved by mind’s analysis even though it so often leads over thinking and procrastination.  It always seemed so romantic to me.  Why?  Well, if you were thinking all the time about your life, than it should naturally reflect that you take your life seriously.  Maybe that’s the mistake I too often make.  After all, it is important to take what you do seriously, but never to be too serious in what you do.

I remember making a conscious decision to stop thinking so much towards the end of last year.  A much beloved friend of mine gave me a Moleskine – a wickedly inspiring blank slate to jot new ideas and thoughts down, and craft developing ones.  I started using it about six months ago and as I read back to the first thing I wrote in it, I cant help but feel a sense of appropriateness:

“It is time to perspire, time to sweat.  It is a time of creation and conversion.  Of transmission.  And most importantly of production.  Reject the bonds of pointless thought, but avoid too, the shackles of deliberate, rationalized restraint.”

The slinky seemed to be expanding then, and I like that I’m feeling some contraction now.  I guess its just the right time to rock n’ roll.

A Taste of Sweet and Sour

Over the course of the last month, Devin and I have gotten together with Nathan about 3 or 4 times to do a studio recording of Beware of the Sirens.  It has been interesting to say the least- I find we have more questions about this song than before we started.  Is it too long?  Does it feel too sparse in parts?  Were we wrong about the groove, direction, and feel of the song? Does it need to be more straight ahead?  As I said, lots more questions.

I think recording-wise, the tracks on their own sounds pretty good.  We basically recorded a simple electronic drum beat (which we initially always had in mind for the song, which of course is one of the things we are now questioning), guitar parts, bass line, vocals (with harmonies), and some other add-ins using a MIDI controller.

BUT…Id be lying horribly if I said we at all know what we are doing- especially when it comes to the mixing stage.  Just last week, we were able to get a mix down – Beware of the Sirens Ver. 1.1 lets call it- and it exposes our lack of knowledge and expertise in this area.  As I said, the tracks on their own sound decent (save the vocals in parts where I definitely could have done a better job), but the mix sounds scattered, uneven, and overall uncomfortable to listen to.  That is why I am afraid to put it up on the website.  Dont get me wrong- there are bright moments – and that leads me to believe that with a little trial and error, and a lot more patience, we can get it to sound a whole lot better with the tracks that we do have down.  But this will remain to be seen.  Either way, a version will be up very sooner, good or bad.  But that was the point of the exercise- to learn, evaluate, and restrategize.  Again, many thanks to our man Nate Dogg for “Re-gulatin'” this.

On a separate note, the latest song, The Sweetest Things in Life, is completed.  I feel really good about this song.  You dont want to plan too much whether you should be in a writing period or not, and frankly, for the last while, I have been quite comfortable NOT writing, simply because our attention has been focused on working with the already existing abundance of material we have.

The process for the writing of this song, however, came particularly smoothly.  It definitely required its share of attention, but I felt little strain or impatience while spending time with it.  Early August of last year or so, Devin had given me a burnt CD of sketches/ideas he had written and recorded on his four-track.  Out of 15 or 16 sketches, there was this one that kept coming back to me, over and over- track 4 to be precise.  It didn’t jump at me right away, the introduction was to be fair, nothing extraordinary.  However, something in the middle of the song, made me smile every time I heard it.  So I would continue to replay it, and continue to smile.  I started to progressively get more and more excited about this sketch and knew that this had to go somewhere.

Shortly after a few more listens, a title popped in my head – maybe because of the way it made me smile.  Geez, Im reading this, and I realize Im starting to sound like Alan Cross.  Well, that’s not such a bad thing (I like Alan Cross)…unless, you are of course talking about yourself.  Anyway as I was saying – “And so, the end result?  The Sweetest Things in Life.  In fact, if you listen really closely, you can hear Arunachal’s mother screaming in the background over the first chorus, because he hadn’t done the dishes yet that day.  Interesting isn’t it? Imp Alan Cross, and this is the History of blah, blah, blah”

The point is, the title came first, and then I actually put it away for a while- a few months actually.  I then revisited the song, musically speaking, and structured it start to finish- combining what I liked about Devin’s sketch and what I had in mind.  The same part that made me smile back in those early listens though, I didn’t touch; I wanted to keep that as the essence of the song, and it still makes me smile.  The words came after, written in parts, on two successive days and the voicing/phrasing arrived with them.  It was a really, really, smooth process and as a result, these are some of my favorite lyrics that I’ve ever written.  It just felt like I wasn’t trying to bite off more than I could chew, which has happened here and there in the past (The Thinker and the months of frustration that came with it).

There is a feeling of simplicity that is apparent in the song, in large part due to the way it was written, and I think it lends it a softer, sweeter quality than some of the other songs.  I definitely plan on recording it soon, however raw, and throwing an early version up on the website.

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Measuring Stick

It’s been some 7 months since recording the Live CD at Ryerson University.  The show represented a very stripped down version of many of the songs- a few had even never been played before live.

It’s funny, the weeks leading up to that show were full of excitement and gusto.  There  was a sense of something to prove, maybe.  However, as often happens, when you place too much importance on something it appears at first to backfire.

The first few months, I couldn’t stand listening to any of the tracks.  All I could hear were the mistakes.  This puzzled my considerably at the time (not to mention, discouraged me)- after all, this was hardly the first time I had recorded anything.  Why then was every song sounding so painfully distant?  Again, as I realize now, I think overemphasizing the importance of that show had a lot to do with it- it being my first show back after a year abroad; loads of new material to try out on a virgin audience.

Interestingly, that show would prove to be very significant.  In all fairness, there is no denying it was full of mistakes!  But for me, the importance of those mistakes dwindled with each passing week and each passing listen.  What I did find was there was an enormous amount to learn about from these recordings regarding which direction a lot of these songs would now go.  There was an individual essence to many of the songs played from that show that crept out over each subsequent listen, amidst all the flat notes and red-line screams.  It’s kind of like that Calvin and Hobbes strip where Calvin’s dad tries to convince Calvin that they’d be better off downplaying Christmas, and instead not even decorating the tree but imagining that it had lots of lights, and a big star on top, and lots of presents underneath!  I feel that way many times when I listening to these recordings- it’s almost like extrapolating to get at what they could sound like, using your imagination as a guide.

I think we gained from this in many ways.  For one, Devin, being his usual disciplined self, very methodically sat down and through many creative hours, was able to develop bass-line interpretations for several of the songs which have already contributed much to their further growth.  I’m terribly excited to make use of these in the studio- especially for Paratoxic, The Thinker, and Climbing Trees (which was the last song written in South Africa, but wasn’t played at the Ryerson gig, on a number of different positions).  Interestingly, it was his bass line for Climbing Trees which has changed the song’s dynamic considerably, and has thus resuscitated it in many ways.

This is of course why artists try their material out live, in an effort to further develop it.  For me, almost all of the songs played at the Ryerson show had already been debuted and played several times over the course of many shows in Johannesburg.  It was the decision to record them live at this fairly early stage in their development, a further (and I would guess optional) aspect of the process, which threw me for a bit of a loop.  After all, it is one of which I little knew of the impact it would have, both negative and positive.

I think it goes back to a very simple concept-  It is what it is.  And we must draw from it what we can.  Too often in this, as in other things, expectations don’t appear to be met.  In the long run, I realize I probably gained much more from this than if I had been immediately been satisfied.  Sure, it was initially a case of idealism crumbling below, but I see a little more clearly now the there is fruit in it.  It is what it is- and ultimately, it won’t be what it can be, till it’s done right.


Songs are dynamic beings.  Often they feel like your own children.  You have bourn them out of your own flesh, blood- your own soul.  You watch them grow, having tremendous influence on them in the process, in the same way a parent has over a child.  Sometimes you are disappointed in yourself at the neglect you have shown them and resolve to give them that much needed care and attention.  Sometimes they blow you away with their own ability to take flight and mature with little or no encouragement (or interference) from yourself.

Songs can also be your friends.  This applies I think to all music, but its particularly interesting that even those songs that are your own can be like a friend to you.  It’s as if they know exactly what to say when you need it most.  You think to yourself, “I couldn’t have put it any better”, almost completely unaware that it was in fact you who put it that way in the first place.

And of course, songs can be your lovers.  Simply, you share your most intimate thoughts and feelings with them.  You are exposed, totally naked- and they understand you still- despite the moles, the scars, the unsightly hair, the stretch marks, and the skin deficiencies.

And so it is a reciprocal relationship.  They give life to us, just as we give life to them.

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