THE MUSIC ISSUE
HAMILTON HAS PLENTY TO BE PROUD OF EXECUTIVE EDITOR Brian Decker SENIOR ANDY EDITOR Jemma Wolfe ANDY ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR Myles Herod ANDY MUSIC EDITOR Josh Parsons MANAGING EDITOR Sam Colbert PRODUCTION EDITOR Jonathon Fairclough GRAPHICS Joy Santiago Andrew Terefenko PHOTOGRAPHER Jonathon Fairclough WRITERS Jemma Wolfe Myles Herod Josh Parsons Brian Decker Paul Fowler Bahar Orang Aaron Joo Kyle Fisher Simon Marsello LAYOUT & DESIGN Jemma Wolfe Myles Herod Josh Parsons Andrew Terefenko Brian Decker Jonathon Fairclough
I haven’t always been proud to call Hamilton my home. I’ve grown up knowing this place as a muddle of contradictions – an industrial Steel City in decline in the midst of waterfalls and green space; a Hammer Town of poverty and addiction interspersed with higher education and affluence. Music is certainly one thing that doesn’t spring to most people’s minds when imagining Hamilton – yet it should be. The mantra of the James Street North renaissance is “art is the new steel,” a phrase that aptly captures the shift from industry to artistry finally being felt here in Hamilton. Music can easily be considered part of this revival. From older acts like Simply Saucer to contemporary stars the Arkells, Hamilton is picking up momentum in the music scene as the years roll by. McMaster-centered bands are only a component of the larger framework of successful and relevant musicians that have rocked the halls of Hamilton clubs. Putting together this magazine has been a process of discovery of talent I never knew was rooted in Hamilton, and an awakening to the artistic wealth this city has to offer. This publication is a celebration of Hamilton’s past, present and future musicians who have shaped and will continue to shape the face of the local – and undoubtedly international – music scene. It has certainly convinced this editor to be proud of her hometown.
The Dirty Nil
This Ain’t Hollywood
T E R y LITTLE C t E S HAMILTON’S Dir
Hamilton has, unfortunately, always had somewhat of a dirty reputation. In reality, many residents of the city find some of Hamilton’s rougher edges a strangely appealing byproduct of the city’s working class demographic. But even for those who detest Hamilton’s “dirty parts,” there’s a remarkable amount of beauty scattered across the cityscape, ranging from Cootes Paradise to the artistically appealing James Street North neighbourhood. If you could musically capture Hamilton’s mixture of appealing dirtiness and surprising beauty it would probably sound like The Dirty Nil. The Dirty Nil started several years ago when guitarist Luke Bentham, bassist Dave Nardi and drummer Kyle Fisher were all still attending high school in Hamilton. The band acknowledges that growing up in Hamilton had a direct impact on their musical career. “The beauty of starting in Hamilton was that we didn’t really have to drive anywhere else to see bands that we loved. There were great bands playing our city all the time,” says Nardi. Noisy, high-energy live shows quickly developed The Dirty Nil’s reputation as one of the city’s great and promising young bands. Although the band has enjoyed success touring outside the city, The Dirty Nil still enjoy playing in Hamilton. “We know a lot of people now in Hamilton, so we feel at home playing here,” says Fisher. “There’s a brotherhood you feel when your audience at a show is a bunch of other bands from the same city as you,” adds Nardi. A large part of The Dirty Nil’s success as a live act comes from fuzzed out, crowd-pleasing covers of rock classics. Despite the unanimous acclaim, Nardi
says there isn’t any complicated process for picking cover songs. “We just get tired of our songs sometimes, and when that happens you just have to play something that’s fun... the selection process primarily relies on what will be easiest to play after too many beers.” Although The Dirty Nil are probably best classified as garage rock, the band’s mixture of heavy, distorted bass, monstrous drum grooves and raw yet melodic vocals makes it very hard to draw any comparisons to mainstays of the genre. “It’s never really been a conscious decision to have a dirty sound, so much as we’ve just never really wanted it to sound like anything else,” admits Nardi. “We usually aim to make the music we like to hear. Personally, hearing lots of fuzz or distortion in bands always makes me hungry for more,” Fisher says. The band is keen to continue building on the success they’ve had over the last few years. According to Nardi, the plan includes “more writing, more recording, more releases, more touring, more shows.” Above all, there’s one thing that stands out about the members The Dirty Nil: these guys absolutely love being a band. “I get to play music that I enjoy with my best friends – what more could I want?,” says Fisher. “Sometimes we get drink tickets at shows,” added Nardi. The enjoyment The Dirty Nil get from playing music is reflected in their sound – the band makes music that’s an absolute blast to listen to. Like the quietly beautiful parts of Hamilton itself, The Dirty Nil are a hidden gem that deserve to be discovered.
by Paul Fowler
by Paul Fowler
WAX MANNEQ UIN
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my interview with Wax Mannequin, an artist known for his uniquely diverse music and carefully crafted yet somehow spontaneous sounding lyrics. I certainly didn’t expect to find myself engaged in a conversation about the philosophy of life, music, and the universe. The interview left me feeling thoughtful, as though I had read a great book that I was disappointed had to end. What’s more is that it felt really special that an artist with a tireless creative ethic and bizarre but wonderful ideals had grown up in the smoke and industry of Hamilton. Where does the name “Wax Mannequin” come from? It came from a conversation I had with a friend, and the name just kind of stuck. It came from my obscure sense of musicality and I like the fact that wax melts. I like things that melt.
With a new album on the way, local indie rocker dishes on band names, spirituality and the local music scene.
by Bahar Orang
up in some of my songs - a dark watcher in a way. I definitely felt that with your last album. The first song “Broken friends” felt especially sinister. Yeah, it’s a bit of a dark song. I wrote it when I was working with my friend Lance – we were deconstructing these playgrounds that had been used for years but had been deemed unsafe. That tune was going through my head as I worked, thinking about building up and tearing down. I think the idea of “building up and tearing down” came through most of the album. Does that relate to some of the spiritual ideas that were in lot of your songs? I’m a bit of atheist – but a spiritual atheist, I guess. I like the weirdness of the universe; I like to make reference to sinister or presumably omniscient or malevolent forces that are entirely fictional in my mind but serve a significant purpose shaping life. I think we like to structure our lives as narratives when they aren’t really - but we feel better about things when we think there’s a beginning and an end with a silent watcher cheering us on or placing obstacles in our way.
I’ve also really been wondering about the name of last your album, Saxon, what does that mean to you? Well, Saxon is my grandfather’s name. It was a catchy name that meant a lot to me. Saxons ended up conquering Britain, bred themselves and battled their way into dominating Britain Is it special for you when you play in Hamilton? centuries ago and spawning our notion of what Oh, absolutely! It’s my home, and a lot of who I Britain is and what Anglo-Saxon is. am as a musician came from this place. I always come back home and hear local music and that In the song “End of Me,” from the album, I definitely influences the direction I’m heading. noticed a lot of Canadian references. How has being a Canadian inspired your music? How do you think the Hamilton music scene has The landscape during the long drives while changed over the past few years? touring has really influenced my music. Meeting It certainly has, there’s lots of interesting sounds different people in different towns - the problems here. I don’t get out as much as I should right now in different towns, and the beautiful parts. I feel because I have a young son. But my wife and I are like I’m living a lot of different lives across Canada. trying to go out once a week now, trying to get reacquainted with the community. What was it like growing up in Hamilton? I grew up in Caledonia; I lived in Hamilton until What can fans look forward to? Is there an I was about 20. Hamilton is, I guess you could say, album in the works? working-class, and that combined with my reading There is actually, I’ve been quite busy recording and schooling shaped what I like to sing about. I something new. I’m just finishing up the songs, and feel [Hamilton’s] industry has a sort of a haunting I hope to have a new record out for the summer! feeling; it’s like the ghost on the horizon that comes
ontrol THERE ARE A LOT By Aaron Joo
James street North has been harboring an Indie haven. treating our ears to fresh sounds for over 30 years, Lou molinaro describes how his greatest addiction helped new music thrive.
OF KEY CATALYSTS BEHIND
growing music scenes that don’t receive enough attention. We often forget to give due respect to those who offers local bands access to open spaces, opportunities to perform and connect with the public. These individuals dedicate their time and effort to making this happen almost always start their projects with a passion and each always have the stories behind them to tell. Lou Molinaro of This Ain’t Hollywood is one of those people, and says his attraction to Hamilton started with a local legend over 30 years ago. “Quite simply, Teenage Head,” Molinaro says of what brought him to the Hammer. “When I was a teenager in Oshawa in 1978, [they were] becoming one of the most talked-about Canadian bands.” “In 1998 I started putting on shows in various venues. Years later, I had the opportunity to relocate to Hamilton. I knew I was moving into a city that consistently had a vibrant music scene.” And soon enough, Lou “would be part of a team that would open the doors to This Ain’t Hollywood.” The venue began as a joint project between Molinaro and his good friend and business partner Glen “The Hamilton Kid” Faulman, who intended to turn a bar they found for sale on James Street North into “a platform for [artists’] expressions.” This Ain’t Hollywood holds no prejudices towards genres, hosting all styles from hip-hop to electronic, folk to metal. “With all the art that’s been exploding along James Street North, we felt that we could be part of the evolution by hosting live music.”
Both seasoned and up-and-coming acts, local and on tour, play a welcome role on the venue’s stage. What’s more, this open attitude towards helping allow bands to shape their own identities, styles and sounds is not restricted to the space. Molinaro also spends his time hosting “Lou’s Control Rock N’ Roll Radio Show” on Hamilton’s INDI 101, which has been awarded The Hamilton Music Award for Best Radio Show five times. “It’s a selfish way to share a lot of my favourite music,” Lou humbly admits. Of the experience, Lou values the “amazing audience feedback requesting music or sharing their stories as they speak about live music or records in general.” The show becomes a point of connectivity, something essential to keeping the culture alive in Hamilton. “Plus it’s been great inviting musicians on the show to speak about themselves and their music,” he said. “Adding additional insight to the art just helps us understand the incentive, the creation as well as the execution.” When asked where he sees himself and the venue in the future, Lou answered wholeheartedly and sincerely: “I see myself still supporting music. It’s like an addiction to me, yet, a positive addiction. [It] makes me understand the world more humanly.” As for This Ain’t Hollywood, its projects and prospects, Lou stays optimistic. “I see us being stronger and more involved in the local music community.” That’s probably the most honest answer I can get. Keep on Lou.
“It’s like an addiction to me, yet, a positive addiction. It makes me understand the world more humanly.”
HOMETOWN HIGH-OCTANE ROCKERS MONSTER TRUCK TALK ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
K C U F T K ’ N C U O R D T E H T H T I W by Josh Parsons
ometimes bands are formed as a reaction, often motivated by political or social inequities. In the case of Monster Truck, it’s the reaction against the plethora of crap rock ‘n’ roll polluting the airwaves. Monster Truck began a few years ago as a side project, essentially an outlet for the members to forget about their other bands, drink hard and play loud music. We all met through the Hamilton music scene. We started out doing our own thing in separate sides of the city and then we all me through playing shows,” lead guitarist Jeremy Widerman says. “For Monster Truck it’s always been about the tunes we listening to growing up,” he continues. “A lot of classic rock influences, grunge alternative and punk rock influences.” As Widerman was keen to suggest, the members had grown sick of entering bars and not seeing these traditions honoured. When they really decide to take it seriously, Monster Truck was met with an outpouring of support from the Hamilton community. “We’ve had a lot of help from INDI 101.5 early on too,” he happily admits. “Lou Marlinaro at This Ain’t Hollywood and Brodie at the Casbah also really helped us along. “Hamilton is one of the best places in the country to start a band. The city is actually thriving with the arts community today,” he says proudly. “It’s great living in Hamilton because its cheap, ” he added as he laughed. The last time Monster Truck graced the stage in their hometown was opening for the
legendary Deep Purple at Copps Coliseum, something the band never expected when they started 3 years ago. “We have a sound that really fits with [stadium bands], and that helps us along. We’re really lucky in the fact that we play just straight rock ‘n’ roll. The shows have given us a bunch of new fans to play to and that’s pretty much all you could ask for,” he concludes. Breaking into the national market has certainly helped the band accomplish their goal of redeeming rock ‘n’ roll. “I think rock has been diluted a lot over the last decade,” Widerman suggests. “I hate to do the stock Nickelback bashing, but bands like that. The fans are hungry. People are really starving for authentic, hardhitting rock ‘n’ roll.” With two EP’s under their belts, Widerman hints at a full-length on the way. “We’ve been a band for three years and we’ve never done a full length. We’ve never had the money or the means to do a proper one.” They are hoping for a summer single and an album to follow in the fall. Widermen also seems intent on pushing one last idea: “The one thing that we do that is a really great thing is give all our music away for free. This is something I believe strongly in. It is the direction [the industry] is going and I want to be in the front of that.” With all their music online for free, there is no reason to not check out Monster Truck.
S L L E K AR
s r a t s rown
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It’s certainly lucky that the Arkells met and formed at McMaster. If one of the five band members chose to attend another school, we might have never heard of the group that started out as Charlemagne, won the Battle of the Bands at Quarters and went on to win a JUNO award for Best New Group in 2010. But it’s probably even luckier that as the band’s five members - singer/guitarist Max Kerman, guitarist Mike DeAngelis, bassist Nick Dika, drummer Tim Oxford and keyboardist Dan Griffin – were going through school, they had a unique opportunity to cut their teeth in Hamilton’s burgeoning live music scene. “In other university towns, there’s maybe only one venue to really play at,” says Kerman. “But when we were coming up there’s like five or six where we could get a gig.” In their early career, shows at Corktown, the Casbah, Pepper Jack, the Underground and Absinthe were regular stops for the Arkells, giving the band ample chance to develop their craft. The opportunity was a unique part of Hamilton that not only gave the band a place to play, but a stage to get noticed on. “I think we were really lucky in that Hamilton, because where it is in relation to Toronto, gets a lot of bands coming through,” says Kerman. “We got to open for a lot of bands that, if we were in Toronto, we probably wouldn’t have had the chance to.” Hamilton, in return, has remained a consistent theme in both of the band’s studio albums: 2008’s aptly-named Jackson Square, and 2011’s Michigan Left, which mentions Brandon Hall, Hamilton Mountain and a handful of other
local references. Kerman says it’s not a deliberate attempt to write songs about Hamilton, however. Instead, it’s a reflection of the influence the Hammer has had on the band. “You write about things that you care about and you write about things you know about and that you’re curious about,” says Kerman. The lyrics aren’t the only thing in the band’s music thing that brings Hamilton to mind, too. The band’s signature of driving rhythms and strong choruses is built on their cultivation as a live band, first in Hamilton and then on the nearby university scene where they’ve become mainstays. “The idea of young people going to see a show and live music, I really love,” says Kerman. “The fact that we can be that band for some people is really meaningful.” With a new album and a record deal with Universal, the Arkells have probably outgrown the label of being a local band. They’re gaining momentum across Canada (thanks to their JUNO award and some considerable radio play) and are making noise on a few forays into the US. But in a way, the Arkells will always have their place in the Hammer. After all, it’s where the band came together, refined its sound and established itself as one of Canada’s most successful young bands. “McMaster and Hamilton are a big part of our lives,” says Kerman. “It just makes sense that it comes out in our music.”
by Brian Decker
Jeremy Fisher CHARISMATIC FOLKSTER REELIN G I N THE FAN S BY JEMMA WOLFE “Hamilton was a city in decline when I was growing up,” said Hamiltonian singer/ songwriter Jeremy Fisher. “Now every time I come back there seems to be a cool new bar or shop opening up, and downtown is starting to feel like a neighbourhood again.” Like his hometown, indie-folkster Fisher is on the up and up. With past tours alongside Lights, The Proclaimers, Great Big Sea and Xavier Rudd, Fisher is a growing star in the Canadian and international scene. Born Jeremy Binns in Hamilton in 1976, he later changed his name to what had been a childhood nickname. He also found his musical influences in his early years. “When I was about six, I discovered an Elvis record at the family cabin that had ‘Hound Dog’ on it, and I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever heard,” he said. “Actually, it was the coolest thing I’d ever heard at that point because my mom mostly listened to ABBA when I was young. From there I got into A-ha and Madonna, which didn’t go over with my dude friends so much. By middle school it was Beastie Boys and Run DMC, which led to Aerosmith and then AC/DC, who were my favorite band for most of high school.” Fisher is as home-grown-Hamilton as you can get. “Hamilton, and specifically Westdale Secondary, was a great place to be for any kid into the arts. I took all the music
classes I could when I was there, played in the concert band, jazz band and sang in choir. I was even in the school play my last year.” Another typically Hamiltonian aspect of Fisher’s formative years was his time in Northern Ontario as a camp counselor. “It was probably my time at Wanakita in the summer that informed most of what I do today, which is get up in front of people, tell stories, sings songs and try to get them to sing along sometimes,” he said. In performance, evidence of this friendly aesthetic is evident: he is chatty and easygoing no matter the size of the crowd. Stories behind songs are revealed with humour and charm – reliable features both of his music and his personality. His hometown’s music scene is a point of pride for Fisher. “I think Hamilton has always had more than its fair share of great music - everything from Jackie Washington to Daniel Lanois, Forgotten Rebels, Junkhouse and Arkells. I guess it changes as trends change, but it seems to be pretty consistent with regard to output.” Fisher can easily be added to that list of Hamilton greats. His four studio albums released over roughly the past decade have been met with success, and a fifth record is on the way. Fisher’s next project is a folk record to be released this summer. This bluegrass-infused album will include a mix of covers of some of Fisher’s favourite songwriters and five new original songs. He calls it “a collection that lurches back and forth like a porch swing on late summer afternoon.” Keep swinging, Jeremy.
TEDTALKS DJ YATES OPENS UP TO ANDY’S JOSH PARSONS ABOUT RUNNING A NONAGENARIAN RADIO STATION
amilton has seen it all over the past century, from glorious prosperity to crippling recession. The face of the city has reshaped itself considerably through time, as old industries recede and new opportunities arise. Despite the shifting landscape, there are a few gems that have braved the test of time and become part of the very essence of this city. One such example is Hamilton’s broadcast station CKOC, the oldest English speaking radio station in Canada, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. Although CKOC has served many functions of the past century, it has for the past two decades operated as Oldies 1150
on the AM dial. To celebrate their Achievements, ANDY took the chance to chat with Ted Yates, DJ and program director at CKOC. “The station has certainly changed with the times. We are constantly keeping on top of what our listeners want,” says Yates, who hosts his show weekdays from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. “Our key demographic is 35 to 64, although we have listeners from the younger and older side as well.” “The listeners in Hamilton show a huge interest in oldies and our format,” Yates proudly says. “We also have listeners from Hamilton and around the world that listen to us online and have website content added on a daily basis.” In a time
“CKOC has been issuing doses of comfort and nostalgia to Hamilton longer than any other station in the country.”
that often overlooks the medium of radio, online listenership has been essential in keeping the station afloat. Since the New Year, CKOC has hosted events across the city to celebrate and offered an unprecedented amount of contests and their annual ball: “We kicked off our 90th birthday celebrations with our 20th CKOC reunion dance Feb. 25 at the Careport Centre in Hamilton. We had over 1,200 in attendance. It was a huge success.” It is impossible to ignore the pure adoration that Yates holds for the hits of our yesteryears. “The music we play from the 50s, 60s and 70s is, for the most part, timeless. It has survived the test of time and is still relevant in 2012,” He confidently asserted. “Much of this music is still featured in TV commercials, movies, prime time TV shows and
heard in shopping retail stores everywhere. In an ever-changing world, it can be the comfort zone and for many.” And much like the songs that they spin, CKOC has been issuing doses of comfort and nostalgia to Hamilton longer than any other station in the country. “There’s also an emotional attachment to the music that was new when they were young,” Yates continues. “For young people, it’s a lesson that many of the songs and artists like the Beatles, Elvis, Doors, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones and many others were an important part of pop music history.” With 90 years now under its belt, CKOC has firmly established itself as one of the defining artifacts in a city that has seen such drastic changes. Its stronghold on the AM waves ensures that Oldies 1150 won’t be going anywhere soon.
YATES’ TOP FIVE GOLDEN OLDIES
“I Want To Hold Your Hand” the
“Good Vibrations” the
B each B oys
R olling S tones
“Can’t Help Falling in Love” E lvis P resley
“Unchained Melody” R ighteous B rothers
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Rediscovered cult heroes Simply Saucer are as legendary as ever
by Myles Herod
Music is more than just an auditory experience – rather, it is one filled with many associations. Therefore, a band’s job isn’t to merely perform on demand, but rather channel their influences and experimentations on record, making connections with audiences that will hopefully last a lifetime. Formed in the 1973, Simply Saucer does just that. Virtually unnoticed during their initial run, the band’s comeback remains the stuff of legend, with fanfare enkindling a slow burn from Steel City, Ontario to cult acclaim worldwide, their longevity partially indebted to online advocacy and reissues of their alternative work. I had the opportunity to chat with the group’s front man, Edgar Breau, who related Saucer’s origin as a group of record-obsessed kids compiling eclectic sounds from both sides of the Atlantic. “Simply Saucer began with two students from Bishop Ryan High School talking about bands like early Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, The Velvet Underground, Moby Grape, The Byrds, The Kinks, many more. That was keyboard player Paul Colilli and myself. “Later on we met David Byers at Bob Moody’s Record Bar. David had seen The Velvet Underground in Toronto and was collecting underground Dutch bands like Wally Tax and The Outsiders. Eventually we got turned onto the Krautrock groups like Can and Faust and started meeting to work on songs with the intention of forming something similar. This was around 1973.” Woven throughout Hamilton’s musical DNA, Simply Saucer made themselves one of Canada’s first alternative acts with their retroactively acclaimed Cyborgs Revisited album, an assemblage of archival sessions – some recorded atop Jackson Square Mall, others within the family abode of Bob and Daniel Lanois (the latter an acclaimed producer of U2). Released in 1989, and again in 2003, it’s been hailed by many as a great lost classic of Canadian music. Edgar helps shed some light. “I think every work of art is measured against the time period in which it was released, and there was nothing in Canada at that time – ‘74, ‘75 – that remotely sounded as edgy and prescient as did Cyborgs Revisited. The mix of The Velvet Underground with Syd Barrett was unusual … so when [Cyborgs] was unearthed it was a bit of a revelation that Canada had such a band so early in the seventies. Undoubtedly adept in the art of heavy psych and proto-punk, Simply Saucer’s commercial clout was zilch, dismissed as ‘heavy music’ in a Canadian
industry marred by Anne Murray and Gordon Lightfoot. Only releasing a lone 7-inch single during their initial incarnation, the inevitable question remains: why? “‘Why’ has often been on my mind in the ensuing years. One reason was we partied all our money away, silly boys … and there wasn’t a lot of extra cash floating around. We were rather an undisciplined, incorrigible bunch, focusing on the here and now, with little management or business skill. Eventually we developed something of an ‘us against the world’ ethos, which wasn’t helpful in the long run.” Asked if relocation from Hamilton would have provided a wider appeal, Edgar candidly agrees. “Relocating would have been a good idea. London was perhaps the ideal locale given the influence that was permeating Britain in the mid-seventies. I think the uber-bohemian lifestyle began to affect our good judgment and a torpor set in.” Prematurely disbanding in 1979, it would be realistic to assume that uncertainty loomed over each member, emotionally and financially. However, sometimes the darkest moments inspire a back-to-basics approach. For Edgar, it was a guitar, handcrafted by the renowned Grit Laskin, that represented a new outlook. “Playing acoustic really opened up the songwriting possibilities. It taught me how to work in a very stripped-down setting, learning the ways of the troubadour. I spent many years in relative seclusion, though surrounded with children, and in those years I worked hard at learning my instrument and tried to keep the artistic side of my life intact, until the time was right to return.” And return he did, regrouping Simply Saucer in various forms throughout the past ten years. In their current line-up, the band released Half Human, Half Live in 2008 to great raves and unimaginable adoration. Intent with their place among Hamilton music lore, my last question pertained to both the past and future – what does Edgar wish Saucer’s legacy to be? “In one form or another I’m sure we have a few surprises left. Legacy is our music, which survived against all odds to win international acclaim. A few years back we were honored at the Hamilton Music Awards along with a great Canadian rock band Teenage Head. We did a show together, both bands having gone through a lot of adversity. It felt great being on the same stage as the Hamilton hometown heroes … gritty survivors, rockin’ out, still believin’ in the magic of rock ‘n’ roll.”
local producer launches new studio 20
Officially opened on March 17 after a year of gaining momentum and word-of-mouth buzz, studio producer/engineer Michael Keire is launching his Threshold studio with a full-on assault. Along with the studio’s grand opening will be an accompanying website and Facebook page where Keire will showcase what’s happening at the location and allow bands to get the low-down on what it entails. The studio “offers artists an environment to explore sound, to express themselves and produce an album or single that is relevant and something to be truly proud of,” as outlined in his mission statement. At age 16, Keire started in his mother’s basement, recording all the bands he played in on a cheap recorder. When he enrolled at McMaster, he took a break from recording, but found his hobby too hard to stay away from. Unable to curb his appetite for recording, Keire began skipping his classes at McMaster and spent most of his time at Catherine North Studio, which was run by the late Dan Achen, and has been occupied by artists such as City and Colour. Working underneath Dan Achen helped Keire to develop his recording technique and allowed him to find a direction. Catherine North opened many doorways for Keire as he networked with numerous other producers, including Glen Marshall, who he would later open Vibewrangler studios with. Now, after departing from Vibewrangler, Keire has sought out a place that he can run himself. When Keire first conceived the idea of starting his own studio, he considered moving his business to Toronto, but changed his mind, deciding that the city was too saturated with studios already. Hamilton is also a very dear city to Keire, and the music and arts scene happening in the city right now has attracted him to stay in the city. “The caliber of musicianship in Hamilton is amazing, and the type of people that are here is something I respect a lot,” Keire says about the city. “People in
Hamilton are passionate and work fucking hard, coming from a city that has a long history of hard work.” Keire continues to network like he did at Catherine North and Vibewrangler over the years and has recently been learning from producer Joel Hamilton at Studio G in New York. Out of these experiences, Keire says there are two things you get out of every person you work with. “You will discover things you never thought of and you will work outside of your comfort zones, allowing you to challenge yourself. You can reaffirm what you’re doing, the things that are right are clearly right and the things that are wrong obviously wrong.” When working with bands, Keire finds that there are so many vibrant personalities with so many ideas and so much passion. There are always challenges and the need for new approaches in his recording process. Sometimes it’s about getting a snapshot of that band and their energy in that particular moment, or it’s about smudging different elements and moods and tone in more extreme ways, making an impression of that artist’s sound. Keire is currently transforming his studio to a full analog tracking setup after continuous let downs from what digital mediums offer. Tape allows for him to capture greater dynamics and better performances from the artists. “Really great performances happen when the performers don’t have to rely on technology and the onus is on them.” The transition to tape is important to him. Looking ahead, Keire is planning to completely remove the digital element of the recording process, putting everything right to tape and expanding his studio, maintaining a strong connection with Hamilton. “Hamilton has a great spirit right now for building things, and I think I couldn’t be here at a better time. I know a lot of people in the city and I have no reason to leave.”
by Kyle Fisher
McMaster-bred quintet Inlet Sound looks to make the leap to the big time
Indie-folk band Inlet Sound are set to release their first full-length record, “The Romantics,” later on in 2012. ANDY caught up with founding duo Michael Wexler (vocals/guitar) and Sean Hardy (keyboards) and talked about the upcoming album, Hamilton, the music industry and more. SM: What’s your current direction? What does the year look like for you, and what are you planning? MW: Our year is revolving around one main project. We’re working on our first full-length record. We’ve spent the last few months finishing up songwriting, and we’re still tying up a couple loose ends on the songwriting front. In about two weeks time we’re meeting with a producer named Laurence Currie. He’s a really great producer from the east coast who’s worked with artists like Hey Rosetta, Sloan, Holy Fuck, Wintersleep, some very awesome bands, so we’re very excited to be working with him. Over the following two months we’re going to be spending
o T Me
another week at a cabin up north and some time in various churches doing all of our recording. Doing this all independently, we’re trying to get the most bang for our buck and at the same time the most real feeling. Working with Laurence gives us the option of having something turn out the way we really want: capturing more of the actual performance while staying as lush and big as possible, really tight sounding. Beyond that, logistically, the following months are going to be mixing, mastering, and starting to play shows again. We’re actually hoping to go on an East Coast tour in July. SM: What about Hamilton? How did you find that as a backdrop for putting yourselves out there? MW: Hamilton is very fragmented. It doesn’t really have that downtown strip where all the musicians and bands play. You have The Casbah, which is a little separate, you have This Ain’t Hollywood downtown, and neither of those is on Hess where
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most of the partiers go. Starting in university, you’re able to start with a smaller fan base, and word’s able to spread a little bit faster. To start as a band here it’s easier than starting from scratch in a big city; it was very nice to have that small-city mentality. Although we owe a lot to Hamilton, and we very much appreciate having started there, at the same time we have to develop our fanbase further, to have our hub in Hamilton doesn’t make as much sense. Come September, if things continue to go full steam ahead with us, once the album is out, it would make a lot more sense to have our business activity coming from Toronto. You look at other bands like Young Rival and the Arkells, who actually live in downtown Hamilton, and have their lives, jobs and everything set up in Hamilton, compared with us who came to the university for four years and then left, we don’t have as much a sense of home here. SM: Any advice for aspiring bands/artists trying to make their way in the Hamilton scene?
by Simon Marsello SH: This has become something of a cliché, but for a reason. You really need to sit down and assess your motives and exactly what you’re pursuing. We’ve found some success as a band, but we didn’t set out that way, and really started out of happenstance because we lived together, had common musical interests, and wanted to see what it’d be like to play music together, and I hope that that’s how most legitimate bands get started, because you don’t want people getting together and saying “So you’re going to have this bunk on the tour bus, and you’re going to be the one with the sunglasses and all the women will be so excited.” Without dedication to your craft and without genuinely believing in what you’re creating, you’re fulfilling your own sad prophecy. You need to be fundamentally driven by excitement about what you’re creating, belief in what you’re creating, and investment in what you’re creating. You can hear the result when people write songs and just dash them off; there’s not really much investment in them.