I love the Heartbreakers EP by former Ottawa band, Brights. Though short in length, it packs in a ton of great melodies that brought me back to many of the bands that first got me into music.
In particular, the tracks “Home” and “Five Year Plan” really stuck out to me. Every time I heard Home,” I could picture a crowd of friends, family and fans gathering around the band to sing along in those memorable “Whoa-oh-oh’s!” that dominate the chorus and outro. It was feel-good music with lyrics that resonated with me. To be honest, the lyrics hold true today, for anybody searching for a bit more meaning in their mid-20s and beyond.
“Five Year Plan” also hit home with a super-catchy, singalong chorus. It touched on the issues faced by those commencing adulthood, and to me, sounded like it focused on the responsibilities and challenges associated with “growing up.” After a beautiful guitar solo, gang vocals round out the song at the 3:25 mark.
The three other tracks (“Operate Me,” We Are Getting Restless,” and “Heartbreakers“) were also strong pop-punk songs that hit an emotional note with honest lyrics and catchy guitar hooks.
From what I understand, members of this band are still playing and writing in bands such as The Gallop, Stay Classy, Sound of Lions and more. If I’m lucky, maybe we’ll see a 10-year Brights reunion show in 2018 (fingers crossed!). Whenever I want to have a nostalgia trip, I throw on Heartbreakers. Solid, all-around!
Any Ottawan at Lebreton Flats yesterday witnessed a line-up that spanned a large spectrum. Once again the RBC Bluesfest showcased local talent from the start of the day at 1:30PM at the River Stage with five openers from Ottawa. Sound of Lions gave us no chance to be off our game. The crystal clear vocals of Whitney Delion matched to Christian Awad’s rap while on the keys woke us up, and let us know we were in for an eclectic day. Ambient organ, emotive guitar and heavy bass with the contrast of vocals work especially well on their song “Storm Chasers.” Their bassist was quaffing white wine out of the screw top bottle, and that was okay.
Sounds of Lions opened the River Stage on July 12 at RBC Bluesfest. Photo: Joseph Mathieu
From the sound of lions to the Lion himself, we made our way to Claridge Homes Stage to see Atherton. The announcer asked us to give our very own MC “a big Ottawa welcome,” which struck me as odd until I realized she hadn’t mentioned he was from the 613. She probably didn’t know. But we know! Coming into his own as the alpha of a pride of young cats, this rapper songwriter has been emceeing our wildest nights at Mugshots & Erling’s Variety, and as the anchorperson for HHK he’s made his bones many times over. DJ So Nice warmed up the kids at the front of the stage for what would be, in my humble opinion, the Stage’s best line-up of the festival.
Since we’d get pummelled with hip hop for most of the day, we opted to discover what Wicked Grin was all about at the Black Sheep Stage. Ripe blues rock, copious harmonica and witty lyrics. They covered some good songs by Susan Tedeschi: “Homemade cooking really does the trick, your cotton ain’t rotten it just needs to be picked,” and Studebaker John’s “Two-time Boogie.” They have a new album out, with harmonica-player Rod Williams’ song about it being Friday (not quite as frivolous as Rebecca Black’s “Friday” but very close) and “Time & Space” which wanted to be ethereal and instead was about hockey.
Jonathan Becker & The North Fields played the River Stage on July 12 at RBC Bluesfest. Photo: Joseph Mathieu
Our local flavour, in a nutshell, could be summed up in Cory Levesque playing bass in his umpteenth band wearing a t-shirt of the recently disbanded Carraway, double fisting red wine and a tall boy of Belgian ale. Then of course there’s JS in a Robots! Everywhere!! Tee with the zeal of a Gambino girl and his homemade placard: “JON BECKER YOU’RE SO DREAMY!” Jon Becker’s bubbly rasp was the focal point of his folky rock outfit, with songs about the chill of Ottawa winters and eerie subjects like “Bones.” The rock n roll had merit but would have benefited if the keyboard could have been heard even a little.
John Allaire & the Campistas play daddy rock, straight up. Bassist and born-to-be frontman Jeff Tanguay had a split-second song called “It’s Closing Time at the Beer Store but Can We Please Just Grab Some Beer?” that was the monosyllabic negative answer they received from the Beer Store employee. Allaire had his daughter Hillary come up to sing “Let It Be” and a song about angels. He haggled her to put on more clothes and take off her makeup as she left the stage in what I understand to be the proper parenting tactic. A small faction of generation Y lined the front fence in the long wait for the headliner in six hours. Doritos, sunflower seeds & cell phones would keep them occupied since they’d already put on their red, yellow & green face paint hours before.
The Iguanas played the Black Sheep Stage with the Texas Horns on July 12 at RBC Bluesfest. Photo: Joseph Mathieu
An Americana folk band called The Iguanas were the second on the Black Sheep Stage to invite a trio called the Texas Horns to join them. By chance, the bands had crossed paths the night before and reunited as old friends with an improvised set. This band from New Orleans was a breath of fresh air on a hot day that could have been any day of the year in the South.
It is possible to find a steady path through all the sets to see as much music as possible, but you can’t stop for long and you have to plan ahead. It’s not unlike a course in the rock-climbing gym, there are long, easy ways and short, harder ways to get around.
Action Bronson fulminated on the Claridge Homes Stage on July 12 at RBC Bluesfest. Photo: Joseph Mathieu
It was by watching the mighty Action Bronson act out his spits, as he administered himself CCs in his rump or ripped an octopus out of the ocean, that we started to think about poetry. Hip hop is the modern poetry: literary works in which special intensity is given to the expression of feeling & ideas. The special intensity of Bam Bam comes from his all-encompassing love of life and all its pleasures. Anyone who raps about three different kinds of cheeses, and the marinade he’ll soak that octopus in, and clams, raisins or corned beef hash is a blatant foodie. I should probably mention Fuck, That’s Delicious… One of the issues conservative listeners have with rap is perfectly exemplified by the tender voice of Tracy Chapman being split in half by Bronson yelling: “Bitch!” Myself, I found the timing unfortunate, but any misgivings we might have with that word should be taken with a grain of salt (and a dash of olive oil). Rough around the edges doesn’t mean he doesn’t show respect in his own way, whether it’s layered deep in his lyrics or just: “This is Peter Gabriel. Make some noise!”
Bob Saget bringing us back at the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest 2014. Photo: Mark Horton, RBC Bluesfest Press Images
All that can be said about Bob Saget is that he’s an icon of 90s pop culture who is doomed to be himself until the curtain falls. Instead of fading he’s fully embraced the odd trip he’s taken through the halls of celebrity and Hollywood. In case anyone was wondering what Ottawa’s style is, it’s lo-fi. I couldn’t agree more, thanks for clearing that up Bob! He helped us understand all kinds of things like colonoscopy, dating the elderly, Leprechauns & sucking dick for coke. One audience member called him her “spirit animal.” At one point he took up a member of the audience called Charlie and sat him on a stool and explained to him that it was okay, he was going to get laid one day, all to the soundtrack of a heartfelt conversation from a family movie. “There goes my son, Charlie,” he said. “He’s so sweet.” Later: “Now if my dick could talk I would tell it to shut the fuck up,” and “I can’t talk about Mom that way because we lost her. She touched a lot of people, yeah, and now they’re pressing charges.”
Dan the Automator of Deltron 3030 effing killed it on Claridge Homes Stage at RBC Bluesfest July 12, 2014. Photo: Joseph Mathieu
What I’m calling as one of the best shows of the year in Ottawa was Deltron 3030‘s show on Claridge Homes Stage. They don’t call them a hip hop super group because it’s pretty, these are heavyweights who have each made their way through the world of music as their own person, who have sculpted something out of nothing in big ways. We were graced with a showcase of each of their individual skills, including the sci-fi rap of Del the Funky Homosapien. Long known to be one of the illest, Del delivered his rhymes about the year 3030, where the world has far deteriorated beyond what we know to be corporate America today. The psychic landscape has changed drastically and it’s up to heroes to remind us of what we can be, how we can be saved. Thank Christ for Deltron Zero and the cantankerous Captain Aptos, AKA Dan the Automator. We found out exactly why he’s called the Automator by watching him orchestrate with little finger wiggles and full arm movements while pounding on a synth with his free hand. There was a live band supporting these two supers making their way through the future, as 3030 slowly became 3040, as well as the third of the trinity: Skiznod the Boy Wonder AKA Kid Koala. Ever wonder why they call him the Boy Wonder?
That’s why. Vancouver-born, Montreal-based Eric San has been DJing since he could lick his fingers and his beats are nothing but extra butter on top of an already wicked sound. Anyone who’s a fan of story-telling and a wide range of talents focused on one point should check out their self-titled album from 2000 and their Event 2 which just magically appeared last year. Now I wonder how old I’ll be when Event 3 rears its head…
To avoid Awolnation, we traversed the museum and discovered along the way Paul Oscher on a massive mouth organ of a size I didn’t know exsited, wailing in the Barney Danson Theatre, and Little Freddie King, the King of New Orleans Blues. His infectious jiving and shuffling across the stage had us dancing too, it’s the kind of music that makes you lose yourself.
Childish Gambino tearing it up on the Claridge Homes Stage of RBC Bluesfest July 12, 2014. Photo: Mark Horton, RBC Bluesfest Press Images
Then of course was time for the kids to let loose with Childish Gambino. Holy crap. Energy personified, with a firebrand’s grip on people. “Don’t be mad that I’m doing me better than you doing you.” Message received. His wide-eyed display of what the human body can do was mind-blowing. He was nice enough to take a crowd member’s phone and turn it from vertical to horizontal as she filmed, “you gotta hold your shit like this!” I hope everyone takes notes on that. He had a song with three drops and he made sure we knew when they were coming. Why? Because the Internet.
Snoop Dogg closed out the Bell Stage at RBC Bluesfest on July 12, 2014. Photo: Mark Horton, RBC Bluesfest Press Images
Snoop Dogg shut it down, west coast style in Erik Karlsson’s Sens jersey. He’s the type of entertainer who reminds you how many of his songs you know, without being aware of it. He played the crowd and definitely sold out the show, and despite being almost half an hour late to hit the stage he made it absolutely certain that no one in the crowd didn’t know how to spell his name by the end of it.
Ottawa’s RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest begins on July 3rd and will feature 30 great local groups. Here is a list in alphabetical order to help you support local at this year’s Bluesfest!
Métis singer-songwriter Amanda Rheaume is a powerful vocalist with just a touch of grit and an instantly-accessible roots-pop-Americana sound. She has been impressing concert goers for around a decade in Ottawa and throughout North-America with her music and her infectious personality. Her latest release Keep Fire has earned her a Juno Nomination in the category Aboriginal Album of the Year. You can be swoon by Amanda July 11th at 6 PM on the River Stage.
Amos the Transparent
A six-piece band that plays wonderful folk-inspired, indie-pop which Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC’s radio show Q, referred to as them as “Canadian Wilco.” Amos the Transparent can really dazzle a crowd with their excellent musicianship. They will be playing July 3rd at 5 PM on the Black Sheep Stage.
Angelique Francis Angelique Francis is a singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist (piano, drums, key board, harmonica, upright bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and the electric Bass). In July of 2011, after a country wide search, Angelique was selected by Ottawa Blues Festival as one of three next emerging female Canadian Artists ( The She’s The One Competition), she was only 13 years old at the time. Angelique plays July 4th at 6 PM in the Barney Danson Theatre.
Atherton Atherton is one of Ottawa’s finest hip-hop talents and most entertaining MC’s. In 2012 he released his third album No Threat, which features a tonne of great tracks chalked full of references to Orleans where he grew up and other neighbourhoods around town. Atherton is also the host of one of the city’s best monthly events, Hip-Hop Karaoke. Atherton performs on the hip-hop heavy day July 12th at 2 PM on the Claridge Homes Stage.
Average Times For fans of high energy garage rock and punk rock. Average Times are coming off an awesome set at Ottawa Explosion Weekend, which you can read about here. Their self-titled debut, full of energetic quick hitters, made our list of the best local releases of 2013. Head bob and rock out with Average Times July 9th at 6:15 PM on the River Stage.
Bella Cat Bella Cat is a rarity at the Bluesfest, as she actually plays the blues. Playing blues, soul, and jazz with very catchy melodies which will bring you back to the 50s and 60s. Not only do they play beautiful music, but Bella Cat’s booming and powerful voice will amaze. You can catch Bella Cat on Thursday, July 10 at 6 PM at the Barney Danson Theatre.
BlakDenim BlakDenim will fill the stage with nine members on stage and fill your ears with very dancy funk music with hip-hop vocals overlaid. They infuse hip-hop, funk, rock, soul and jazz with lyrical content that ranges from the serious to the absurd, their tone from sweet to heavy, all connected by head-nodding and hip shaking melodies. So go shake your groove thang and get down with your bad self with BlakDenim Saturday July 5 at 2 PM on the Black Sheep Stage.
Boyhood Boyhood is one of Ottawa’s most intriguing bands with there very outside the box psych-pop sound. If you are into strange and quite creative music, then don’t miss out on this project. Boyhood is really just Caylie Runciman, who does all of the composition, writing and recording herself. But has a few musicians join her when she plays live. Come get lost in Caylie’s musical vision July 6th at 2 PM on the Black Sheep Stage.
Cold Capital Taking their cue from classic blues and rock traditions, Cold Capital‘s guitar driven music mixes blues, roots, soul and country into a boiler pot of rock n’ roll. With influences spanning from Wilco to the Rolling Stones to Gary Clark Jr., the band is a perfect fit for the Bluesfest. Catch them July 4th at 6 PM on the Blacksheep Stage.
They are a four piece indie rock band draws influences from artists such as The Black Keys, Tokyo Police Club and Jack White. Farewell Davidson‘s music has great hooks and many sing-a-long opportunities which is always fun. Come sing with Farewell Davidson July 13th at 1 PM on the River Stage.
Formed from the ashes of Crash 13 in the latter stages of 1999, Fiftymen play country rock through and through, with dusty twang surging through its veins. Beyond the twang are strong lyrics about hard luck, heart ache, jealousy, revenge and redemption. Get your stomping shoes on and go check them out July 6th at 6 PM on the River Stage.
A modern combination of blues and roots, Firebelly add some sweet sweet harmonica play and strong vocals. In true blues fashion the four-piece does not shy away from other genres such as elements of funk, swing, jazz and country. They play July 10th at 6 PM on the Black Sheep Stage.
James Leclaire From fis- pumping, stomp your feet working-man anthems to soulful ballads of love, heartache and loss, James Leclaire’s songs are all about storytelling. He is backed by a band called the Cable 22’s and just released his third studio album Of What is Left and has been compared to Steve Earl. James and the Cable 22 will be playing July 3rd at 6 PM at Barney Danson Theatre.
John Allaire and the Campistas John Allaire is an experienced, award-winning singer/songwriter , including American Songwriter Assoc. “Best Lyrics” Award in 2009 for “Magnets” (Nashville, TN). He has been making music for over 30 years and has a gift for weaving captivating musical stories. Drawing on his experiences and surroundings John’s musical repertoire includes songs with sincere, intelligent lyrics that are introspective and deeply personal, as well as tunes that are light-hearted and humourous. Check out this local talent on one of the main stage, July 12th at 3 PM on the Bell Stage.
Jonathan Becker and The North Fields Jonathan Becker and The North Fields play rock and roll with roots in folk, country, and post punk. Jonathan’s voice was an instantly recognizable rasp that delivers very heartfelt lyrics. The five piece released a wonderful five-song EP early this year and are just coming back from a tour which took them through Ontario, Quebec and some stops on Canada’s East coast. Check them out with a cold brew on July 12th at 3 PM on the River Stage.
Probably one of the happiest and most excited people in Ottawa right now as he was named to the Polaris Prize Short-List for his latest album, the wonderful Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold. The amazing accomplishment is well deserved for the absolutly talented Kalle Mattson and his band. The folk rockers often remind me of Winnipeg based The Weakerthans, as they can play super uplifting tunes that get you up and dancing and then follow it up with a beautiful gut-wrenchingly powerful fingerpicking soft songs. Go see what all the buzz is about July 5th at 2 PM on the Claridge Homes Stage.
Keturah Johnson Band Keturah Johnson has one of the most powerful and beautiful voices I have ever heard. She has spent most of her music making career as a solo artist, but late last year added a great group of talented musicians around her to take her sound to the next level. Their is so much soul and passion that flows through her lyrics and her incredible voice, that is now complimented by a full band sound. Don’t miss being blown away July 11 at 6 PM in the Barney Danson Theatre.
The Mackenzie Rhythm Section
One of the most fun get out of your seats and shake your hips band playing the entire festival. The Mackenzie Rhythm Section describe themselves as Soulstep, soul sang from the heart and rock solid funk. To be honest I could not say it any better myself. Shine up your dancing shoes, practice your best moves and come get jiggy with it July 5th at 6 PM in the Barney Danson Theatre.
Back with the blues, Old Stereo play very funky soulful blues music. The four-piece has been greatly influenced by Gary Clark Jr. so fans of his should not miss them July 5th at 1:30 PM on the River Stage.
Old Whiskey Road
Six-piece americana and country style band with a wonderful balance of male and female vocals. Old Whiskey Road draw influences from Wilco to Neil Young and to Ryan Adams, a great bunch of excellent singer songwriters. They hit the stage July 6th at 2pm on the Claridge Homes Stage.
Pith and the Parenchymas
Probably one of the youngest acts playing the festival, Pith and the Parenchymas play very interesting experimental folk that is mature beyond their years. It is quite exciting to see the younger generation add twists to a style that has been around for decades. Pith and the Parenchymas just released their debut full length album, Songs of the Neverending Ugly Lizard. Go experience something you have never heard before July 8th at 7:30 in the Barney Danson Theatre.
Scattered Clouds Scattered Clouds‘s psychedelic rock will channel the ghosts of Lebreton Flats past. Brooding rhythms and precise noise from this experimental 3-piece underline film noir imagery. Get taken away on a psychedelic journey July 3rd at 7:30 pm in the Barney Danson Theatre.
No it is not our beloved national Olympic rowing hero. It is a group of very talented artists from Ottawa who formed an 80’s style dance band. Silkken Laumann‘s lead singer Rolf Klausener’s voice is hypnotic and the music is very much a blast from the past. Their amazing debut album Not Forever Enough is available for free, here. Kick off your Friday night in style and in dance with Silkken Laumann July 4th at 6 PM on the River Stage.
The “Northern-fried” rock and soul band made their debut in 2006 at Bluesfest and have since made big waves around the country. Silver Creek has had such highs as playing the main stage at Bluesfest in 2009 and have back Blue Rodeo on tour. Silver Creek get the honour of once again rocking the main stage (the Bell Stage) July 5th at 3 PM.
Sound of Lions Sound of Lions were the winners of “Best New Act” and “Album of the Year” in the Ottawa XPress’ readers’ poll back in 2011 and have carried that momentum with them. They have an amazing combination of a beautiful female vocals teamed up with a very strong emcee rapping over trip-hop beats. They will take their unique sound and high level of energy to the stage on July 12th at 1:30 PM on the River Stage.
Still Winter Hills
Five-piece country band that channels the days of old. Sill Winter Hills sounds like a band that could have opened for Neil Young during his heyday. They have perfected the sound of those who came before them, while carving out their own unique sound. Check out these country boys and go back in time with them on July 13th at 2pm on the Claridge Stage.
The Split Speaking of going back in time, let The Split teleport you back to when funky-soul bands laden with brass ensembles were king. Fans of Lee Fields, Charles Bradley and James Brown cannot afford to miss out on this talented act. You can catch this soulful act July 5, at 3:30 on the Black Sheep Stage.
Female fronted alternative rock band who’s influences range from The Pixies, Arcade Fire and Nina Simone. Tindervox is a four-piece but you would never know from the great depth of their sound and their haunting songs. If you are brave enough, check them out July 6th at 3 PM in the Barney Danson Theatre.
They play traditionally-based Ukrainian style music merged with punk rock power chords. Ukrania is perfect for fans of Gogol Bordello and gypsy style rock. They are up-beat, fun, dancy and sing all their songs in Ukrainian. Come learn a new language, gain international travel and have a party with Ukrania July 10th at 6PM on the River Stage.
Last but not least, the 30th local act, Wicked Grin. Since 2003 Wicked Grin have been playing their full-tilt blues with a groove that just won’t quit much to the enjoyment of concert goers. Wicked Grin recently won the Ottawa Blues Society “Road To Memphis” Challenge and represented Ottawa at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, in January 2014. You can catch their blues with bite July 12th at 6 PM on the Black Sheep Stage.
Claude Munson works hard. When you meet him, there’s an instantaneous spark of life that radiates from his words and demeanour. For the last two years, he and his band The Storm Outside have been focusing their creative strengths on putting together their new self-titled full-length LP, released in December 2012 through Up & UP Music. Munson has been on the local music circuit for a while now, playing original material at open mics to start, building his name and fan base through various projects such as his former band Marabou, and playing locally as a solo artist at small venues around town. It seems like fate eventually drew the unique talents of each band member together, creating a chemistry that sees songs come together on the album so naturally. The album deals with various themes and motifs, such as fear and loneliness, and is a true journey from start to finish. Everything passed has led he and his band mates to this.
The band consists of four permanent members: Philippe Charbonneau on the (haunting) stand-up bass, Jean-François Delaquis on electric and slide guitar, brother Pascal Delaquis on drums, and of course, storyteller and vocalist Claude Munson. The album is rounded out by the inclusion of special guests Ellorie Mcknight (viola, cello) and Louis-Philippe Robillard (trumpet, harmonica) – adding an extra bit of depth to an album with an already immersive sound. At the December 20, 2012 CD Release Party at Mercury Lounge, the band blew everyone at the sold out event away with an incredible, mesmerizing set. Their next performances will be at the one and only Blacksheep Inn with Sound of Lions January 19th, and February 17th at Café Campus in Montreal.
I sat down with Munson to discuss the album, the band, and where some of the music comes from.
Tell me a bit about The Storm Outside. How has playing in a band differed from your solo endeavours?
It’s really fun to play with a band. I’ve been playing solo for a while because that’s just what I started doing. But when I met these guys, there was this cohesion and chemistry that takes place on stage or at practice. You don’t even have to say anything verbally, it just happens musically and we try to capture that. I would say it really adds to my solo music too, but there’s something to be said about playing alone, too. I think you’re much more in touch with your instrument and voice.
How did you guys meet? When did that chemistry first happen?
Well, I started playing open mics on my own all over town, places like Café Nostalgica and we just started playing and jamming songs in different circles. Not necessarily with this band, but with other singers and players – we got this band together called Marabou. It was a 7-piece French-Folk Gypsy-Reggae thing, and it was a lot of fun. We had really danceable music, and that’s when I met the drummer Pascal Delaquis and the guitarist Jean-François Delaquis who are brothers. So in rehearsals we started practicing, and there was a bit of shyness at first about what to do. And I kept doing stuff with them over the years, and as things calmed down a bit with that band, we started taking on some of my own songs. I started booking shows – I had played solo and built a bit of a base doing house shows and places like Umi Café. So we had a strong trio, and then a few months later we got the bass player Phil Charbonneau on board as well. I really wanted an upright bass player – it brings an acoustic, rustic sound that we were going for on the new album.
How did you personally get into music?
It’s sort of hard to say, these days I don’t think about it too much about why I do it, I just kind of do it. I started playing music in Grade 4 and really got into the violin. I wanted to get into the violin because I listed to a lot of Celtic music with my parents, like Ashley MacIsaac and that sort of thing. I had a teacher in school who replaced library class with a music sing-along and we would sing these French songs that were called “La chansons à répondre” and he would play the songs and we’d sing back. It was really inspiring, the group thing, and the guitar was mesmerizing. So I started playing guitar in Grade 6 and went to a really artistic high school and jammed with lots of people. That’s really when I really fell in love with music, you gain so much clarity and feeling from it. And that’s where the song Driftwood came from, it was all sort of in chunks in the early stages. It didn’t have to do with a girl or sadness or anything like that. The lyrics changed a lot, but the chords and structure were there, it all kind of happened in a night.
Can you explain the concept behind Driftwood?
Well the music itself came from a mix of feelings I was experiencing, I was working at a café and I was alone a lot and friends were further away. Not necessarily a complete absence of friends, but the close ones weren’t right there. And you go through times when you’re lonely and I thought about times when I was being picked on in school and overcoming it, and I just kind of drift away from it. It’s a song that makes me realize through my emotions that I’m very unique and there’s this underlying mission and self-awareness I had to go through. So it’s a song about loneliness, and then finding a place where you are good – coming back to yourself. Making these realizations that life is challenging, but there’s ways to overcome that.
Does the rest of the album go along with the theme of loneliness and self-discovery?
Yeah, well there are a few tunes that are about sadness and fear. I talk about that a lot because myself, and most people, grow up with a lot of fear. In high school I never spoke or talked to anyone, but in my social circles I was very talkative. So there was frustration there, like why am I so shy when the finger is pointed at me? And why am I afraid to express my emotions and feeling? The song Out The Door is about my fear of performance, I was really afraid to sing in front of people. So I closed my eyes and finally the lyrics came, I had recorded the chords and came up with structure earlier on and they were just about that insecurity of performance.
What approach did you take to writing the album?
I’m the principal songwriter, but there are so many integral elements that the band contributes, and they add such important arrangements to the album. We did quite a bit of over-dubbing because we had the freedom to do that, it became kind of an add-on game in the end and I was really excited about that. It really gave me the freedom to explore the ideas in my head I had about certain songs, and really helped define the parts we play live. But there are also three songs on the album that are recorded live off the floor, which is a whole other experience. We just jammed out and it sounded really tight. Some songs I wrote in the earlier stages about three years ago, and then others I wrote in the middle stage in between. I had been working with the drummer and guitarist for over a year before we met. Once we had the group dynamic going, their suggestions were incredible and things kind of created themselves. There was something very natural going on and that’s where the name The Storm Outside came from – like, here’s Claude’s songs and the sound of the exterior added to it, these buddies of his. Kind of like a storm, and it all makes sense, it’s crazy and the rain’s falling and you’re in it. It just feels so natural, so whole.
Do you have any plans to tour in 2013?
Yeah, I’ve really wanted to kick myself in the ass and get on the road, hitchhiking and play wherever I could. I have that wandering vagabond in me like many artists do. It’s just been kind of limited because I felt like I needed a strong recording of what I’d been doing, and once that happened it became a totally different thing. Now we have an album and we can do it, our first gig outside Ottawa is in Montreal on February 17th at Café Campus, which should be really fun. We’ve started applying to festivals too, so we’re waiting to hear on that. If we can get in then we can start booking bigger events. I’m from the East Coast so I have this desire to bring my music there. With the imagery of the album and everything, I feel like we’re bound to make it there eventually.
Are there songs that you hold really close on the album?
Well Driftwood is the strongest expression of the album, and then you have recurring motifs and themes through the rest of the songs. We got a sound that we really liked and held onto that for most of the tracks. Each song has a quality that brings me back to a place where I wrote that song. So the newer ones on the album, like Tumble Over, are more representative of where I’ve been emotionally the last year and a half. Whistle Train is a really dark and fun tune to play too. The Gaslight is my favourite, it’s in the middle of the album and it’s one we don’t play live. I wrote it on ukulele and I played it at a few open mics early on. We transformed it into the experimental jam, it has the oldest vocals on the record, it’s got something weird in it. I remember listening to it and thinking I don’t like it, but I love it. It’s not how I meant it to sound, but let’s keep it because it has this thing about it. It sounds like you’re out in the middle of the ocean and there’s foghorns… maybe stoned? I don’t know.
Why did you decide to go with a full-length over a shorter EP?
Well I got a grant to record this album. We started doing an EP and then we decided on the LP, and sort of jumped back and forth for a while with the ideas. But after recording some of the newer songs, it was clear that we had all the songs for an LP. After two years of working on something, I think putting out the full-length is really something to be proud of. I feel like we could have done even more, maybe record a few fresh songs. But things really do take time, and this project is one that has shown me that you really do need to take your time to put something out that you’ll feel good about and that you’ll give to people, and ultimately stand behind. It was a fine balance of not giving too much, and also making sure what we put out is as tight as it can be – and we really feel that’s the case. We’ll do it even better for the next record. We even played a few new tunes at our December CD Release Party at Mercury Lounge, so there’s just so much music in the band right now. It’s all coming together slowly and I don’t want to stop, that’s for sure.
Take a listen! Buy the album if you like it…which you will 🙂