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Sills & Smith / Blog

Rehearsing new songs!

Jeremy Sills and I had a very productive rehearsal and writing session today at a lovely old home in the Glebe area of Ottawa. Jeremy was without his full gear so we ran through a number of new songs with acoustic guitar accompaniment. The simpler, stripped down approach seemed to open up lots of new melodic possibilities with the material that we are working on for the third Sills and Smith album.

The house, with its very high ceilings, has mighty rich acoustics, which certainly helped to get our creative juices flowing. We tried diffferent ways of configuring the vocals for the tunes. Jeremy came up with some cool guitar riffs and finger-style playing on the spot, in some cases working from charts developed during previous sessions with Jonathan Edwards at Corvidae Music. We warmed-up with a rather old (but previously unrecorded) song: the rootsy Advice, Best Taken. Then, we moved on to the really new material: Be Careful, A Church in The Country and Echo On. All three are quiet numbers, which will have loads of acoustic guitar and I expect upright bass in the final studio recordings. Be Careful is a parent thinking of the tricky path ahead for a child in the big, bad world. It's a lilting, lullaby kind of tune, meant for the child, but filled with reflections and concerns that could never be shared. A Church In The Country was written in June and is totally inspired by the congregation and grounds of the lovely Baltimore United Church, in Baltimore, Ontario. Echo On is a dreamy number which reminisces on the simple pleasures of summer, starting with the line "a cool summer breeze in my hammock, rocking..." Jeremy was definitely finding some sweet spots in these tunes, both in his guitar playing and the harmonies. We also tried out another brand new tune called Lost In A Song. Nice cadence and rhythm to Jeremy's guitar playing on this one and the chorus parts are sounding great. Lost In A Song rocks a bit harder than the first three we sang today.

The last 30 minutes or so of the session were devoted to songs that we have practiced a fair bit with Jonathan in his studio. Tornado Alley -- which will be a pretty epic, tragic piece when we record in with a full arrangement -- is really coming together nicely. We got the verse parts working well. I sing the first half of the song, while Jeremy sings the verses after the first chorus. The chorus sounds appropriately mighty and its a fine melodic hook, we think. The main riff is a memorable one. I Know -- the nasty relationship ending song -- is sounding quite sinister. This song is the closest I've come to Richard Thompson territory, although it doesn't sound like any particular tune he's written. About 90 minutes later, I felt like we'd really accomplished something. It was a great rehearsal and writing session. We shall get together again later in the week for another hour or two. We are waiting for Jonathan to build the arrangements on three tracks that were recorded last week: If You, Fill My Cup and The Walls are Closing In. We will be back at Corvidae Music for more studio work in a week or so, but in the meantime we are content to rehearse songs and get the vocal and guitar arrangements in order. I'll keep you posted as things continue to evolve with the tracks for our third full-length studio album. Cheers, Frank

Three songs recorded today at Corvidae Music

Jonathan Edwards just arrived back in Ottawa yesterday from a New York business trip with rising country/roots star Drake Jensen. Jeremy Sills and I took advantage of Jonathan's availability and convened at his studio, Corvidae Music for a recording session over the lunch hour today. Jeremy and I had a successful rehearsal session last week, working with songs for the third Sills and Smith. We arrived fresh and ready to put down scratch tracks for three songs: The Walls Are Closing In, Fill My Cup and If You. Jeremy strapped on an acoustic guitar for today's recording session, as Jonathan twiddled knobs and dials in his control room. He also played along with Jeremy, so I was hearing two acoustic guitars in my headphones from my position, in what Jonathan curiously calls "the agony booth." We ripped through the rocker the Walls Are Closing In smartly. This tune is about getting stuck in a situation with someone who doesn't hold your political views and trying to defend your ground, and your honour, at all costs. The song has a massive, hooky chorus -- which is great fun to sing. I think folks will really dig it when they hear the tune. If You and Fill My Cup are relationship songs. Fill My Cup is a pretty acoustic song of total, sweet, ardent love. If You -- on the other hand -- is about a couple struggling to keep it together in the face of misunderstandings. I think we sang all three songs quite well. Jeremy offered lovely harmonies on the chorus parts, as usual and we both got to sing verses. All in all a very successful day in the studio. Jonathan will need a couple of weeks or so to build the arrangements around the spare, guitar and voice offerings from today's recordings. We shall return to do more vocals on these tracks when we get Jonathan's call. In the meanwhile, Jeremy and I will get back at rehearsing more of the new songs in preparation for recording dates in the future at Corvidae Music. I'm thrilled with the day's work and the music is still resonating in my cranium. Now, if I could only get that damn click track out of my head. Man, that is an annoying necessity of recording songs that will have drums. More news will follow shortly. Cheers, Frank

Great Rehearsal Yesterday!

Jeremy Sills and I got together for a very productive and fun rehearsal late yesterday afternoon at a lovely old home in the Glebe in Ottawa. We jammed several of the new songs, with Jeremy's acoustic guitar plugged in. We were all amped up to the max with tons of cool guitar and vocal loops being generated through his new equipment as we sang and Jeremy played. A new song on extreme sports enthusiasts called Parachute Love, was sounding great. The real love tunes Fill My Cup and Moments Like These were pretty, especially with the wonderful harmonies Jeremy was coming up with and more excellent guitar parts -- all filigree splendor. The epic Tornado Alley is still a work in progress, but I think we've nailed the right cadence on the chorus which is mighty melodius, but quite a mouthful to sing. It's Wrecked -- the tragic tale of a woman street worker -- has taken on added pathos the way we were singing it. I Know, the bitter tale of betrayal in a relationship, suddenly has lots of new harmonic dimension with a bridge part Jeremy came up with during our last practice in Jonathan's studio. If You, the sad song about two people drifting apart, really sounded beautiful with the spacious acoustics of this old Ottawa house. While there were quiet parts in this rehearsal, I also thought we might blow the roof off the place when were blasting out a couple of tunes with vocals and guitar sounds coming at us from all directions with the loops happening. Great big fun, all around. We shall convene again sometime early next week for another rehearsal. Then, we head back to pay a visit to Jonathan Edwards at his studio Corvidae Music next Thursday. The plan is to lay down the basic vocals and a guitar part for a song or two, as we gradually assemble the new material for a third album -- set for 2013 release. We'll keep you posted with more news as things take shape. Cheers, Frank

Hold Tight video by David Duchow!

Big news folks! David Duchow, a Canadian born multi-media artist who lives in Quebec, has made a tremendously cool video for our new song Hold Tight. It is now posted to the Sills and Smith Reverbnation and Facebook pages. David is a rare talent in his field, known by fans of alternative music, particularly Australia's art rock band The Church, for his prolific production of music videos using his brilliant artistry. We are so thrilled, and especially honoured, that David liked our song enough to reach out to us and prepare the video representation of Hold Tight. David's bio from his website is posted below and I've added a link to his website www.daviddchow.com on our sites: "David Duchow: Born: October 1949, Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Self-trained in traditional/darkroom photographic practice, I have been photographing and exhibiting black and white, colour (Cibachrome) and photo-silkscreens since 1969, in Canada and internationally. Early influences were the artists, poets and musicians in my family. Musical influences that counterpoint my visual interests: Bach, Steve Reich, Miles Davis, the Australian art-rock band, The Church and its founder, bassist, poet, visual artist, actor, writer, blogger, and prolific song-writer extraordinaire - Steve Kilbey. 1998 - stopped using film/chemical-based photography and switched to digital image making. In 2001 I had taken some self-portraits. Then September 11 happened, and these self-portraits took on a different tone, as I manipulated them. Simultaneously, I heard Steve Kilbey’s reading of Rimbaud’s poem, Season in Hell. It didn’t take long to connect the images with the recitation. I made the video “Season in Hell – A Self Portrait”… This video has been shown in the summer of 2010 in Paris and Charleville France, as part of the exhibition Rimbaudmania. Subsequent to the Season in Hell video, I made a number of videos to the Church band and Steve Kilbey music, using dissolving stills, and later with video . Steve and Tim Powles, of The Church saw this work and asked if they could use some of these images as backdrops during Church band concerts in Australia and the U.S.. One of the early concerts with this work projected behind the band was at the Sydney Opera House in July 2003. The Church once again used my images and videos as backdrops during their “Future Past Perfect” tour of the U.S. in February 2011. And on April 10, 2011 my imagery is being used again by The Church at the Sydney Opera House, this time in the large hall, one of several videographers whose work is being projected, as part of “A Psychedelic Symphony”.... The Church with a 70 piece orchestra. I spent much of 2006 and 2007 making music, using loops and recording sounds of nature with a microphone. Visit the videos with images & music by DD page to see examples of these videos - more being added frequently, for the next while. In 2004 I did a video for “Sanskrit”, by Isidore (for Steve K. & Jeffrey Cain). And in August 2008 Steve commissioned me to make videos for his Painkiller album and these images were projected as backdrops for his Painkiller Australian tour. Since 2009, I have been making altered self-portrait and motion stills videos to various musics, using an iSight camera, and I have been engaged in an ongoing photographic document of the natural world around my dead end road at the Canada/U.S. border."

Rehearsing new material at Corvidae Music

Jonathan Edwards, Jeremy Sills and myself convened at Jonathan's studio, Corvidae Music yesterday to rehearse a number of new songs in preparation for recording. It was a very productive session. Jeremy and Jonathan picked up acoustic guitars as we practised the tunes and worked on vocals and instrumental arrangements. We already have two songs recorded for the planned third Sills and Smith studio album: the rocker Hold Tight and the roots number about drinking and driving called Promises, On Monday, we ran through Fill My Cup, I Know, Advice, Best Taken; Tornado Alley, It's Wrecked, Moments Like These, The Walls are Closing In. It all sounded amazing to my ears. Terrific acoustic inter-play between the lads on this day. The guitars rang and chimed, sweetly in my ears. Jeremy and I did most of the singing, but Jonathan added his voice on the chorus parts. The new music follows down a similar path from the songs on No Way In, No Way Out and Uncertain Vista, in that there is a mix of heavy rockers with quiet, acoustic numbers. While it's definitely the signature Sills and Smith sound, I think we are exploring sonic possibilities previously unexplored for us as a band -- taking more risks with the material. Tornado Alley will be an epic number when we record it. It was written in response to the tales of heartache and human suffering that I've watched on the TV news in the last few months, as folks deal with the devastation of Tornado season in the American mid-west. Fill My Cup and Moments Like These are love songs. I Know is a different kind of relationship tune altogether, about a nasty break-up involving adultery, betrayal and private investigations. I Know actually is a close relative to another song we have been practicing recently called If You. That one is a sweeter tune, a plea for understanding in a relationship that has gone sour. Advice, Best Taken is a really rootsy number in the musical spirit of Promises. It's Wrecked attempts to get inside the life of an abused prostitute in the dark streets of a big city. The Walls are Closing In is about the times we find ourselves in a room with folks who hold the opposite political views to our own, just fixing for a fight. It's about trying to make your case to narrow-minded people whose minds will never be changed. Anyway, we sang and played for close to two hours and refined the arrangements as we progressed through them. On Thursday, I'll be rehearsing again with Jeremy. He and I will probably work on the seven tunes we sang yesterday and perhaps tackle a few others that Jonathan and I have been working on. Next Thursday we plan to head back to the studio to do some more recording with Jonathan and will probably lay down the bed tracks for a couple of songs. We are very excited! I shall keep you posted as things progress with the new material. Cheers, Frank

Hold Tight on Scottish radio Saturday!

The brand new Sills and Smith song Hold Tight will be played on the radio in Scotland this Saturday, August 11 on the Pulse 98.4: http://www.pulseonair.co.uk/ "The Saturday Sandwich" is a program hosted by Chas Cunningham of The Skunnerd band. The show broadcasts in East Renfrewshire from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. (which means a 6:00 a.m. start for us in Ottawa). It has a wonderful, entertaining format, combining live music with Chas and various talented friends and pre-recorded songs. The land of the finest single malt whisky is home to even finer people and tremendous music. Chas has already played four Sills and Smith songs on his show, so I guess that means he likes our music. If you're not in East Renfrewshire within radio signal distance, just tune in online as we'll be doing this Saturday. Jeremy Sills, Jonathan Edwards and myself will be having an early breakfast -- perhaps with a side of Haggis --with the Saturday Sandwich this weekend.

CKCU Radio Interview with David Yazbeck Now Online!

Many thanks to David Yazbeck who interviewed Jonathan Edwards and myself of Sills and Smith band on his Thursday Special Blend CKCU Radio program this morning. Select CKCU Listen On Demand, choose Jump to Segment, to hear our 30 minute piece (with talk and music) that starts at the 68:10 minute mark: http://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/100/8779.html

On CKCU Radio tomorrow!

Jonathan Edwards and I will be in the studio with David Yazbeck on CKCU Radio (93.1 FM) at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow, August 2nd on his Thursday Morning Special Blend program. David will be spinning tunes from the new Sills and Smith album No Way In, No Way Out and perhaps a nugget or two from the first disc Uncertain Vista. He'll also be chatting with us about our music. Tune in on the radio or listen on the internet at: http://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/100/info.html Since the show is taped, you will also be able to hear it online for 30 days using the CKCU radio Listen On Demand feature. Thanks for inviting us David! We're looking forward to the show.

Ships Of Gold
Ships Of Gold  (almost 2 years ago)

great news. Hope to follow the show later via Listen On Demand. Good luck, Jonathan and Frank! ~ k.

On CKCU Radio Next Thursday Morning!

Sills and Smith band will be on CKCU Radio (93.1 FM) with David Yazbeck at 8:00 a.m. next Thursday, August 2nd on his Thursday Morning Special Blend program. David will be spinning tunes from our new album No Way In, No Way Out and perhaps a nugget or two from the first disc Uncertain Vista. He'll also be chatting with us about our music. Tune in on the radio or listen at: www.ckcufm.com. Since the show is taped, you will also be able to hear it for 30 days using the CKCU radio Listen On Demand feature. Thanks for inviting us David! We're looking forward to the show.

Promises and Hold Tight released!

Well folks, today is a big day! We submitted two songs for a FACTOR grant application to meet the end of June deadline. Promises and Hold Tight are the first tracks to be recorded for the third Sills and Smith album that is now in the works. We've decided to release the new music on our Reverbnation and Facebook pages. Promises and Hold Tight will be available for sale on iTunes soon. In the meanwhile, have a listen now and we hope you enjoy! Special thanks to Jonathan Edwards for stellar production work in his Ottawa studio, Corvidae Music. Promises - songwriters: Frank Smith, Jeremy Sills, Jonathan Edwards; words: Frank Smith, music: Frank Smith, Jeremy Sills, Jonathan Edwards. Recorded, mixed, produced and mastered by Jonathan Edwards, June 2012 at Corvidae Music in Ottawa. Frank: vocals. Jeremy: vocals, acoustic guitar. Jonathan: vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, upright bass, drums. Hold Tight - songwriters: Frank Smith, Jeremy Sills, Jonathan Edwards; words: Frank Smith, music: Frank Smith, Jeremy Sills, Jonathan Edwards. Recorded, mixed, produced and mastered by Jonathan Edwards, June 2012 at Corvidae Music in Ottawa. Jeremy: vocals, acoustic guitar. Frank: vocals, Jonathan: vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, keyboards, drums.

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