Had a great late afternoon music rehearsal with Jeremy Sills today. We have two brand new songs in the roster since last Thursday: Living On An Island and It's Freezing In Here. Sounding really good. We plan to be back at Jonathan Edwards' studio, Corvidae Music next week to continue recording the third Sills and Smith album. http://www.reverbnation.com/sillssmith
Yesterday, Jeremy Sills and I had a great rehearsal and songwriting session at a magical, secret music space in Ottawa's Westboro neighbourhood. We rehearsed about 10 songs for the next studio album. It all sounded pretty sweet to my ears. I think we are really hitting our stride as a band, exploring previously unchartered territory for us. These new songs are as strong melodically as anything we've done before -- lots of big, hooky choruses -- but with more complex arrangements. We're exploring new ways to use our voices. It seems the songwriting and our approach to the music has found us less inclined to just compose verse - chorus, verse - chorus tunes. There are more bridge parts to these songs and I think the final recordings will include a lot more of the layered vocals that we've worked to success on a song like Promises. Back at it again next Tuesday. Plans are in the works for a return to Jonathan Edwards' studio, Corvidae Music in another couple of weeks for more recording. The third Sills and Smith full-length studio album will be unleashed on the world in 2013. We'll keep you posted as things progress with this record. Cheers, Frank Smith
Jonathan Edwards and I got together today at his studio, Corvidae Music to lay down some bed tracks for three new Sills and Smith songs: Tornado Alley, It's Wrecked and Advice Best Taken. Jonathan played acoustic guitar and I sang to a click track. There was some lovely playing on Jonathan's part; his acoustic picking and strumming was chiming in my ears with wonderful resonance. I was pleased with my singing too in terms of phrasing, tone and pitch control. Jonathan had to coax me a bit as the session started as my timing was off on the chorus to Tornado Alley. Hey, I admit I have no sense of rhythm! I also have two left feet, so I'm no dancer. But in the end it all turned out well. Jeremy Sills will need to add his guitar and vocal parts at a later date. But at least Jonathan has a guitar and vocal track on three tunes that he can add drums, bass. more guitar and keyboards to build the full arrangements. So, we now have 2 songs completed and 7 songs with guitar and voice as we continue the recording project for the third Sills and Smith full length album. The disc will be out in 2013. We shall keep you posted as recording and rehearsals progress with the new material. Cheers, Frank
It's been awhile since the last Sills and Smith band blog posting. Jonathan Edwards is a busy fellow these days, so it is hard to book studio time at Corvidae Music. But a window of opportunity has opened up on Monday, September 24th to do some more recording. Looking forward to that day. On an entirely different matter, certain folks who have heard our No Way In, No Way Out album keep bugging us to post Would It All Be Different? on Reverbnation and Facebook. While you don't want to make too much material available on social media, in this modern age when even major labels are posting entire albums for listening on Youtube, resistance is futile. I figure as many people hear a good song, the better. Who knows with a link to our page on iTunes, some might even buy the tune or better yet, download the album. Anyway, you need to hear Would It All Be Different? because of the amazing playing and stellar mix and arrangement by Jonathan Edwards. And, Jeremy Sills just blows me away with his soaring vocalization on this track. Moving stuff. Would It All Be Different? is a sad song, but as with other sad tracks on No Way In, No Way Out, it is an observation on the human condition and dealing with difficulties in our lives as best we can. I will let you know more about the recording of our third album, as there is news to share. http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_14541105 Cheers, Frank
Exciting news folks! The brilliant Robin Youlton has created a music video for the title track to our second album No Way In, No Way Out. I think if I say anything about it in the blog that will spoil it for you, so just go ahead and watch it on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tkn3QvyEWqw&feature=youtu.be The new music video is now featured prominently on our Reverbnation and Facebook pages. Thanks so much Robin! Cheers, Frank
Jeremy Sills and I had our second rehearsal of the week in the Glebe area of Ottawa late yesterday afternoon. The rehearsal space is the front room of a lovely old home in one of the most beautiful parts of town. It has high ceilings and great acoustics. We made good use of the hour and fifteen minutes we had together, practicing about eight tunes. Hopefully they will all go on the third full length Sills and Smith album, which is gradually coming together. We already have two songs completed in Jonathan Edwards' studio, Corvidae Music: Hold Tight and Promises. Guitar and initial vocal tracks have also been recorded for Fill My Cup, The Walls Are Closing In and If You. Yesterday we rehearsed with Jeremy on acoustic guitar. We ripped through Tornado Alley, Parachute Love, Advice Best Taken, Lost In A Song and I Know. Those tunes are sounding great and have been for a few weeks now. It was especially exciting to have the chance to work on three, brand new songs that I wrote this week: Child of Mine, Endings and Beginnings and In Memory. These songs are gentle acoustic numbers that sounded especially sweet with lovely harmonies from Jeremy. We were very pleased with what we accomplished. Next week will be a busy one, with commitments I have as part of the Accessibility Team at the Ottawa Folk Festival. However, we may schedule another rehearsal or a trip to Jonathan's studio. We will have a new full length album out in early 2013! Cheers, Frank
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
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
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
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."