Echoes of Voices
The adventure began with sending an email to a known (little known to me) engineer from Toronto: Ian Bodzasi. I had been involved in a recording project with an artist that was looking to work with someone new behind the glass. After positive communications were sent and received, it was decided that I would ask Ian to mix a demo (which later was chosen to be rerecorded and included on this album) and based on the strength of that mix, a decision would be made to go with Ian or not. And go we did. This was summer, 2007. Following this experience I began to develop a friendship with Ian, who would ultimately join me at several Studios in efforts to complete a project that initally had no intent of going this far to begin with. At this point EOV was a small collection of ideas and three demos. The tracking sessions took place over the next year at two of Toronto's greatest old rooms: Phase One and Metalworks Studios. Being an independent musician really takes away your ability to do everything all at once - partly due to budget but mostly due to conviction. Reckoning was the first mix on EOV. A song about coming to terms with growing up, described as a series of childhood vignettes. Everything from failed attempts at running away from home, to 'The Happening' (a yearly Christmas School event), and waking up every morning to the voice of CFOR's Darryl Dahmer saying 'What happening this week down in the Valley?' The song really is two songs joined together - The childhood memories, and the pedal-to-the-floor return years later (with a subtle lament joining the two sections). A highlight of this song is the brilliant performance by Toronto multi instrumentalist Richard Uglow who played the chromatic harmonica throughout. Maintenance was mixed next. Maintenance is a straight up rock tune written in honour of everyone's favorite deck - The deck that hangs over lake Muskoka outside The KEE. Many summers have been spent with many friends on that deck. It really is an attempt to capture the excitement of a summer cottage party. On an exceptionally cold December morning I sat down with a cup of coffee and The Globe and Mail. I eventually landed on a piece by acclaimed columnist and author Roy MacGregor entitled 'When Backyard Dreams Melt'. This article went on to describe the effects of global warming on Canada's national sport. No longer were you able to build and maintain a backyard rink. This in turn affected how young players were able to develop their skills. Roy suggested that maybe the most important backyard in Canada' s game was that of Walter Gretzky's. I immediately began writing down lyric ideas. This small moment spent reading this article would lead to a musical experience of a lifetime a year later. More on this story later. She'll Fly was initially a request that turned into gathering of incredible talent. This song was written for a relative who was getting married and wanted a something special for her and her dad to dance to. What a challenge it was to create a song with a deadline! Just as I had completed a rough demo of ideas, I happen to meet up with Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine from Dala, whom I met years earlier on a gig. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderfully talented these ladies are, and how thrilled I was when they agreed to lend their talent to this 'contemporary waltz'. On the same day a mutual friend had introduced me to Gord Mowat from The Dust Poets. Gord is an absolute pro in the studio. He was very sensitive to the style I was going for and really laid down a harmonically rich Bass line. Maybe the most important counterpart to this song was the lead instrument. Growing up in Orillia i was exposed to a daily helping of Gordon Lightfoot and as a result have always been enamored with the pedal steel. I knew that I wanted this sound through out this tune so I asked Bob Egan who was fresh off tour with Blue Rodeo to lay down a Steel solo which he did beautifully. It perfectly balances the chorus and ties the whole tune together. Antigonish is a folk tune about life in a small University town in Nova Scotia. It features two amazing Canadian talents; Loretto Reid on the tin whistle and Duncan Cameron on the violin. The second verse refers to what might be considered one of the biggest sporting events in the maritimes : The BurMac Hockey game - played by two rival residences at St.Francis Xavier University. A single game with a year long preparation and the most important bragging rites in the province. For those who remember Mac won that year('92) 2-1. Duncan's outro solo was literally take 2 of 2 with no edits. Incredible. Muskoka Chair is really the slang name for this song and was written many years ago. Originally entitled 'Along the Moon' (in reference to the Moon River in Bala Muskoka) it eventually became just 'Muskoka Chair' by those requesting it at gigs and parties. A very simple tune with a great Pedal Steel performance by Kim Deschamps. I had completed demos in the summer of '08 for what was to be 'A Hockey Song'. Inspired by Roy's article I began reading Walter Gretzky's 'From the Backyard Rink to the Stanley Cup' and the song really began to take direction. It was an aggressive song that had escalated to a chorus ripe with legacy (99's that is). A chance email with a mutual friend lead to interest by The Tragically Hip's Rob Baker in recording a part for the song. It was really a dream come true. I had been a long time Hip fan, listening to 'Up to Here' daily in High School. Rob invited me up to The Bathouse to work with him and his engineer of choice Aaron Holmberg. This session eventually took place on December 22. When I arrived at the Bathouse in Bath ON I wondered how many people had driven passed this very unassuming old coach house directly across lake Ontario and not known that it had been the scene of some of the greatest Rock and Roll ever created. Walking through it felt like a trip through time - seeing all of the original album artwork and pictures of the band from back in the day. We spent the day running down different ideas - Rob has a relentless work ethic and is a wealth of knowledge. As the day began to close we enjoyed a nice Brunello and some guacamole and talked about the new Hip album. Working with Rob was a very relaxing experience, although I tried as much as I could to commit every detail to memory. I mentioned to him that I had another demo and wondered if he would be interested in checking it out. Sure enough twenty minutes later he was laying down a slide guitar solo on top of it. This eventually became the lead off song on the recording called In Mind. The day concluded with a particularly memorable moment; Rob and I sitting in his car listening to 'We Are The Same' months before it was released. The aforementioned Bathouse session resulted in a song called Big Wally's Coliseum. It is a song about Walter Gretzky's dedication as a parent and his incredible memory. He is a true Canadian treasure. Rounding out the guests on this track was Secret Suburbia's T.J. Habibi, who laid down some very subtle keyboard textures to give it a 'dead of winter' vibe. In Mind took the least amount of time to write, but is perhaps the most fun to play. I had wanted to write a song describing what it was like to be apart of a large family. I had intentionally decided to not go too deep with it in terms of song structure and lyrics trying to keep it as fresh as possible. Using Rob Bakers slide work on this tune put it over the top. Borrowed Time is a song composed by Toronto pianist/songwriter Eric Walker. I had played in Eric's band years before. His writing has always impressed me. It was often played as a piano power tune but I had secretly always wanted to rock this one out with a deal-gone-bad, gunslinger approach. The last tune mixed was a very special cover. Times Are Passing Us By is a very old Tragically Hip song from the Road Apples demos. It had never been commercially recorded and only exists in rough quality live bootlegs. I had mentioned to Rob during our sessions that this song was particularly special. He mentioned that Gord Sinclair had written it and that he would track down the lyrics for me. A few weeks later the lyrics, along with Gord's seal of approval arrived in an email and i couldn't have been happier. Toronto session guitarist Silvio Simone added some very subtle guitar that really captures the songs meaning perfectly. Warmest regards Darrin.