Bell Orchestre (2005 – ongoing)
Bell Orchestre is a band that came together at Concordia music school. Originally, it featured Richard Reed Parry, Sarah Neufeld, Pietro Amato, Stef Scheider and Kaveh Nabatian.
My involvement came later. I was invited to come in and collaborate on writing a piece with them on the steel guitar. The song that developed from that is called “Les Lumieres,” and appeared on their album Recording a Tape the Colour of the Light.
When that record came out, the band invited me to play shows here and there to perform that song. I ended up sitting in on more and more sections of the show, until eventually it was decided that they didn’t want to do shows without me, and I was officially invited into the band.
The Luyas (2012 – ongoing)
Besides contributing minimally to their live shows and recordings here and there, and generally just hanging around too much, I had only ever been just a fan of this weird band. I always loved the Luyas, and then I became one. We toured a lot, and I played on the records pictured here, Says You (EP, 2016) and Human Voicing (2017).
Wooden Stars (1994-2007)
WS was a highly collaborative band that had a hell of a run from 1993 or so, until about 2001. Then we had a few years of a break, which we never called a separation or even a hiatus. We never talked about it. We just stopped. I only mention that because I don’t want to have to call what happened next a reunion. In 2005, we dusted ourselves off and played some tunes at our old pal Dave Draves’s birthday party. At that time, we realized we had some unfinished business to attend to and we set out to make another record.
The band was born out of a very weird and magical chemistry between myself and Julien Beillard, another singer/guitarist/songwriter. Then it got weirder and even more magical as the others came along: Julien’s brother, original bassist Mathieu, drummer Andrew McCormack, and later bassist Josh Latour. We felt peerless, and then we made our own little family. The essense of punk rock, no?
I’m immensely proud of everything we did as a group. I will attempt here to walk you through our discography.
The Very Same (1994): We recorded with Dave Draves at the very outset of his career (and obviously ours as well). Mathieu Beillard was our bassist at that time. He also sang and recorded some of the strangest and best songs on this record. Overall, an edgy, giddy, fearless and volatile energy is filtered through an awkward gawky kaleidoscope. The artwork was made by our friend Wyatt Boyd who had the vision to match our wildness.
Mardi Gras (1997): We made this record with Darryl Smith at Chemical Sound in Toronto, when it was located on Portland St. It features beautiful horn playing and arrangements by Martin Walters. Mathieu’s unique voice can be heard on this record too. Sadly, Mathieu left the band shortly after we made Mardi Gras, and our live versions of those songs took on new life when Julien and I had to find ways of singing them. Josh, who had joined the band to play keys, was given 2 days and a bottle of nu-skin and told to learn the bass. He rose to the challenge.
Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars (2000): Julie needed a band for touring and approached me to be a part of it, since we have known each other since our late teens. I invited Andrew to be the drummer, and he suggested we should all do it as The Wooden Stars and it was a great idea. We toured a lot on Julie’s music before finally getting the chance to go into the studio together and make some sort of document of what we’d become. The process was kind of backwards, but I think the album lives on. We recorded it in the wilds of Fredericton NB’s North side. We stayed for 2 winter weeks in a motel apartment at the Fort Nashwack, eating store-bought spaghetti (it didn’t seem so bad at the time). It wasn’t an easy record to make: there were a lot of creative differences between us and Lloyd Hanson who’d been hired to engineer (or produce, depending on who you ask). In the end, we got it done well. A lot of people have told me directly that this album means a lot to them. What more do we have to go on?
The Moon (2001): We went back in to work with Dave Draves for this one, which is exactly where we began. It’s hard to believe this is the same band as on The Very Same. On this record, there is a clearer line between things written by me and things written by Julien. I think it’s just as good as the earlier records, but you can definitely feel less ‘togetherness’ on it. Shortly after this record was released and toured, WS fell into a very long slumber.
People Are Different (2007) is our ‘reunion’ record. We never split up. We never announced anything. We never needed to – we didn’t think anyone was listening. In our minds, this was less of a return than a continuation. In some ways, some of that reckless younger wildness had returned, but it’s definitely within a more controlled and polished vessel. We owe a lot to Peter Murray, whose production help, generosity and motivation helped us to see it through. Peter enabled us to do what we did from the very outset, way back in 1993-4.
Angela Desveaux & the Mighty Ship (2005-2011)
Producer/drummer Howard Bilerman included me in a wide call for musicians when he was working on Angela’s record Wandering Eyes. Angela and I just hit it off really well and everything felt natural and musical right away. I didn’t know at the time how involved I would become. The band that came together ultimately to tour this music (Angela, myself, Gilles Castilloux and Eric Digras) was an amazingly natural combination of people, and our tours were characterized by serious laughter. This project marks the first time I was ever ‘the guitar player’ in a band – and was expected to play like one. The first time Angela looked my way to play a solo, I couldn’t believe what was happening. No one had ever asked me to do that before. It was not familiar territory. I’m not sure if I ever nailed it, but I learned to love the challenge. There is something so lovable and classic about this music that is very different from all the angular art-rock bands I had worked with in the past. It has been a while, but I’m hoping there will be more from this collaboration. www.angeladesveaux.bandcamp.com
I have collaborated on more than a few occasions with choreographer Katie Ward. All I can say is that I am a huge fan of her and her work. I’ve made the music for several of her unique and mystifying pieces, including Infinity Doughnut (2013), Rock Steady (2009), Hawks & Doves (2008), The Thrills: Wilderness Retreat and The Sister I Never Had (2001-2).