"I'm motivated by the urge to make music and express myself, rather than by some abstract idea of being some kind of pop star, so I feel like I'm making music for the right reasons." ~Edward Rogers
On November 8, Edward Rogers will release Porcelain, his fourth solo album. The eleven tracks, which show an edgier side to Edward, were all written and recorded within an 18-month period...“The title of the album” explains Rogers, “directly reflects the emotions represented in the songs and my mood during the writing process – rage, love, broken friendships, good days, bad days…fun days.”
Singer-songwriter;Edward Rogers was born in Birmingham, England where he spent the first 12 years of his life. He moved to New York City just as the British Invasion began in the States, and started his career behind the drum kit playing in several garage bands. When a subway accident in October 1985 left him without his right arm and right leg below the knee, Rogers turned to song writing and found that he enjoyed singing and writing more rewarding than playing drums.
Over the past decade, Rogers has been extremely prolific, releasing four solo albums and two with Bedsit Poets, a Folk/Brit-inspired trio whose name was given to them by The Zombies’ Colin Blunstone and he has played extensively in New York, and the east coast, Los Angeles, Canada and London both as a solo artist and with Bedsit Poets.
In addition to his song writing career, Rogers co-produced 20 shows for the extremely successful series “The Beat Goes On” at NYC’s The Bottom Line. He has co-hosted the Irish Rock Revue for several years, at well-respected venues such as The Bowery Ballroom, Webster Hall and the Highline Ballroom. Additionally, Rogers is a regular performer in the highly-successful “Losers Lounge” series at Joe’s Pub and co-hosts the radio show “Atlantic Tunnel” on East Village Radio every Sunday from Noon to 2PM.
The latest video by Edward Rogers is for the track “The Biba Crowd” off of Porcelain and is set to footage from Jean Luc-Godard’s 1964 film 'Band of Outsiders'. It's the perfect "kick off the weekend" song....think sitting in a pub with your friends toasting the survival of yet another week in this thing called life. And the track totally makes me think The Beatles meets David Bowie meets the Psychedelic Furs mixed in with The Proclaimers...his music is all those great British pop styles that you love mashed into one. It will having you moving that's for sure.
The Biba Crowd
Jim Cuddy's third solo album 'Skyscraper Soul' (Warner Music Canada) was released yesterday and the album is a slight departure from the alt country sounds that his fans may be used to. The new album, which Jim describes as more 'cityscape' sounding (think more horns and strings) is beautiful and reflective and has this incredible flow of stories that you can follow with each song on the album.
In the winter of 2011, following extensive Blue Rodeo touring, Jim Cuddy began to write music to accompany his wife's Rena's comedic short film, 'Four Sisters'. It turned out that writing music for the film put him in a creative roll that he continued. Before long, he had the kind of material he felt could make up his new album.
Some reviewers are saying the album has a more urban sound - but the word 'urban' and Jim Cuddy - well, I think the word has a disconnect when speaking about Jim. Urban is the wrong word - more pop sounding would be better but Jim Cuddy's music is one that stands on its own without needing a label. Although with that said, I think the next Blue Rodeo album should include a few hip hop/rap covers done with a twist in that Blue Rodeo style - that would be outstanding. But I digress.
I had a chance to speak to Jim while he was in Ottawa yesterday and he was as friendly, genuine and down-to-earth as you would expect him to be...we spoke about Canada, the royal wedding, riding bikes, spending time with his wife and parenthood. We started off the interview with a selection of fan questions that I chose from Twitter and Facebook...
(from Ian on Twitter) What was it like having your son play in the band on this album?
It was truly an absolutely amazing experience – he played on this album because he was good enough to play. He had a very significant role and feature on the album and he did such a great job. He is a trained musician and music has been part of his whole life and it was such a thrill to be able to work with him. I loved every moment of it. He is a very cool person.
(from Loukia on Facebook) What song is the most special to you on the new album?
I’d have to say ‘Skyscraper Soul’ is one that stands out for me. It’s a song that I wrote that is in praise of cities…a lot of it has to do with Toronto where I’ve constructed most of my life and a city that is a huge part of who I am as a person.
Another one that comes to mind is ‘With You’ – a song that is a reflection of a lot of the people around me and the relationships that they are in…
What is your most favourite thing about Canada?
Wow that is such a big question with so many possible answers! But I’d have to say when I travel around the country the one constant for me is how the differences in all the regions all meld together into something that is so diverse and yet so unified. Every part of Canada all goes together: whether it’s the friendliness of the East, the cool factor of Toronto, people walking and running along the Rideau Canal in Ottawa or the scenic beauty of the Vancouver and the West Coast. Whether I’m travelling in the North, South, East or West within Canada I never get tired of the people or the landscape.
What music do you like listening to on your own time?
I'd have to say that I listen to a lot of music that my friends make…right now I'm listening to Skydiggers, Sadies, Bright Eyes, Weepies (a pop treat for me), Elliot Smith…there are too many to mention them all.
(from Valerie on Twitter) What is the inspiration for the song ‘Pull Me Through’ from your album The Light That Guides You Home?
The song came about while I was in the hospital – my aunt has just passed away and I was speaking with my uncle about that huge loss. He isn’t an emotional person to begin with but he was expressing what it was like losing your best friend…and no longer having that person that you’ve relied upon your entire life with you anymore. It’s a song that expresses all those emotions that my uncle was going through at that moment. So it’s another song that means a lot to me.
(from Amanda on Facebook) Any hobbies that you do during your free time?
Well I’m a very physically active person…I play a lot of hockey and I’m very into road biking right now with my wife…we’ve travelled quite extensively doing that and I also really enjoy running.
(from Richard on Twitter) If you could go back in time and speak to yourself and Greg back in Grade 11 what would you say to them?
(Laughs) I think when you want to go back in time like that it’s to rectify a wrong and I don’t think we did anything wrong…the only thing that I can think of is maybe not drink so much…that’s all I can really think of. But truly I believe that everything with our career played out exactly as it should have…I’m glad that back in NYC we didn’t have more success than we did and we weren’t playing the music that we should have been…it was about making mistakes and learning from them because that’s what you are supposed to do on the journey. And it was in making those mistakes that lead us down the path that we’ve had as band and I wouldn’t have changed any of it. For me everything happened the way it was supposed to happen.
The album cover….it’s one that’s very out of character for you but it totally shows fans a different side of you. What finally convinced you to put on the suit and play a character…since rumour has it you were very reluctant to do so?
Moments before that picture was taken I had said to my friend and photographer Sally Davies, that I was not comfortable with taking these pictures in the setting I was in and that I really and truly felt stupid in wearing that suit. But I was told that the ‘guy in the suit’ was the guy represented in all the songs I had written on the album. The character I was playing was a man who was "elegantly defeated". The person I was portraying by wearing the suit and in that shot was putting a ‘face’ to those songs. I finally realized that it was about playing that character and I agreed that yes this was ‘the guy’ in those songs. So I did the shoot and was at ease with it in the end because I got the ‘image’ that they were trying to capture...the album is about how a city can beat you down and that's what the 'character' I'm playing on the album cover looks like.
Plus the ladies seems to really like it….
(Laughs) Ha! Yes well there is that too I guess.
Love the song ‘Everyone Watched The Wedding’…I expect it to be a song played at many weddings this Fall…the song was inspired by the Royal wedding of Kate & Will. What was it about the wedding that you found so inspiring?
I'm not much of a royalist but I initially got caught up in it simply because I had read so much about it and the numbers that they were projecting that would watch this wedding was so huge. I find Will to be a real inspiring character. He could be like Harry, who is into living the life of having fun with friends partying, drinking and the women – the glamour and really into the celebrity of it – that how he’s portrayed. But I found that Will and Kate really understood that their wedding was something so special and that is was a gift to many. Something about the whole wedding really got to me. As a couple, Will and Kate, understood that in a way, their wedding and all the publicity around it, was an elevation of spirits for so many people around the globe that were going through some really tough times. They both had stepped into these roles of royalty with such ease and really understood the duty that comes with it. They accepted the responsibility of the ‘royal wedding’ and were ready to accept the mantle of public service that came along with it. And they seemed to embrace it so well…the duty, the pageantry – they accepted their roles. They also seem like really genuine and good people to the core who were ready to live in service of the nation and that seemed to resonate with so many around the world and that’s a reason why we were all so caught up in that ‘little royal wedding’.
You and your wife have a free day together…how do you spend it?
We’re just as OK with just spending the day wandering around and having coffee and dinner together as we are travelling around and exploring new places. We are very happy travel companions and now that our kids are grown up we feel less ‘oh we have to hurry back because we feel guilty for having left the kids’ to really enjoying the travel and being in that moment. We’ve taken road biking trips all over and we’re really enjoyed that activity together and we just really love it.
How has parenthood changed now that your children are teenagers and in their 20s?
It has changed a lot – when your kids are younger, as a parent you are truly the most important thing to them. Their needs are so high and you need to build so much structure around them to meet those needs. Plus you live in this constant fear of what could happen to them and so you are very hands on and stay close to them.
It’s a path that we all go through as parents with young children and then you get to the age my kids are – soon to all be in their 20s and not living at home – and they no longer need that constant, daily structure.
You now are in a newfound role of just sitting back and enjoying the people they’ve become and appreciating that stage and seeing what life experiences and adventures they take on…and that becomes your new role as a parent.
Kris and Dee are Kris Abbott, guitarist and vocalist for indie hall-of-famers The Pursuit of Happiness, and Dee McNeil, bassist and vocalist for the alt-indie band The Strap-Ons.
The couple, who have been married for your six years, decided to move back to Kingston (hometown for Kris) and make an album...meshing together their creative voices with their indie, folk and pop backgrounds. The album 'Still Inside Here' was released this past May.
The album (produced by Kris), represents a long-anticipated follow-up to the guitarist's work with TPOH, but the deep influence that Abbott's formative roots in folk music have had on its sound may come as a surprise to many.
Like life on the water in Kingston, sometimes serene and sometimes stormy, Kris and Dee transform the intimacy and vulnerability of folk into pop anthems, one life story at a time. And the stories, beautiful as they are haunting are plentiful on this album...everything from polar bears, to Alzheimer's and coming to crossroads in life.
It's not one of those albums that will have you singing and dancing all around the kitchen but it's the perfect album for those rainy days where you sit with your favourite blanket with a cup of hot tea or coffee by the window. It's for those moments where you sit and just reflect on everything that's going on around you...past and present. The ten acoustic tracks on the album provide a comforting soundtrack that does just the trick for creating that sought after mood of reflection.
Kris (guitar/vocals) and Dee (vocals/guitar) are joined by regular band members Anna Rees on drums and Wil McGonegal on bass.
I had a chance to chat with Kris...we spoke about Kingston, rekindling her musical passion, coffee and horoscopes.
What is it about Kingston that drew you back?
It is both a city and a small town, the pace of life, family, owning home, being close to the water. Lifestyle in a nutshell.
After your time with TPOH you put your guitar down for quite some time...was there ever thought that you might never play again?
Yes gulp. Thinking back to that time now and questioning the thought of never playing again is really difficult for me to answer so I will just be honest! When I set the guitar down, my unhappiness with music was somewhat unrelated to the actual music and more about the biz of being popular. I had let the most important and soulful reasons about why I make music become less important to me; I had lost touch with my own values. Strangely enough setting my guitar down, opening myself up to new things and taking a different path for a while has let music come full circle into my life and it is stronger than ever. Dee is definitely the reason I opened the case again and she taught me to laugh when the pop out snakes and jack in the boxes came flying out of the case at me. I really enjoy it now. Dee writes our lyrics and melodies and I express musically how to portray them, it is a huge part of how we communicate together. I will never make that choice to set it down again.
What was the defining moment where you decided that playing and recording was something that you had to do again?
We were taking our vacation on Wolfe Island a few years ago and writing songs the entire time we were there. I felt alive again, healthier and connected with myself. We were playing a song (Truth Lies) and Dee said to me, “what do you want to do with this”. I knew we had to play and record.
What makes you happiest in your life right now?
I feel very appreciative of many things but the Sunday afternoon rehearsals with Wil, Anna and Dee where we laugh our heads off, play music, talk, council and have a few pints are good for the soul, no doubt about it.
You and Dee have a whole day off together...free to spend it as you wish...what would that day look like?
Because life is hectic and we have a fair amount of travel, our idea of a day off is staying close to home base. Early coffee in bed, reading horoscopes on Boothstars.com, going for a walk by the lake, Dee like to write, Kris likes to paint, we play our guitars, go out touring the hardware stores to plan the next project, happy hour with a nice bottle of vintage shiraz down at the beach, nice dinner, more walking and talking, fresh sheets. What can I say you’ll either think this is boring or heaven.
Best advice you ever received about marriage?
It is important to marry someone you like not just love.
Time to play DJ and create your own Kris & Dee Playlist....what songs are you listening to right now that you can't get enough of?
Music Maul – Little Girl Shot Me
The Shins - Sea Legs (anything Shins!)
Sarah MacDougall – Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win
Emmy Lou Harris – all of Wrecking Ball !!!!
Tucker Finn – I’ve been doing ok
Kris and Dee -'Still Here Inside' the recording sessions
Kris and Dee's album 'Still Here Inside' is available on iTunes.