Consuelo Bernardi: The B Sides


Kris and Dee Spotlight

Back in Kingston and Loving Life


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 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, 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.