Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Spotlight: The Black Canary


If there ever were a band that did not quite fit into the Columbus music scene today, or even 10 years ago, it would be The Black Canary. Fortunately, that can often mean only good things.
I think what I appreciate about the band specifically are the chord changes. You mix a bit of hypnotic trance rock from the 1960's, with the echoed soul of today, and you've got The Black Canary.
This Friday, March 7, The Black Canary will hold it's 7" single CD Vampire/Sing release show in Columbus at Ravari Room with Flotation Walls and PWAH-favorites Afternoon Naps from Cleveland.
On a side note, if you've ever seen them live, their drummer is pretty kick ass.

I think what I have appreciated so much about The Black Canary is its individualistic fortitude. The band sticks to its guns and creates a sound that is unique to their spirit. It is music difficult to create live, but they succeed on sheer determination.
Here's singer/songwriter David Whitehead offering some insight into their music and personality:
PEOPLE WITH ANIMAL HEADS: You guys have a very specific sound. Sort of a trance 60 french pop thing... What drew you toward the music you create? It almost seems like the kind of stuff a musician just has to ignore everything but his own muse for, if you know what I mean?
DAVID WHITEHEAD: I absolutely adore french pop but I may be the only one in the group with a photo of France Gall as my screen saver! I think the whole thing started when I was really young and was laid up in a hospital bed in California from some hip surgeries. Everyday on KTLA Los Angeles they would show repeats of The Monkees and I really grew to love their songs. When I got out of the hospital I bought all the records I could find and their album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. was the record I think I absorbed the most. It’s actually the first pop record to use moog synthesizers and it seemed like many of the tracks like “Words” or “Love is only Sleeping” had this haunting thing to it which later I realized was just lots of reverb and echo. As my obsession with this sound persisted I was of course drawn to the early Phil Spector records as well as the later Beach Boys stuff like Pet Sounds and the Smile demos. I still think music is art and should remain art and I blame that for my attachments to the sounds and productions of that era. The stuff is gold. Anytime I walk into a studio to set up mics I still think of Brian Wilson.
PWAH: What are the overall plans. This single release first and then the full-length later on?
DW: We really felt we needed to get something out for people to chew on. I mean this literally. Our fans are hungry people! This will be year two and all we’ve had to offer them was a free single of some demos we had laying around for a while. Hence the Vampire 7” single. We decided to put a cover of ours on the other side because I’ve always loved the band Blur and Sing is probably my favorite track of theirs. Our actual album, Betrayal of Hearts has been in the works since we got back from CMJ last October and is close to an end as close can get. It’s being mixed bit by bit and may actually be done this month. If I didn’t just jinx it..
PWAH: Where have you been recording?
DW: I think the best kept secret in Dayton would be Refraze Studios. It’s about the size of a school gymnasium and is probably about the closest you’re going to get to an actual Abbey Road experience. They have a to die for Trident board which is one of the main reasons we’ve tracked the album there with the exception of vocals and some minor overdubs like acoustic guitars and bass that were done in our own space here in Columbus. The live stuff like drums, strings and pianos were all taken from studio b at Refraze. As for the mixing we’re heading up north to Ante Up Studios in Cleveland. They have a great refurbished Neve console I can’t wait to get my hands on.
PWAH: When it comes to your music, what are some themes that the songs explore lyrically?
DW: I really like imagery and maybe more so the imagery in fairy tales and how the clouds in the sky of the day could have double meanings. Lyrically when I started writing songs I was heavily influenced by Syd Barrett and became quite attached to the way he layered his images and over worded the rhyming schemes. I tend to attack things from an outsiders frame of reference for which I feel I have the reference for. Kings losing thrones, kids taking back their voice, trying to love two people at once, stepping out of shadows, drowning in someone, the ebb of relationships, the trumpets of self realization and the great speech that no one hears which I think could be more about a band and its audience.
PWAH: Where did you guys grow up and how do you think that has affected the music you play? What do you think of the current midwestern music scene? Are there some specific bands you think people should get to know?
DW: I think all the members in the group have spent the majority of our lives as Midwesterners and I think it’s effected us all in different ways. Me and Eric lived in Dayton for many years and both of us at the time being young musicians in high school, had the opportunity to catch bands like Guided by Voices and Brainiac at their apex which was a huge inspiration to us. Kind of like what Eno says about how any musician who ever bought a Velvet Underground album started a band. GBV was definitely the midwest VU.
As for the Midwestern scene as a whole I believe it’s a healthy young baby. We don’t have the commercial overhead of the coasts so we tend to be a little more creative here and all with a complete lack of urgency. Once again competition is lighter so it leaves some breathing room for goals. That is if they ever want to get around to making any. Personally I’m just tired of Ohio being the punch line in every movie.
PWAH: What are some Midwestern bands you think people should know about?
DW: Some bands that should be checked out are acts like Afternoon Naps, Bears and Hot Cha Cha from Cleveland. Flotation Walls, Heavy Mole and The Receiver from Columbus. The Griefs from Cincinnati. Zoos of Berlin and Kiddo from Detroit.


Anonymous said...

I think this interview was great and this band is very talented. I've known Dave for a long time because he's friends with my brother Eric, who is the drummer in this great band. they have always been very passionate about music, and being ina band together. Thay has many projects in the pass, but this band is the best. Their shows are amazing and full of energy, and the sound is like nothing I hear before. I can't wait to hear the ablum when it comes out.

pat said...

Nice interview! David and Melissa stopped in on pat radio this week as well. Check it out.

I'll update my blog with a link back to this interview.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!