1. What’s the music scene like in Toronto? Is everyone in a band? Are people really nice there? How’s the dating?
Yes just about everybody is in not just one but often a few bands. It’s pretty saturated with artists here in Toronto. The key is to find some likeminded people and show support for them. That’s kind of the law in the Toronto music scene. To be honest I’m not crazy about the local music here but there are some decent bands. Just nothing that really does it for me the way my favorite bands do.The people in Toronto are pretty nice as a rule. We have a reputation for politeness but truthfully we’re not the warmest bunch. We can be a little standoffish. At shows not a lot of people dance. It’s improving slightly though.I’m the only single guy in the band right now but I am not much of a dater. I do chat up girls here and there but I usually get too drunk to get anywhere. I mostly just stare and grab the occasional bum. I am taking a stab at online dating but I couldn’t really say as I have been mostly dating myself for the last 2 years.
2. How was the Autumn Stones formed? Where did the name come from?
I founded The Autumn Stones in 2009 from the ashes of my old band The Assistants. I pinched the drummer and then met the original bass player later on. The original idea was for us to not really be a band but just do 1 album and to try to avoid all of the typical band hassles. It was really meant to just be a recording project. But after the first record I started writing better songs and wanted to keep it going and see where things could go. Our lineup is completely different now and we’ve started to embrace playing live a bit more. We’re anxious to get back in the studio though. That’s my favorite part of being in a band. I think it is the true measure of how good a band is. At least it has always been what’s most important to me. I used to have vinyl copies of The Stone Roses first record and Guided by Voices Bee Thousand on my bedroom wall to remind myself what it’s all about.
The name of the band comes from a song by The Small Faces called Autumn Stone. It’s a nice little tune. I’m not a huge fan of theirs but have always liked that song and thought it would make a great band name since I was 19. I tried getting a few of my older bands to take that name but it always got turned down by other members. So, instead I stared my own band called The Autumn Stones and then found members to be in it. That’s the way to get your ideal band name. I’m not sure what it means to be honest. I know that Stone Henge has a winter and summer stone and that it was likely used as a primitive calendar by ancient people. I suspect that The Small Faces may have got the idea from Stone Henge but I’m not sure. For me the name evokes something melancholic or nostalgiac in me. Also it implies something that lasts a really long time but not forever.
3. Who are your favorite artists and which artists influence your work most?
My favorite artists are The Magnetic Fields, Galaxie 500, Guided by Voices, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Smiths and The Stone Roses. I’d say all of those bands have had a big influence on the writing given that I write all of the songs. I’m influenced a lot by what I read as well. A great deal of my lyrics deal with religion and many of my favorite writers such as Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris have inspired much of my lyrics. We have a new unrecorded song called End of Faith which gets it’s title from the book The End of Faith by Sam Harris. The lyrics to that song are kind of a response to the line in Lennon’s Imagine where he says to “imagine no religion.”
4. When I was 12, my family and I went on a road trip to (drum roll) Thunder Bay. We ate at a restaurant, overtipped the waitress, went to a mall where I bought a purple, glittery butterfly candle and left. (Purple glittery butterfly candles are totally Canadian, right?) We know how to party. But you live in Toronto. Describe Toronto in 12 words.
Good story. Never heard of those candles though. Toronto in exactly 12 words:Scorching heat. Bitter cold. Giant penis-shaped tower. Hockey crazed. Big Smoke. Home.In two words: Canada’s cock.
5. Tell me about your new album “The Escapists”. Does it relate back to your first release “Companions of the Flame” or does it move in a totally different direction? What was the inspiration behind the title “The Escapists”?
The title “Escapists” is culled from the lyrics of one of our songs called Ooh La La. The line goes; “Hey girls, let’s unwind entwined. Lace and pretty face, escapists.” I think it works as an album title because a lot of my lyrics deal with things that could be construed as forms of escape or evasiveness. I suppose this has come up in a lot of the stuff I write. Human beings are dreaming animals. So much of what we do is related to our imaginations. We listen to music watch tv, movies, read, observe. We seem to spend most of our time imagining, dreaming or planning more so than doing things. I use the term escapists ironically because I think it is so much a part of being human that it isn’t really escape. It’s the thing that humans do best. We imagine and plan our environment better than any other species. So, “Escapists” is everyone although ironically it isn’t really escape since these things are just what we do.“Escapists” is a little different from “Companions of the Flame”. “Companions” had more optimistic love songs because I was in a more optimistic place in my life whereas “Escapists” is a bit lonelier, darker and a little heavier too. The songs deal with religion, sex, death, alcoholism. It’s juicier. I am really looking forward to getting into the studio to record these songs as we have spent a long time working on the arrangements and have higher expectations this time.
6. You were asked by NOW Magazine to cover Feist’s “One Evening” for their (really awesome) 50:50 video series (Check it out here, it’s really cool project where new local Toronto bands cover songs from the 50 best albums to come out of Toronto). Even though the covers aren’t completely finished yet, which one has been your favorite so far?
I’m going to be a jerk and say us. I just thought that her song was probably the best on the list and I think we did a decent enough job of it. Also, I’m not a big fan of many of the records on that list and haven’t heard many of the covers. Sorry Now. I guess I’m kind of a music snob that way. Although I should give an honorable mention to our friends The Whirly Birds who did Blue Rodeo’s Rose Colored glasses. I do have a bit of a soft spot for Blue Rodeo and Pete Carmichael did a great job singing that. He has a really rich and distinct voice.
7. If you were held captive by a bunch of pre-teen bandits and forced to give the Autumn Stones spin on one Justin Bieber song, which song would it be?
I honestly can’t name a Justin Bieber song but I can do you one better. I would proceed to sing a song I wrote on Halloween a few years ago when my brother who is 6 2″ dressed as Justin Bieber for Halloween. It’s called “Me and the Beeb” and it is awesome and had everyone at the party singing along. One of my finest hours.