Meet The Band

Blackbirds
Every Single One

It’s a delicate, patient process to schedule a rehearsal with 6 people who work full time jobs, go to school, play shows, go on tour, etc. In our case Mike Zobac is going on tour with Lillith Fair as a backline tech for the summer so I really wanted to get everybody together a couple of times before he was gone. So by booking about 3 weeks in advance we were able to find some time to play the songs and come up with ideas for parts and arrangements.
I had a good time at all the rehearsals. I think we had 4 in total. It was interesting to hear my friends play music together. I’m really grateful they made the time to do this. I’m not sure if the songs are good enough, but then I think what qualifies as ‘good enough’ and what does it matter? It will be fun to record songs and play them with these people. If I keep writing and recording and playing, the songs are sure to get better and eventually I’ll feel more confident about them. Yes. Of course.
When I think about the band I’ve assembled I get so pleased that I feel fine about the songs. Even if there are too many Mikes, which require me to identify them by last name. Southworth is playing drums. He’s sheer pleasure to watch with his band Scatterheart. He produced and engineered two of The Feminists albums and we’ll be recording these songs in his gorgeous studio space in North Van. I enjoyed every studio session I’ve ever had with Mike and I am perpetually awed at the deep level of his talent and how hard he is willing to work, always. To be honest, considering how busy he is as a producer and with Scatterheart, I was completely surprised that he said yes to playing these rehearsals. Asking him was a ‘what the hell, why not’ kind of thing. Note to self: Sometimes it pays to aim stupidly high.
Zobac is playing bass. This may come as a surprise for those who know him as a drummer. But he offered, and I became very curious to hear what he and Mike Southworth would sound like together. Zobac was Southworth’s drum teacher another lifetime ago, back in the late 20th century. So they go way back but haven’t played on a band together, seeing as how you don’t generally need two drummers at the same time. Mike and I played together joyfully in The Feminists for 6 years and I know very well how thoroughly talented he is as a musician. I knew he played bass too but hadn’t seen him bust it out until now. He’ll be producing and engineering this record as well.
Rees Haynes is playing guitar. Rees and I have played together in Parlour Steps for the past 2 years, but we first met at the Jazz Studies Program at Capilano College where we were both students years ago. It didn’t take long for me to realize, making songs with him in Parlour Steps, that I love his guitar playing. So melodic! So catchy! Such good parts, such good arrangement ideas.
Hilary Grist is playing keyboard and singing harmony. She’s working away on her own record, which we are all dying to hear. After hearing her parts at our vocal rehearsals, I am newly appreciative of lovely voice. It reminds me of clear, pure cold water flowing. Refreshing and quenching. Plus her mad keyboard skills. And did I mention the wicked vocal parts?
Dawn Pemberton is also playing keyboard and singing harmony. Dawn’s voice is instantly arresting, even your first time hearing her. It’s so familiar to me I have a hard time trying to describe it. I would say it’s a voice that makes people feel safe and loved. She’s always in demand as a session singer and plays in about 7 different groups, all kinds of music. I hadn’t really heard her play keyboard before, and it’s a thrill to hear how good she is.
We recorded all the arrangements at our last rehearsal, with seconds to spare before getting kicked out of the practice space. With one microphone and Dawn’s laptop. Excuse the ungodly distortion. Nothing more to be done now until Mike gets back. Then we’ll record drums.