Shark Naked ...and other urban myths - Notes

Kevin Coates (piano, keyboards, accordion, lead and backing vocals)

Stewart Franck (bass, backing vocals, co-lead vocals on "Tonic and Gin")

Carter Lancaster (electric, acoustic and classical guitars, backing vocals)

Paul Rose (drums, percussion, backing vocals, co-lead vocals on "Tonic and Gin")

Background and Insights

Song Notes

Other Notes

Background and Insights

The recording of this CD, a first for every member of the band, was the culmination of a life long goal. There is a little write-up inside the CD cover that describes the process as such. Aside from the actual writing of the material, the process of recording, mixing, mastering and pressing the CD took almost two years, from November 1994 until April 1996. The first recording sessions actually took place at another Burlington studio. Before changing to Tim Park's 'The Music Gym', we recorded the beginning or 'bed tracks' to "Cry No More", "Falling" and "Infidelity". We weren't happy with a number of things, so before we went further we changed studios. Here the bed tracks of the songs were recorded in three clusters:

  1. 1Cry No More

  2. 2Infidelity

  3. 3Street Walking Angels (a song that was recorded but was omitted in the final compilation. We did, however, enter this song in a radio contest)

  4. 4Falling

  5. 5Cycles

  6. 6She Hears LullabiesTreating Her That WayThrow Me A Line

  7. 7If Shakespeare Had a Sister

  8. 8Three Bags Full

  9. 9Tonic and Gin

  10. 10Alone in a Crowd

  11. 11Bright Lights and Candy (eventually omitted from the CD)

Also, Carter went in separately one Saturday to record the brilliant guitar instrumental "Sand Dancing". I had previously prepared the keyboard sequence eventually called "Rain In October" and added that to the tape.

Many of the songs, especially the last cluster, were recorded "live off the floor" with everyone playing at the same time. Afterwards more guitars, keyboards, percussion, etc. were added. The lead vocals and harmonies were the last to be recorded.

I will go over each song and discuss the background behind it, some recording anecdotes as well as specific insights into the meanings behind the lyrics.

Song Notes

"Throw Me a Line" (March 8, 1994)

The demo of this song that I recorded on my keyboard began with percussion and eventually went heavy on the guitar. It was Paul's suggestion to begin with piano (in the demo there was no piano in the entire song). This was one of the songs recorded in the last session in which Stewart was really sick. Stewart had to record his bass parts later.

The song is about someone who never slows down in life. The chorus has someone screaming out for some free time, longing for silence and darkness. Growing up, my favourite thing to do was to sit in front of two blaring stereo speakers on my rocking chair, singing along and staring at the red light of my stereo, feeling fully alive, "Alive today". The verses of the song present a series of images and situations, the first being the image of a drowned man. This was taken from a real story of a friend who saw a bloated body in a "water grave" in India. The second verse has a war veteran marching reluctantly in the small town annual veterans march. This was taken from a scene in Robertson Davies' brilliant novel Fifth Business in which the protagonist Dunstan Ramsay is paraded, with one leg missing, through his home town upon his arrival home after the First World War. The verse also reminds me of The Pogues' (Irish group) version of "Waltzing Matilda" in which the same kind of parade is taking place. The veteran in the song can't take the march anymore, knowing that every year fewer and fewer veterans would be alive for it, marching to an indifferent crowd. In this verse I tried to get inside the head of the veteran: "I could snap them in two, they don't know me, can't predict what I'd do, they don't know me." This leads naturally to the chorus. Right up until the minute I recorded the vocals, the lyrics read "Please, throw me a line." I decided that was too polite for the point. "Hey" was substituted. The third and fourth verses describe another horrific image, that of a train crash, including "broken faces" wearing a "fiery glow". It does, however, end in a hopeful manner with a mother surviving.

This is one of my favourite songs to play live because of the energy in the faster "cut time" section. This fast section was actually played for a longer time than appears on the CD. In the "mastering" process, which is done after the songs are "mixed", we digitally eliminated one of the five "rounds", or approximately 10 seconds of the song. This process is so seamless, I think I'm the only one who knows exactly where the "cut" was done.

"If Shakespeare Had a Sister" (July 13, 1994)

This song started out with the line "If Shakespeare had a sister, I know she'd be like you". After this, the melody to the entire song came very quickly. I record most of my melodies and some lines in my little dicta recorder. The topic of this song was inspired immediately after reading Virginia Wolf's essay entitled "What If Shakespeare Had Had a Sister?" which describes how women would have had no chance four hundred years ago during Elizabethan times to express their creativity. I used this idea for the first verse of the song and then I wanted to personalize it. Verses two, three and four bring the story to this century and describe what a pity it is that some women today (with one specifically in mind) do not always get the recognition they deserve for their artistic ingenuity. "You're clever and you're twisted, it's a shame you're seldom heard, your poetry shines like diamonds..." I tried to incorporate several Shakespearean allusions in the song: "To be or not to be" (obviously Hamlet); "You fear the green-eyed monster" (described in Othello as jealousy); the theme in many Shakespeare plays that "Things are never as they seem"; "A comedy of errors" (actual title of the play and one of hundreds of phrases we still use today invented by Shakespeare). With the strong melody in my head, I wrote the lyrics as a poem very quickly on the front lawn of our cottage on Belwood Lake in July, 1994.

I teach high school English and enjoyed the idea of including Shakespeare in a song, as teaching his plays are among my favourite part of any course. In my demos of this song, I recorded both a fast and slow version. We played the fast version live for about a year before trying the slower version. I am happy that on the actual recording Nan sings backing vocals. It adds a great deal to the chorus. This song usually gets one of the bigger reactions from crowds when we play it live. People seem to remember it, even months later, which is nice.

"Infidelity" (August 16, 1993)

The main musical guitar riff (Da Da Da, Da Da Da) for this song was thought up, ironically, on my Honeymoon in 1991 while looking in wonder at real glaciers in Newfoundland with Nan. Tom Cochrane's album Mad Mad World with "Life Is a Highway" had just come out at the time, and I think this influenced the musical style of "Infidelity". The words to this song were written while sitting in our sun porch at the cottage. I liked the first line of this song, about America killing the Kennedys. Again, with this song I began with a strong melody in my head and found it easy to fit words to it later. It certainly is not a song written from personal experience or belief (at least I am being forced at gunpoint to say that), but still Nan thinks the whole bar is looking at her when we play it. She usually plans her washroom breaks accordingly.

This song was recorded twice (two different studios) and mixed twice. It was not an easy song to capture because initially I wanted some wild percussion in that space just before the first vocal begins. We experimented with Paul's Roland Percussion unit and came up with some bizarre "icy" sounds, but in the end we eliminated everything and went for a sparse sound where everything was taken out. Justin Koop (assistant sound engineer) suggested some wild female vocals and horns on the chorus, but we ran out of time to try it. I think in the end it came out quite strong.

"Alone In a Crowd (Thirteen Days)" (February 7, 1996)

This was the very last song to be written for the CD and was not rehearsed at all before going into the studio. In fact the band had not even heard it at this point. With this song I wrote the lyrics in their entirety at home on my computer before having any idea what the music would sound like. The words were inspired by Timothy Findley's novel Headhunter which is about a Toronto in the not too distant future which has been afflicted both by rampant AIDS and a new disease called sturnusemia which is passed on by birds. It is a spiritless city where birds are gassed by municipal death squads and everyone has something to hide. In the first page of this novel, a schizophrenic woman, Lilah Kemp, is reading Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness and inadvertently frees Kurtz from page 92. He escapes and runs free in the city. Lilah and later Doctor Marlowe spend the novel trying to retrieve this lost Kurtz. Eventually, Jay Gatz from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is also running wild in Toronto. The plot sounds far-fetched but it is a great backdrop for some brilliant writing and exploration of original ideas.

For my song I took a very loose version of the hysteria that could eat its way through a city. I thoroughly enjoyed writing it and I think many of the lines work quite well. The initial setting is intentionally ambiguous, with just the hint of seeing the "smoke from two miles away". In the midst of this city chaos, I wanted to again personalize the story by focusing the perspective, namely that of two people clinging to each other for life. I like the oxymoron (though it is almost a cliche) of the phrase "alone in a crowd". The "crash" that comes to town is this horrendous crisis that I have been describing. The other important idea I wanted to include here is that we are a media society, unaccustomed to reacting with real emotion because our reactions have been numbed by a constant bombardment of media images: "Not knowing how to react to real drama". I allude to Burgess and Butthead. These represent two media symbols: Burgess (Anthony Burgess) is the author of Clockwork Orange, which is a book (and movie) about a society that is desensitized to violence ("We've only seen it on T.V. and movies, we may have seen it, but we've never felt it"); and Butthead, of course from Beevis and Butthead fame, the symbol for how low our society can go in search of media heroes (even though I love the show). Mass media has created a society that is well-versed in terms of world events (McLuhan's "global village") but utterly "unprepared for a real situation". The "yellow sirens" is a reference again to Headhunter and the "Thirteen days" is a fictitious time period in which all this drama took place. I met Timothy Findley recently and chatted with him about our CD and the connection between the song and his novel. He was genuinely flattered and was happy to receive a copy of the CD.

Musically, I had fun sequencing this on my keyboard. I began with the bass drum and built from there, starting with the brush pattern. I wanted a sparse, eerie feel, with the piano and percussion present but mixed right back. The bass on the CD is also part of this keyboard sequence. In fact, Stewart was not at the recording session at all for this song. Paul, Carter, Tim and I were experimenting from 9:00 p.m. until 12:00 a.m. one night (at one point Carter stabbed the air with, "We've been here for three @#$%&* hours and we haven't recorded a @#$%&* thing). My initial idea was to take the ideas from my keyboard arrangement and just jam, but Tim suggested using the entire keyboard sequence, including the bass, and have Paul play live brushes over top. We adjusted the microphones so that they picked up all the delicious swirling cymbals. Carter wrote a guitar riff which is constant throughout the song, and added the gorgeous acoustic guitar solo on another day. Nan does a great vocal on the chorus to show the intensity of the relationship between the two stuck in this tragedy. My friend Andy Macpherson plays an African "Dagomba" drum throughout the song to bring out a strong, percussive feel. I think it adds everything to the song.

When we first started playing this song live, we included the keyboard sequence, but Paul suggested a couple of months back to scrap that and just have everyone play live. We now extend the jam on it and have a blast improvising.

"Cry No More" (July 17, 1989)

This is the oldest song on the CD. For years it was a song that my former band Dorian Wild (including Paul on drums) used to play live (we also recorded our own version). This was another song that was recorded at two different studios. Originally, this song began with acoustic piano, but that intro was eventually replaced with one of the last things we recorded for this song, acoustic guitar. The acoustic piano was eventually dumped entirely in favour of an electric piano. The song also gave me a chance to use accordion (my first instrument) on the CD. It fit well because there is a line in there about "accordion man" which is a reference to this eighty year old man Nan and I saw once in Quebec City. He would just sit there all day and play his accordion for coins as the crowds passed by on beautiful summer days.

This song was written on guitar while sitting on the front lawn of our cottage. It was written about a week after one of Nan's favourite cousins Jennifer was killed in a car crash coming home from Western University in London. Nan and I played the music at the funeral (somehow Nan sang everything). In going through the funeral process, namely being with Jennifer's parents, Nan's aunt and uncle and the family in discussing music, etc., it was obviously a very difficult experience. But one thing that struck me most was the loss felt by Jennifer's boyfriend (I can't remember his name). He was with the family through all the preparations, and the song is written from his perspective. Even though the song was written only a week after the accident, it was set six months later: "Six months seemed like forever since I realized our dreams were no different than the rest". The song is about someone who is too worn out to cry any more and the sense of disbelief and perhaps bitterness one feels when someone so important leaves one's life: "I can't believe I have to go alone without any help from you." Originally the last two lines of the chorus were turned around, but I like the concept of the "song without a chorus", meaning the essential part is missing. Ironically, I think it is a song with a strong chorus.

Thomas Hardy's novel, Tess of the D'Ubervilles inspired the idea of "I don't wanna stand on this side of the door". That book is about the protagonist Tess who is a victim of fate (as are all of Hardy's main characters it seems). At one point she is looking into the doorway of a catacomb (faded memory here) and wondering why she couldn't be on the other side of the wall, meaning dead. Tim sings part of the chorus, which was great because it was the line he used to sing with Dorian Wild when we would play this song. I still really enjoy playing this live.

"Cycles" (April, 1995)

This song, originally titled "These Cycles" is another example of a song where the words were written in their entirety first before any music was conceived. Like "Alone in a Crowd", I wrote the words on my computer, initially in a stream of consciousness style. The song deals with the crazy pace of life where there is little time for reflection and meaning. There are a number of references about the media's effect on the single mind, influenced to a degree by the OJ Simpson courtroom trial, where anyone involved, from the hotdog salesperson to the shoeshiner, "With a shoeshine grin and a pack of Marleys" can make a buck. The first line of the chorus comes from an early memory I have of watching The Waltons with my family in the show's first year. In this particular episode, the youngest daughter Elizabeth says to good old John Boy that she doesn't want to grow up. Every time she feels herself grow, she squeezes her head to prevent it from getting bigger. In the song it is the response of the singer to being immersed in this whirlwind, cyclical lifestyle.

There was some discussion among family members about the "You never wanted to be like your father, But he's there to haunt you" verse. There was no one specifically in mind for this verse, but it certainly relates to familial cycles and how certain personality traits seem to recur with each generation (or sometimes they can skip a generation).

Musically, this was the first song I wrote on my (then) new keyboard (Yamaha W5). It came quickly once I discovered the electric guitar sound (which actually starts the studio version along with Carter's guitar) and the huge drum sound.

In the studio, we recorded four takes of this song "off the floor", with varying lengths of jamming at the end of the song. Once that was done, we added some tracks of very bizarre guitar work, experimenting with strange chords that certainly went against Carter's schooled and disciplined technique. The solo is played in a style quite different from anything Carter has played before. Many of these guitar ideas were Tim Park's (co-producer and engineer) who is also a guitar player.

A week later, on a Friday night, I met Tim at the studio and we again experimented, this time with vocals. Our idea was to complete one "wall of sound" for vocals, as opposed to one lead vocal and harmony lines. Some of the harmonies are again very strange, but they are among my favourite elements of the song. This is a great song to play live. On a few occasions, this is the song where the power goes out in the bar because of the volumes we sometimes hit.

"Rain in October" (April 12, 1995)

This short instrumental was an early experiment with my W5 keyboard. I started with the string sound and just played the whole thing in one "take" from beginning to end without any previous plan. I simply added an acoustic bass sound in an attempt to get a "Pat Matheny" (brilliant American guitarist; one of our drummer Paul's favourites) sound. Once this was recorded, I never changed a thing in terms of editing or volumes. The whole piece was conceived of and recorded in probably 15 minutes.

At the time we were pressing our CD, this was one of probably 50 little instrumental pieces I had recorded on my keyboard. I wanted a short piece to precede "Falling" and thought this one worked well. The biggest challenge, as is often the case with instrumentals, was to come up with a name for the song. I put it to some of my English classes and they came up empty. It was almost called "Snow Day", which being school teachers Nan and I just love, but it seemed somewhat sadder than that. I had the image of looking out a window on a grey morning, so somehow the idea of rain appealed to me. It was then called "October Rain", which I later changed around to the present title. When we play live I sometimes play the sequence of this song from my keyboard either at the very beginning or end of the night.

"Falling" (January 4, 1994)

A large percentage of the original ideas I get for songs come, strangely enough, when I am out cross-country skiing, and this song is no exception. I had heard a song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers just before Nan and I headed out skiing one afternoon, and within half an hour the chorus to this song, including the words, came to me. When I came home I worked out the rest of the melody and the chords on the guitar (you can tell which songs I wrote on guitar because they are all in the key of G). The original guitar demo of this is quite a bit faster than the recorded version. This is a song we used to play when this band started as The Sea Monkeys with our original bass player, Wayne Evans.

After writing the complete melody, I wrote the two verses of lyrics. I didn't want a simple love song, but wanted to show someone's pride in not usually giving into his emotions, and after being on business for a length of time, "losing control" of these emotions. My favourite line is the image of "the lost and found, I see them reaching out for something new", people with vacant faces and no real direction or meaning in their lives.

This song was difficult to record because it is so slow. It was imperative that we kept the spatial quality to the song. If there was even a hint of speeding up or slowing down, the effect would be ruined. The band played to a "click track" for this reason.

Carter's acoustic guitar solo was originally done on a steel string acoustic but there was no warmth in the recorded version, so I brought in a nylon string guitar from my school. The seven harmonics at the end of the solo are actually from the steel stringed take. My favourite part in the recording of this song is the tambourine guest appearance from my brother Soey (Joe) who was down on his knees with the tambourine up to the microphone and his tongue out, as usual. I was standing right outside the glass door guiding him through the song, and he did it in one "take". Then we spent some time recording Joe dropping the tambourine, which we were going to use either at the end of the song or the end of the whole CD. We ended up fading "Falling" and came up with a different ending to the CD (sorry Soey). I also really like the harmonies, sung by Carter and Stewart on this song, especially because this was one of the first times that Carter had sung anything. Now he's singing lead on a song or two when we play live.

"Tonic and Gin" (July 30, 1995)

The original chorus and melody to this song starting dancing in my head one afternoon in Milton when I was out jogging, but I wrote almost all the words while I was 35,000 feet up in the sky on a plane destined for Greece. The song was originally called "Trade Her Up" but a number of people kept thinking I was singing "Chain Her Up" so I didn't think that would be the best title.

This is the only blues song on the CD. I really wanted to include it to give Paul and Stewart a chance to sing some lead vocals because they both have great blues voices. I wrote the lines specifically with their voices in mind, focusing especially on Paul's line: "To fighting dogs who never die" (I can see my dad raising his glass saying "Amen" to this line). I wrote the whole song on my keyboard, including bass, guitar and drums and then we took it as a band and changed a few things around. Paul came up with the idea of making the chorus music more of a shuffle than I had originally intended and that worked great. I had also written and recorded a sax solo on keyboards, but it was obvious that a real tenor sax player was needed. I phoned a former student who goes to Humber for music, but he was unavailable so he sent a friend, an 18 year old by the name of Braxton Hicks (this name is supposed to mean something to anyone who has given birth to a child, but I still don't get it). Braxton came in with his mom to experience his first recording session of his life. We only had one track to work with by this stage in the recording so we ended up piecing a number of takes together to get a pretty good solo in the end.

Stewart and Paul recorded their lead vocals on different days. When Paul was recording, his first two lines were originally supposed to be, "It hit me hard, it hit me bad; It hit me quick, it drove me mad" but he was having a hard to singing the high "quick", so we eventually decided we had to change the words. My brother Soey was sitting in the room at the time and came up with the lyrical masterpiece "An uppercut that hit me bad" which is what we used. I love Paul's improvised "Ooh-oh-oh why-y-y-y". When he came out of the recording booth, Paul took off his headphones and said in the great, gravelly Paul voice, "I'm gonna live to regret that."

"She Hears Lullabies" (September 18, 1994)

The melody for the chorus of this song came to me during a very boring P.D. staff meeting on health and safety. As soon as the song started buzzing around in my head, my attention span for the meeting dropped to zero and I began writing out the notes. Not long after, I got home and figured out the rest of the melody on piano. I wrote all of the lyrics rather quickly at Nan's cottage. Initially, all I knew for certain was the first line of the chorus, "She hears lullabies from long ago." I wanted a Black Crowes feel for this song, resembling "She Talks To Angels." My lyrical goal was to keep what actually happened to the main character somewhat ambiguous, though the tragedy of the situation due to the main character's vulnerability should be obvious.

I completed the song and never played it for anyone in the band for quite some time, until one day we were setting up to play at a friend's wedding. During sound check, I just played the song on piano and they really liked it, so we included it on the album. It is still Stewart's favourite song on the CD.

Though the final recording is fairly long (5:44), it was actually forty-five seconds longer. During the mastering process, we digitally edited a repetition of the chorus, with the cut starting at "Her whole life is cut in two..." This cut gave the song much more unity.

"Sand Dancing" (written by Carter Lancaster)

This beautiful two minute acoustic guitar instrumental was a great addition to the continuity of the CD. For months during our recording sessions, Carter was trying to get into the studio during a time when it was quiet (The Music Gym doubles as a rehearsal space, which means it is often noisy, even during our recordings. If you listen carefully, you may be able to hear some garage band belting out "Helter Skelter" during some of the quieter moments of our songs). Finally, Carter met Tim on a Saturday morning and recorded four takes of this song, eventually keeping the first. In the style of Bruce Cockburn, this song includes some strange tunings, and at times sounds like a duet, even though it is only Carter playing. He had not played this song for anyone in the band previous to the recording, so the final playback was both a treat and a surprise.

"Three Bags Full" (September 3, 1994)

The melody and the chord structure of this song were written on Nan's parents' piano, all in about fifteen minutes. I really enjoyed singing to the music, even though I had no words written yet. The title of the song of course comes from the children's song. My song tells the tale of people whose lives and beliefs are clouded by illusion and lies. It essentially tells two independent stories, one of a man afflicted with a bad gambling habit (Duncan), and a mother who strips for a living (Molly). Duncan stays away from home most nights, hiding from his wife and home life, "where addiction is a nasty word", denying that there is anything wrong with the way he behaves. Molly tries to convince herself that eventually she won't have to strip, "as she worms her way inside the hearts of the glassy-eyed business snakes". Only her young daughter knows the truth that her ten years as a stripper won't end soon. I have always loved the music of Led Zeppelin and think that their music would be the best to strip to if one had to choose. For this reason, I have Molly dancing to the classic Zeppelin song "When The Levee Breaks". The allusion to "Baa Baa Black Sheep" is established not only in the title, but also in the bridge: "The black sheep pulls the wool over hopeful eyes". The pun was intentional. The final verse combines the two protagonists: Duncan still enjoying his gambling habit and Molly dancing once again, "Pretending tears will hide a broken face".

This was the last song to be completed for the CD. It was another song during which Stewart was sick and had to miss the original "bed track" recordings, so Paul had to play without a bass player, which in this case is very tough. We recorded the bass tracks later on. My original intention was to begin the song with a prolonged synthesizer chord and to have it as the first song on the CD. I tried to get the groove of the song to be somewhat like U2's "Mysterious Ways". It worked to some degree, but I thought the final product of "Throw Me A Line" ended up stronger, so we changed the order. We also recorded a great deal more electric guitar for this song than eventually made it on the CD, almost a Doobie Brothers strumming feel. Nan even recorded a line, "Just one more year" which got axed as well. Completing the final overdubs of this song, and knowing that the recording of the CD was finally finished, was an amazing feeling.

"Treating Her That Way" (January 21, 1991)

The main musical structure and the chorus of this song came to me at the end of July, 1990 in Glasgow, Scotland (Glasgow was celebrating its status as the European cultural city of the year) when Nan and I were on holidays. Maybe I had seen one macho Scot too many, I'm not sure, but I remember walking in a busy downtown core and singing the chorus into my recorder. It was one of many musical ideas I brought home after that amazing trip (on which Nan and I got engaged in Ireland). When we returned to Canada one month later, I wrote the rest of the music on Nan's parents' piano, and finished the lyrics in January, 1991. I liked how the words fit the music, and loved putting the word "soul" in a song: "You've been playing with 'soul fire'", as a tribute to one of my heroes Van Morrison, who uses the word several times on most albums.

When I recorded the original demo of this song on my 4-track recorder, it was much faster, using a constant high-hat rhythm and solid bass drum. The song was intended to be a U2 style guitar-based song, with the constant piano "riff" throughout. When I brought the song to the rest of my Dorian Wild band mates, we rehearsed it in this fast form (I still have the live demo of this rehearsal). We sat with the song for awhile, and eventually Tim had the idea of trying it as a slow song with a distinctive bass line. I was hesitant at first, but it seemed to work. We played this right until the end of Dorian Wild (1993). In fact it was one of maybe five original songs we retained for our New Years Eve reunion in 1996, but we never recorded it.

I was happy when the song was finally recorded with Shark Naked during a late night session with Justin as engineer. We recorded two takes, each of which went on, almost jamming for a couple of minutes longer than is on the final CD version. During another recording session, when it came time for Carter to record his electric guitar solos, some of the music he played was just magic, among my favourite moments on the album. I also love Paul's percussion work. The sparseness of the song is one of its greatest strengths, and early on I decided that I really wanted the song to end the CD. The piano parts were recorded "off the floor" with the original take and nothing added. Later I recorded an octave string line, in an almost random fashion. My goal was to emulate the ending of Supertramp's album-ending song "Crime of the Century". I think we really achieved that feel.

Recently, having some people over at our house for a night of music, etc., I played a ten minute version of "Treating Her That Way" on my grand piano with Andy Macpherson on brushes. I played the faster version, with unlimited solos and was inspired to one day record it in this fashion, maybe with just piano and brushes.

Other Notes:

The idea of the album title, "...and other urban myths" came to me during a conservation I was having with Nan and friends Arlene and Alex at a Tai restaurant in Ottawa. We were discussing various urban myths (one of Nan's favourite topics), including the ever popular urban myth about the woman who came home from India with a bump on her face from a spider bite. Eventually this bump got quite big and was very itchy so she went to the mirror to squeeze it and a hundred baby spiders came crawling out of her cheek. I decided to call the CD "Spider Face and Other Urban Myths". Later, we concluded that combining spiders with sharks would be too long and confusing, so we condensed it to "...and other urban myths". The idea of storytelling in several of my songs is, I feel, an important feature, so the concept of the urban myth fit well.

For a cover photograph, I wanted to continue this theme of storytelling, so Nan and I visited two locations for photo shoots (Nan as photographer). The first was at the home of Domenic Tersigni, a 92 year old barber in Guelph and the father of Oliva Tersigni, a woman with whom I teach English in Brampton. We had a great afternoon there, including a wine tour and lunch. From this photo session, the cover was eventually selected. The second photo session was at Don King's barbershop in Elmira, with Nan's dad as the recipient of the haircut. The band decided that Nan's dad Claude Forler looked too much like Leslie Nielsen and Don looked too young, so the former was selected. I think it really captures the crucial dialogue and storytelling aspect that we were after.

Continuing with the theme of urban myth, I brought in the tape of the Kingston Cable Guy, the quintessential urban myth, to the mastering session to include the classic voice somewhere on the CD. We used two sections. The first was placed right before "Tonic and Gin": "You oughtta try doing what I do for a f#@$$%ing living". We spent half an hour calling up his voice waves on the computer screen trying to edit the 'f#@$$%ing'. For a while the last two words melded into each other: "for a fliving". But Paul Intson (mastering engineer) eventually got it perfect and attached it to the song. The cable guy appears once again as the fourteenth 'bonus track', 32 seconds after the end of "Treating Her That Way" with "My cable's back on; thank you very much".

The official record says that we were in the studio for a total of 225 hours, but in reality we were probably there for twice that number. One of my students, Ryan Deane had previously designed our Shark Logo which we stamped on the CD itself and the back of the jacket. Carter put in a great deal of time designing the actual jacket, which I think looks very professional.

It is interesting when I look at the original draft of the song order for the CD, which was as follows:

  1. 1Three Bags Full

  2. 2If Shakespeare Had a Sister

  3. 3Infidelity

  4. 4She Hears Lullabies

  5. 5Throw Me a Line

  6. 6Rain in October

  7. 7Street Walking Angels

  8. 8Alone in a Crowd (Thirteen Days)

  9. 9Falling

  10. 10Cycles

  11. 11Tonic and Gin

  12. 12Sand Dancing

  13. 13Cry No More

  14. 14Bright Lights and Candy

  15. 15Treating Her That Way

After mixing the album, which took a full week in April, 1996, the strengths of certain songs like "Alone in a Crowd", "Throw Me a Line" and "Cry No More" came out unexpectedly. The idea is to have some of the strongest songs early, and then spread out the fast and slow songs. We also wanted the CD to be under one hour if possible, so we cut two of the songs as was previously mentioned. The first song we mixed was "Tonic and Gin" and the last song was "Cycles" which was literally an all night session with just Tim and me. We finished at 7:30 a.m. and I remember driving to school at 8:00 a.m. in a different stratosphere, "alive today".

As I do inside the CD jacket, I would like to thank Nan for not only inspiring much of the lyrical content of these songs (except track 3 of course), but for supporting me throughout this entire project. When I was growing up in Burlington and writing my first songs, I would always sit my mom beside me on the piano bench, with my dad (Rompin') often nearby, to hear my songs for the first time. If mom (Helen T.) was bawling by the end of the song, I would conclude that all the elements of the song were in place. Now, it is very rewarding to have the chance for our band to share our music with our friends, family and many strangers as well. I spend hundreds of hours in my music room writing songs on my keyboard. But it's still most fun playing these songs on my grand piano with just Nan and/or my parents as an audience.

A special thank you to Grandpa MaGinty (Frank Coates) whom I would watch play the piano for hours when I was very small. The memory of grandpa playing Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" will stay with me forever and also inspired much of this CD.

Kevin, March, 1997