Live Country at The Grad Club

Queen’s alum Matt Barber is also part of Live Country Music.
Queen’s alum Matt Barber is also part of Live Country Music.
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Interview/Preview: Grad Club Halloween Party featuring Live Country Music

As evidenced by the plethora of different artists represented onstage at the Broken Social Scene concert last week—including Feist, Sarah Harmer, and Jason Tate of The Weakerthans—Canadian musicians rarely confine themselves solely to one project. To witness another perfect example of this flexibility among artists, look no further than The Grad Club’s Halloween party this Saturday and one of two bands to be featured: Live Country Music.

The band—which includes members of Jon Rae and the River and solo singer/songwriter Matt Barber—consider being involved in multiple projects as simply a necessity of life as a musician.

“I guess that’s always the hard part of being a musician ... you inevitably have to have several different outlets just for it to be viable,” guitarist Doug Paisley told the Journal in a recent telephone interview. “But it’s never more complicated than just sitting with a calendar and coordinating.” Coordinating schedules is made easier by the fact that the band members are all based in Toronto, where the majority of their shows have been played and where the band recorded an album this April.

Paisley described the recording process as a very positive experience.

“It was a great process because we did all our rehearsing and we did all our recording in our own studio, and so it was very comfortable,” Paisley noted. “It was basically just an extension of the way we rehearsed and the way we developed songs. We basically just set the mics up at one point and quickly started getting tunes down.”

The warm, comforting atmosphere of home can be heard clearly on the final product, which can be described as a blend of indie rock, folk rock and traditional country influences.

“Between the four of us we have pretty broad musical tastes that sort of intersect around some common ground. I can’t speak for everyone, but I think we mutually have an interest in country music, and then a lot of artists who dabbled in country music as well,” Paisley said.

Keyboardist Chuck Erlichman elaborates: “I think it’s more like their approach to recording that appeals to us as well, and the sound and clarity that you get with country music.”

That sound seems to have gone over well with the crowds in Toronto, whose enthusiastic response encouraged the band to widen its ambitions.

“It got a great response in Toronto, just from the people at our shows,” Paisley notes. “I mean, we basically just recorded the first few tunes ... to see how it worked and then people who we played them for really liked them so we expanded that.”

In the year and a half of their existence, this “great response” has developed into what Live Country Music describe as a “loyal fanbase” in the Toronto area. Hopefully, that fanbase will be pleased to know that Live Country Music has no intention of radically altering their twangy sound.

“I don’t know ... we just bought a fancy new synthesizer, so ... ” Paisley joked when questioned about how ambitious new material will be. “The song writing and playing is definitely developing. I mean it’s really apparent to us because we’re playing all the time so I think [the next album] will be ambitious in terms of expanding what we’re already doing and what already seems to work.”

While the band hopes to expand their audience by touring more of Canada and playing with different bands, they are wary of putting too much faith in the ability of the currently thriving Canadian music scene to make things easy for them.

“I’m sure any focus on Canadian music is good for Canadian bands, but I think that the fads come and go, but the bands will always still be there, you know?” said Erlichman, “Just people who are having fun playing music.”

But perhaps there are other reasons for this skepticism of hype. “So far it hasn’t benefited us,” Paisley laughed.

Regardless of whether they achieve the popularity of their fellow Canadians, the members of Live Country Music are optimistic about their future together:

“It’s been a great working relationship, so it’s just great that it continues and hopefully it will.”

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