As acclaimed Maritime indie-rock hero Jon McKiel set about making his newest studio record, Memorial Ten Count, he ventured into territory that was new to him. Rather than recording the songs in the same way that he had done his previous works, laboriously tracking all of the instruments himself, he enlisted the help of his band to cut the record live off the floor.
Acknowledging he was initially hesitant to move forward with the idea, McKiel says his band mate and mentor Jay Crocker eventually convinced him to give it a try.
“I’ve learned so much from working with Jay over the last few years,” Mc-Kiel says.“Our friendship runs deep, so that it’s easy for me to show him what I am writing or working on in much the same sense he feels at ease to understand and offer what he can in terms of production. Around the time we set out to make Memorial Ten Count, we were really clicking as a band on stage. Then it became something we thought we should capture on record. The idea of playing live to tape was new to me, but is something I’d stayed away from experimenting with too much. I was a little apprehensive to follow through on Jay’s suggestion that this be the route we take for making the album, if only because I wasn’t sure how it would turn out.”
When the recording process was complete, McKiel isn’t shy about admitting Crocker’s call was the right one.
“There’s a vitality in the album that I think we only could have gotten from all of us playing together at the same time. There’s a connection and groove between us that I don’t know we would have achieved had we not made the record the way we did.”
Listening to Memorial Ten Count, it is tough to argue with the logic employed to make the album. From opening track “Boss” through the bass line that weaves throughout the duration of “Brothers,” the musically chemistry between McKiel, Crocker, bassist Shawn Dicey and drummer Aaron Mangle is as infectious for the listener as it was for the band playing.
McKiel’s show at Sackville’s Thunder & Lightning Wednesday, April 19, is one of five shows he is playing in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia next week. While much has been rightfully made of the struggles facing clubs and live music venues throughout the Mari-times, McKiel says one of the biggest changes he has noted over the last few years has been the manner in which non-traditional music venues have embraced live acts.
“It’s amazing to see the way community will rally around one particular place, even if it’s not a venue that normally hosts music,” he says. “I’ve played shows in Saint John at a taco restaurant that have been better than performances in more ‘standard’ venues. At the end of the day, I’m grateful for any venue that’s willing to host a show of mine. I’m encouraged to see the way that venues are coming forward in response to the need for spaces where everyone feels welcome.”
What: Jon McKiel
When: Wednesday, April 19, 8 p.m.
Where: Thunder & Lightning, 23 Bridge St., Sackville