Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Archive: Pure wins Best Alternative Video - CMVA 1993

Way back in 1993 Pure won the best Alternative Video award at the Canadian Music Video Awards held at the famous Much Music studios on Queen St, Toronto. We attended a couple of these and both times I recall being a huge party and a great time. The old Much Music was so important to the Canadian music scene, establishing bands like ours right across the nation. It's fun to watch this again, with VJ Erica Ehm talking with us and the Bare Naked Ladies announcing our award.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Archive: Pure - Pure (video)

This was the last video we made from our debut album Pureafunalia. This song has a long and interesting history too. The song Pure was written when we were still calling ourselves The Grin Factory. Though that name was short lived this song wasn't.  We made a demo with John Webster (the producer of Jordy, Todd and Leigh's former band After All). John had been working on sessions with the likes of Motely Crew and Bon Jovi and had built up a respectable array of sampled drum sounds over that time. When we brought him this song he has a Tascam 488 (8 track cassette multitrack) that we striped one track with sync to drive his Mac running MOTU Perfomer. John loaded up his Akai S1000 sampler with some incredible drum sounds that he told us had been made either for a Motley Crew album or maybe it was Aerosmith, they had been made at Little Mountain Studio for a record that Bob Rock had produced (John was usually brought in to play keyboards and generally make things sound even huger than normal).

Leigh Grant, the drummer in Pure, played his parts on a keyboard, triggering these fantastic drum samples and then Jordy put down the bass part. (I don't remember if David Hadley was in the band at this point). Todd laid down one rhythm guitar part and I sequenced all the strings and the clarinet sample along with the little percussion sequence that I'd done in my Ensoniq ESP-16. I vividly remember the moment when John flipped the tape and told Todd to play a solo, but in reverse. The result was mesmerizing. Jordy's vocals went down pretty quickly and we had a killer demo.

Pure, the song, was then played at a Music West listening panel (in fact the festival was called Westex that year) wherein Ron Goudy from Restless Records stood up at the end of the playback and announced to the room that "this band will be signed in 24 hours." We weren't, but it did lead to us meeting a music lawyer and later signing to Reprise Records.

Months later we found ourselves living on houseboats in Sausalito, California and recording our album Pureafunalia with former Talking Head's guitarist/keyboardist Jerry Harrison producing. We tracked an entirely different version of the song with live drums and Dave on bass but something didn't feel right. Turned out we'd recorded it a bit faster than the demo and we had lost some of its groove. That lead to us getting John Webster to transfer the music to a 2" 24 track up in Vancouver and sending it down to us in California. The real irony came later when we built the song up to so many tracks we had to transfer everything over to a Sony PCM 3348 digital multitrack. We managed to go from the day's cheapest recording medium to the most expensive in the course of recording one song!

Pureafunalia came out, we made a handful of videos, toured several times and then figured we could get one more single off the album and made a video for the song Pure. It was filmed in a rehearsal room that was decorated with the items you see in the video. Co-directed by Rob Chong and Jordy Birch, with camera and editing done by Rob. It's a great song and typically Pure looking clip (all our videos seemed to look alike) that I'm happy to share with the world 28 years later.

Thanks for reading. Stay healthy. Cheers!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Archive: Pure- Spiritual Pollution debut on Much Music

Spiritual Pollution was the third single from Pure's debut album Pureafunalia. This video was co-directed by Blair Dobson and Jordy Birch, with Dobson handling the camera and editing as well. Made in a loft in Vancouver with not much more than a concept, a couple horns and a smoke machine Spiritual Pollution was one of the more successful videos from the band.

This clip included a short interview with Much Music VJ Steve Anthony talking with Jordy Birch and Mark Henning before debuting the  clip.  I believe this was sometime in late 1992.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Archive: Pure - Blissful Kiss Live on Much Music 1992

This is the first time the band Pure appeared live on Much Music. Terry David Mulligan introduced us and afterward conducted a short interview. We played our song "Blissful Kiss" which was a less successful single from Pureafunalia. In the interview we discussed being of the "Big, Bad, and Groovy"cross Canada tour supporting Bootsauce, Sons of Freedom and Art Bergman. I believe this was filmed in Sept 1992.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Pure - Blast (Cdn Version) 1992

Here is the first version of the video for Blast, the first single from Pure's debut album Puerafunalia. Shot and directed by Dermot Shane in a warehouse in Burnaby, B,C., Canada back in early 1992. Blast came out in near the end of the summer in 1992. This video was later replaced by a second, higher production level version directed by Troy Smith (which won Best Alternative Video at the CMVA's in 1993).

Once again, this clip was transferred from vhs tape that had been taped from Much Music television. I've replaced the broadcast audio with CD audio to increase the sound quality for YouTube.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Archive: First Pure Interview on Much Music

This is a clip recorded from Much Music back in 1992. Interviewer Terry David Mulligan caught up with singer Jordy Birch on the beach at English Bay in the Wesy End of Vancouver to discuss the upcoming debut release Pureafunalia. It's fun to see Vancouver back in 1992.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Archive: Blue Water (Silent North demo)

This clip came to me courtesy of a friend, Sean McFarland. Way back in the Autumn of 1985, my second year of University, The Silent North had written a handful of songs that we were considering releasing for an EP. This song wasn't included on the EP but was finished just about that same time. Sean suggested we try filming something and came by our rehearsal space with his 8mm camera. We shot this footage and it was lost to us for decades. After a move recovered the canister Sean gave me the film canister again about 10 years ago. A few years went by until by chance Stefan Sigerson mentioned he had a projector at his place and could digitize the film for us. I had this footage for several years and it wasn't until this Covid-19 breakout that I had time or inclination to try setting it to music.

With no sound on 8mm film there was only the image to go from. I attempted lip reading to determine which song might be being performed but I couldn't really tell.  A conversation with Daniel Clement suggested that we were playing our song Blue Water. The tempos are about the same but the singing parts didn't completely line up (though I suspect we were just playing it live and not attempting to lip sync - we honestly didn't know any better). Therefore I took a bit of liberty and cut the footage to follow the song a bit better.

Musically this was another cassette 4 track demo. We did a lot of writing and recording those days, all of it on Dan's Tascam 244. To my ear it sounds as though we were using a Roland TR-707 drum machine on this song. The mixdown went to another cassette tape and we made copies from that. The music on this video is a digital transfer I made back in the early 90's from cassette to a Panasonic SV-3700 DAT machine. I guess I was always concerned about backing things up and I recorded a lot of that old material to DAT tape. Yesterday I did a bit of processing on the music and lined it up in Davinci Resolve to the video. And now, after 35 years we finally have a little music video for our song Blue Water!

Title: Blue Water
Artist: The Silent North
Lyrics: Callan Wilson
Music: The Silent North (Clement, Henning Wilson)
Vocals: Callan Wilson
Bass, guitar: Daniel Clement
Keyboards, drum machine: Mark Henning

Camera Operator: Sean McFarland
Editor, post audio: Mark Henning
Film to digital transfer: Stefan Sigerson

Sunday, March 22, 2020

All the Way Back to the Beginning: The Silent North

White Rock, BC, 1987.
This video is a simple home video from my high school/university era band The Silent North (also known as Idle Minx). While we never really got the band off the ground we did manage to write several songs over our short lived history. The song here, "Even You" was one of the last tracks we wrote and recorded. As I remember it we were using guitarist Dan Clement's Tascam 244 cassette 4 track along with a Roland MC500 midi sequencer synced to tape. I'm pretty sure this was mostly me doing the programming and keyboard playing as it's so busy with parts! Our singer Callan Wilson sadly died in a car crash only a few weeks after we made this clip so it became our final output together.

We set up in our rehearsal space built in Dan's garage and messed around with a fairly basic VHS tape camera and a couple house lamps. The grainy moments seemed to come from us trying to layer new elements over top of the first bits in the camera. If memory serves the camera was operated by our friend James Ginther (who may have owned it as well).

Music: Mark Henning    Lyrics: Callan Wilson
Vocals: Callan Wilson
Bass, trumpet: Dan Clement
Keyboards, sequencing, drum machine: Mark Henning

Equipment used:
Tascam 244
Roland MC-500 with PPS sync
Korg Poly 6
Korg Poly 800
Yamaha DX-7
Yamaha RX-7
video camera: unknown

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Refused on Records In My Life

We had a great conversation with Dennis and David from the hardcore band Refused last week, before the entire shutdown of live music due to the Covid 19 virus. Check it out, great guys and lots to say!

If you enjoyed this there is a 24 minute unabridged version available on our patreon site:

Thanks for watching!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Metronomy - Records In My LIfe (2020 interview)

So after a three month break we return with our first interview of 2020. We caught up with the band Metronomy when they performed at the Commodore last month. All five members joined us to talk about their latest release, "Metronomy Forever" as well as the music that has inspired them all through the years. Fun people with a lot of jokes and good band rapport, this was a great start to our fifth year of filming RIML.