"It's great. I get up in the morning. Walk downstairs. Have a coffee. Play my bass. Next thing you know it's midnight. I don't have to walk more than fifty feet a day if I don't want to."
This record started out as a demo. Jim and I had been talking and thought it would be nice to hang out at the farm awhile, play, possibly even record an EP. The funny thing about this band and recording is that when we start rehearsing for a record we make these blaster tapes, and even though the sound quality is a little trashy, they have a great vibe. The songs are fresh, everyone is working on a part, learning the songs; there is a feel to those tapes, relaxed, almost tossed off but still intense.
The next stop for us is to do a demo to help us realize the arrangements, as well as send copies to the record company so they can hear what we're up to. We make these tapes live to DAT and, again, I love the energy on these tapes. I can feel us playing together and the songs are new enough that the spontaneity is still alive in them.
Finally, we get around to making "the record." We head into a studio, hire a producer and start recording in the conventional way by layering the drums, bass, etc., etc. I both enjoy and hate this method and have always liked our blaster rehearsal tapes the best. I've often wished we could release those tapes as they really capture the sound of the band (I've always liked those records that were made before multi-tracking changed the process). So when Jim called me in April '93 and suggested that we bring the Comfort Sound Truck out to the farm to demo our new stuff, I thought "Great!"; we'd be able to rehearse and record everything live on track and I'd get to stay at home. Great idea.
The farm is a comfortable place to hang out. It's about an hour's drive northeast of Toronto, close enough to be accessible but it feels a world apart. It's a big old farmhouse with lots of bedrooms, a pond, fields, the moon, the trees and the stars with fireflies and Northern Lights. So in June of '93 we all moved out to the farm the band, families and friends. We set up in the living room — Mimi and Mark cooked, people hung out and we played music. It was great to make music in this atmosphere, people always walking around and the sun coming in the windows.
Bazil was in charge of quality control and each day when we finished, we'd listen back to what we had recorded. It quickly became apparent that the quieter songs (the songs where Glenn was playing with brushes, James was pounding away on an upright piano built in 1906, Kim was in his corner on Dobro or Dreamsteel, Bazil on rock steady bass and Jim and I on acoustic guitar), those were the songs that captured the spirit of what it felt like to be sitting in that room playing music.
So we decided, forget the demo, forget the EP, this is a record! At first we thought we'd get real fancy and record an acoustic record, and then an electric record and release them a month apart. But we reconsidered and decided to concentrate on the record before you now. This album was recorded in five days, between July 5 and July 9, at the pace of two songs per day (except "Dark Angel" and "Tell Me Your Dream", which were recorded in Manta Eastern Sound's Studio 3 with Sarah McLachlan on August 16).
Knowing that we had enough material to do an electric record allowed us the freedom to commit to an acoustic record (or should I say that Glenn agreed to do a whole record playing with brushes, knowing we'd soon make a record in a style he was more accustomed to). Everyone in the band had to commit to this idea, and everyone played and listened with their whole heart and being. I think this record captures, on 24 track, what I've always enjoyed best about our blaster rehearsal tapes, with the songs and playing remaining fresh and spontaneous. I'd like to stress that this is not another fucking unplugged record, not some lame reworking of our catalogue to make a quick buck. This record was made this way because we needed something to challenge us as musicians and satisfy us as songwriters.
And lastly, praise be to the strength of woman. Not only does she suffer the pain to bring us into this glorious mess, she also teaches us and inspires us to love. Love is the one thing that all life is a preparation for.
We were very fortunate to have some very musical friends join us and contribute their amazing energy on this record. Sarah McLachlan is an immense talent. Her voice and musicality are transcendent, her generosity overwhelming and it is a joy to be in her company. Anne Bourne is an inspiring and calming presence. Her confidence and musical sense of adventure would inspire any musician to play beyond themselves. I cannot thank either of them, along with all the musicians who performed on this record, enough for their gifted and generous souls.
- Greg Keelor