Spooling the thread of benefit rock
By Jordan Mitchell
"Big cats and humans don't mix," offers Clay Corneil, bassist for the local band Spool, while commenting on the interaction between humans and mammals outside of natural ecosystems.
"We've been asked to record a song for a benefit compilation for a foundation that returns wild cats in Mississippi to their respective habitats," he says.
The tentative lineup for the disc also includes Palace, Steve Albini, Change of Heart, Sanseiru and Six Finger Satellite.
Besides offering its cleverly-composed sound to noble causes, Spool is preparing for the release of some new, old music.
Corneil explains the paradox: "We did some recording in our practice space a year ago, almost to the day. Now, a year later we're going to send it out to be mastered. We can't sit on it anymore. We'll drive ourselves nuts."
Along with his bandmates, Ian Newton (guitar, vocals), Greg Newton (guitar) and Joel Pylyshyn (drums), Corneil plans on the release of a tape in a month, followed by a long-term plan to transfer the mastered sounds to CD.
Originally connected with the Montreal label Derivative Records, Spool is seeking possible funding to begin its own label, or else explore other independent options.
"Once we were ready to record with our revised lineup, Derivative's roster was already full," says Corneil. "We never had a contract. It was based on handshakes. Ideally we would like to start our own label. It's just a matter of getting off our sorry asses."
Corneil is hopeful about the possibility of standing up from a seated position.
"In the summer, we'll try to become a real band," he says half-jokingly. "We're going to try and do some shows outside of Ontario or at least, outside of London. We'll follow a more-beaten path and do typical band stuff."
The typical route does not seem to be a route Spool has honoured in the past. When asked about band highlights, Corneil offers: "My kind of highlights are sitting around after practice and shooting the shit with the other guys."
Throughout the band's history, Spool has challenged typical pop compositions by combining several distinct elements into each song.
"Overall sound-wise, our focus has become to give the songs more room," explains Corneil. "Lately, we have taken more time. We're no longer trying to jam-pack the songs and we're trying to make sure every tune is interesting to us. It is no longer necessary to play exact notes. It's more a composition than a song.
"That's not to say we're composing that sounds pretentious."
Corneil continues on modest grounds by explaining his personal development. "In the last four months, I've started to learn how to play the bass. I started to get into funk. I've figured out more about how the drums and bass interact."
By listening to funk greats, some of whom are considered to be cats in their own right, Corneil has expanded his view on how music sounds and how it is recorded. Spool's meticulousness regarding recording will accompany the band as it ventures into the studio in a couple of weeks to record its contribution to the foundation for the wild cats. Without a contribution from any felines, Spool plays The Whippet Lounge tonight with supporting acts The Weekend and Matt Evans.