Volume 94, Issue 25
Friday, October 13, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
London Swans ready to rock
Gazette File Photo
By Aaron St. John
Despite recent changes in the record industry, live performance is still the best way for a fledgling band to get its music out to the world.
Unfortunately, for an unsigned band like London's Raised By Swans, touring isn't always an option.
"We would love to tour. That's my favourite place in the world to be. I am severely addicted to the road, but we don't have any money, so it's kind of out of the question right now," says singer/guitarist/songwriter Eric Howden.
As a former member of the Canadian alternative act, the Gandharvas, Howden is both familiar with success and the touring circuit. He says he would like to take Raised By Swans on a similar path as the Gandharvas, but is not without reservations. "We had a lot of problems in the Gandharvas because we were very naive. We made a lot of mistakes. I want to avoid those kinds of problems with this band. I think the band is kind of pure right now and I'd like to maintain that."
Raised By Swans has just finished recording a second, three track demo, which they are shopping around to various record companies. "We got a pretty favourable response to the first one," Howden explains. "We are desperately trying to get a showcase in Toronto because that's where the people are and I think we're going to record an album in the next six months or so. We've been waiting a long time and it's frustrating."
Although they haven't been snapped up by the industry just yet, Raised By Swans is a fully developed band with a wonderfully realized, ambitious sound. The quartet's sets are full of guitar-charged rock, full of a sense of dare and imagination missing from most of what is on the radio today.
Asked about his influences, Howden replies, "I really like the Red House Painters, Massive Attack, Jeff Buckley people like that. The common thread is that all of the music I listen to is super emotionally charged."
It is the pursuit of this kind of expressive, progressive music that led Howden to leave the Gandharvas just prior to the release of their third album. "I left the Gandharvas because I was writing a bunch of songs that weren't really Gandharvas-type songs, but I really wanted to pursue them," he says simply, whereby forming Raised By Swans was his next logical move.
Asked about where his inspiration for song writing comes from, Howden states simply, "It comes from a feeling. Sometimes I'll start with a title or a theme and go from there. I'm also really inspired by sounds, so it comes from everywhere." As for the process he takes to bring his music from inside his head into the world, Howden reveals it comes quite easily for him. "When I sit down to write, I just turn on my four-track and I work start to finish."
Although Howden's respect and admiration for his bandmates (guitarist Chris Donais, drummer Brady Parr and bassist Eric Corbett) is evident, he is worried about how the public might perceive them in the future.
"It's not really a problem right now in our current situation, but I really hope that people don't focus just on me. I might end up eating my words in the future, but I hope we're perceived as a band, as opposed to a songwriter and his henchmen."
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