Many bands form as structured entities. Members are sussed out for their possible contribution to the project, while other bands are mere coincidence and fate.
Some bands aren't even bands at all---just a few people who happen to make a record together on a sunny afternoon. Daniel, Fred and Julie are the latter. They're playing the North Street Church on April 9.
The trio formed by chance during last summer when Daniel Romano, who also plays guitar in Attack in Black, fled from Welland, Ontario, to Sackville via train and wound up recording an album with Fred Squire (Calm Down It's Monday, formerly of Shotgun and Jaybird) and Julie Doiron.
"I haven't spoken to the band," says Romano, his voice thick with lethargy. "I don't even know why we're doing a tour. It's not really a band, though it will be fun to play these songs."
As a character of few words, Romano gives very little in terms of conversation. It's a certain air of nonchalance. He's a musician's musician.
It's just before noon on Good Friday. While I go through my list of questions, rousing little interest from the person holding the telephone on the other side of the line, Romano does express a little bit of anxiety towards performing the album.
"It's more stripped down than I'm used to. There's a lot of words," he says.
Daniel, Fred and Julie are hitting the road, though Romano isn't quite sure of the exact tour dates. (I fill him in.) They're playing folks songs for keen-eared listeners in Charlottetown, Halifax, Quebec City, Waterloo, Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston and Montreal. Baby Eagle will join the threesome.
Eventually he loosens up. Instead of answering questions related to the project, Romano runs away on a tangent. He creates an imaginary story that begins "a very long time ago, when I was first born," and shares a mocking tale of the source of musical inspiration that is found at the top of a mountain.
Perhaps there is a bit of solidification required for a band, some sort of collective agreement or thesis statement why the project is worth paying attention to. Just as songs are mini-narratives, for some reason the whole mythology of the players and their experience creating the music intrigues us. Why?
As listeners we listen to songs and bring our own projection of thoughts and feelings to our relationship with the music. Part of the exchange is the musicians themselves give us a framework to work within, a little snippet into their creative intention. Romano bucks this theory.
Truthfully he makes a better storyteller than interview, as his spiel from long ago soaks up the duration of our time together. For a second he's got me convinced that fiction might be the best route for his talents. But he can write a good tune.
Recorded in Squire's garage with a single microphone, some folding chairs and scraps of paper, Fred, Daniel and Julie is a folk-lovers album. Three-part harmonies, guitar picking and moments of romance, these songs are for those who have a soft spot for lo-fi, organic melodies. It's like the back-to-land hippies but in musical form. There are no bells, whistles or frills, just pure song. —Shannon Webb-Campbell
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