As I was writing up my posts about Winnipeg rock venues, it dawned on me that I’d done quite a bit of recording here in Winnipeg. By no means do I claim to be a great studio artist (my band mates would probably have more than a few stories to share), but I’ve been in Winnipeg studios for five recordings. The first true band I was a part of was called Ciaira’s tears.
This is the band with which I learned how to play on stage with, encouraging my “free-form” drumming style (metronome anyone?). This is the band in which I went from long hair to a shaved head. This is the band in which I learned about marketing and postering. This is the band with which I made my first studio and live recordings. This is the band that went through a band member change only to break up a couple of years later. This is the band that taught me tact with women, with moderate success. This was my first rock band.
Originally, the band was called Ciaira’s Problem, of which I was not a part. Then shortly before I came along the band was renamed to Ciaira’s tears. You’ll have to ask Mr. Baria for the story cause I’m still not clear about it. Something about a girl named Ciara not liking Steve.
There were three of us, three Steve’s. And yes, we heard all the lame-ass jokes you could muster: Are you The Three Steves? You could use Steve Cubed. Usually followed by some sort of dumb laugh. Suppressing the urge to say “Shut up,” the band went by Ciaira’s tears. The second “i” in Ciaira is courtesy of my guitarist who, for all his computer wizardry, doesn’t like using spell check. (Maybe this is why Ciara didn’t like him?)
We released two recordings. For those of you lucky enough to have a copy of the original Jellybean Single (released in January 2001), know that there were only something like 50 copies ever made. They’re rarities. I personally recorded those tapes from the master tape. And it all had to be done in real-time, no CD ripping here. The tape had 4 tracks total: Jellybean, two jam songs, and a crappy version of Alconol.
The firstest first recording was Jellybean, probably our catchiest song. We were lucky because my guitarist was taking a studio engineering course at Studio 11 at the time (guess who else was in the class, John Turner of Phoenix Sound). The class needed a guinea pig band, and so we volunteered. One cold Winnipeg evening, we trucked in all of our equipment, set it up, and let the students handle the mic placements and recording. It was also the first time I’d ever used a click track, and that took some getting used to!
We decided to hit the studio again later that year and record some more tracks. The result was the Life After…, called such because the recording was supposed to represent the life of the band after Jellybean. You see, Jellybean was a fan favourite, but it was a rarity. Jellybean was catchy, the rest of our songs not so much (except maybe Mrs. Alexander).
We rehearsed like mad and recorded three more songs. Though I encourage you to listen to the songs for yourself, I think Jellybean was about an ex-gf, Stuckpig is about gutting pigs (it’s not really, but I don’t know exactly), Aconite is about vampires, and Pink Napkins is about… well, that’s a fun one to figure out. We also added two of my favourite songs from a live show, Alconol and Mrs. Alexander (the first song about tylenol and alcohol, the second about a wayward son).
We tried to make a music video for Aconite, but I don’t think that will ever see the light of day. I wrote and shot it for one of my university classes, casting my brother and his then-gf as vampires. The band makes an appearance (as vampires playing instruments), but only a short one since my instructor encouraged me to tell a story instead of just recording the band play their instruments. I shot it on 16mm black and white film, costing somewhere around $800. I’ll chalk that up to a learning process.
But Ciaira’s tears was on the wane. Band tensions increased and our desire to keep trying decreased, all of us looking for something different. So, after 6 years together, some 43 shows played in the gritty bars of Winnipeg, 2 two recordings, and one last show at the Collective Cabaret, we called it quits.
But Steve! I want to listen to your music! I’m eager! Tell me more! For those of you interested in hearing my early drum work with my first rock band, you can find many of our songs on the CBC Radio 3 website. In addition to the Life After… EP, you’ll find a couple more recordings. One is titled Make Me Happy, recorded live after a lineup change, and the Changing String Jam Pt. 1, which was one of the two jam songs included on the Jellybean Single.
***Update February 9, 2013: I added the soundcloud player at the top of the page.
The next logical step for me, of course, was to join a polka band, but that story will have to wait for another time.