Canadian Musician - July/August 2017 - Page 18

AS HEARD ON... PAUL SHAFFER For the full interview, listen to the May 3, 2017 episode CM: After decades leading David Letterman’s band, how quickly did you to decide to get the band back together and make an album after Letterman retired? Shaffer: Not so quickly. I spent a year trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do now after 33 years with Letter- man. Slow down? No, that’s not what I want to do. Keep playing the piano? Yes, and then I got a call from Seymour [Stein of Warner Bros. Records], “Do you want to get back in the music business and make a record?” It was like a god- send because once I got in the studio, I cheered up and realized that this is what I like. CM: You’ve said you’re a studio musician at heart. What would you say are key traits for a professional studio musician? Paul Shaffer with Canadian Musician’s Michael Raine Shaffer: First of all, you’ve got to be realistic about the times that we’re in now. It’s not like it was in the ‘70s and ‘80s when there was a studio scene in New York and Toronto and you could get a band from an answering service and make a great record. Comput- ers are making the records today, fortunately or unfortunately. So the studio is not what it was, but certainly you know you’ve got to be enthusiastic and you’ve got to love the music. There’s no reason to come in if you don’t really love the music, because that is what’s going to show up on the record. Brenley MacEachern of MADISON VIOLET COLTER WALL For the full interview, listen to the May 24, 2017 episode For the full interview, listen to the June 14, 2017 episode CM: Your record, The Knight Sessions, was born of tragedy as you both experienced the death of a sibling, and there were health scares and other matters in a remarkable string of bad luck on a personal level. How did that affect the music and how did the music help deal with the tragedy? CM: Steve Earle called you “the best songwriter I’ve seen in 20 years,” and other heavyweights like Lucinda Williams and Rick Rubin have also sung your praises. Being only 21 years old and releasing your self-titled debut LP and a teenager when your first EP came out, how did you develop your song- writing skills so young? Brenley MacEachearn: I think the only way Lisa [MacIsaac] and I know how to keep pushing forward through all these tragedies is to recognize that there is a sort of creative transformation we go through when the terrible things happen, and then we sit down and we write about it or we paint or whatever it is that we do, some kind of a creative outlet. If we’re not working through it somehow, you can’t get by it and then all the days are low moments and just sadness. I know at the end of tours, when we land back in Toronto, we’ll be in the taxi going back into the city and sometimes one of us will just completely break down. But it’s a needed release, in the same way that writing new material is a release. I don’t know how we’d continue moving forward and touring the world if we didn’t have a chance to sort of memorialize the people that we’ve lost. Just six months ago I lost another family member, my 20-year-old niece, and I’ve been writing a whole lot since then. I hate to say that it’s almost become a bit of the muse. It’s terrible, and I really hope that’s not the future of our records. Colter Wall: Well, I guess firstly I just tried to just listen to the right stuff – really dive in and study the records with songs that get that reaction out of me that I was talking about, that stop you dead in your tracks and that really mean something. Finding those records and listening to them over and over again and studying them and figuring out why it is they do that and how it is they do that. I think that is sort of the first step, and I’d been writing songs for a long time before I ever kept one. There were a lot of crumpled up notes and papers that just ended up in the garbage because I wasn’t quite proud enough of what I was doing yet to put it out. Eventually, I started writing some of the songs that ended up on my EP that I made about two years ago and those were the first songs I really felt proud enough about to play to people and put out into the world and get into people’s ears. Listen to new episodes of Canadian Musician Radio every Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET at After premiering, each episode is archived at the site and can be accessed at any time or downloaded as an iTunes podcast. 18 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N