You think you’ve got ANDRE ETHIER pegged, don’t you? You think he’s just the howling leader of that gang of rowdy rock’n’rollers who travel under the Deadly Snakes’ flag? Well sister, you’ve got another thing coming, and it arrives in the form of Ethier’s new solo album, secondathallam, out August 8, 2006 on Paper Bag Records.
It’s the second solo record Ethier’s recorded at Toronto’s east end Hallam Music studio, and once again, his musical foil is longtime friend Christopher Sandes, who handles many of the instruments, other than Ethier’s acoustic guitar and the rhythm section provided by Pickles and Price (Andrew Gunn and Matthew Carlson of the Snakes). Ethier and Sandes were running mates in their days in Montreal, and their present efforts make good on old promises to one day make music together.
Secondathallam feels like exactly that: like a loose, intimate collaboration between friends. The songs are arranged in the style of the great, ‘70s-style, confessional singer-songwriter albums. They’re all wrapped in warm tones, with Sandes’ piano at the fore and Ethier’s singing naked and honest. Coloured by horns and double bass, it sounds like an acoustic Sunday afternoon jam session between players who’ve been around long enough to learn that there’s more to love than flowers and sweet nothings.
And the songs on secondathallam are personal, and grandly romantic. If you didn’t know about Ethier’s newlywed status, a close listen to the album might hint at it. “This record, it’s kind of about being married, but it’s a little more convoluted,” Ethier hints.
“Confessional writing, I think, is often really masturbatory, and kind of uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable, anyway. I just kind of ended up enjoying the perversity of it – and I feel like the record is perverse. I don’t know if anyone would recognize that, but for me, it’s kind of lurid at times.”
But don’t play this record expecting heart-on-sleeve schmaltz and moon-June tripe. This is still Andre Ethier we’re talking about. Everything has a twist.
“When they’re love songs, they’re almost saccharine,” he explains. “There are a lot of references to honey, and to dripping sweetness, and I can imagine, for some reason, I have this image of dogs salivating, but it’s honey. Then there are other times when the songs can be really negative about someone I love, but unintentionally. I just kind of pushed all the emotions to their lyrical extremes.”
Sounds intriguing, Andre, but the real question – what about that new beard you’ve been sporting?
“I hate to be such a cliché, but perhaps it’s just a time in my life when I’m into the beard,” Ethier chuckles. “I’m stroking it right now. It’s helped. It kind of changes your personality. You should try it some time.”