Lucas Choi Zimbel is from Montreal, Quebec Canada - MAPL - SOCAN
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Influences: Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, Merle Travis, Bruce Cockburn, Joni Mitchell, Django Reinhardt, Bill Monroe, Pete Seeger.
Sounds like: Merle Travis of Montreal discovers more colourful chords. Nick Drake grows up in the big city. Leonard Cohen without the enourmous ego and libido. Django Reinhardt is adopted by Americans who subsequently move to Canada. Bruce Cockburn spends half as much time practicing guitar and twice as much time crafting lyrics. Sounds like (technical): Travis-picking through colourful chords, often with drone notes. Occasional songs played with a pick or other right hand techniques. Vocals with a large range from low to high, occasionally within the same song. Lyrics that deal with social justice, politics and mental health.
This album was recorded at Studio Va-Nu-Pieds in farmland not far from Saint-Paulin, Quebec. I wanted to make a record very much in the Folk tradtion, my words and my guitar, nothing else. Me and my trusty sound engineer, Pi Sailin-Cutler, borrowed microphones we could never afford from the former owner of Montreal’s famed Studio Victor, North-America’s original RCA studio built in 1942, and headed up to Va-Nu-Pieds for three days. I recorded these songs live off the floor without overdubs, edits or click track. I did not wear headphones to hear playback. As it was played, so it is heard.
** = Recommended (E) = Expletive FCC Warning
1. Take A Long Hard Look at Yourself** 3:22: Music has always been a form of escape for me. That being said I tend to approach lyrics very much like a journalist, shining a light on injustices and inequality. There is a contradiction here, my escape brings me right back to what I am running from.
2.The More We Have, the Less We Are-2:05: The oldest song on the record, written in a shack on Vancouver Island in 2011 at about the same time as protests occupied Wall Street.
3. Contemplating the Calamity** 2:41: The chorus to this song was written a very long time ago. Leafing through one of my lyric books, I rediscovered it and realized that unfortunately, time has made it more relevant, not less. This song was the last one that I finished for this record and this is the first take that I did. An unlikely one-take wonder if there ever was one.
4. Talk Taboo*-* (E)FCC Warning – Goddamn at 1:29) 3:03: I got news from an acquaintance about a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in a long time and it wasn’t good: her father had successfully committed suicide. He had tried before and my friend had found him near death and saved his life, a traumatic experience for any daughter to go through. A few weeks later, I was in the subway reading the Letters to the Editor in one of the free dailies. The letter discussed how we need to lift the taboos surrounding suicide. It was beautifully written. When I got to the end the name signed was my friend’s. I tore out the page and kept it in my wallet for a few months, until I finally worked up the courage to write this song.
5. Empathy Goes Home, While Apathy Dances-1:55: This song is the only spoken song on the record. I wrote it while on tour in Brazil in the city of Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo has a population of 12 million and an additional 7 million people commute into the city everyday to work, making it one of the largest cities in the world. On a rooftop during Carnival, these words came to me.
6. She’s Out of Breath-2:35: This song started off being about those times when the weather fits your mood. It ended up being a reflection on the subjectivity of misery and our inability to truly understand each others suffering.
7. Tempered Pulse-2:03: An instrumental, the droning bass notes were designed to bring the listener back to the feeling of the first song on the record (‘Take A Long Hard Look at Yourself’). However, ultimately the effect was that of a heart beating with varying intensity.
8. What Owns Who-2:07: This song questions our need for gizmos in this material world. We always seem to be chasing the next purchase, the latest update, never happy with what we already have. It is the sister song of ‘The More We have Less We Are’.
9. This Backwards Town**-3:06: I love my hometown of Montreal. But we do have some serious issues with policing in this city, particularly with regards to our large homeless population. Sometimes, after the police shoot another mentally unstable beggar, I wonder if the cops see the lives of people on the streets as having the same value as their own. The reverse is also true; many vagrants view the police as less than human.
10.Eye of the Tantrum-2:07: This is an instrumental song in Open D tuning, up a half step. It briefly quotes the classic song ‘Vestapol’ that has become synonymous with this tuning. The concept is that this piece creates a break in the album, room to breathe and reflect.
11.The Place Where all Things Sleep-2:52: Do we ever truly have enough time to do everything that we want to? Only time can tell and it’s not talking.
12.Teach Me Humility**-3:11: Recently I have had to experience something that I had thankfully never had to deal with before: the deaths of loved ones. I’ve realized only recently how fragile life is. I wrote the music to this song while experimenting in a tuning that I learned from Nick Drake: CGCFCE. Drake’s life taught us all how fragile existence can be, which is one reason that the lyrics dealt with this subject.
13. War Starts When the Music Stops-2:07: This song is in the key of wishful thinking. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just sing a song to get a long?
ABOUT LUCAS CHOI ZIMBEL
It all started with a pair of claves that I found in a box of percussion instruments. Here was the real instrument I wanted to play! The adults in the room said, “You can’t only be a claves player” which only re-enforced my contrarian streak. Two claves, no road cases, no tuning, no strings. I could nail this. Eventually, we learned the xylophone in school, and then the recorder. Classic really. High school comes around and I pretended to not be able to play three of our four instrument choices because I already knew which one I wanted to play: the one that looked like a recorder. No, not the flute, way to horizontal. I want to play the clarinet only because it was held in a similar fashion to the recorder. I didn’t even know what it was called, the black recorder?
One day, why I have no idea, I asked my father for a guitar. “But not one of those country guitars” Ah, if only I knew then what I know now.
In my late teens, we had a Quebec winter with dangerous amounts of snow. So much snow that roofs collapsed, killing people beneath. My mother happened to know one of the unfortunate. As the family went through her things they found an accordion in her basement that somehow ended up in my living room. “I guess I have to learn how to play this now,” I thought.
Eventually, the guitar became my main focus, the only instrument I ever chose knowingly. But now it was “one of those country guitars” commonly referred to as an acoustic guitar. I like the feeling of wood vibrating against my chest and the sound of hundreds of details coming together that we then characterize as “bright” or “cutting” or a thousand other terms that make more sense than they should.
Words have always come easy to me, I have been writing lyrics since I was about 12 and I am happy to say I have never finished a love song, but I’ll admit I’ve started a few. The morning paper is an inspiration, as are the books that I read in the afternoon and the people I share my life with in the evenings.
Sometimes I wonder, why music? Well, if banging claves together was enough for me when I was a child, so easily distracted and impatient, the complex chords and fingerpicking patterns that accompany my words are more than enough for me now.
FRI APRIL 26 @ 9:00PM | Lucas Choi Zimbel and Robert Santos | Grumpy's, Montreal
WED, MAY 8 @ 9:00PM | Lucas Choi Zimbel and Tito Sono | Escalier, Montreal
FRIDAY, MAY 10 @ 9:00PM Lucas Choi Zimbel ALBUM LAUNCH with Barnatchok and Scrap MatouQuai des Brumes, Montreal, Qc
FRI MAY 31 @ 9:00PM | Lucas Choi Zimbel and Bud Rice | Grumpy's Montreal
WED JUNE 12 @ 9:00PM | Lucas Choi Zimbel and Robert Santos | Escalier, Montreal
FRI JUNE 28 @ 9:00PM | Lucas Choi Zimbel and Fred Peloquin |Grumpy's, Montreal
SAT SEPT 7 | Lucas Choi Zimbel at Black and Bluegrass Fest | Rainbow Bistro, Ottawa