Thursday, 20 September 2007

FORD PIER - Interviewed by Christine Leonard-Cripps

12-Step Program, 11-Step Pier

Fun guy Ford Pier wants to be your new boyfriend

In an age of digitized pleasures, the collectors and musical archivists who relish the feel and crackle of a vinyl record have a new and devoted ally in the one-man musical phenomenon known as Ford Pier. Fronting (and often comprising) the band that bears his name, Ford has taken an enduring love of his musical education (which he describes as a “grateful chore”) to the next plateau by releasing his own six-song EP, mysteriously dubbed Organ Farming, both electronically and on 12-inch vinyl.

“A friend of mine who is a naturalist and a hiker takes a lot of photos and this one of tree fungus really caught my eye,” Pier says of the album’s title. “I thought it looked like a little brain."

If the title seems a bit obtuse, it’s because Pier is an offbeat guy. Still, he doesn’t let others’ opinions influence him. 

“I don’t know what nine out of 10 people think about me,” he says, “and I’d say that I’d disagree with them anyways. You can’t draw any conclusions based on the people I’ve worked with and the environments I’ve surfaced in; punk, country, alt- rock, classical, electronic. Over the years I’ve participated in projects with some fabulous people and helped them to write songs in their own idioms. Now, I prefer to be known for my own stuff. My favourite thing in the world is to sit around the guitar or piano and play music for a friend or someone I enjoy.”

As a prelude to a forthcoming full-length album, Organ Farming offers an immediate glimpse into the world of this enigmatic and somewhat curmudgeonly multi-instrumentalist and singer. Building on the momentum of earlier releases such as Meconium, 12-Step Plan, 11-Step Pier and Pieric Victory, Ford Pier has once again teamed up with producer-engineer-musician Michael Phillip Wojewoda. He’s also joined by members of the Rheostatics, FemBots and the Weakerthans to create Organ Farming and the forthcoming LP, Adventurism, to be released this autumn on Six Shooter Records.

“This was nothing like recording my last album, Pieric Victory,” Pier says. “That album spanned three years and was recorded in two different cities on opposite sides of the continent, and that’s reflected by its varied instrumentation and panoramic scope. Organ Farming is an experiment. With new band members coming onboard, I had a whole repertoire to teach and it occurred to me that it was going to take a long time. So, I did something I’d never done before and wrote songs that addressed each band member’s qualities as musicians. It opened the floodgates; I wrote a whole bunch of new material and chipped away at some older stuff. New things just kept popping up that seemed to complement the old.“

Citing successful EP-LP combos from punk rock acts like his progenitors and supporters NoMeansNo, who put out similar releases in their heyday, Pier remains true to his roots, even as he alternates between the booming music scenes in Vancouver and Toronto. Sought after by the likes of The Sadies, Buttless Chaps, Carolyn Mark, Ron Sexsmith and Martin Tielli for his uncanny ability to merge orchestral melodies with conceptual noise, Pier is as serious about the nature of performance as he is about achieving perfection in the recording studio.

“It’s great to have the cavalier attitude that this is my album, and I wrote it for me,” he says. “I’m satisfied, and that’s all that counts. Of course, I’d like it if others like it. That’s the point. It’s not really music until someone hears it and hopefully wants to hear more. That’s what gives life to the piece. (Music) doesn’t depend on space the way other art forms do. To experience a great painting you have to be there and study in the frame, that’s where it exists and casts a shadow on the wall. If you have a recording of a live performance, it re-creates the moment for you wherever you happen to be. Live performance is all about catch-as-catch-can adventurism. There’s more to it than the way things sound — it’s the energy in the room. It’s all about guitar, bass, drums and the power of rock.”
~ Christine Leonard 

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