What did fans of The Bills say when they heard the two-time Juno nominees were making a new album? “Yes, please.”
After eight years of waiting, fans of the freewheeling roots phenoms are rejoicing because the waiting has come to an end. The Bills new album, Yes Please, was released Sept. 4, and Marc Atkinson, Adrian Dolan, Richard Moody and Chris Frye are hitting the open road to bring their new music to eager ears.
“We went for quality over quantity starting in about 2008, where we just honed it down to key festivals, mostly in the U.S. and Europe and spending the rest of our time with other projects, so everyone is excited to bring it back together and focus our energy back on The Bills,” says Frye. “We’re a very busy group of people and somehow the stars aligned this year, and it all came together and I think it’s the best music we’ve ever made. It’s the right time to do this again because the songwriting, the playing and the excitement is at the highest level it’s ever been.”
There is a very high level of collaboration between the four core members, with each sharing the songwriting duties, either on their own or as a team.
“We each bring our best ideas to the band, then it goes through The Bills filter, and out comes these songs,” says Frye. “Most are collaborative, so it’s a very challenging process, but when it works, it brings out something that I think is greater than the sum of its parts.”
The Bills is a five-piece band with four core members and a rotating bass player. Glen Manders, who played bass in the band for almost a decade has since left for medical school. Scott White (also known as Gramps), moved to Europe and plays with the band when they’re touring across the pond. Locals Joey Smith, Oliver Swain and Joby Baker fill in during recording and at gigs, depending on where it is and who’s available (Smith will be playing the Victoria show).
And Frye says the songwriting on this record is at a higher level than ever before, with a much deeper groove and more percussion that adds a level of danceability to what they do.
“There’s a quality control thing in The Bills. We really shoot for what we think is great song-craft, great lyrics, really hot licks, great arrangements, so you come in a bit daunted by that standard we keep, but it’s great to have that standard because we don’t let anything slip through,” says Frye.
“The key to the final product, I think, is Joby Baker. Not in terms of the composition, but in terms of realizing the potential of the compositions.”
Baker produced, recorded, mixed and mastered the album at his Saanich studio, and he also played upright bass and percussion on many of the tracks.
“You go through all that hard work, and then you go see Joby,” says Frye. “He’s magic in the studio and helps it all come together. He’s like the sixth member of the band for sure.”
Baker will be playing percussion at the Victoria show and Frye says to keep your eyes open for other special guests who may make an appearance on stage. M
Thurs., Sept. 6
Alix Goolden Hall
Tickets $20 advance or $24 at the door
available at rmts.bc.ca