Happy Birthday to Me!

Mid-set tequila shots at the release of Songs of Serenity, courtesy of Shawn Major!

          On September 8th, 2017 I released an album, Songs of Serenity, and launched a new era in my life with a band of brothers that came to be named The EastVangelicals.  It was the day I turned 49, and as self-centered as it may seem to release an album on your own birthday, it really did feel like a new birth for me.  I had quit a long-term career-oriented job to focus on music in the wake of my parents passing away in quick succession, resolved to make one more attempt to do something meaningful with the songs I have spent my whole life writing.  Serenity was a grab-bag of tunes I’d written over many years, along with two of my father’s poems newly turned into musical pieces as a tribute to the old man (“Cariboo”, about our homeland and nostalgia, and “Trigger”, a whimsical piece about Willie Nelson’s guitar and the march of time).  It represented where I was at the moment, looking back on the places and people that produced me, family, home, all the aspects of love that make a life.

          I don’t mind telling you, it was a pretty major achievement to see that album through to completion and launch a band, website and new musical direction on the strength of it.  I’d been building up to this my whole life it seemed, and there it suddenly was, popped out on my own birthday at the start of my 50th year on this planet.  There was undeniably a ‘mid-life’ angle to the story, a dogged determination to rise above all the half-measures, failures, minor successes, and near misses that had accumulated from my twenties to date.  Rather than dwell on so much that could have gone differently, paths that might have been taken, all the time wasted; I decided to embrace the premise that “It’s never too late.”  Maybe that isn’t always true – at some point, it will be too late for everyone – but at this stage of my life (the middle if I’m lucky to live long enough!), I knew it was absolutely not too late to make something of my songs and put them out there.  You can’t go back; waiting till later gets you nowhere: all you have is now so make the most of it.

          Fortunately, I have written many songs over the years that never got a chance to be realized fully: performed live with a band, truly polished off, recorded and set down for all time.  I had the luxury of picking through this backlog to find the right songs for the moment, hidden gems I’d neglected, or stories that still resonated with my current situation.  In this way was Songs of Serenity constructed, becoming a fair representation of my journey to date, a snapshot of where I found myself in my late forties.  I came to recognize the essence of my endeavor was to leave something behind to say I was here; as hackneyed as it is, to create a legacy.  In the process I rediscovered the joy of being in a band, watching my songs change and grow through the amazing creative contributions of my close friends Adrian Buckley (drums), Derek Macdonald (keys), and Eric Lefebvre (bass).

          I spent my 50th year promoting that album and working feverishly on the next, which like the first served as a sort of clearing-house for old Scott Perry compositions.  Selecting which songs to build into a new album is itself an artistic process (art is all about choices; what’s included, what isn’t), and while I sifted and picked through possible tunes from thirty years of writing I began to see a pattern that threatened to develop into a full-blown theme.  I’m a big fan of positivity (a direct result of my upbringing), and I noticed that many of the songs I wanted to record had some kind of variation on that uplifting vibe.  So I conceived an album to unabashedly “Accentuate the Positive” (thank you, Harold Arlen), and naturally that led my punning mind to title it Follow UP.  Coming so soon after Serenity it had to be considered a companion piece following directly from that album (recorded at the same places with the same people), and the songs we ended up with each relate to a different aspect of the upsides of life (Love, Seizing the Day, Art, Spirituality, etc).  Eric even came to me with a song he’d never used in our other band The Top Drawers, a paean to comfort and reassurance called, “Be Alright.”  Despite this being my ‘solo’ project and a concerted effort to sweep out my song backlog, his song was such a perfect fit thematically that we did record it, and it became a centerpiece of Follow UP.

          At a breakneck pace rarely seen these days, we had recorded two albums in a year and ended up releasing the second on the same date as the first, September 8th, 2018, my actual 50th birthday.  Put another way, I began my 50th year with the debut album of Scott Perry and the EastVangelicals and completed that year with the release of our follow up album (pssst – you can buy either or both HERE!).  Not a bad annus mirabilus for a mid-life-crisis manager!  But I was far from done – with a hundred or so songs still tucked away and a taste for recording albums (itself becoming old-fashioned in these days of the ephemeral streamed single song), I had plans for several more LPs worked out already.

          At this point, it got interesting.  I knew my next album would be a long-awaited (by me, anyway) collection of songs that I wrote about the love of my life, especially in the early stages when new love always blossoms into creativity (how many love songs I’ve written!)  And I had also planned a proper full tribute to my parents, gathering together all the songs I wrote for my mother and father, with some more musical adaptations of dad’s poetry.  Hitting the halfway point of these four planned albums I started to see a larger pattern drawing the whole opus together.  Because our debut Songs of Serenity was so brown and autumnal, radiating rich earth tones and a slightly western acoustic vibe (veering close to Americana at times), I had consciously made Follow UP more green, with that sense of renewal and budding that comes in the springtime, all potential and looking up.  Thinking ahead to my album of unabashed love songs, I knew it had to be blue (my favorite color: my eyes, birthstone sapphire, the sea and sky) and embody all that is summer.  Brandy and I became a couple on July 1st, at the height of an incredibly memorable first summer together, spent under so many days of beautiful blue sky.  Following the seasonal scheme, the fourth album memorializing my passed parents needs to be winter-themed, with silvery/black hues, a northern vibe, a quiet whisper of reflection appropriate to huddling by fires in small comforting spaces, riding out the dark together.

I might’ve gone a little overboard with this…

          Once this pattern revealed itself, I couldn’t help fleshing it out to an almost ridiculous extent – now I see quartets of symbolism everywhere, and it’s been amazing how these albums line up with so many conventional foursomes.  The seasons (Autumn, Spring, Summer, Winter), cardinal directions (West, East, South, North), positions of the sun (Setting, Rising, Up, Down), times of day (Evening, Morning, Noon, Night), even the traditional Elements (Air, Earth, Fire, Water).  It all just seemed to fit, and the slow discovery of this underlying order has given me renewed purpose to see through the entire artistic project.  I know it might seem somewhat inflated to invest this much meaning in the simple process of recording and releasing music as a humble independent artist, but such is life as I see it.  I recognize I am out of step with my time: attention spans have shortened we are constantly told, songs are easy to access and play (and discard) immediately, sitting through a 30-to-40-minute collection seems increasingly rare.  If even a traditional long-playing album is considered cumbersome now, how does a four-album cycle hope to gain (let alone hold) any attention?

          Well, I don’t know, and ultimately, I can’t be concerned about that.  This is simply something I have to do, that I started and must now see through to ultimate completion.  Each album will of course stand on its own, and I do hope that each of the 40-odd songs going into this LP quartet will have a chance of grabbing some shorter-term interest along the way.  But I am proceeding with a larger picture in mind, and I hope that some of what I see arising from these thematic underpinnings will filter through to other ears and eyes.  It’s all I can do, maybe all we can hope for in this world: to make a small connection through whatever it is that we do with our greatest passion.

          So, it’s been a little weird for me to face this birthday in 2019 – the first in three years that I haven’t had an album to release!  But there were a few reasons I couldn’t quite keep up the album-a-year pace.  The boring ones are money and time (related, since I’ve had to take on new work to support my not-so-lucrative artistic ambitions), but the coolest reason is that the album we are currently working away on (to be titled Suite: Dreams, songs for the girl of my dreams ❤️) is shaping up to be ready to early in 2020.  Meaning we should be able to release it on another birthday much more appropriate than my own: Brandy’s, this upcoming Feb 3rd!  At times this whole enterprise has felt uncomfortably narcissistic (not unexpected for a solo project), so this is a great way to move out from Self to Other – to the other who has represented to me the best of humanity, and my most beloved window on the world. ❤️

          Stay tuned good people, summer will be coming early in 2020, expect that groundhog to stay out for good this time and soak up the shining blue-tinted vibes of some classic love songs!

New review in for Follow UP!

Vancouver’s venerated music journalist Tom Harrison may have retired from his longtime gig writing for the Sun and Province newspapers, but he still likes to keep his ear tuned for new music.  At his own website,  www.tomharrisonmusic.com he can write about anything he wants to now, so we’re thrilled that his latest post is a review of our new album, Follow UP!

Tom also reviewed Songs of Serenity last year (read that full review HERE), in which he praised the album’s “personal quality … and its twang”, and called it ” a record that is honest, beguilingly so, as it nakedly explores feelings in “Serenity,” alludes to family history or elicits a contentment”.  He pointed out that the lead singing (which is admittedly not of the stellar “Idol”-winning variety) “sounds untutored and vulnerable” but concludes that my voice suits the material: “It’s human and in that humanity is virtue.”

In the new review, he writes that “If that album’s gentle reflection was like a warm bath, Follow Up is much more brisk [with a] fuller sound” of “power-pop brightness”  Exactly right, Tom!  We are picking up the pace and pounding some familiar power-pop pavement in the footsteps of heroes like the Beatles.  Nice that he also says “Perry’s singing is less self-conscious, his arrangements more detailed with leads supported by double tracking and a greater attention paid to back up vocals.

Click here to read the full review on Tom’s page, and if you haven’t heard these songs for yourself yet, they are all previewed here on this site (just follow the links under “Music”, and obviously for sale (buy your own collector’s edition copy RIGHT HERE!).  Or if Spotify is your thing, you can stream to your heart’s content, just click on these links to go straight there:

Follow UP on Spotify

Songs of Serenity on Spotify

 

 

New video for Not Jane

Finally getting down to some visual content to go along with our brand-new album, Follow UP (available HERE).  The first video is very, very high budget as you will see, with all the latest technological marvels and special effects.

😉

OK, so actually, it’s completely homemade, lo-fi, and dead simple.  What can I say? – it’s all about the guitars for me.  And the song “Not Jane” was born from that guitar riff, so might as well feature it up front.  All shot (again) at Serenity, my home on the Pacific.

Look for some more video ideas to make their way onto the screen over the coming weeks and months, and meanwhile you can find all the new songs (and old) on Spotify and other streaming sites, while the album is available at all your fave online stores — iTunes, Amazon, etc.  Or, for the best price and quick delivery (by yours truly!) just go here to purchase.

Happy Birthday to ME! …and Serenity!

   

Today’s the day – this brand-new album is already available here at this website!  You can read all about the new Follow UP, click on any song and get its full story (plus hear the whole thing and read the lyrics), or go straight to the online shop and buy the digital collection OR your collector’s edition old-skool CD (a memento you’ll be able to fondly treasure when that media finally dies!)

And even more excitedly for those of you in this town, Tonight’s the night!  We’ll be rocking local hotspot LanaLou’s from 8pm to the wee hours with a treasure trove of music featuring the ultra-quirky Legion of Flying Monkeys (9pm), Scott Perry and the Eastvangelicals (that’s US! at 10pm), and the always rocking Danny Echo (11pm) to take us home while I sit back and celebrate my birthday at last!

There will be special prices on all our merch at the show, so come on down and spend a few bucks – the new album will be signed and numbered in a one-time-only limited run you will be glad you got a part of!

If you can’t make it to 362 Powell Street tonight, browse through the site and see what this album is all about, listen to as much of it as you like, and put down a few bucks to own it yourself.  It will be available at all online retailers and streaming sites (might just be a while before it shows up in all searches) — but of course, you get the best price right HERE!  It is also the one-year Birthday of our first album, Songs of Serenity, so if you don’t already own that in some form, check out all the great stuff (stories, lyrics, songs, reviews & pics) we have here relating to the record that launched this whole adventure!

See you tonight, my Van-legions of friends and fans!

—  Scott “Eastvangelista” Perry

 

 

Follow UP: All That

One of many perfect moments from our first year; a lot of them at the old Railway, this one with the inimitable Ferdy Belland.

The song I chose to close out the new album is devoted to the best kind of positivity you can convey in song: the timeless, ageless, Love Song.  I’ve written quite a few, but none better than this one, which came very early in my time with Brandy, when we’d already had “lots of perfect moments” and knew we were destined to have many more.

She truly is “All That”, even though the title is actually short for “All That I Need” (too many songs with that title).  She brings out the best in me, she completes me, all that cliched (yet true) lovespeak.  It’s also true that we are still discovering each other, even 12 years later.  I’ve been sitting on this gem for almost that entire 12 years, so please, sample a little audio from the best song I’ve ever written, finally getting released Sept 8th:

Follow UP: The Artist

Photo by Wendy D Photography

The penultimate song from our brand new album is from a poem I wrote way back in university days.  I sat across from a now-forgotten woman in a small seminar and watched while she doodled a gorgeous pair of eyes in plain ink on a sheet of paper.  They seemed to stare right at me, as I certainly did at them.  It was an emblematic moment that made me think about the process of creativity and expression, how art always needs an observer or audience to truly come to life.  The lines blurred between the artist drawing and the one using words (and later music) to capture the feeling.  Here is a snippet from The Artist (you can hear the full song, and the rest of the album Sept 8th!):

Follow UP: Voyageur

When I read Six String Nation by Jowi Taylor, it blew me away – the story of how one incredible guitar, called “Voyageur,” was lovingly crafted (by Luthier George Rizsanyi) out of some 64 different pieces of Canadian history.  I was inspired to write this song, paying homage to hockey sticks from Gretzky & Paul Henderson, part of Rocket Richard’s Stanley Cup ring (inset in the 9th fret), and many more pieces.  I only wish I could’ve fit more of them into the song!  The most crucial top piece was cut out of the Golden Spruce of Haida Gwaii, a great honour as that tree, felled before its time, is still sacredly guarded by the local Haida.  It is my dream to one day record this song with Voyageur, but for now, here’s a glimpse of the finished 7th track on Follow UP!

Follow UP: All The World

Photo by Wendy D Photography

I came across a George Herbert poem (from 1630) and music popped into my head as I read it.  Naturally I imagined many voices singing the chorus and choral verses in a call and response exchange, and I got to use some good ones on this recording: Graham Myrfield and Tim Payne joined the rest of my band singing around one microphone.  Take a listen!

Follow UP: Be Alright

Photo by Wendy D Photography

It might seem odd, but on my second “solo” album — intended to chip away at a massive backlog of songs I never got to use in any bands I’ve been in over the years — we included a song by Eric Lefebvre.  It’s one he never got to play with the Top Drawers (our other band) or elsewhere and he asked if we could do it, so I thought “why not?”  It just so happened to fit the developing theme of following the UP in life perfectly (nothing more positive than the line “It’s gonna be alright”), so it was in.  We had a great deal of fun recording this, especially building up all the harmonies and some incredible keyboard work by Derek (OK, and some sweet guitar soloing by me).  Have a listen to what’s coming!

Follow UP: I Know You

Photo by Wendy D Photography

Next up from Follow UP is a song I wrote while busking down on Granville Street, which I used to do regularly on Friday and Saturday nights, milking the exiting bar crowds of coins while they drunkenly requested Free Bird and Stairway.  Sometimes there were quiet moments between waves and I would noodle around, and idly write something new while waiting for more people to show.  That’s how this song came to be; I still have the two tiny scraps of paper I wrote down the minimal lyrics on to be sure I remembered it.