August 30 - September 5,2007
Through the past two decades, Bill Majoros has remained an
important and integral cog in the Hamilton music machine.
Originally known for his drumming prowess in bands such as
Altogether Morris and Universal Honey, he later switched to guitar
and was at the core of Flux AD, a band that was very popular in
this city in the late â€™90s and into this decade. Flux was regularly
voted the cityâ€™s best band in reader polls and they selfâ€“released
two very successful albums independently.
That band came to an end in 2003 when singer Julie
MacDonald accepted an offer to join the touring band of her good
friend Sarah Harmer. Flux never officially called it quits; its
members just went separate ways, doing their own thing. Majoros
immediately became involved with friends in a project called The
Cloudsmen, although this was more as a contributing musician
than as a main songwriter.
Throughout all of this time, however, Majoros has remained
busy doing what he does best: crafting songs. The past four years
has seen the multi-instrumentalist busy composing and recording
his new creations and has just put the finishing touches on
Distant Star, a new, sprawlingly delectable 22 song, two CD set
that he is releasing under the moniker of The Foreign Films.
â€œIn a way, itâ€™s a logical extension of The Cloudsmen perhaps
but maybe more so of Flux,â€ says Majoros when asked where this
new project sits in accordance to his previous bands. â€œEven
though I did do some writing in The Cloudsmen, Flux was
essentially, in terms of songwriting, my main focus. I do see it as
a logical extension because in both cases I felt close to the songs
and the people I was working with. Especially with Flux, that was a
big part of my life â€” just learning how to write and create
Majoros has a hand in almost everything on the new album.
He plays a myriad of instruments on it â€“ guitar, drums, organ,
piano, synths, xylophone, and vibraphone â€“ and for the first time
has also become the lead singer of one of his projects. â€œIâ€™ve had
to become comfortable singing out front: I have always been
more of a songwriter and not so much of a performer per se. In
terms of vocals, I have played drums and guitar in bands for years
but this is the first time for singing.
â€œEssentially, the Foreign Films is a solo project,â€ he explains.
â€œI was inspired by what Robert Pollard did with Guided By Voices; I
thought it was more interesting to put something out under the
name the Foreign Films. I wanted, with the songs and the project,
to create an almost cinematic dream world in the songs blurring
fact and fiction, using whatever atmospheres seemed appropriate
for each song.
â€œI think there is a theme in this record of autumn and of
twilight. I wanted to try and create a sense of cinema and I think
that is why the record ended up being so long. I was looking
towards records I grew up with like the Whoâ€™s Quadrophenia or
The White Album or George Harrisonâ€™s All Things Must Pass â€“
albums that are really extended works.
â€œA few of the songs on Distant Star are from three or four
years ago,â€ adds Majoros, â€œand potentially could have been part of
a new Flux record, but the majority of them are from within the
last two years. There is one song on the record that was literally
written a month ago and there are a couple that extend back. So
itâ€™s sort of a journal of my life.
â€œIt started out completely as a solo project, maybe inspired
by the way someone like Todd Rundgren or S
tevie Wonder would
play quite a few of the instruments on it. I thought it would be
interesting to try to put something together from scratch and see
if I can create something with all the various instruments but at a
certain point, I felt like I wanted to add other elements like
The project eventually grew out of being something that he
was going to be able to accomplish by himself. The songwriter
soon found himself tapping into this cityâ€™s musical community
and picking some players he has admired â€” including pedal steel
phenom Aaron Goldstein and violinist Erin Aurich, to mention a
couple â€” to help him finish what he started.
â€œI found at a certain point it was amazing to have people like
that come aboard. Iâ€™m always interested in the â€˜xâ€™ factor in music:
the mysterious elements that I would never think of and what
someone brings to the table. At a certain point, I really wanted to
get other peopleâ€™s input and that is where I started to bring in a
few other people.â€
So while The Foreign Films project initially started as a
solitary endeavor for Majoros, he quickly found himself drawn to
another local musician who has played an integral part in the
recording of the album. Carl Jennings engineered and mixed the
sessions and plays bass on almost every track â€” most of this
happened at the studio he runs â€” and Majoros feels that his input
was absolutely essential to the albumâ€™s final outcome.
â€œCarl is a bit of a genius as far as his work in the
studio. We started working on a couple of songs to try it out and I
found we were on the same page; we almost had a telepathic
ability to work together. Carl had the ability to run with it. Even
though it did take about twoâ€“andâ€“aâ€“half years to record it here
and there, overall our ability to put the ideas down came very
naturally. There was a lot of flow in terms of working on it.
â€œCarl has had an râ€™nâ€™b/rock and roll cover band with his
brother Tim called Freedom Train. Iâ€™ve known him for years but
weâ€™ve always lived parallel lives â€” his band would be playing
somewhere and I would play there the next night. Eventually I
found he had a recording studio in Burlington and we just found
musically we had a lot of the same tastes. I found he was really
passionate and enthusiastic and he seemed like the kind of guy
that would really push me. I like that in a musician; I like to work
with people that push me or are more accomplished on some
levels and make me have to rise to the occasion.
â€œHe just recently moved his studio to Hamilton,
Westmoreland Recording Studio, and itâ€™s a beautiful facility. The
studio in Burlington where we did a lot of the material was a
smaller studio, this new one has a grand piano, Wurlitzer, Rhodes,
two beautiful drum kits â€“ itâ€™s an amazing studio. He played bass
on the majority of the tracks on the album too.â€
With 22 songs included over two discs, it makes one wonder
if a decision was made to release literally every song they had
worked on. The final release in fact is about half of the entire
output that was earmarked for the album.
â€œIt ended up being a collection of 40 songs and it got
whittled down. I realize itâ€™s a lot to digest and thatâ€™s why I
intentionally put it on two discs so someone could take in one
disc and come back to it. From a selfish point of view, itâ€™s a little
bit of a documentary of the last few years of my life. For better or
for worse it is a lot of music, but at the end of the day I am proud
of all of it all.â€
The Foreign Films makes its live debut this Friday at Casbah.
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