Vol. 20 No. 17 • April 24 - 30, 2014 In Our 17th Year Serving Greater Hamilton
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Bill Majoros



by Sean Palmerston
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 ’90s and into this decade. Flux was regularly voted the city’s best band in reader polls and they self–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. “In a way, it’s a logical extension of The Cloudsmen perhaps but maybe more so of Flux,” says Majoros when asked where this new project sits in accordance to his previous bands. “Even 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 — just learning how to write and create soundscapes.” Majoros has a hand in almost everything on the new album. He plays a myriad of instruments on it – guitar, drums, organ, piano, synths, xylophone, and vibraphone – and for the first time has also become the lead singer of one of his projects. “I’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. “Essentially, the Foreign Films is a solo project,” he explains. “I 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. “I 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 Who’s Quadrophenia or The White Album or George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass – albums that are really extended works. “A few of the songs on Distant Star are from three or four years ago,” adds Majoros, “and 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 it’s sort of a journal of my life. “It 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 strings.” 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 city’s musical community and picking some players he has admired — including pedal steel phenom Aaron Goldstein and violinist Erin Aurich, to mention a couple — to help him finish what he started. “I found at a certain point it was amazing to have people like that come aboard. I’m always interested in the ‘x’ 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 people’s input and that is where I started to bring in a few other people.” 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 — most of this happened at the studio he runs — and Majoros feels that his input was absolutely essential to the album’s final outcome. “Carl 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 two–and–a–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. “Carl has had an r’n’b/rock and roll cover band with his brother Tim called Freedom Train. I’ve known him for years but we’ve always lived parallel lives — 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. “He just recently moved his studio to Hamilton, Westmoreland Recording Studio, and it’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 – it’s an amazing studio. He played bass on the majority of the tracks on the album too.” 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. “It ended up being a collection of 40 songs and it got whittled down. I realize it’s a lot to digest and that’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, it’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.” The Foreign Films makes its live debut this Friday at Casbah. V [SEAN PALMERSTON]
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