Only Human, otherwise known as the duo of Geoff Carmichael and Joe Conti, release their sophomore CD this weekend named in homage to the Locke Street eatery and stage that allowed them to hone their songs.
“I worked for the city of Hamilton and Geoff was working for a temp agency,” recalls Conti. “Coincidentally, we were working in the same section and it was coffee break time so Geoff was new and I approached him to grab a coffee and the rest is history. We just started talking music and found an easy collaboration although Geoff has more of a hip hop background and I’m more of a classic rock guy. We mishmashed our styles and it created Only Human.
“We started just making instrumentals — I would create drum loops and then Joe would put his guitar over top,” adds Carmichael. “But I took an around–the–world trip in 2008 and wrote about twenty–five songs. When I came back, I got the courage to ask about putting lyrics overtop of this stuff. Joe does all the instruments and I do all the lyrics so it works out really well blending together. We ended up creating about 200 songs that year but it took a bit of time to get the album done.”
While they met some fourteen years ago it took some four years to actualize their music for the local stage and another decade for the duo to release their debut album, Perception Is Reality in 2018. A minimalist acoustic vibe with a funky beat, Only Human could appease fans of Beck’s early alternative hip hop musings.
“Every week we’d come up with some new stuff and play at the open mic at West Town,” says Conti. “We kind of got our break there and it’s a big part of our history. We’d done that so often, we figured we’d have to name one of our albums after the venue. But it took a while to get the right flavour in the recordings. We tried recording ourselves and with someone else but it wasn’t until we hooked up with Nick Zyla that things took shape. Nick is a bit of a genius in his own right and he’s a really fun guy. He interjects that humour into music and for us it’s been enlightening because we’ve kept things to the serious side. We love working with him because it’s such a relaxed environment, he has everything set up and we just go in and record our songs.”
While West Town was recorded at Zyla’s, there is no confusion over the duo’s fervor for Hamilton landmarks as they see them. They pay tribute to the people and places that have played prominently in their history and the community is mostly embracing that fact.
“We made some t–shirts with the West Town logo and some customer’s were upset that we were trying to sell West Town stuff at Zyla’s but Nick is cool with that. So you know, we have a future album that will be named for Zyla’s but that’ll be after our next album,” says Conti.
“It’s all Hamilton,” says Carmichael. “The creativity that comes from this city and the people that are here – I think everyone is a supporter of everyone and that’s why Hamilton is such a great place.”
This weekend, Only Human debuts their new album hoping to make a splash with not one but three performances to introduce new and old fans to their music that will feature a full compliment of songs from their catalog.
“We like the music to speak for itself,” says Conti. “People have been enjoying what we do so we see a lot of people coming to check us out for the early and the later shows in a nice intimate space.”
“The show will have songs from both of our albums as well as some sneak peaks from our next two albums,” says Carmichael. “If you haven’t been to West Town or Zyla’s, you should check them out because they’re a lot of fun and a lot of good people there. I’m sure you’ll have a great time.”
Only Human performs this Friday August 16 at Zyla's Music and Menu. Show times are 6:30 pm, 8:30 pm and 10:30 pm, seating is limited and admission is free. Click on onlyhumanmusic.ca