ACOUSTIC DUO, THE CLEARING, LEARN TO SLOW IT DOWN
Young rockers clear the way for an unplugged future
The sun is shining on Roncesvalles Ave. On the sidewalk there are new mothers with SUV-sized strollers sipping fair-trade organic dark-roast, there are old Polish men drinking Tyskie on a patio having a friendly, albeit heated, argument. Two dogs tied outside the hardware store wrestle for dominance while a friendly pan-handler wishes passers-by a nice day. The air smells of woodsy Kolbassa mixed with fresh-baked cupcakes. The busses pass by cyclists dinging their dingers. On this rare day in Toronto, there is no construction in Ronces Village, and consequently everybody who stops to listen can hear neighborhood duo, The Clearing, singing and strumming from their impeccably-located third story patio. Joining them up on their cozy perch overlooking their block, it is immediately evident that the songs they are lazily singing were born here, in the sunshine, at home.
On this patio, singer/guitarist, Stephan LaCasse and guitarist/singer Eric Boucher come across as warm, enthusiastic and charmingly naive, like kids at play. Choruses are punctuated with big smiles and bridge-solos end with knowing nods, while endings fade-out either with arena-rock endings or die with a quiet strum and a reserved bluesy hum. It’s easy to get the feeling that this level of comfort and ease would be the same if they were playing for a packed bar, an outdoors folk-festival or a tiny coffee shop. This is a far cry from the hard-rock background that brought The Clearing together. LaCasse and Boucher met as singers in touring rock bands (Latefallen and Jar) in 2008. Both bands clicked and toured Canada together for months at a time. During down times, the two frontmen would take a break from the high-volume, red-bull and Jager-fueled punk/metal scene by chilling out with the acoustic guitars, writing heartfelt campfire sing-alongs and introspective blues-folk ditties.
After touring, the two friends continued with their project, focusing more and more on The Clearing as their main endeavor. Before long, they were playing shows at nearly every live venue in Toronto, and soon were playing their brand of acousti-pop throughout southern Ontario. Eventually, The Clearing teamed up with London, ON producer Matt Grady and recorded the 5 Song EP, ‘Comfort In A Sound’ at EMac Studios.
The title track “Another Singer” is a slow, thoughtful reflection on being an artist in a big city. Halfway through the song, layered violins (courtesy of symphony sweetheart Mary-Elizabeth Brown) fade in and add some sophistication to a richly lyrical song. That same violin raises neck-hairs on the second song “I’ll Wait”, a lump-in-the-throat song about love on hold. The disk takes on a countryish twang on the third track, “Ghostown”, which is about going back to your home-town to discover that it just ain’t home no more (Boucher is originally from Bathurst, NB, while LaCasse grew up in Vernon, BC). They end off the EP with two slightly more upbeat songs about love and its complications; “Casanova”, about a long-time unconsummated love/friendship, and “Seconds At A Time”, about a charmingly dangerous party-girl.
So far the record “Comfort In A Sound” has been earning praise among The Clearing’s peers, while the two musicians continue to write and perform. In addition to soft-rocking-out at traditional live music venues, the duo have been using their two-guitars-and-four-feet approach to being musicians, busking at random corners, playing all-night cover gigs at suburban irish pubs, or just breaking out the acoustics at a house party at 4am. To The Clearing, it’s all a part of their refreshing, new approach to their craft; and besides, they’re still rockers.
Stephan LaCasse - vocals/guitar/harmonica
Eric Boucher - guitar/vocals
Basement Sessions - Live Album 2009
Comfort In A Sound EP - Out March 2010
Chill Out with The Clearing
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Bands throw together side projects every other day. Sometimes they have staying power...sometimes th...Bands throw together side projects every other day. Sometimes they have staying power...sometimes they don't. Stephan Lacasse and Eric Boucher (lead vocalists for Latefallen and Jar repectively) recently formed the acoustic spinoff "The Clearing"... somewhere in between touring, writing, recording, and shooting videos.
Both residing in Roncesvalles Village, and pretty much across the street from eachother, neither Stephan nor Eric are new to the music business. With several years of experience under their belts, both bands have played regularly in Toronto and all over Canada with no signs of stopping. Coming together in this new project to croon about love, loss, and everything in between, their sound is solid, smooth, and romantic. You'd never guess that weeks prior they were screaming and thrashing around on stage in front of hundreds of excited rock fans.
I grabbed Stephan and Eric for a quick chat about their joint project.
Why "The Clearing"?
Eric: The clearing is just a name that we thought would be right for what we do. It's a great name and it really shows in the music. A "clearing" by definition is something that is essentially not obscured or darkened. In that sense, we feel that the music we're writing is very definite with its interpretation, not cryptic by any means. It's not something you have to break down or dissect to understand.
Your bands did both an east coast and west coast tour in the past year. Craziest story from the road? Go.
Stephan: The usual... shooting roman candles between vans, getting attacked by skunks, having to buy a new van on the first day of the tour, breaks melting in the rockies. We showed up at a venue in Regina and it was closed, so we went to a biker bar and sang Karaoke all night.
Eric: To be honest, it's hard to narrow it down to just one story. When you're on tour with 7 guys in one van you know there is guaranteed to be a lot of crazy times. I can think of more than a few, so let's just say I'm happy to be alive.
Do you plan on keeping The Clearing as a side project?
What made you decide to come together and start something so different from your bands?
Stephan: We live on the same block on Roncesvalles and we have acoustic guitars. We're songwriters so if you sit us down anywhere for any length of time, songs are gonna happen. It just so happens that we're really excited about these songs, so we had to show them off.
Eric: I always wanted to start a solo project since I got into music, I just needed to find the right person to work with. Someone who could compliment my style of writing like I compliment theirs. When I heard Stephan singing with Latefallen I knew we could do something great, so we tried it out and this is where we are at. Writing great music and having fun doing it.
The Clearing has a much more mainstream sound than you've played in the past. Are you worried about the inevitable "haters" who will assume you've branched in that direction to ...I hate this term..."sell out"?
Stephan: There are no haters. The songs are too harmless to hate. If people start calling us sell-outs, then we're doing something right. Our thing is about being chill and having fun, I think everyone can relate to that.
Eric: To be honest, this is the way I see it. I enjoy what I do, and if people like it and want more of it I will feed them as much music as I can. The people that don't like it, well, there's not much I can say about them.
Which track have you written can you relate to most?
Stephan: We have a song called "Last Call" which has a line 'we'll all take a shot, and we'd rather take a bullet than leave before last call'. It's a drinking song and we can relate to that, especially when we're playing at The Bovine.
Eric: I really like the song "Pause" because I can appreciate the lyrics and the melody. It's something I can find myself easily relating to, and I'm sure there is going to be a lot of people out there who find this song strikes a chord within them as well.
What's the best/worst thing about living in Toronto?
Stephan: Best looking girls in Canada. Hands down. Also Roncesvalles Village is the best! Represent.
Eric: The best things about Toronto are the night life and constantly being surrounded by a creative atmosphere. Most of the people I have met here have been involved in the arts in some aspect or another, and it can be truly inspiring to see what they have accomplished. The worst thing about living in Toronto at this time is being broke.
If you weren't playing during Nuit Blanche, are there any particular installations you would be attending?
Stephan: We don't leave Roncesvalles if we don't absolutely have to. The only installation I'd be attending would be a stool at The Local.
Eric: I want to check out Zombies in Condoland because filling College Park with hundreds of zombies is one of the best ideas I've ever heard. I heard they provide you with makeup and costumes if you're so inclined, so I'd definitely like to be a part of that.
Do you have anything to add for anyone who may be coming to see you for the first time on Saturday?
Stephan: No cover... that means you can buy us a beer!
Eric: Well everyone that comes should expect great music and a lot of fun. We are just a couple of guys who like to party with great friends and write great tunes. When you come see us play you will get where we're coming from. Our songs are like fun sing-a-longs, the more you hear them the more you will want!
You can see The Clearing live this Saturday at the Bovine as part of Nuit Blanche.
The Clearing - Press Release - Dec. 09
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tel. 416.312.6955... FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ACOUSTIC DUO, THE CLEARING, HEADLINE BREAD & CIRCUS DEC. 10
Young folk-rockers clear the way for an unplugged future
Acoustic folk-rock duo, The Clearing, are poised to turn heads Thursday, December 10th as they perform their brand of vocal-driven, unplugged rock at Kensington Market’s Bread & Circus Bar, along with Chris Gray, and The Does.
Currently spending most of their time in their home-based studio finishing up pre-production for their debut album Division Road, the two members of The Clearing are keen to return to life on the road.
Singer, Stephan LaCasse (formerly of hard-rock outfit, Latefallen) and Eric Boucher (singer of metal-punk band, Jar) spent much of 2008 touring Canada in Latefallen and Jar, sharing month-long stretches across the country. During down-times LaCasse and Boucher would sit in hotel rooms and write the songs that would eventually lead the forming of The Clearing. Over the next year, The Clearing played many open-jams and acoustic showcases, and spent many sunny afternoons busking downtown. LaCasse is keen to praise their time on the streets, “Busking is priceless, because the feedback is instant. If passers-by are into it, they let you know, and if you’re not catching their attention, you adjust accordingly. It’s like boot-camp for songwriters.”
Ultimately, the two performers are eager to record their album so that they can return to the road and get some fan attention. Boucher is confident that their sound will be well-received, “Kids from the punk scene are into what we’re doing, so is the older roots-folk crowd. We opened for a hip-hop act the other night, and went over great. I think if you keep it simple and honest, with some great hooks, you can’t lose.”
Also performing is another ex-rocker, Chris Gray, who is known as the singer from rock-band The Black Maria, a Toronto-based Victory Records act that toured with Evanescence, Sum 41 and Rise Against. His haunting voice and poetic lyrics translate flawlessly to the acoustic realm. Opening the night, The Does, two young Humber University women who in their short time being on the scene are already making waves with their unique and witty love songs.
Songs are available for download at http://www.myspace.com/theclearingmusic
The Clearing (singers from Latefallen and Jar),
Chris Gray (singer from The Black Maria),
and introducing The Does.
Thursday, December 10th, Doors at 9:00pm
Tickets are $5 at the door
at The Bread & Circus (299 Augusta Ave)
There are no upcoming dates at this time.