The Printing Press
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The Printing Press

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Band Rock Folk

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Music

Press


Mitchell Wong sits down with U of T musicians, Jon and Jeff of The Printing Press:

The printing press caused quite a stir when it was invented in 1455 by Johann Gutenberg. It led to the publication of books, the spread of literacy, and the establishment of the individual as an autonomous political entity. Today, the printing press is once again stirring up attention, only this time through the sweet call of music. Jonathan Bright and Jeff Hume are "The Printing Press", a folk-rock duo that has recently landed on the Toronto music scene. DEMO had the chance to catch up with these two aspiring musicians and to investigate what's hot off the press.

The Printing Press was born when Jon and Jeff (both fourth year undergraduate students at U of T) sparked up a conversation in their History of Popular Music class. Finding similar interests, they started jamming on their instruments; Jon on piano, Jeff on guitar. Both were active songwriters and it wasn't long before they were writing and recording a slew of original tunes. Their work culminated in the 2007 release of Exhibit A. The sound is a warm blend of elegant pop/rock grounded in a folk sensibility. It combines the rich vocal harmonies of the Byrds with the flashy piano stylings of Fats Waller. In this interview, the boys talk about their lives, their influences, and their disenchantment with institutionalized music.

Demo: What were your backgrounds in music before forming the band?

Jeff: I started playing piano when I was pretty young. I studied jazz at a community music school program at Humber College. At some point though, I decided I didn't want to do that anymore, and I totally lost all my piano skills. I moved to guitar and from then on I started writing songs.

Jon: I've been playing piano since I was three, and have been doing formalist music studies since then. I got to grade nine and decided that I didn't want to practice anymore, so I wrote a musical theatre production with a friend. That was my introduction to writing original music and I have been writing constantly from then on.

Demo: Both of you are capable singers. Is it a wrestling match to decide who gets to sing lead?

Jon: Not normally. I thought it would be off the start, but it's not. Some songs just fit my voice better and some songs fit Jeff's better. Generally though, it seems we sing what we write, in terms of lyrics.

Demo: Jon, on the album's opening track, you use a scratch Paul McCartney-type voice. How do you decide when to unleash that beast?

Jon: Actually, I wasn't channeling Paul McCartney there. I was channeling more of a Stevie Wonder feel, although much lower because Stevie sings in a ridiculously high voice. But generally, I'm against the scratch, if only because I have to have the voice to sing 1930s jazz on a regular basis outside the band (another musical venture of mine).

Demo: Where do you see The Printing Press in one year, two years, five years?

Jon: Even if school takes us in different directions, we'll likely be coming back to Toronto. And even if we take a hiatus, it's the recording and the crafting of the creative work that will draw both of us back. Who knows? Maybe David Foster will call us tomorrow and say, "Hey I heard the album. Why don't you come over to Seattle and record it?"

[The Printing Press' album, "Exhibit A", is available on iTunes]. - DEMO Magazine


Mitchell Wong sits down with U of T musicians, Jon and Jeff of The Printing Press:

The printing press caused quite a stir when it was invented in 1455 by Johann Gutenberg. It led to the publication of books, the spread of literacy, and the establishment of the individual as an autonomous political entity. Today, the printing press is once again stirring up attention, only this time through the sweet call of music. Jonathan Bright and Jeff Hume are "The Printing Press", a folk-rock duo that has recently landed on the Toronto music scene. DEMO had the chance to catch up with these two aspiring musicians and to investigate what's hot off the press.

The Printing Press was born when Jon and Jeff (both fourth year undergraduate students at U of T) sparked up a conversation in their History of Popular Music class. Finding similar interests, they started jamming on their instruments; Jon on piano, Jeff on guitar. Both were active songwriters and it wasn't long before they were writing and recording a slew of original tunes. Their work culminated in the 2007 release of Exhibit A. The sound is a warm blend of elegant pop/rock grounded in a folk sensibility. It combines the rich vocal harmonies of the Byrds with the flashy piano stylings of Fats Waller. In this interview, the boys talk about their lives, their influences, and their disenchantment with institutionalized music.

Demo: What were your backgrounds in music before forming the band?

Jeff: I started playing piano when I was pretty young. I studied jazz at a community music school program at Humber College. At some point though, I decided I didn't want to do that anymore, and I totally lost all my piano skills. I moved to guitar and from then on I started writing songs.

Jon: I've been playing piano since I was three, and have been doing formalist music studies since then. I got to grade nine and decided that I didn't want to practice anymore, so I wrote a musical theatre production with a friend. That was my introduction to writing original music and I have been writing constantly from then on.

Demo: Both of you are capable singers. Is it a wrestling match to decide who gets to sing lead?

Jon: Not normally. I thought it would be off the start, but it's not. Some songs just fit my voice better and some songs fit Jeff's better. Generally though, it seems we sing what we write, in terms of lyrics.

Demo: Jon, on the album's opening track, you use a scratch Paul McCartney-type voice. How do you decide when to unleash that beast?

Jon: Actually, I wasn't channeling Paul McCartney there. I was channeling more of a Stevie Wonder feel, although much lower because Stevie sings in a ridiculously high voice. But generally, I'm against the scratch, if only because I have to have the voice to sing 1930s jazz on a regular basis outside the band (another musical venture of mine).

Demo: Where do you see The Printing Press in one year, two years, five years?

Jon: Even if school takes us in different directions, we'll likely be coming back to Toronto. And even if we take a hiatus, it's the recording and the crafting of the creative work that will draw both of us back. Who knows? Maybe David Foster will call us tomorrow and say, "Hey I heard the album. Why don't you come over to Seattle and record it?"

[The Printing Press' album, "Exhibit A", is available on iTunes]. - DEMO Magazine


Discography

Worth Imagining (May 2010)

1. Green Red
2. Chronicles
3. I Thought I Died
4. Comes Around
5. Ghosts From The War
6. Talk Is Cheap
7. Rest For The Wicked
8. Song For Saving
9. Killing Me
10. Fifty-Eight Pianos
11. June 26th

Engineered by Jonathan Bright and James Everett at Studio 73 and mastered by Dylan Bell at FreePlay Studios.
All material copyright The Printing Press (SOCAN).

Chronicles EP (2008)

1. Another Wall
2. Chronicles
3. To Dreaming

Engineered by Jonathan Bright at Studio 201
All material copyright The Printing Press (SOCAN).

Exhibit A (2007)

1. The Spanish One
2. What Have You Done With The Rain?
3. Afraid of the Dark
4. We Gotta Be
5. Day To Day
6. Green (Red)
7. Fifty-Eight Pianos
8. Quarter To Nine

Engineered by Jonathan Bright at Studio 201.
Mastered by Chris Hudec at Digital Sunspot Studios.
All material copyright The Printing Press (SOCAN).
Manufactured by Media Replication Services in Toronto, Canada.

Photos

Bio

Jonathan Bright has been playing the piano since he was three years of age and, according to sources who have requested that they remain nameless, has been singing since he was inside the womb. By the time he reached the ripe old age of 16, however, he decided that the rigid totalitarian structure of the venerable Royal Conservatory of Music was a waste of intellectual space and thenceforth focused his creative energy on the creation and subsequent performance of his own music. Influenced in many ways by the pianist-songwriter tradition espoused by Reginald Dwight and William Martin as well as the classic American songbooks of Basie, Miller, Dorsey, Porter, Gershwin, and the boppers, Jonathan’s piano and vocal creations come to musical fruition in collaboration with the artistic genius who is his counterpart, Jeff Hume. Jonathan brings a keen theoretical approach to the music of The Printing Press, and enjoys peppering the duo’s collaborations with flatted fifths and augmented ninths, in a way spiting the RCM while spicing up the changes. Jonathan’s favourite note is B.

Jeff Hume has been spotted rocking out so hard that several strings on his much-loved and very musically-inclined acoustic guitar, broke at the same time. It appears that the motive for such anti-social behaviour stems from a love of great classic rock, combined with a bunch of bands you probably haven't heard of. Since a young age, Jeff has been playing music in a variety of forms, including piano and an ill-fated, two-year relationship with a clarinet. As well as gently – or less-than-gently – caressing the strings, a skill he has been perfecting for more than five years, Jeff’s lyrical vocals bring a sense of what can only be described as haunted subtlety to the collaborations of The Printing Press’ oeuvre. From the wistful longing of nostalgia to the feverish exhortations of, well, just about anything, Jeff applies his vocal versatility to an already stellar songwriting sensibility. Jeff's favourite chord is E minor.