Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Jah and the Demo

Slow Poke now had a new bass player in Nav, now we had to get a demo tape together to shop around to the clubs to try and get some live gigs. In the early stages of the band we were jamming in Derek's store after hours or jamming in his girlfriends parents basement. We weren't in Brampton enough to call that our regular jam space, and we were now receiving complaints when we had our late night jams in the store. Derek and I looked around the city for a new rehearsal space as we couldn't stop jamming. We ended up checking out a place called Jah Studios at Queen and Ossington, directly across the street from a mental health facility, home of the infamous Toronto albino squirrel.

Jah Studios was run by Rastafarians, so naturally when we went to check the place out Derek fell in love with it, being a wearer of dreadlocks himself and a huge fan of reggae music. Jah was cheap and I didn't even have to bring my own drums which was a bonus. I think the Rastas at Jah assumed we were a reggae band due to Derek's dreads, my long hair, and the fact we were always adorned with beads or bracelets representing the red gold and green. I'll never forget the first time we jammed there, all the Rastas were staring in at us through the plexiglass window with their jaws on the floor. They were smiling and laughing and carrying on. Although we couldn't hear them, it was clear they were highly amused by the crazy white boys.

We continued jamming at Jah for quite some time, but now with Nav in the mix. We knew we needed a demo so we approached the guys at Jah, but they didn't actually do any recording there. The hunt was now on for our first producer, and it was a short lived hunt at that. Derek had convinced one of the teachers from SEED, the alternative school he attended, to bring his 8 track down to Brampton to record us. We ended up using the basement of Derek's girlfriends aunts house. Alvin was an older black man who was very calm and soft spoken. During the session he almost seemed out of place, but he was concentrating on doing his thing and he gave us a lot of helpful hints and suggestions. A few hours later we officially had a demo recorded. If I remember correctly it was 3-5 songs. Once the mission was a success, we packed up the gear and called it a night.

I was a bit concerned about the sound quality of the drums, as the quality of my drums was rapidly diminishing. Most of my heads were needing to be replaced and my snair drum chain had broken, causing it to sound more like a tom drum. When we finally sat down and listened to the demo we were quite happy with the sound, but I knew in my mind that my drum set needed a serious overhaul. Now our next mission was to dub copies of the demo and create a makeshift cover for it, which we banged out as quickly as we could. It was nothing fancy but it served the purpose it was intended for.

The next day Derek and I hopped in the van and headed down to the city. We drove down Queen street and dropped demos off to every club we could find. From there we headed up to Sneeky Dees at College and dropped off another demo, and then from there we bolted up to Bloor street and dumped one off at Lee's Palace. The mission was a success and we headed back to Brampton for the night. We stayed at Derek's place as we usually did when I was going to Toronto with him to work the next day. He lived with his mother and brother who were never there, so we'd spend the night listening to vinyl while we smoked weed and ate ridiculous amounts of double bubble gum and ice cream cake. 

We chatted about the demo, our band, and the satisfactory feeling of getting our demo tape out to all the clubs. We had done our part and tried our best, our destiny now rested in the hands of promoters and club owners. All we could do now was wait patiently and hope that someone contacted us...

Nav @ Derek, Jah Studios 1991

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