“We sound like us” is the answer anyone from Greenwich Meantime will give when asked that obligatory question of who their sound is borrowed from. This is, of course, the short answer. The long form is that Greenwich Meantime plays the role of musical quilt maker with great skill, and that the many influences that are woven into the fabric seem to belong there. In fact the whole thing flows together with surprising focus for a band of young folks who’ve only been together for a year.
They are admittedly rooted in the Celtic background of their Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec upbringing. “I grew up at fiddle and step-dance competitions” says Shelley Downing of her youth. “Like many other places we go, there’s a distinct culture that goes back hundreds of years. Here it’s Celtic music and culture that came from the French, Scottish, and Irish who settled the area.”
This means that the music is in the blood so to speak. For singer Nick Matthew the influence goes back just as far. “I learned a whole catalog of traditional songs and tunes when I was a kid. My dad played this music and this is the stuff that I first learned on guitar.”
Enter the rhythm section of Nigel Bazinet and Steph McAlear who appear to be just as adept at playing Jazz and Latin, as they are at straight ahead rock. “We’re pretty adventurous” Says Bazinet. “It’s always a challenge to discover new ways of doing things and we try not to set limits on where we can go.” The two are cousins and have played together for over a decade in various incarnations from Rock to Celtic, and their time spent together is apparent. The backbone they create comes off as very mature and developed.
The newest member of the band may be best described as the enigma of the group. Jesse Sauvé has been called an “unconventional” guitarist and can be compared to U2’s the Edge and sometimes Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead. His fluid and melodic style, and ability to add flavor when needed makes him a vital new element of the band’s chemistry.
It’s no wonder you can’t get a straight answer out of these guys as to what they play. But what they can tell you is that they take whatever it is very seriously. “We’ve had to work pretty hard to get to this point in a year” says Downing. “We all came out of other projects to put the band together and that meant that there was a sense of urgency to get it up and running.” The task was sped along, in part, due to the fact that they are all contributing songwriters, and there are three who share the lead vocal duties. The band released its self-titled debut CD just four months after it’s inception, and by the summer of 2006, were playing some of the biggest Celtic festivals in the country.
As a self-sufficient unit with no ties to record companies or agents the band has also had to keep its house in order. “We all have departments outside of the music that we’re in charge of, from booking to retailing. It’s incredible how much there is to do in order that things run well, and even then, we can always find more to do or something that we missed,” states Matthew. “Eventually we’ll have to relinquish some control. This works for us now, but there will come a time when it’s too much for us to handle, and we’ll need help to grow”
And indeed their place is on stage, inside the music. As a band they are colorful and dynamic performers. Their music is crafted with sincerity and emotion that has a little something for everyone. And it’s true that there isn’t anything else quite like it.
CELTIC RADIO COMMENTS
This is Greenwich Meantime's second album to be submitted to Highlander Radio and it definitely keeps tradition with their first. Excellent music, excellent musicians - fresh and powerful Celtic Rock at it's finest! We love Greenwich Meantime - from everything about their website, logo, music and the people they are. If you do anything this year then please pick this CD up as a great additional to any Celtic Music collection! You'll get some great tunes and also support one of the finest independent Celtic music groups on the scene. Oh, and please visit their website using the links below - they've got alot of good stuff on there and it is a great way to get to know this up and coming band! Tour dates, schedules, photographs and more!