Light of Day Q&A with former Lowest of the Low guitarist Stephen Stanley
Stephen Stanley has gone from low to low to the light of day.
The former guitarist of the iconic Canadian alternative rock group is the head of his own group these days and will be heading to Niagara Falls on December 9 for Light of Day Canada’s second performance in their intimate Songwriters series. He will be joined by Kingston artists Miss Emily and Niagara Cory Cruise and Angela Siracusa at Big Texas Niagara (5769 Ferry St.) starting at 8 p.m.
Before settling in for a night of songs and stories, he checked in for a question-and-answer session:
Review: Have you ever done a Light of Day songwriters circle type show?
Stanley: “This will be my second Light of Day songwriter show, but the first was last February and fully online. I played my segment live as I was doing a lot of live streaming at the time.
Notice: These songwriter shows require a lot of talking and story-sharing, are you naturally chatty on stage?
Stanley: “Ah! Yes … some will say that I talk too much. A lot of my songs aim to tell some sort of summarized story, so I really like to give the songs context through introductions that are often as long as the song itself. The hard part goes back to the early days of LOTL (Lowest of the Low), when we proudly tried never to present a song the same way more than once. So I learned, or tried to learn, to link seemingly unrelated topics to the theme of a given song. Sometimes it also works … “
Review: You’ve been doing this for so long, how did you and the rest of the band adjust when the live music was cut for almost 20 months?
Stanley: “For my part, I made a fairly easy transition to live streaming and although I considered it quite alien at the start of the pandemic, I really enjoyed doing them. I think I’ve gotten pretty good at gaming and talking on my laptop screen. What’s cool is that when the show is actually on air and people are throwing comments left and right, you really feel a deep connection to a community. I thought I would bring my laptop on stage to ease the transition … “
Review: Lowest of the Low’s “Shakespeare My Butt” turned 30 this year and is a legitimate Canadian classic. What relationship, if any, do you have with these songs these days?
Stanley: “I think my relationship with these songs has changed many times over the years. From the start I knew these were good songs and that we had really locked ourselves into something good as a band … but I had no expectations when the album first came out. Those first few years were amazing, we did over 250 shows a year and every night was cool in one way or another. When I left the band in 2013, I felt everything but that playing these songs. I really didn’t want to do it anymore, but by saying that I don’t mean that’s why I left the band. There are always plenty of reasons. Now, as I’ve moved away from it, I think I’m very proud to have helped create something that many people continue to relate to 30 years later. It’s quite powerful.
Conclusion: what matters most to you these days? Writing? The tour ? It is more difficult than ever for a singer / songwriter to claim his territory.
Stanley: “I suspect the land I’m trying to claim these days exists in my own head more than anywhere else. I’m about two-thirds of the way from our new album on Wolfe Island with Bourbon Tabernacle Choir producer Chris Brown. I have always thought that checking in is the best part of the process. So many magical things happen when you start working on a particular song. I love the journey and the discovery of where a song goes in relation to the original image you have in mind.
“Nothing happens in the studio if you don’t have good songs to start with, so it’s a close second for me. And all that being said, I love playing live so much. I have certainly missed this over the past 20 months, but I have tried to use the time by focusing on writing. I think it produced good results, and it was a lot of fun making an album with my band, when they didn’t know the songs before we started recording. With LOTL and my own work, I’ve only ever recorded with a fully rehearsed band … so it created some really nice surprises.
Tickets for the Songwriters Series are $ 10 at www.danitix.com or $ 15 at the door.