After missing countless opportunities to see The Empiricals live, and hearing friends rave about their live shows, and even going to shows where they were the opening act and arriving too late, I finally got to see them live at the opening night of the Ottawa Bluesfest, on Tuesday July 6th, and they were simply unbelievably amazing.
Paul Hogan plays his guitar with the precision of a highly trained brain surgeon (but having a lot more fun, I’m sure) and can create sounds from his guitar that many can only dream of, and bringing back memories of The Ventures meet The Tiki Tones with some Sterophonic Space Sound and Huntington Cads thrown in for good measure.
(the pictures were borrowed from here – http://www.flickr.com/photos/7218210@N02/4234769754/ )
Mike Dubue, is also an extremely talented musician and multi-instrumentalist, who has quite an ear for music and I’m sure could be big time music composer like Ennio Morricone or Peter Thomas (he has actually done scores for movies and works with the The Mayfair Theatre Orchestra recreating old film soundtracks) and on top of that is a pleasure to watch as he is always on the move.
Phil Bova is quite the exceptional drummer and knows how to fill in the sounds at just the right moment. He is an extremely talented musician who has assisted countless Ottawa bands, through the years, not to mention his ear for capturing just the right sound in the studio (We have our very own Liam Watson).
I have to admit, I know even less about their fourth member, who I think was Daniel Sauve (at least Dan has played with them on earlier shows that I missed) or Damian Sawka (Who also plays in Ukrainia) – but here is a picture and I am sure someone will set me straight. (Sorry!)
The Empiricals are easily one of the most talented bands in Ottawa, and possibly even the Country, and I say this having only seen them perform 2 songs as part of the duel to the finish with The Flaps (The Flaps were also amazing but since this is about The Empiricals, they will need to wait for another post, in the meantime you can pick up The Flaps mighty fine debut on Kelp Records and ask for a copy of Kelp 16 which is also very impressive – sorry I am getting sidetracked – but before I get back on track I should also mention that there is a link to these 2 bands, that goes back some time, to another great Ottawa band Polaris in which both Pat Lawler and Paul Hogan both played in – now back to the program). I realize that instrumental music is not everyone’s cup of tea, but these lads make it interesting and intriguing as they draw on a wide diversity of sounds, whether it’s Oriental soundtracks or Indian spy movies, Joe Meek’s 1960’s surf instrumentals and even beach party B-movies, for their influence they sound quite original and yet strangely familiar at the same time.
The Empiricals are band that I have a great fondness and respect for and in many ways are a band who have helped inspire our very first International POP compilation “Into The Jetstream of Pop” (Beauty 004). When I first heard their self released 4 track CDEP, I loved it so much I wanted to help in some small way to spread the word about them and so after speaking with Paul and Mike it was arranged that their exceptional track “Seven And A Half Stars” would be the intro to that compilation (some of the same band members also appear with the HiLo Trons track which was also on that compilation) and so it all started.
I have wanted for some time to see if they would be interested in releasing more songs on our label and if I could only find some more time, maybe encourage them to release an EP or an album (if Kelp Records is not already doing that), but in the meantime they have agreed and will be featured on our instrumental compilation – The Many Moods Of Beauty, which has been in the works for about 3 or 4 years and is yet to be released (hoping for later this year).
The members of this very talented band have also had links to many Ottawa bands and musicians, which I will not even begin to start mentioning as I don’t know the half of it (Ok ok, maybe I will mention a few The Acorn, Ukrania, Kepler, Boycrusher, The Hammerheads, Clark, Bande Senore, The Holger Schoorl Trio and Polaris which I already mentioned, but the list goes on), but I will also say that several of our releases have featured the talents of Mike Dubue and Phil Bova as they have played on various Nick Danger and Social Icons releases. I should also mention that Phil has done the mastering on almost all our releases.
It is a shame that The Empiricals don’t actually have many releases, if any actually easily available (I know they self-released an 4 track EP and an album “Golden Beat” a few years back, but try and find a copy – I recently got a request to help someone find a copy of their EP, which is now quite rare), and search for information on them and you will not likely find very much. So as you can see I have had their music circling around my world and in my head for many years and they are long overdue to have a proper release of their own so their wonderful sound can spin circles and figure eights in your world.