$100’s Paul Mortimer (left), Jonathan Adjemian, Ian Russell, Stew Crookes and Simone Fornow know how to make the most of their money.
ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS with RICK WHITE at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Friday (July 25), 9 pm. $8. 416-?598-?4753.
It takes a healthy dose of hubris and maybe a touch of naïveté to walk into a studio one morning expecting to cut a full-length record before the sun goes down. Most bands spend days, weeks, even months doing retakes and overdubs, pursuing a vision until their recording budgets run dry.
But local twang hustlers One Hundred Dollars prefer a pithy approach. A few months back, they spent 13 hours in Rick White's (Eric's Trip) converted schoolhouse studio near Orangeville and walked out with their debut in the can by nightfall. And they even took a sizable dinner break.
"It was the best day of my creative life," says vocalist Simone Fornow over a plate of mashed potatoes and gravy in the Annex. "It was 13 hours of hard work and no funny business."
"It could have not worked; we wouldn't be putting it out this summer if it didn't," says guitarist/songwriter Ian Russell.
"But it did work."
It's even more impressive when you consider they were a three-piece (Fornow, Russell and pedal steel ace Stew Crookes) until only four weeks before the studio session. Russell called his ex-bandmates, bassists Paul Mortimer and organ player Jon Adjemian, from his days in Jon Rae & the River, and they quickly went to work rehearsing. Dave Clarke provides percussion.
It helped that Mortimer and Adjemian were already digging One Hundred's stripped-bare, plaintive tunes before even getting the call.
"I was fan of the songs before I got to play on them," recalls Mortimer. "The thing that struck me about them was that they really rang true."
"They all seemed to be about things worth writing songs about," adds Adjemian.
The lugubriously titled Forest Of Tears, their debut on Blue Fog, continues in the melancholy, old-country vein they stumbled upon on their impressive mini-player Hold It Together.
The songs from that EP carry a discernible weight due to the emotionally heavy circumstances in which they were created. Russell was diagnosed with leukemia last year and had to have chemotherapy. Naturally, the music written during this period was shaded by his struggle.
"You can probably tell we were writing very sad stuff before it," says Fornow. "There's not that much music being made right now like this, and I think that will distinguish us because we had a really serious time."
"We don't really have happy songs," laughs Adjemian.
That doesn't mean One Hundred Dollars are a downcast bunch. Sitting around the table, the band loosely crack jokes, then collectively cringe when someone mentions the term "alt-?country." Fornow, like many musicians, deplores genre pigeonholing of her group, but she's comfortable being described as "new-?new country." None of the band members can concretely define the term; it just involves George Jones somehow.
"If God had a voice, it would be the voice of George Jones," says Fornow lovingly.
"We try not to act like we're from the country. I grew up in the city; the songs aren't about hay and the crops. We try to stay true to who we are."