Former Lowest of the Low leader Ron Hawkins salutes his favourite Toronto studio space with his new self-released Chemical Sounds solo disc, which he’s launching at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Saturday (January 19), 9 pm. $15. 416-598-4753.
Why title your album after a recording studio space?
Besides its wonderfully warm sound, I just felt really comfortable recording at Chemical Sounds. I made four albums there. I knew where the floor squeaked and what you’d get when you recorded the drum kit in the kitchen or hit the alarm bell with a wrench. A condo developer bought the place, and this album was the last one to be recorded there.
How did you hit on the idea of recording most of the album yourself?
During the time of the Lowest of the Low reunion, we had a rehearsal space over at Cherry Beach. Because I was the only one in the group who didn’t have a day job, I could go there by myself every afternoon and just putter around on the various instruments. So although I started writing these songs with a Lowest of the Low album in mind, my time in the rehearsal space got me thinking that maybe I should make an album on my own, playing everything myself à la Brian Wilson, and produce it myself.
Why release Chemical Sounds through your website (ronhawkins.com)?
I’ve done the Universal thing, and I’ve also tried the Maple Music route, and my dealings with labels here have been an underwhelming experience. I’ve heard some staggering figures regarding the decline of customer traffic at HMV, and I can see it. Most of my friends who buy records in stores go to Soundscapes (572 College), not the big chain stores, and everyone else I know gets their music online. So it doesn’t make sense for me to pay someone to distribute my music only to have my discs returned because no one is buying music at big stores any more.
Do you still have to deal with Lowest of the Low fans hollering requests for songs from Shakespeare My Butt?
When I started doing shows with the Rusty Nails, that was more of a problem. Some people probably thought I was a total prick for saying, “You must’ve come to see the wrong band by mistake,” but you have to be very adamant about your intentions. The poetic justice was playing a Low reunion show and hearing people yell for Rusty Nails songs.
You’ve just bought a new house. Are Lowest of the Low fans bidding against Rusty Nails supporters for your old home?
I don’t think anyone looking at the house knows I lived in it. For some reason, our realtor doesn’t believe that its being the former residence of a rock musician is a big selling point. I guess potential buyers might be worried about what they might find in the closets.