The Smile Case, familiar to alternative rock/punk fans in Tillsonburg, is launching its first major album next week. Angel Beach, a new CD, officially releases in stores on Tuesday, July 29.
Blacktop Records producer Ben Andress, also the founding member of The Smile Case, announced the band is having up a CD release show Saturday night (July 26) at the Tillsonburg Legion. Cover charge is $10, open to all ages. Doors open at 8 p.m. The Smile Case will play songs from Angel Beach, which will be on sale for the first time at a discounted price of $10.
Saturday's host will be Bryan O'Gorman, who has been around the world on tour with Yuk Yuk's and featued on MTV. O'Gorman will be bringing some comedian friends, including Much Music's Hunter Collins (Video on Trial).
“We also have Crossley Hunter playing in the show,” said Andress, giving a shout out to the local band.
“Unfortunately Trevor James and The Perfect Gentlemen had to drop off the show. His father's going through surgery right now. So we have taking his place a singer, acoustic artist Drew Thomson, from a London band, Single Mothers. He's unreal – just signed with a label in the States and he has a new CD.”
The Legion (16 Durham Street) is a licenced facility, so they are reminding people to bring ID if they're buying alcohol Saturday night.
“We're pretty excited about this album,” said Andress, who started The Smile Case in Welland about 10 years ago as a solo acoustic project, touring in Canada and the US as a one-man show.
“I like to call this our first 'real' album. Back in 2009 I did a solo record, Lose Our Heads, but it didn't it didn't have the same outcome... it didn't turn out the way I had it in my head. And this one, Angel Beach, kind of did.”
When Andress decided to make The Smile Case a group, he switched from acoustic to electric guitar. He called on drummer Jackson Cronmiller and a bass player from the Tillsonburg area, Ryan Milmine.
“We jammed a few shows together with Ryan,” said Andress, but due to schedule conflicts they ended up looking for a new bass player and hooked up with Shane McElhone.
“I think it was Grade 10 when I first met Shane, and we always kept in touch over the years. He was in a couple projects like...”
“The New Revolutionaries,” said McElhone.
“Shane agreed to fill in for a couple shows Ryan couldn't make, and the three of us kind of fell into a pretty sweet groove. It just kind of felt like the good old days when we were in high school again.”
“They kidnapped me...” said McElhone.
“Pretty much,” Andress laughed. “So we kidnapped Shane and when we were doing the album Shane laid down the bass. We recorded in Glen Meyer with a friend, Kyle Winkworth, who had set up a professional home studio in his garage. I knew him from school, we had gone from Kindergarten to high school together.”
Winkworth agreed to record the album for a 'very reasonable' fee. It was sent to Jordy Birch, from Pure, a major label from Vancouver in the 90s during the 'Canrock Renaissance.'
“He mastered the album,” said Andress. “One of my biggest influences growing up was Peure, so if you listen to their Generation Six-Pack, you can kind of catch that vibe on this album. It was really cool to have someone I respected growing up, someone I thought I'd never see or be in contact with, helping to shape our music. It's super cool to have him part of it.”
During the recording process, they had Tillsonburg's Justin Hammond from Crossley Hunter add vocal tracks and harmonies across the album.
“We also had some other friends come in, including Tabitha LaPointe, and she laid some vocals on the album.
“And one of the coolest things... last winter when Brendan Brown from Wheatus was in town (Teenage Dirtbag), we did a bunch of shows with him. We had a song called Glen Meyer that we would play every night during the set and he insisted that when we recorded it on an album, he wanted to do guest vocals.
“I held him up to that promise,” Andress smiled. “So we've got the guy from Wheatus doing guest vocals on a song, which is super cool. It was kind of rad to have him part of this project.”
The same month they did Glen Meyer, Wheatus released a song with two members of One Direction, who regularly covered Teenage Dirtbag at concerts.
“It's pretty cool to have someone in the league of One Direction on our record. It's kind of surreal actually.”
Including Glen Meyer, Angel Beach has 12 songs. The general theme is watching things disappear, change, typical 20-something angst, said Andress. “Kind of amped up teenage poetry is what I like to call it.”
“Played to music,” said McElhone.
Called the 'perfect summer breakup album,' it tugs at listeners' emotions. On the album are – Don't Tell Her, Angel Beach High, Back Still Aches, Glen Meyer, Critical, Hard Promises, Giving Up vs Making It, Crowds, The Giving Tree, I Wear a Curse, Sorry to Myself, and Campfire Song.
“It's all wrapped together nicely in a package that we commissioned from Tabitha LaPointe's sister Ashlin. So the cover artwork was painted from a concept in my head that kind of related to the songs on the record.”
“It's beautiful,” said McElhone.
The Smile Case also thanked Jake Moroun from Windsor (Little Mint Productions) who did the layout for the album booklet from Ashlin's artwork in a timely manner.
“The whole process came together in less than a year,” said Andress.
“We've been playing shows for a year without a record, so it's nice to get out there and have a CD, and kind of start doing it for real.”
Produced by Blacktop Records, which is owned and operated by Andress, it will be distributed online and in stores with a full radio PR campaign, press and magazine reviews.
“We're playing a bunch of shows to promote the record. On August 9th we're playing in Niagara Falls with Paul Jago. We're doing a benefit show in Delhi, August 16th at the Delhi Golf and Country Club with Crossley Hunter again. And then in Windsor, August 29th, we're doing a show with Green Jelly from New York – we're pretty excited to be on that.”
There were some setbacks recently, Andress noted, including a collar bone injury to McElhone about a month ago. Over the past few weeks they've been playing two-piece sets or with a fill-in.
“He's going to suck it up and play in the show with us Saturday,” Andress laughed. “We kind of made it work, but Shane's arm is going to be healed and ready to rock 'n roll. It may be 20 per cent ready for this Saturday, but 100 per cent ready for the shows next month. Well, maybe 80 per cent ready.”
“Twenty per cent's good enough,” said McElhone.