Mariah’s bandmates Matt Cory, Greg Gibson and Cody Williamson were having a little fun hamming it up during the photo shoot for Untouchable.
Misty Street has become a mainstay in the local music community since hitting the Brandon scene in 2008. From charity gigs to corporate shows and the gamut of bar gigs in this region, this band has shown impressive musical growth over the years.
The insert for the new three-song CD Untouchable, being released this weekend by Misty Street. (SUBMITTED)
Though the group has been though a few lineup changes over the past five years, the nucleus of the band has remained. Mariah Phillips and Greg Gibson have been writing partners since the get-go and have managed to amass an impressive collection of songs as well as a few YouTube videos.
The current cast of the group has been intact for nearly two years now: Cody Williamson on drums, Matt Corey on guitars, Gibson on bass and vocals, and Phillips on lead vocals.
Their latest release is the band’s most remarkable yet. It ranges from bold to downright daring and deserves a closer listen and look from any and all supporters of the B-Town music scene.
Prior to their latest rehearsal for the CD-video release at The 40 this Saturday, Misty Street obliged to a round table open discussion about their latest musical creation Untouchable (Cody either had the night off or didn’t get the memo).
FM: First off, congrats on the new tunes. Where was the album recorded?
Mariah: We have invested in some quality sound equipment over the past few years and we were able to track all of the instruments ourselves. We then sent all the tracks to Paul Scinocca in Winnipeg for mixing and then to Darren Johnston for mastering. We did a lot of sending the songs back and forth until we were sure it was how we wanted it to sound.
FM: From writing the first song to laying down the last track then getting the art work done for the cover, how long did it take you to create the CD?
Mariah: We laid down tracks for approximately 10 songs as we were going to do a full length album and in the end we decided to release a three-song teaser instead. We want to see if people like our stuff. This has been a year-long project. From tracking the songs, connecting with the key players and filming the video for Untouchable, the process has been time-consuming, expensive and, at times, very stressful — though, above all else, it has been amazing.
FM: Were you going after any specific musical sound?
Greg: Heavier and more risk taking. The best songs to me are the ones that take some risks and that are interesting to listen to.
Matt: The sound I think we were aiming for was fun, raunchy and big. It seems to be a bit different, especially for Brandon. The songs I write are totally meant to be in the same vein as Van Halen and Motley Crue.
FM: Was there an overall musical concept you were trying to convey with the disc?
Mariah: In my opinion the overall musical concept that we were trying to convey, at least in my head, would be an honest confession of desire in many different areas: sexual, irrational and perfectionist desire.
FM: Whether it happens to be lyrics or music, how often do you write?
Greg: I write all of the time. Since I was a kid, I had little musical ideas floating around in my head. Doesn’t make for a great conversationalist, but I’m mildly self-entertaining.
Matt: I try to write any time I feel inspired, whether its a simple little riff or some lyrics in my head, whenever the wheels are turning I try to get to the closest guitar. Sometimes I won’t write for months, then all of a sudden I will have 10 songs pop out of nowhere. I usually aim for some sort of idea or riff almost every day.
Mariah: I write whenever something inspires or affects me, whether it be a situation or a cool guitar line. Lyrics and melody sometimes just pop into my head. Or if I feel creative, I just sit down and write.
FM: From writing lyrics and coming up with all the parts then rehearsing and recording it, what’s the longest you’ve spent getting a song done?
Greg: "Untouchable" Mariah had a poem-lyrics. That inspired me to write the music and vocal melody. That inspired Mariah to write a wonderful bridging part between the verse and chorus which, to this day, continues to give me chills. But the song wasn’t complete or fully realized. We spent several years throwing it against the wall to see what stuck. Nothing did at that point. We recorded a rough mix just to have it and we asked Mariah’s daughter, Chanique, to do some backing vocals. She sang such an incredibly haunting yet beautiful backing part that we reorganized the song so that it opened the piece and functioned as the bridge. Matt and Cody put their signature sound on the track, which just added to it.
The last piece we wrote and recorded was Mariah’s end refrain: "Wait, don’t leave. I only wanted to be set free." That was the finishing touch. Finally, we threw it against the wall and the whole thing stuck. Again, we just got a final master done a week ago, as there was some fine-tuning to be done amongst myself, Paul S, and Darren. In total, it took six years to finish that one.
Matt: As far as the writing goes, there’s always ideas flowing around. It’s a matter of which one happens to get done. We have songs that we have been sitting on forever. There is never a shortage of songs.
FM: Would you consider yourself a perfectionist in that regard?
Greg: Read above answer and come to your own conclusion
Matt: I’m not a perfectionist at all. I like to get ideas rolling, especially in the songwriting area but as far as recording goes, that part goes to Greg to fix all the little glitches.
Mariah: I would have to say that Greg is the No. 1 perfectionist in the group. However, we are all pretty fussy. When we are listening to a demo of one of our songs, we all listen intensely then proceed to criticize the crap out of our own parts. Things are never half done as we are all or nothing kind of people. My favourite saying is: "Go big or go home." I choose to go big. Life is too short and there is always time later to relax and put your feet up.
FM: What’s the quickest song you ever wrote?
Greg: I was 10 years old at a piano lesson and didn’t practise my homework for the week. So I stalled by writing and performing a song on the fly. The song was 20 minutes long (the full lesson was a half hour). It took me five minutes to write it as I believe I fell asleep while performing it. My teacher never knew.
Matt: I would say the quickest would probably have to be "Letters". I had the main riff for awhile but other than that, we basically just jammed out until we had a complete tune.
Mariah: I think for myself, personally, the song "Memory of You" off our first album was the first and the quickest song I ever wrote. The lyrics and melody flowed out of me in just a few minutes and it is still one of my favourites. I have been hooked on songwriting ever since.
FM: Alright, it’s time to give props to your fellow bandmates. Who does what on the new disc?
Greg: Mariah sings her ass off. The best compliment I could pay Mariah is that she makes any piece of music better, just by being a part of it. She is one of the most gifted songsmiths I have ever worked with. Her vocal delivery is so bloody transparent. She can convey such a range of emotion, from delicate and vulnerable, to strong and empowered, to possessed and out of control. Matt plays acoustic and electric guitar. He shreds and often got his tracks done on one to two takes. His contribution to this band can not be understated as he has one of the best ears and is also one of the most gifted songwriters that I know. Cody is a very talented, versatile, and passionate drummer and his style is his own. He has a signature. For someone that young to have his own drum style is incredible. He is also one of the most driven musicians I know. I am truly fortunate to play with these three. Oh, and I slap a little bass.
FM: Now that the disc is done, what are the future plans for the band?
Greg: We are writing, recording, and playing.
Matt: Keep writing, recording and play as many shows as possible.
Mariah: Never say quit in my opinion. People often ask me, "What’s next?" and ask if I will continue doing music. As I suppose I am at the age where I should sit on the couch and knit perhaps? That’s so not me. I live life to the fullest, take good care of myself and I love entertaining. I don’t think I know how to stop. Making it in music to me is being able to play, have fun, create and if anyone knocks you down, you get up and play some more.
FM: When will your music video for Untouchable be available and are there plans for another? Who films your videos and does your photography?
Mariah: We will be screening our music video at 9 p.m. on March 16 right before we play a set of our original tunes. It will be released online the following day. We do have plans for a third music video. We will start shooting that one closer to summer. Our first two videos were filmed and produced by Graham Street who is right here in Brandon. He is so great to work with. Trish from Bodicures did my hair, makeup and helped plan my wardrobe for the shoots. Our recent band photographs were taken by Cynthia Korman.
FM: Do you have any advice for other musicians that are getting into writing and recording their own music?
Mariah: Definitely do not take rejection personally. Do not listen to words of others unless it is constructive. Learn from your mistakes. Go with your gut when it comes to your image and sound, etc. If people are digging your stuff, it’s because you have something unique to offer, so develop that. You can’t please everyone so don’t try. Work on developing thick skin — you will need it. Don’t worry about gossipers. As long as you know the truth, that’s all that matters.
Untouchable: A Review:
• "Untouchable" — The title track "Untouchable" sounds like it was ready made for a major label artist. It has all the elements required for CHR or Hot AC radio. There’s the big chorus, slick production, solid musicianship and enough hooks to grab hold of the listener within the first play. Speaking of hooks, be sure to listen for the narrative vocal parts that melt in your ear.
• "One More Night" — "One More Night" starts with a boldly bombastic beat pounded out by drummer Cody Williamson. This catchy rhythmic intro is filled in nicely with a solid bottom end from bassist Greg Gibson. The track escalates quickly with Matt Corey’s sharp-edged guitar riff that may have some listeners reminiscing early 80s KISS (think "All Hells Breaking Loose"). This is the ideal intro that leads into a spine-tingling Darby Mills-like howl belted out from Misty Street’s vocalist extraordinaire Mariah Phillips. This track is best played loud! The whole track culminates into a rock ’n’ roll orgy for the ears that springs from the speakers and pulls the listener in demanding attention. Plenty of ear candy ensues throughout this impressive five-minute track.
• "Letters" — The three-track disc closes with "Letters" which opens with a hauntingly catchy acoustic guitar piece backed by subtle controlled feedback that blends nicely as the track builds. This is a big-sounding power ballad with attitude, about a vulnerable gal exasperated in her efforts in a trying relationship. This track is complete with some interesting vocal effects and backing tracks and could very easily stand up with some of the glossed over rock the music industry so readily offers these days.
Frank McGwire is a radio personality and booster of the music scene in Brandon and Westman.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 14, 2013