Amy Mantis
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Canary - A Brief History

I was sorting through some old Canary stuff.  Email, YouTube, etc.

And I'll tell you what: I'm gettin' the band back together.

No, I'm not going to corral my old friends/band members.  Most of them are far away and they're all doing other things, and I couldn't be happier for them.  (You can see what all of them are up to below.)

It's going to be different.  But it'll still be the same because I'm still here.  Canary is my brainchild, and I thought about re-negging on it a thousand times with name changes or just forgoing it all together.  But...No.

So now, a brief history (it's actually not so brief).

When Jackie left (first singer that wasn't me - more on that later), I was crushed.  I loved her.  I still love her.  I couldn't have asked for a better counterpart at that time.  She and I had a chemistry and I thought we'd last a lifetime.  I think she did, too.  But people change, and that's okay.  She left, and it felt like a punch in the gut at the time.  Well, it was, but the band and I soldiered on.  I was battered, but I wasn't broken.  She knew that.  She still knows that.

Jackie and I and the rest of the band accomplished a great deal.  We secured a spot at South By SouthWest in 2012, opened for Jackson Browne, and played close to 100 shows together as well as recorded a dozen songs over the years.  I will always cherish that time.  How could I not?  I was living the beginning of my rock n roll dream!

Jackie left right after the two of us graduated.  And the rest of the band and I quickly (probably too quickly) scooped up Naomi to join the band.

Oh, in between Jackie and Naomi, we picked up Scott, our former manager.  He's still a good pal and great guy.

Naomi said she wanted to be like Grace Potter.  Yes!  Perfect!  But then again, so did Jackie.

Naomi is a powerhouse vocalist.  She is an incredible singer and a very hard worker.  A bit quiet, but she makes up for it vocally.  We re-did the vocals for eight songs, re-released two of them, recorded five new songs, did a series of acoustic videos, and were in talks with Judy Collins about a record deal.

We - Naomi, Alex (keys/songwriting skills), Scott, and I - decided one night that we needed a new drummer.  We loved (I still love) Dean, but he was wicked busy in every direction and we didn't think that he would have enough time to commit to the band.  So we let him go, recorded those five new songs with a different drummer, and then about two weeks after we recorded those five songs, Naomi told Alex and me that she was leaving.

Alex and I were angry for a long time.  I remember being angry for a month straight.  I was fortunately surrounded by people who loved me and Alex and I rebounded and had a new band within a month.  We had the best drummer I've ever played with, Roddy Galli, our old pal Francis Hickey on bass, and a mutual friend singing, Brooke Stephenson.  We had a rockin' group for a couple of months, started to redo the vocals on the songs we recorded with Naomi, and I was feeling pretty alright about the band.

In between Naomi and Brooke, I made one of the most important decisions in my life: I started taking voice lessons with Rocco DeRosa.  It's been a little more than two years and it has been an amazing journey.  More on that later.

So we played about half a dozen shows with this Canary 3.0 (at least 3.0 - it could even be more like 5.0).  We sounded great, but it was getting to the point where Alex was graduating and needed to make money faster so he went on a cruise ship in August of 2013.  And that's really when Canary stopped.  I had lost my right-hand man of two years.  I fought with Alex the most, but we always made it work, because we always wanted the same thing.  I love him.  He's my brother that I never had.

So Alex left, and Brooke and I intended to continue.  We all did.  Oh, Francis left to join the Adam Ezra Group, and Roddy went home to San Fransisco that summer.  But Brooke and I would get together and attempt to write together and play.  But I knew she wanted to leave Boston after she graduated, which was in eight months (this was August of 2013, she graduated in May of 2014).  She wanted to go to Nashville.  I didn't.

We did do one open mic together at the Lizard Lounge before I let the band fizzle out.  It was October of 2013 I think and we sounded great.  It was shortly after I had my solo debut there, and I remember thinking, 'Playing here with Brooke is great, but I think I like playing here by myself more.'  Which is odd because I LOVE being the guitarist with mystique.  So, I brought Brooke home that night, and I think that was the last time I saw her.  She ended up in LA after she graduated.

So, what's the point of this?  The point is, I'm no longer heartbroken about what could have been and that I'm okay with the history of the band.  Why shouldn't I be?  It adds to the story.  I have a fanbase, albeit a small one, with Canary.  Why shouldn't I tap into that again and keep the band going?  That's all I've wanted to do since I started the band.  Keep the band going.

And where is the band going?  I don't exactly know yet.  First stop is an EP produced by Brian Packer with yours truly on vocals for the first time since 2010.  Yes, when I first started Canary I was singing.  Then I realized I could find someone way better than me.  So I did, and now we've come full circle with someone way better than 19-year-old Amy singing.

And that's 24-year-old Amy singing.

Thanks for being here.  Thanks for believing in me.  I'll talk to you all real soon.

Canary - A Band Member History:

--My first drummer, Isaac Haselkorn, is now a singer/songwriter in his own right.  Check him out here.
--Kyle Hovland, my beloved bassist of a long time, plays in the Jake Clayton Band down in Nashville.
--Jackie Berkley is also in Nashville and working for MStreet Nashville.
--Cole Bingham lives and works in Los Angeles.  I don't really know what he's up to, but his instagram can tell you a few things.
--Drew Lucas is still in Boston and he now plays in the band the Relevant Elephants, named after a recommendation from Stephen Colbert.  True story!
--Alex Hartley is down in Austin playing with O Conqueror and teaching piano lessons.
--Dean Davis works for SoFar Sounds.  He's based in Nashville.
--Naomi Gillies recently moved to New York City.  I know she became a CrossFitter and I think she stills sings in a wedding band.
--Keith Ong lives in Boston and works as engineer at The Record Company, and I hope he still plays bass because he's fantastic.
--Roddy Galli is also in Boston and playing in the band Anima.
--Francis Hickey, also in Boston, plays with the Adam Ezra Group.
--Brooke Stephenson is out in Los Angeles and I think she works for Interscope Records.

Early 2010:
Isaac Haselkorn - Drums
Kyle Hovland - Bass
Amy Mantis - Vocals, Guitar

October 2010 - February 2011:
Jackie Berkley - Vocals
Cole Bingham - Drums
Drew Lucas - Bass
Amy Mantis - Guitar

February 2011 - May 2011:
Jackie Berkley - Vocals
Cole Bingham - Drums
Kyle Hovland - Bass

Amy Mantis - Guitar

May 2011 - May 2012:
Jackie Berkley - Vocals
Dean Davis - Drums
Alex Hartley - Keys, Saxophone
Kyle Hovland - Bass

Amy Mantis - Guitar

May 2012 - August 2012:
Dean Davis - Drums
Naomi Gillies - Vocals
Alex Hartley - Keys, Saxophone
Kyle Hovland - Bass

Amy Mantis - Guitar

August 2012 - February 2013:
Dean Davis - Drums
Naomi Gillies - Vocals
Alex Hartley - Keys, Saxophone

Amy Mantis - Guitar
Keith Ong - Bass

March 2013 - September 2013:
Roddy Galli - Drums
Alex Hartley - Keys, Saxophone
Francis Hickey - Bass
Amy Mantis - Guitar
Brooke Stephenson - Vocals

More Christine McVie

I don't know if you heard the news, but Christine McVie wants to rejoin Fleetwood Mac.

That is one of the greatest things I have ever heard in my entire life.

Contrary to popular belief, Christine McVie is the reason that band worked so well in the 70s and 80s.  Stevie and Lindsey are incredible, but Christine is special in ways they are not.  She plays third fiddle, but is she really?  She has written some of their best songs and has been more consistent than Lindsey or Stevie in terms of quality contribution (Lindsey became unruly on Tusk, and Stevie wasn't at her best on Mirage).

Sure, she never had the notoriety that the other two songbirds received, but who are we kidding - she knows she's the original songbird!  Without Christine, Fleetwood Mac is a blues band (and there is NOTHING wrong with that - their earliest stuff is killer).  Christine joining the band is what enabled Stevie and Lindsey to join and write.

I saw Fleetwood Mac without Christine in April.  It was a really good show.  But Stevie doesn't sing "Don't Stop" the way Christine does and "World Turning" doesn't have the same power without Christine.  I can't remember if Lindsey took all the verses or if Stevie sang Christine's.  Either way, they can't sing like Christine.  Her voice has certain subtleties that theirs don't - and vice versa.  But taking away one of the three makes all the difference in the world.

If Christine rejoins the band, the tour will be the best tour of the century.  They would be unstoppable.

On Being In A Band - Part Six Of Many

My friend Julian Weisser posted this article on Facebook today.  It's titled "Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos: 'Don't Be an Asshole'".

Kapranos went on to list seven crucial things about being in a band.  Here they are - with some of my own thoughts:

Don't be an asshole!

YES.  I don't know why it's cool to not be nice.  It isn't cool.  I love seeing bands hanging out with fans and talking to people after the show.  I don't think there's anything to gain by being a jerk.  That stuff comes back to haunt you.

If the ideas are to flourish within a band, it's all about communication.

The worst times in my experience with bands is when there's a lack of communication going on.  When someone isn't talking, things don't work as well as they should.  EVen when the situation is hard - especially when the situation is hard to talk about (like someone leaving).  Talk it out.

Being in a band is not just about making music. There are so many other outlets that form the band's identity.

Quality band time outside of playing together is necessary.  Alex talked about it from a creative standpoint, and I agree with that.  I also think bands should hang out as bands minus instruments / talking about stuff related to the band.  Bonding as humans is how you're going to survive out there on the road when you're only playing 45 minutes a night.  There are a lot of hours to fill and if you can't get along, it shows.  It reflects in your music and in your performance.  Sure there are bands who fake it well, but they're usually getting paid far too much money so it's easy to fake it.

You can read a William Blake poem and not have to know who he was fucking when he wrote it. Just enjoy the bloody poem.

I don't know who William Blake is (well, I do - I just Googled him), but I get what Alex is saying.  Sometimes I want to know more about a song or an artist, but I don't need to know who Jackson Browne was singing about in "You Love The Thunder" to love that song.  Often times, it's made up anyway.  (I can say that.  I'm a songwriter.)  To quote William Miller, is a song better if it really happened?  Sometimes.  And I'm getting away from the point a bit, but nearly every song has some element of truth from personal experience in it anyway.

A band should aspire to be that pivotal point where everything changes.

I like this one.  It's definitely something awesome to aspire to be.  I'd love to be someone who opened the floodgates.  I definitely felt that way about Canary when we first started.  I was surrounded by all these bands trying to do complex things and I was like, 'Let's just make really good rock n roll.'  And we did.  And I like to think we still do.  There are a bunch of other fantastic rock bands in Boston that I discovered upon exiting the Berklee Bubble.

When the four of us got together to do this band, it was to play at parties and have a laugh and enjoy each other's company. That's what should be at the heart of a band.

I talked about this already.  Yes.

You need to completely empty your lungs of city air that you might have inhaled over the past year.

There's nothing like getting away for a while.  It does a band and an individual a world of good.  I love cities.  I will live in cities for the rest of my life, but I also love getting away from cities (preferably to Maine or Martha's Vineyard).  There's a lot of inspiration beyond the skylines, believe it or not.