The Soul Attorneys
It all started in the summer of 1995, backstage in Coaticook, after playing what was merely my third gig on a stage. We all huddled together and signed an offer from Sony music to produce one album with 6 options. We were all ecstatic and could not believe what just happened. I will always remember going back to my dayjob after signing the contract. Things would take a while to develop so I had to keep on paying the bills. It was all just so unreal. I had a record deal but was waiting on tablesthe next day.
The production of the album consisted of Sony simply remixing the excellent tracks my partner Eric Filteau had already produced. By Christmas of 95 we already had a record with artwork, and a marketing plan.
In the spring 1996, before the release of the first Soul Attorneys album, it was decided that the band would have a single released. Two songs stood out as hits; “These are the days” and, what was considered the strongest song, “So they say”. Both these songs were extremely strong for the time and had a great deal of potential. Finally, it was decided to release “These are the days” on the basis that it would be a better build toward the Christmas season with “So they say” the stronger song.
This photo was used for the press release, the single and the flyer that was given out after every Celine concert we opened up for. In no time, “These are the days” was a number one heatseaker in Canada and eventually went to Canadian Top 10.
The push to the top
Everything happened quite fast. Probably due to the fact that everything happens fast in this business and also that we opened for Celine and had between 10,000 and 16,000 people seeing us every night for 36 shows.
The Celine shows were really great for the Soul Attorneys. We not only got immediate exposure, we also got to work with world-class everything! Even the guys who tuned the guitars were the best in the business. By the time the Celine gang was up to the “Falling into you” tour, they were amoung the best in the world and it showed. Going to this caliber of tour was a huge shot in the arm for my degree of professionalism.
I’ll always remember the first time we got up on stage at, what was then called, GM place in Vancouver, Canada in front of 13,000 people. Our largest crowd before that show was 500 people. It was a push of adrenaline but it worked out. I learned everything from vocal discipline all the way to how to act politely at aftershow parties. I look back at all this stuff and it is hard to believe I even did it.
Lots of albums sold and a year of touring and doing promotional appearances and we were quickly on top of the world. Record sales greatly increased after the release of “So they say”. To this day, I still have people coming up to me telling me that the song had affected their lives. It is a motivational life song that was written on the edge of a table inspired by the idea that nothing at the time was going right in my life. I wrote the words “So they say” and went from there. The rest was history.
Lots of albums sold and a year of touring and doing promotional appearances and we were quickly on top of the world. Record sales greatly increased after the release of “So they say”. To this day, I still have people coming up to me telling me that the song had affected their lives. It is a motivational life song that was written on the edge of a table inspired by the idea that nothing at the time was going right in my life. I wrote the words So they say and went from there. The rest was history.
In the month of September 1997 I got the call that the Soul Attorneys had reached certified Canadian Gold. It was a milestone for me and I could not contain my happiness and pride. Not only of myself but of the three other guys who brought the album there. Eric who did some of the most ground breaking production a 1996 album could have, Mathieu Dandurand who gave so many hours of his time to make everything sound good, and Sebastien Nasra for his vision and for shaking hands with people he didn’t necessarily want to shake hands with to move things forward.
I had experienced all the things one can experience when having commercial and critical success. Unfortunately, I did not realize it at the time. Being so preoccupied with record sales and what is next, I forgot to enjoy the actual moment of what I was experiencing.
The sophomore album
After experiencing so much success so fast, it was time to make a continuation of what was already done.
It is important to note that the first Soul Attorneys album was basically a remixed demo that we had produced for the purpose of getting a record contract. It was produced, written, recorded and performed by four really green naïve guys. Although this might sound like a bad thing, it was actually a good thing in the musical environment we were living. We were not influenced by all the corporate bull that was being peddled at that time. What it also meant, however, was that once we were to make the second album within the corporate mess we would again be inexperienced.
“Give a little love” was recorded in Mathieu’s basement after long shifts at a bar I used to work at. If you listen carefully, you can hear the fatigue in my voice. Sometimes fatigue can be nice.
So they say lyrics
lyrics: Jacques Gaines
music: Jacques Gaines, Eric Filteau
So they say that you can’t make it
So they say, so they say
But I say that they mistake it
But I say, but I say
And the whole world seems to be leaning on you
And you tell me you don’t know what to do
They don’t know what I know, they don’t know what I know
Wanting to come out is the world you hold inside
Afraid they are for the world outside you will divide
For they don’t know what I know, they don’t know what I know
So I pray that you can make it
So I pray, so I pray
And your mind they’ll try to break it
No later than today
You let them and soon you will be on trial
Give them and inch, yes they’ll steal the mile
For they haven’t flown where we’ve flown
You know the road I speak of and the road that lies ahead
Don’t give up, don’t give up they all must be misled
For they haven’t flown where we’ve flown, no they haven’t flown where
And the game they’ll think you’ve played it
Their foolish way, their foolish way
But I’m tellin’ you soon they’ll see you’ve made it
And your game is what they’ll play
I remember being in my apartment when we also got the call that Eric, co producer and band mate, had been admitted to the hospital for what was later to be diagnosed as a tumor lodged between his brain and his eye. Although it turned out to be benign, it made Eric think twice about his life and what he wanted to do. He later would announce to us that he did not want to go on as a Soul Attorney member. For many reasons, this would be the mark that would spell the end of the Soul Attorneys. I was asked by the record company to go co-write with Aldo Nova. I must admit that the first writing session was a hit. We hit it off and wrote what would later become a massive Canadian hit “Better man”. I agreed to making a full album with Aldo nova
The fuzzy album
Although Aldo Nova and I really hit it off on the first song of the album, the rest of the album process was a nightmare. Aldo is an extremely talented and gifted songwriter and working with him only proves this more. This guy has written tons of top ten Americain and Canadian hits. But for all that talent, him and I just could not click. I think that both of us were in different parts of our respective lives where it just was not meant to be. The result was an album with absolutely no artistic direction or feeling to it. I do not blame anyone for this. I just see the fall of circumstances unfortunate for every one. Overbudgeted video clips, choice of a new horrible manager, my ego, a non sympathetic record label, and record companies trimming the fat in a new Napster industry; I could list a whole bunch of things that led to the reason why Sony music finally stopped the project but, all in all, I was probably as relieved as they were to let me go.
The French Album
After leaving Sony I delved into some non fruitful self discovery. I made a French album with a record company called GSI. Their vision was limited. They did not see any big picture. Just the short sighted view of getting a government grant and releasing an album. This was a symptom of the Quebec record industry in the late nineties. The whole album was also sabotaged by the fact that the album was stopped midway and re started when I took them to court. My lawyer had told me not to continue the album when they asked me to come back but I made the mistake of going back to finish the album anyway. Started by the very talented Marc Perusse and finished by me it also lacked artistic direction. I am however, very proud of what I and Marc did. There are some real gems on this record. Click here to hear some songs.
In 2007 I released another album and went through the same experience as the solo album and the French album. I found myself unsupported. Most importantly, my good luck ended up being the thing that took a toll on me. My meteoric rise made it so that the only experience I had making albums was being super well supported and taken care of during the most vulnerable part of the album making process. Going back was an option I found really really tough to do. I just got used to doing things in a world class way. But being world class after about a month of playing live just isn’t real. When reality finally did hit, it hit very hard. The English album I made in 2007 was really a step forward but not a step big enough to say, “Wow this is some really great stuff”. To hear some songs from that album click here
I was up to my third failure after one huge initial success. Taking inventory of my newly born child, my family life and how the business part of my music was screwing up my head, I took the wise decision of a non determined leave of absence.
As I write this, we are mid April 2014. Time fleets and life moves on. My life has evolved into something else that is both beautiful and challenging. I have recently seriously started writing some fantastic great songs and have associated myself to some really great people. What is most important is that all of this in my life is now non-essential. I do not need it to live. I am now making music for the reason I made it on the first album. To have fun. Bits and fragments of my albums after the debut are good but I still have yet to make a body of work where both the public an myself go WAAAA! I think I still got it in me somewhere.