In late summer of 2012, Willow Smoke converged on a remote location in northern Ontario (about one hour by snow shoe from the Quebec border) to record their debut album Onceinever. The tunes were written and recorded in an off-grid, solar powered log cabin designed and built by the band.
The remote recording studio (Red Room Recordings of Collingwood) was set up in the loft space of the cottage. The acoustics of the small, white-pine cabin were incredible! The power supplied from the solar rig was perfectly clean, a pure “pine-wave”, meaning no amp hiss and pristine recordings.
The camp was the perfect environment for writing and recording. With the band totally isolated from society and completely immersed in raw nature, inspiration and creativity (plus a good measure of insanity) flowed like the water.
Six solar panels mounted atop the Central Utilities Shed gave life to the recording session, soaking up the suns rays and converting it to roughly 2.5 KWh of juicy electrons per day! A charge controller regulates power to the battery bank and an inverter converts the DC power generated by the panels to AC glory!
The cabin sound was truly remarkable. A kitchen microphone ran all week below the recording loft to capture the ambience. All meals were caught and/or cooked at camp by our band chef Dano Goodwin. Three fresh meals a day to feed the rock n’ roll soul…
To ensure maximum performance, the band made sure to give all instruments a thorough charging before use. Charge ups for the band were also in tall order. Relentless saunas, beers and various other things served to drive off evil spirits and incubate our creative vibes.
Early mornings were spent catching the days breakfast. A few hours of good sun were needed to recharge the system to operational capacity. Drum recording was always first order, offering the batteries some reprise before the onslaught of electrified guitar mayhem later in the day.
The catch of the day was always fire fried under the boughs of the pines. Roughly 20 small mouth bass were murdered and eaten in the making of this album. mmm… Now that’s tasty!
Regular band meetings ensured the project stayed on track. Lyrics and arrangements were hashed out as they were recorded, bringing a real-time feel to the finished product. Onceinever, an album dedicated to Nature and its awesome power, was very much created by Natures force.
The end of each day was signaled by the dramatic power-down of the solar rig and the subsequent squealing of the emergency back-up battery for the recording computer. This was then followed by the frantic saving of all files, lighting of the oil lamps and the slow steady unwind from another day of relentless rock and roll.
By the grace of old Bill Tilden and his lady fine, Mother Pine, Onceinever was conceived. And Willow Smoke gives it to the Earth.