Folk music relies heavily on basic rhythms, sounds, and the accompaniment of recognizable lyrics. It’s built on the strength of written words embodied through full arrangements, voice & guitar or acapella, eliminating any complications between medium and message.
Rock, on the other hand, offers an array of colourful musical styles – lending intensity, edge and temperaments to effectively deliver a musician’s message.
Imagine combining these genres and providing an audience with the best of both worlds. They can sense – and possibly empathize with – strong, prevalent moods in a song, while at the same time enjoy a melodic tune with understandable words.
Cambridge’s factory city music has done just that.
“Blending the two was never a conscious decision; the writing took me in that direction by accident,” recalls Mike Meacher, factory city’s guitarist and lead vocalist. “My family is from Ireland, so there’s a bit of Celtic influence as well.
Comprising Meacher, bassist Fyl Bennett, and drummer and background vocalist Mat Bowman, factory city music formed in 2013. In the 1990s, Meacher and Bowman played in their first rock band Tomorrow’s Excuse, traveling all over Ontario to create a musical identity.
“After the breakup of that group, Mat and I played in numerous other original cover song bar bands. He has a totally unique style and nearly identical love for the same music that inspires me,” said Meacher. “We’ve remained good friends and co-conspirators for 15 years. Our first paying gigs were played together, and we continue to play gigs to this day.”
Being the primary writer and composer of factory city, Mike Meacher’s music career began after enrolling in guitar lessons as a preteen. After securing employment in the same music store a few years later, he networked with local musicians and immersed himself in Cambridge’s arts sector.
One summer as a child, Mat Bowman saved up enough money to buy his first drum kit. His talent was cultivated by Vic Freitas, premier drum instructor at Cambridge’s Long & McQuade. Being an active contributor to the city’s music scene for more than 10 years, Bowman’s musical achievements, aside from Tomorrow’s Excuse, include Spooky & Bones and Away from the Glow.
Six years ago, through one of Meacher’s jam nights at a local bar, Fyl Bennett stood out as a powerhouse musician.
“It’s more akin to that of roaming tuba lines than typical root note rodeos. His love for the live show and craft of arrangement is infectious,” Meacher remarked. “Fyl’s approach to bass playing has brought factory city’s songs to a different league.”
Bennett’s career spans more than two decades, playing in Irish Celtic band The Dole Tinkers, among several others. His use of an upright bass has resonated tremendous sound and visual impact, being used in Mermaid, a contender in CBC’s 2015 Searchlight contest. He also experiments with fretted, fretless and ukulele bass, the latter of which can be heard in Boatman.
Art of War, the band’s new CD releasing July 2016, carries a more direct writing style inviting listeners to interpret songs in their own way.
“We invested a lot of time in the arrangement and production stages, making the songs as well-crafted as we could,” Meacher explained. “On the last album, I was the recording and mixing engineer. We have some wonderful guest musicians on this one like Dan Howlett on fiddle, Peter Beacock on keys and Vic Freitas on percussion.”