Monday, January 21, 2019

The musicians of Winchester Warm are not religious, but they say the heavenly acoustics at Centretown United Church made it a perfect spot to record their first album.

Winchester Warm bandmates Jon Pearce and Matt Godin began recording their first CD at Centretown United Church in 2008. Their premiere album, Sky One Room, was released locally in May 2010 and went national in December due to its popularity.

With its tender vocals and soft guitar, the songs on Sky One Room have a haunting, almost spiritual feel. But the band says the record isn’t inspired by faith.

“We don’t have any spiritual connection to the church” says Godin, the band’s drummer. “We recorded in the church mainly for the acoustics.”

Pearce, the group’s lead vocalist and guitarist, says he was impressed by the chapel’s big sound.

 “The church has this enormous ceiling and when you play music, it just reverberates throughout the whole room,” he explains.

 “At first it was almost intimidating,” he admits. It is this aural atmosphere which attracts so many musicians to  Centretown United  Church.

Musical groups such as Atlantic Voices, The Canadian Centennial Choir and Canadian BrassWorks often play concerts at Centretown United, says the church’s office administrator, Nancy Desjardins.

The church’s minister, Rev. David Illman-White, says Centretown United was built with acoustics in mind.

“In the old days, they didn’t have microphones, so the whole church was designed . . . so that everyone could hear throughout the whole building,” he says.

The church doesn’t advertise, but Desjardins says artists hear about its great acoustics by word-of-mouth.

“If artists do hear about us and they play here, they are usually repeats,” says Desjardins. “Musicians will come . . . because they find it such a positive experience.”

Choirs record their performances at the church, but Winchester Warm is the only two-piece band to record a CD in the chapel.

Playing in a sanctuary, amid the stained glass windows and wooden pews, was a unique experience for the musicians of Winchester Warm.

“It was just us there,” says Godin. “It was very quiet and it was a very personal recording experience.”

Pearce says these recording sessions stirred up childhood memories of church.

“It was weird being in a church again. I kind of felt like I was sinning or something,” he says with a laugh.

They are pleased with their first album, but the members of Winchester Warm probably won’t record in a church again, says Godin.

“It was a great experience, but we’re not really going for that church band image,” he says.

Pearce and Godin say they want to record their next album in a new, unique spot.

Until then, they’ll be on the road, playing their soft, romantic tunes across Canada.

Their plans on this night? “We’re going to trash a hotel room I think,” says Godin with a laugh. “We’re going to get crazy.”

It’s official. They are definitely not a church band.

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