The Rainy Day Saints Add Sax Appeal To Reflected

A Horny Issue 

The Rainy Day Saints Add Sax Appeal To Reflected

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Given that the guys in the retro-leaning Rainy Day Saints collectively own as much music as you'd find at most record stores (especially in these downsized days), the Westpark basement where they rehearse looks like what you'd expect. There's a worn, pinkish rug on the floor and a Ramones poster plastered to the hot-water heater. A variety of "no parking" type signs hang on the wall, and the fridge is well-stocked with cans of Molson and a bottle of chilled J...ger that band members refer to as "medicine." The Saints have so much gear, the room is a veritable concert club.

On a recent evening, the guys worked through several songs from their fine new album, Reflected, a collection of '60s-inspired songs so sharply written, you'd think they were classics from the Nuggets box sets. And in the live context, the songs have a bit more edge, as "Remembrance (Around Again)" becomes a heavy psychedelic dirge, and "When She Plays Her Symphony" is even trippier than it is on disc.

"What it really comes down to with the songs I write and the way we or I put things together just comes from all the music we've all listened to over our lives," says singer-guitarist Dave Swanson, who got his first album (the Monkees' debut) when he was only 4. "WeÊall have a lot of common ground, but we all like a wide variety of stuff as well.ÊI have never understood the need to try and be 'contemporary' or whatever. We do what we do because that's what we do."

The Saints have done "what they do" since 2003, when multi-instrumentalist Swanson, a 20-plus-year veteran of the local scene who's played with bands like New Salem Witch Hunters and Death of Samantha, wrote and recorded the band's 2004 debut, Saturday's Haze, all by himself.

"I had done a bunch of recording on my own and never did anything with it until that record," says Swanson. "I needed a band to play live. I had played with [drummer] Scott and [guitarist] Keith Pickering for years, and it just all came together naturally."

A year and a half later, the band, which also includes bassist Brian McCafferty and saxophonist Marianne Friend, returned with Diamond Star Highway, on which Swanson and his bandmates really gelled.

"I had started recording that album myself again, but the band had come together and we had a different mindset for that album," explains Swanson. "This new CD is really a combination of the approach of the first two albums, in that some of the songs are full band songs and others are just myself doing all the parts."

For Reflected, which includes 18 songs, Swanson gave Friend a little more room to roam - not that you'll confuse the Rainy Day Saints with the E Street Band or anything. Rather, an understated horn riff can be heard on songs like "Sally Goes Around," and the sax blares alongside chugging guitar on "That's All Over Now."

"It's a hornier record," jokes Scott Pickering.

"The horns just seemed to fit," says Swanson. "We really like having Marianne in the band and just had a few more songs for her, and the ones she didn't play on she could sing on. It just fell into place. Marianne brings a whole other dimension to our sound and helps take it someplace else. Plus, we are all friends and she's a great addition, not only sonically but personality-wise as well.ÊShe adds a whole other kind of color to it, though we're not quite Chicago yet. Someday."

While Swanson jokes that his audience is "mostly elderly," the truth is the band's previous efforts have been critical successes, and the group has been able to distinguish itself from the slew of retro-minded acts that emerged after the White Stripes and Strokes made garage-rock cool again. "The reality for any band, let alone one whose members are closer to death than birth, is that it's hard to get people out of the house," admits Swanson, adding that the Saints are calling the opening dates with Magic Christian in both Cleveland and Pittsburgh their CD release shows. "If people are interested in the band, we'll tour. But we're not going to pile in a van and drive aimlessly around the country. Everyone's done lots of that already."

 

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