Mushrooms and pie for a Grey Kingdom
Grey Kingdom – the moniker of Spencer Burton – will play an opening set for Old Man Luedecke at Communitea Café on Monday (Oct. 22).
Originally from Welland, Ont., where he was a founding member of the rock band Attack in Black, Burton now lives in London, Ont., where, in addition to making music, he bakes pies.
“Most of my life I’ve loved pie, it’s my favourite food, but pie is expensive, so I decided to start making my own,” he said. “And now I’m really excited, I’ve been working at a sweet little café as a server, and she’s hired me on more to come in early and bake pies for the place.
“Blueberry’s always a classic, but I’ve been really fond of sweet potato pie lately. It’s like baking a pumpkin, but delicious. I don’t add sugar. I love pecan pie too, I love all types of pies.”
Often compared to bands like City and Colour – whom Grey Kingdom has toured with – Burton said he can’t really describe his own music.
“I never know what to say, so I’ll say ‘It’s no good, go get something else,’ but is it folky? It’s not, it’s what I feel like doing, it’s the songs that I’m feeling at times,” he said. “Sometimes I’m sad, sometimes I’m happy, and I don’t know how to express myself a lot of the time.
“There’s a writeup out there describing the new record as ‘tales of love and love lost,’ but I don’t know what the heck that means. That’s what other people have said, and sometimes they say the right thing. It’s just music that people sometimes like to listen to. My mom really likes it.”
While Attack in Black was active from 2003 to 2009, Burton released his first album as Grey Kingdom – a self-titled EP – three years ago.
“The first (solo) thing I ever recorded was A Eulogy of Her and Her and Her, and it wasn’t something I ever intended to put out,” he explained. “Dan Romano from Attack in Black and I had a week when we had nothing to do, and we were sitting in a recording studio, and we played an hour’s worth of music and we put together this album.
“And then my friends were telling me it was cool – I gave away copies, probably more than I’ve sold – and then I gave one to Joel from Dine Alone Records, and he wanted to put it out.”
He decided to first put out an EP, though, ahead of A Eulogy of Her and Her and Her.
“I put out an EP first – I went into my bedroom and recorded four songs on an eight-track – and put that out as my ‘quote unquote’ first release, when in fact it was my second recording,” said Burton. “Most of it’s just me messing around with my friends. And then with this new record we actually went into a studio.”
Burton’s very pleased with the newest album, Light, I’ll Call Your Name Out “Darkness”, released this month.
“I do like it. I should sound more positive about it – it’s great, I’m super happy about it – I am really happy though, I’m glad I got to share it with some really close friends,” he said. “That’s the most important part to me, you and your friends locked in a house for a week and having fun, that’s the part I like the most about it. We definitely ate a lot of pizza.”
While Burton loved the Attack in Black experiences, he now says those days are behind him.
“We’ve all got our own projects now, and we’re all in each other’s bands, but it’s all their own songs,” he said. “I don’t think Attack in Black is going to play more shows.
“I love the opportunity to sing more, and I love fully composing the songs myself, but I do miss those guys. We’re still really close and I miss being out on the road with them.”
While Burton hasn’t played Canmore before, he did play Banff years ago with Attack in Black.
“We’ve played in Banff for sure, at Wild Bill’s – I love Banff. The guy put us up in a band house, and that was pretty fun, it was like a big house party,” he said. “I grew up in Kelowna, so I love the mountains and that aspect of being out there and taking it all in. It’ll be nice to get a taste of that again.”
For this tour, opening for Old Man Luedecke, Burton will be alone on stage.
“I’ll be by myself – by the end of these tours, who knows what’ll happen though, jamming with Chris (Luedecke) in the back room and having fun, we’ll end up becoming one big family.
“I met him years ago, super briefly at a festival. Everyone was kinda friends there, playing late night around a camp fire together, telling stories, though I’m sure he hardly remembers. I like his music and I think it’ll be a cool fit.
“A lot of the East Coast people have been telling me how good we’d be together, and it’s the kind of tour I’ve been wanting to do for a while – a couple of guys, telling stories and playing songs – that’s the kind of vibe I like. It’s a long tour, distance-wise. We drive and play and drive and play. But I like it, it’s a nice time to think.”
One of his most memorable touring experiences was playing the Dawson City Music Festival in 2011.
“I loved it, it was such a treat to play there,” said Burton. “I got in at the last minute – I was helping a friend move to Whitehorse – so I thought there had to be a way I could weasel my way into the festival, and I did, through friends of friends.
“It was literally the best music festival I’ve ever been to. Everyone’s so friendly and they treat you so good.”
While there, in the pristine wilderness of the North, Burton was able to pursue his love of mushrooms.
“And I’m a big mushroom fan – not hallucinogenic mushrooms or anything – I like mycology, the study of mushrooms,” he said. “Dawson City was the mushroom capital, it was like mushrooms exploded everywhere; everywhere I looked there was a different kind.”
To hear Burton’s music, visit www.greykingdom.com: Old Man Luedecke can be found at oldmanluedecke.ca
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