- Mike Turner • guitar (2005 - 2009)
- Pete Lesperance • vocals (2005 - 2009)
Fair Ground was formed by Canadian guitarists Pete Lesperance and Mike Turner, of the bands Harem Scarem and Our Lady Peace, respectively. Originally Turner was to make a guest appearance on Lesperance's solo album, but this developed into Fair Ground's debut album, Down In It.
Following an internet poll the group released the song "Down In It" as a single. This was followed by "Boy Without A Clue."
The story-Pete Lesperance
by Pete Lesperance
So, there was this thing I had been meaning to do for awhile. Well... the while was more like 5 years... but who's counting?
A solo record - I'd been threatening to make a solo record for 5 years...
If procrastination is an art, I'm Michelangelo. I digress - the delay was partially due to a busy schedule - partially to perpetual confusion about what kind of record this should be.
You see... of the folks that know me, most think of me as a guitarist first and foremost. For some time there had been rumblings that I should make an Instrumental guitar record. I thought about it. A lot.
For five years, to be exact.
Anyway, I decided after some prodding from close friends, Mike being one, that instead of an instrumental record, I should record some of the songs I'd been writing over the last few years.
So there it was... I would finally make a solo record. No problem.
Oh yeah, the label needs it inside of a month to meet a release date. Now that might be a problem.
But for some reason I was convinced I could pull it off.
I mean, the songs were written - how hard could it be, right?
We now fast-forward ahead two weeks. There's been very little sleep and way too many gallons of coffee. I'm sitting in my studio staring at the computer screen wondering how I ever thought that this was a good idea.
Then there was this one song - Upside Down. No matter how I approached it guitar-wise, it never felt right. In fact I was about to pull it off the record when the answer came to me in a Guinness and McDonalds induced delirium.
Mike had already recorded a bunch of piano for me at his place. Being that I've been a fan of his for as long as we've been friends, I, of course had intended to ask him to do some playing on the record...
"BING" (light goes on)... I'll get Mike to finish Upside Down.
With absolutely no guidance from me, (unless you call "do whatever you want" guidance) Mike set off to do his thing on the track.
A few days later, Mike comes back. The track is done and it's great (much rejoicing).
He approached the song in a way that I never would have and played something that really possessed his signature sound. It was exactly what the song needed.
At this point, Mike tells me once again that he thinks the stuff is quality and that I should shop for a deal here in North America. To which I reply: urrrrgggghhhhh. At this point in the journey, I've pretty much lost my command of the English language.
Anyway, Mike saves Upside Down from certain death (much rejoicing) and I continue on my way to completion and the reclaiming of my life/sanity.
Three weeks later, there was the record. Done. And me wondering what the hell I was going to do with it.
Down In It had an April release date in Asia and that was about all I knew at that point. Considering the whirlwind, trial-by-fire creation of the thing, I was fairly happy with the final product and was seriously starting to consider pursuing something as a solo artist.
Then all of a sudden...
"BING"(the light goes on again) - Mike's not playing with anyone at the moment. I really like what he did with Upside down...
10 minutes later I'm in my car heading to Mike's place.
Mike comes to the door and is noticeably surprised to see me in his neck of the woods unannounced.
He lets me in and puts the coffee on.
God knows what he was expecting when I begin revealing my plan for world domination. I'm sure I spoke way too fast, waving my arms all over the place but in the end I think I finally managed to spit out that we should re-record all the music and start a band.
He must have agreed because we have a finished record. Ahhhh yes... good fun - this music stuff.
The story-Mike Turner
by Mike Turner
Monday Morning, 9:30 am... the phone rings. It's Pete. "Hey man, what's going on?" he rasps. "Not much, how about you?", I replied. "Well... guess what... I'm going to make that solo record!". For some time now, I'd been bugging Pete to make a record of the songs he'd been writing for the last year or so. "Awesome! When do you start?" I said. "Actually, right now. I have to have it done in three weeks."
At this point - for those of you who aren't familiar with the process-- I need to point out the fact that you just can't make a record in three weeks. First, you need to record the basic tracks, which might take anywhere from a couple of weeks tohmm months. Next, you need to do any overdubs the material requires, which could take another couple of weeks. Then you need to mix the recorded tracks and that usually takes a day for every song. Finally, you have to 'master' the final mixes. Then, and only then, can you deliver a 'finished' record.
I mean, it is possible to cut some corners. If you have a band that's really on it's game, you can do the tracks faster - say, in a couple of days. You might even do away with most of the overdubs and mix faster. But even then, three weeks is very, very unlikely.
So I thought to myself, during this already long pause in our conversation: Pete isn't a band. Pete is a great guitarist, bass player, singer, songwriter, arranger, programmer and producer, but even he can only do one or two of these things at the same time. Surely, he must be mistaken. After all, it is only 9:35 AM.
"Three weeks? What do you mean three weeks? To approve the songs?" I queried. "Uhhh, nope", he retorted. "I don't get it. Have you been working on it and got it nearly done already?". "Uhhh nope". I was getting a little uncomfortable, but continued the redundant line of questioning because it was becoming entertaining for me. "Uhhhhalf way done?" I asked. "No, man", he said. "Well then, how much do you have done?", I asked with a degree of apprehension. "Nothing. I'm starting drums on the weekend", Pete said calmly. "WHAT??"
"I have to have the record done in three weeks", he repeated. There was a pause, and I guessed what was coming next. "I might need a bit of a hand. You doing anything this weekend?" Luckily, I wasn't busy that weekend, so I helped out with some engineering and editing of the basic tracks. We even recorded Jamie Edwards (who happened to be in town working on another record) playing some piano at my house. Off Pete went to finish things...in uhhh three weeks...right.
A week later the phone rings again. It's Pete. "Hey, what are you doing?"
"Right now? Mmmm, nothing, I guess", I said. "There's a song that I've demoed a bunch of times and it's not quite turning out right. I don't have time to keep kicking it around. Do you want to play on it?", he asked. The invitation sounded a bit odd for me. Pete is someone I've known for as long as I've been making music. He is one of my oldest friends, and one of the best guitarists that I know. "Play what?", I coyly asked. "Guitar, dummy" he chortled. "Uhh, like how? I mean what do you want me to do?", I wondered aloud. "Just do you. You are different than me and me isn't doing it right now". "Well, I guess I can give it a shot. Which the song is it?"
"Upside Down.", he said.
Off I went. I still had the files on the system in my studio, so I did what it is that I do with a guitar and it all made some kind of sense in the end. I was happy with what I had done and happy to have helped out a friend. Much to my surprise, Pete did actually finish and master the record in three weeks. I don't think he slept for three weeks, but he got it done. The record is good and it goes off to Japan and makes friends there.
The phone rings again. At this point, I'm starting to think about leaving it off of the hook. It's Pete. "Hey, what are you doing?", he asked in a familiar tone. I thought 'think fast Mike...you know what happens if you don't have something on the go'. "Uhh... drinking coffee", I brilliantly shot back, immediately thinking 'oh, that's clever of you Mike. Great job all-star.'
Pete could sense some trepidation. "No deadlines, just fun this time -- promise", he said. People had been liking Upside Down's different sound and Pete wanted to readdress some of the other songs with me playing some more guitar. In fact, I wasn't busy -- drinking coffee is more of a hobby of mine than an arduous task-- so I jumped right in. Next thing I knew we had four tracks together that we were really happy with and it occurred to us that we might play this stuff live. So here we arewe are Fair Ground. We almost went with Fine Grind, but the coffee thing was getting weak.