Tuesday, February 15, 2005

***

(this article is no longer available online so we
decided to throw it up here on the blog - originally
published Winter 2002 in Boston's The Weekly Dig)

The Stairs
(On how they had to climb over Horse Tricks and a
Community Directory Of Serial Killers to record an
album)


by Astrid Harders


Once upon a time, actually two years ago, there were
these three guys, Ryan Walsh, Eric Meyer and Evan
Sicuranza who began the journey to a dream come true.
What started as bedroom jam session, with drunken
friends singing along, ended in an entire community’s
effort titled Miraculous Happens. This is the
Cinderella story of three kids from Dedham who are now
handing Rolling Stone magazine their new album.

In the year 2000, Ryan, Eric and Evan got a hint.
Didn’t the fact that at parties, people request one of
their most melodic songs, “Community Directory Of
Serial Killers,” stand for something? After several
homemade albums and a couple of name changes the hint
started finding a connection to reality. Ryan finished
a film called Horse Tricks, which was funded by the
Dedham Visionary Access Corporation (DVAC) – an
organization that funds artistic projects that
stimulate the Dedham arts community. Once Horse Tricks
filled the Dedham Community Theater, Ryan guessed that
the DVAC might help him out with the recording of an
album. And so it was that The Stairs got a $10,000
grant for the album under three conditions:

1) The album could only contain the three boys’
compositions but had to incorporate Dedham guest
musicians who would be interested in contributing.
2) All three of the boys had to hold a “Draw The
Album Cover” contest in the Dedham elementary schools.
3) The entire making of the album had to be
recorded in a documentary that would be aired in the
Dedham Local Cable station before the album’s release.

With the grant and several new additions to the band –
the current line up is Ryan Walsh (rhythm guitar,
vocals), Eric Meyer (drums), Evan Sicuranza (lead
guitar, vocals), John Ling (bass), Rob Johansen
(keyboards ) and Emma Westling (vocals) – it still
took The Stairs from October 2000 to October 2002 to
wrap up Miraculous Happens. The reasons for the
snail-paced process are various. “We were learning how
to do it as we did it,” says Walsh. “All of us were
going to school or had full-time jobs and it’s hard to
get six people to coordinate.” In fact, the delay was
so notorious that according to Walsh, for many of the
friends that had once requested “Community Directory
Of Serial Killers” the entire process turned into
somewhat of a joke. “I think people thought there was
no album,” says Walsh.

There were days when The Stairs thought it was going
to turn out awful. Of course, with the entire
community’s support the project wasn’t pressure-free.
But hey, in Walsh’ words, eventually they got “some
kind of two-year rhythm going.” As for the guest
musicians and all other conditions that enabled the
grant, “It was the most exciting thing,” says Emma
Westling. “At first we were like, we made these
parameters so we can get the grant and that’s kind of
a pain in the butt,” says Walsh. “But somewhere we
realized that that was the greatest part of recording
it; it wasn’t lip service anymore it actually became a
community project.”

Consequently Miraculous Happens is a happy ending in
the form of a 16-song “compli-pop” (a Walsh term)
album that tried to fit as much as possible into the
songs without ruining them. True, the six Stairs are
accompanied by approximately 50 guest musicians,
including the Dedham St. Mary’s Church children’s
choir, the Dedham High School marching band and one of
the Stair’s favorites, Tom Hummel, a main trumpet
player who gave songs like “Forty Two” an exclusive
introduction.

Now that Dedham made their rock ‘n’ roll dream come
true, The Stairs are exposing their music. They have
upcoming shows in Boston and New York and they are
patiently awaiting reactions from a DIY
cd-distribution trip that Walsh made (which is where
David Fricke from Rolling Stone comes in). “At this
point we’ve all decided we need to make a commitment
to the band; it’s not just for fun,” says Westling;
then she thinks twice and bursts into, “We wanna be
rock superstars!” Walsh laughs, pauses and says, “If
we could ever make a living doing music and touring
that would be a dream come true.“ “Yeah, I’m a
janitor, I wanna do music for a living instead!’
demands Westling. “I rip tickets. If we actually get
paid for it [making music] no one’s gonna turn it
down!”

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