An acclaimed five piece who pour their emotions into every track, Silver Starling is composed of Marcus Paquin, Marika Anthony-Shaw, Liam O’Neil, Gab Lambert and Peter X. The group has quickly found its way onto critics’ radars and their highly anticipated self-titled debut – mixed by Paquin and Peter Katis (Interpol, The National) -- will be released in Canada on September 22 and the U.S. on October 20.
Canadian audiences have already been won over by the group’s brand of earnest and energizing rock, which earned them a deal with Toronto label Last Gang Records (New Pornographers, Metric and MSTRKRFT). The band’s moving songwriting and hummable melodies have garnered comparisons to everyone from The Beatles to Jeff Buckley and Irish super group U2.
Raised in the west part of the Montreal island, Paquin became obsessed with the Beatles’ Abbey Road at age four. He focused on music full time after a brief stint studying engineering, and eventually received a degree in jazz guitar and a Master’s in recording engineering from McGill University. He went on to work as a recording engineer for various labels and studios across Montreal.Upon his first performances as a solo singer/songwriter, however, he felt something was missing. “I was writing tunes and trying them out at open mics and cafes,” he says, “but I started quickly seeing the limitations of that idiom. It wasn’t as fun to be on my own.” After attending a show put on by a free jazz trio one night in 2007, he was impressed by the group’s drummer and introduced himself. “I made an unsolicited approach, trying not to look like an obsessed fan,” he remembers. “I told him I liked his playing, and that we should jam.” The drummer was O’Neil, and the pair began playing together and performing as a duo at local bars later that year.
Anthony-Shaw, a violin, viola and keyboard player -- and Paquin’s wife -- became the natural third member of the group, though at first she juggled her time between Silver Starling and playing viola on Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible tour. “Liam and I were working on the songs,” Paquin says, “and she would come back for a week at a time and jam with us, or just lend an objective ear.” A friend of Paquin’s and bassist for We Are Star 69, Peter X, offered to record with the pair and he was eventually added to the line-up. Silver Starling has also added Gab Lambert to their touring line-up, who plays guitar and banjo and interjects a sparkling personality into the mix.
Silver Starling, the group’s lush first album, is a tribute to a longtime friend of Paquin’s, who was stricken with pancreatic cancer and passed away in September of 2008. “He’s the glue that holds all of this material together,” says Paquin. “He is one of my oldest friends, and his sickness sparked a lot of emotions in me.” Tracks like “Ghosts” and “Love and a Broken Heart” display a rare feat in songwriting, balancing difficult realities with poignant optimism. This promising new band’s first work is full of sincere, sonically-rich tracks, and such nuance is at the core of Silver Starling’s appeal.