Singer and songwriter Jon Stancer has made a musical comeback with his debut solo album, For The Birds. Released in the summer, the album, which was produced by Jono Grant, is a nine-track collection of lyrical rock ’n’ pop, with themes that touch on reclusiveness, regret, revision and rejuvenation.
Stancer, a veteran guitarist within Toronto’s alternative music scene, had quietly taken a musical sabbatical until recently.
“I just got fed up. I was disillusioned with the direction music was heading and needed some time away,” he said.
Several years later, Stancer surrendered to his passion. As a self-taught pianist, Stancer found himself in his home music studio immersed in the piano, which was where For The Birds crystallized over some 14 months. The song, Turn Your Back On Your Regrets, was inspired by Stancer’s ambition to get back to making music.
“This song is about wanting to come back and make music. It’s about regretting the fact that I let all this time go by – maybe I would have felt better about myself, or about where I was at in my life, had I done it sooner. It’s about wanting to forget wallowing in the past and not being able to do anything about that. The present is now and you have to get on with it,” he said.
Stancer, 46, discovered the guitar and his musical vibe when he was 10 years old. By age 12, he was writing his own music.
“I grew up with two older siblings. I wasn’t really hanging out with them too much at that age, so I was on my own. I spent a lot of time in my room. I had a couple of cassette tape decks and bounced one to the other. I started to learn about harmonizing and adding instruments and arranging. I didn’t even realize what I was doing,” said Stancer.
Writing original material in his early teens, Stancer performed in two bands and began exploring different recording methods a few years later.
His former band Family Ritual’s 1999 album, Saloon, featured several songs that were licensed for productions by HBO, Disney, The USA Network and CBC. Stancer also performed as a guitarist and vocalist on John Southworth’s 1997 debut release, Mars Pennsylvania.
“In the mid-’90s, I spent a few years on the road with John Southworth, a formidable singer and songwriter originally from England, and now based in Canada. I played on his debut album, which was well received and gave us quite a bit of attention and momentum during that period.
“Both of these records featured an assortment of instruments and incorporated fairly intricate arrangements. I learned a lot about songwriting and production during that period,” recalled Stancer.
For The Bird’s first track, Dance In The Sun, is a catchy and uplifting pop tune.
“This song is about a person who is trying to get out of a rut of some kind and trying to prove to himself that he has something to offer and that he hasn’t yet had his best moment. It’s relatable,” explained Stancer.
The song, Stumbling Home Again, is autobiographical.
“The chorus came from coming home late from a night of drinking – I made up words around that about being lost, having to make choices to better yourself, better your life, to make the people around you happier,” said Stancer.
The song Take The Bait, with the lyric, “this is all for the birds,” was written in response to the Bataclan attack in Paris.
“I was watching news reports of the tragedy on television, as a baseball game was also in progress on an adjacent screen. People were looking back and forth between this horrible thing and this very casual and trivial thing. That inspired me to think life is all for the bids; all the shitty things that go on in the world – it’s all for the birds,” said Stancer.
For The Birds is available on iTunes, or at jonstancer.com.