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This Kind of Life


They Call Me Rico’s second album, This Kind of Life, is a continuance of Frederic Pellerin’s exploration of his own sound, his own music, his own voice. It marks the powerfully intriguing next phase in a creative evolution for an artist who is bringing a compellingly unique take on the traditional roots music of North America.
Formerly of the popular Quebecois band Madcaps, They Call Me Rico is the manifestation of Pellerin’s desire to challenge himself not only as a songwriter, but as a performer. Going solo in recent years was a natural transition for the native of Trois-Rivières, one that he found both liberating but also nerve-wracking.
“There is a lot of freedom when you are on your own, but at the same time it can be more difficult. When you play in front of a large crowd and you’re alone it can be pretty intimidating. You are basically exposed out there. You can’t cover up any mistakes. But after a while I began to enjoy that. It made me a better musician and a better performer,” he said.
Musically, the paradigm shift from a band format to that of a completely solitary artist has allowed Rico, as he calls himself, to delve even deeper into the music that has had such a powerful resonance in his life. His debut album featured primarily covers of some of Rico’s favourite roots and blues based songs, but also featured three original songs, as he dipped his toes into the waters of solo composition.
It was a critically-acclaimed release, and one that brought him legions of fans throughout Canada and Europe, spawning a serious of highly successful tours, and such popularity in France that Rico uprooted his family from Montreal to move to the picturesque and culturally-rich city of Lyon.
For his second album, This Kind of Life, They Call Me Rico jumped into deep end of the songwriting pool, filling the album with the results of his ongoing creative exploration.
“On this record I wanted to do something more personal and something a little more calm. It’s still has a rock and roll feel, but this new album has more emotional intensity. And I wanted to get back to something that was a bit grittier. It does pick up from where the first album left off. It has the same instrumentation, the same roots and the same approach to recording, but the album is more me,” he said.
This Kind of Life is an dynamic exploration of roots/Americana music, heavily drenched in classic acoustic blues and tinged with folk and pure, straight-ahead rock and roll. The title track is a classic, unabashed and infectious ‘road song,’ inspired by Pellerin’s life as a working musician.
“It’s a very personal song about touring with my other band, Madcaps. I played with that band for more than 10 years and the song is about touring all over Canada, particularly western Canada. All the driving, sleeping in bad hotel rooms – just the whole life of the struggling band, getting from gig to gig as best we can,” he said.
“You’d be on the road for two or three months and have no money. It was hard back then, but the hardship was kind of fun when you were young. And there were lots of times when you feel like you’re going nowhere, but you still keep moving forward. That’s what the song is about, moving forward.”
“I May Be Right” was one of those songs that come together quickly, and end up being incredibly impactful. Pellerin said the simplicity of the melodies and the catchiness of the riff are balanced by lyrics that are deeply-felt but subject to the interpretation of the listener.
“It started as a riff. I was just playing around in the studio one night and the riff came to me. It took me about 10 minutes to put the rest of the song together and when I made a demo, I realized it was all there. This song is a little different for me. It has more imagery, more imagination to it. It’s more about a state of mind. I wanted this song to be a little more mysterious, I wanted the meaning to be open to interpretation and presented more like poetry.”
“Tried to Love Her” is a classic ‘hurtin’ song’ with a twist. It’s the story of a man coming to the realization that what he sees as love is actually something darker.
“It’s when you love someone so much that you want to control them. You don’t let them breathe. It’s about being too obsessive, too possessive and loving her so much that you actually lose her.”
Growing up in Quebec, Pellerin discovered classic rock at an early age. While listening to the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana, he also discovered The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. Wanting to know what inspired these legendary artists, he looked into the roots of their sound, and discovered Blues.
Originally a drummer, seeing old Hendrix videos on television inspired a teenaged Pellerin to learn guitar and become a performer and songwriter.
As a solo artist, his alter ego, They Call Me Rico, needed to stand apart from the plethora of solo artists – those who stood at a microphone, guitar slung around their necks. So Rico decided to use his early background as a drummer by including a bass drum and kick pedal into his performance repertoire.
“I didn’t want to go with the full ‘one man band’ setup, because I didn’t want to be seen as a novelty act where people are coming to see me just to see me play all these instruments. That doesn’t interest me. The most important thing is the music, not how it’s delivered,” he said.
This Kind Of Life also features a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s classic balled, “I’m On Fire”, with Parisian piano master Charlie Glad adding his unique slant to the recording. Other guest artists to appear on the album include Nicolas Grimard on lap steel and electric guitar, Dominic Laroche on bass and harmonica player Christian Vezina.
The album was recorded, mixed and co-produced by Vincent Blain and mastered at Air Studios in London by legendary mastering engineer Ray Staff (Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, The Clash).
Already an in-demand live act throughout Europe and Canada, They Call Me Rico will be touring on both sides of the Atlantic to promote the album. The debut single and video is “To Call My Own”.
“I really believe in these songs and in this album. I think there is real substance and depth to them. They are not throwaway pop songs. There’s a lot of meat to them, both musically and lyrically. And it’s still a good time record. It’s not pretentious, it’s just deeper and a little dark at times. I am very proud of this album. It’s an honest album. To me it’s very real and very pure.”

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