Chris Frye embodies the western Canadian musical ideal.
Growing up in Creston B.C. and playing guitar for the jazzy Marc Atkinson Trio, Frye went on to do lead vocals and guitar for the Bill Hilly Band, (also known as the Bills). While busy enough with the Bills and a side project called the Analog Ghosts, Frye still managed to release a solo album last October called Raised on Rhythm and Rhyme.
“The album that I just made for me is totally not a folk album,” says Frye. “It definitely has some folk elements, but it also has some real rock elements and funk and soul music.”
Frye’s diverse borrowed styles come together to form a uniquely Canadian sound. The blending of musical influences is a notion borrowed from the success of the Bills, who won entertainers of the year at the 2006 Western Canadian Music Awards, beating out noted musicians like Jan Arden, Michael Buble, and the Road Hammers. As if that wasn’t enough, the Bills were nominated for a Juno in 2003 and again in 2004.
“Getting nominated for a Juno is a nice recognition for the work that we put into the studio,” says Frye. “I have mixed feelings about awards for the arts. It’s a weird concept that one album is chosen and called the best of something when there are so many great things happening in Canadian music.”
Despite his success, the chance to work with a slightly different sound than his usual homey folk-rock was too great for Frye to pass over. On Raised on Rhythm and Rhyme Frye decided to bring in some new instrumentation, and even a supporting vocalist in some cases.
“I wanted to make an album that had a bunch of different textures than what we have in the Bills,” says Frye. “All of these musicians that I’ve met touring in Canada and North America, I wanted a chance to record with them, make some music with them. So it was just a chance to play with some other people. Really the most important thing you can do as a musician is keep trying new things.”
As for the near future, though, Frye will be kept busy with his budding solo career. He will be touring multiple Canadian locations for the first few months of 2007 with various guest vocalists. Later in the summer he’ll go back to the studio with the Bills to begin recording a new album, tentatively scheduled for release this fall.
“That’s a big project because the Bills, we like to make big albums,” says Frye. “That’s the next thing on the horizon, writing some music and recording a new Bills album. It’s exciting.”