Non Barking Dog

Album Cover - Too Many SistersNon Barking Dog includes 12 recordings made up of 11 new Stanley-penned songs, plus a cover of the beautiful “Useless Desires,” written by Austin, Texas singer/songwriter Patty Griffin. The album was produced by Stanley’s ex-bandmate Ron Hawkin. The stellar rhythm section on the disc consists of The Weakerthans’ Jason Tait on drums, and ex-Lowest of the Low bass player Dylan Parker. The work was recorded and produced in 2008 at James Paul’s Toronto, Ontario recording studio, The Rogue.

Stanley wrote “When I Get My Confidence Back” soon after teaming up with MacNeil. “We demoed it on acoustic guitar and violin, with two vocals, and it was a really nice version of the song. Then Ron Hawkins got ahold of it during pre-production for the Non Barking Dog sessions, and turned it into a big shimmering rock song.” Jason Tait’s drums propel the song forward, while six guitar tracks were used to create the signature bouncing tremolo guitar sound. The song charted on Sirius’s The Verge XM 87 – Satellite Radio. 

The lead-off track, “Skyscrapers,” was, Stanley says, “the first song that has ever been partly written for me in a dream.” In this dream, Wayne Coyne, leader of Oklahoma City’s favourite sons The Flaming Lips, was “standing directly across from me and pointing at me. He was angry and kept repeating four lines over and over, saying I had to use them in a song. When I woke up I could only remember two of the lines: ‘The newspapers tell me why, all the scrapers scrape the sky.’ The lyric for that song was written in its entirety the next day. It morphed into a love song about the places and landmarks that you see every day as you go through life, and how they are inexorably linked to the people who are most important to you.”

The song “A Lonely Sound” was Stanley’s first attempt to write something that would showcase MacNeil’s unique voice. Inspired by the road movie genre, it tells the story in three parts of a woman who is running away from her life, knows that she has to, but is looking at the whole thing as a giant mistake. Early on, Stanley says he tried to demo this song with him singing the lead, to disastrous results. “Carla’s haunting vocal on this song makes it completely believable. It was her vocal work on the development of this song that turned a solo project into a band.”

Sometime last summer Stanley took a short break and headed north. “I believe that getting out of the city at least once a year is important to my perspective and state of mind. On this particular trip, I took along a small-scale acoustic guitar that I had recently purchased for my daughters. This thing is awesome to play, quite inexpensive, and it always reminds me of the guitar sound you hear on Woody Guthrie or Phil Ochs recordings. So, it is easy to be inspired by this instrument.  On the second morning away, I woke up with the phrase ‘same old joint’ running through my brain. Literally 45 minutes later the song by the same name was finished in its entirety. I love times like this as a writer, because you really experience something that is beyond you. It doesn’t happen often for me, but when it does, I ride that wave. The song became the story of returning to a place that is all too familiar, but facing it as a stranger.”


Too Many Sisters

  • Carla MacNiel – Vocals, Violin
  • Stephen Stanley – Vocals, Guitars

With Special Guests

  • Ron Hawkins – Keyboards, Guitars, Percussion, Vocals
  • Dylan Parker – Bass, Vocals
  • Jason Tait – Drums
Produced by Ron Hawkins
Engineered & mixed by James Paul
Recorded at The Rogue Studios
All Songs by Stephen Stanley except “Useless Desires” written by Patty Griffin