It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged…
But when an announcement like the one earlier this week happens, I just gotta put my 2 cents in.
Yesterday was a bit like deja vu to a year ago when the smalls announced their reunion – http://wordsnbones.com/2014/05/28/music-the-smalls-reunite/
This time Canadian indie rockers of the 90’s, Age of Electric (funny they didn’t have a website when I started writing this but now they do! http://www.theageofelectric.com) announced they will be doing a reunion show Aug 29 in Calgary as well as dates in Edmonton.
(you can read about it here: http://bravewords.com/news/the-age-of-electric-reunite-for-first-show-in-17-years)
the smalls were an influential band to me being that they formed while I was in college and I was able to watch as their career took off.
Also while I was in college and living at “The Apartment” across from Grant MacEwan Community College, often hosting a number of musicians on our couch, I discovered a band called Electric (pre-Age of Electric). It was their first time playing in Edmonton and we had a band crashing on our floor / couches at the time – I really wish I could remember the name of the band (members Mark Freehand, Gerritt, and Herb) but those days were a little hazy… Anyway, the band staying at our place had a couple of band members from Saskatchewan, Mark and Gerritt and they were rehearsing at the Londonderry. They came home one day and said we have to check out the band that’s playing as they sounded great in sound check – it was Electric (also from Saskatchewan).
Now during this era, music was in a different place. Originals weren’t allowed to be played in bars – period. It was all covers and bands had to bring their own production. This meant all PA and lighting as well as crew. Bands today have no clue what they are missing out on. Those days meant travelling around in a bus (hopefully) with your sound and and light man and every week spending a day building your sound and lighting at each venue. I hated Sundays/Mondays which meant setup or tear down…and then travel… long long long days!!!
Again – it was all covers. So Electric was actually a tribute to The Cult (get it? … The Cult had a CD called Electric….) They also covered the usual LA scene of Guns n Roses, Motley Crue, Faster Pussycat but they also were able to do great renditions of Cheap Trick and some other more unknown songs at the time. They were an instant favourite as I am a huge fan of Cheap Trick and no one else was covering them. The band was 2 sets of brothers (Todd + John Kerns, Ryan + Kurt Dahle) and the vocal harmonies were amazing – how can they go wrong with a band consisting of brothers!
I got to know the band right away – often going to parties – hanging out etc.
Also back in those days, bands played the whole week, 3-4 sets a night….. seriously! Bands now days have NO CLUE!! They complain about the odd 30 – 40 minute set when back then we played up to 4 hours a night 5 nights a week.! SO many good musicians came out of this scene as everyone had to play all the time. Some are still active in bands such as Slash, Five Finger Death Punch, Bon Jovi, and many more…
With the band playing 5 nights I’d often be out at least 3 times during the week to see them and on the slower nights (usually Mon – Wed), there was more time to chat and hang out, often going to Humptys for late night eats.
Another similar band on the scene – and was around before Electric – was Smash LA (Reed from ZUCKERBABY was one of the guitarists) – also a band I saw many times and hung out with. The two bands bonded, Todd sang on their cassette, they sometimes shared the bill but they both became leaders of the scene, which meant the girls were always around which meant the guys also followed… packed shows = a great party! Electric eventually became the top act to see while Smash LA hit their limit – might have been due to some of the excess partying that was going down at the time.
Remember this was late 80’s early 90’s level of partying – the bands playing the covers were often treated like the bands they were covering and partying was at an all time high. The bars were in hotels where bands were put up, often strip clubs were also attached. So bands + strippers + hotel = parties…. oh and in Alberta we have this thing called off-sales… Off sales is this crazy thing where when it’s the end of the night you can buy booze from the bar to take home so it’s not really the end of your night.
You get the idea but if you are curious just check out this Facebook Group to get a bit of an idea of what the bands were like: https://www.facebook.com/groups/5800363420/
Electric toured non-stop all over Western Canada. They lived on the road. They became what every musician at the time wanted to be.
I remember getting a call from Ryan one day – they were playing at the CI West (Convention Inn West) just down from “The Apartment”. None of the other band members were around and he just received a copy of the final mix for their cassette and he was dying to hear it – he asked it he could come over and use our ghetto blaster. so he could hear the mix. I said under one condition – I get to tape it. He agreed as long as I didn’t tell the other band members. I’m sure I still have that tape somewhere tucked away in a box of memories.
The songs were great. One that stuck out to me and for some reason just didn’t fit with the others but still a favorite was Rapid City….. it was less “LA” and more substance. A lyric that stuck with me – “7 days stay in a non-stop town”… pretty much summed it up.
Age of Electric - Rapid City
One party I remember quite clearly, was at girl named June’s place in the West end of Edmonton. The parties back then would often end up with various members of different bands playing in town attending making it always an interesting experience. This one had Ryan and Kurt from Electric and Robbin from Dirty Deeds (an AC/DC tribute band). Ryan and Kurt started singing a song to June that they made up on the spot, while Robbin sat in a chair one hand up in the air giving the hours while chugging a beer while head banging. This led quickly to him puking while hand still in air giving the horns while still head banging….. yup those were the days. It was no matter, a quick clean up and the party still rolled on – Robbin didn’t miss a step…
Electric were different from other bands.
They started playing originals and they got away with it – they started to party less and work on their career. They had the crowds so the bar owners couldn’t say anything or try to stop them from playing originals. Smash LA was another band that got away with playing originals but these bands really did lead the way in bars allowing acts to do originals. Electric was outgrowing the cover scene and had to change and evolve.
…. more to come….