August 3, 1995
Thrush Hermit rises from east with blend of pop, thrash rock
The right rocking East Coast sound -- if one exists, that is -- is sailing into Windsor.
Thrush Hermit takes its East-Coast-indie-Husker Du-'70s-rock sensibility, mixes in some Bruce Springsteen and, believe it or not, the Beach Boys, and plunks it smack dab in the middle of the Masonic Temple on Sunday (with guests Poumons, Plumtree and Plastic Gary).
But it ain't pop. Not solely, anyway.
``We tend to get pegged with the word pop a lot, and that's fine,'' says Thrush guitarist and vocalist Joel Plaskett, still sleepy on the phone at 5 p.m. ``Pop music is a word that can apply to a lot of things. But you can apply it to Mariah Carey just as easily as you can apply it to Thrush Hermit. The distinction there is we're a rock band, not just a pop band, and that's what we aspire to be. The Beatles were a rock band -- they were playing popular music -- but it was rock.''
Meanwhile, Thrush Hermit was once described as ``Urge Overkill guesting on a Banana Splits rerun.''
But they keep it gritty. And light, in a way.
``The Beach Boys influence is subtle, but it's still there,'' says Plaskett. ``I like to think we're ripping off the Beach Boys when nobody else notices, but it comes out sounding more like Husker Du than the Beach Boys. The way the Beach Boys can lay melodies over certain chords is super impressive.
``There's a certain light-heartedness about it. They're singing about simple things like love, whereas our lyrics are a bit more wordy.''
Plaskett writes roughly half Thrush Hermit's tunes, while Rob Benvie (vocals, guitar) writes the rest. The young quartet (nobody's older than 24) features three singers and also includes Ian McGettigan (bass, vocals) and Cliff Gibb (drums).
``A lot of my songs tend to come out being personal relationships with people,'' Plaskett says. ``I write so it's not totally exclusive to anyone. The worst is a bunch of in jokes. Or being too clever can be dangerous. I love that stuff and eat it up but ... it doesn't speak to everyone ... it just speaks to the geeks like me.''
So the Halifax writer sings about life as he sees it on the East Coast, though he ensures his vision is accessible to non-Haligonians, too.
Which brings us to that East Coast sound again.
``I don't really think there is (such a sound). Maybe before you could have pinned a sound on it because there are tie-in factors amongst us all,'' says Plaskett, whose group records on the East Coast label Murderecords, the brainchild of quick-rising Halifax rock act Sloan. ``You can find bits of all the bands in our music, for sure, because just being around that you can't help but absorb it. Now with our new record out, the great Pacific Ocean, I think there's considerable difference between us and say Sloan's last record Twice Removed.''
Still, local promoter Fayze Sassine figures Halifax produces an identifiable sound in the way Seattle did.
``I really like the Halifax scene. I like the sound,'' he says. ``It's a slack rock sound, basically. It's really tied into the indie scene, actually. And I like the indie scene because everything is fresh and new. The best thing about indie stuff is it's raw. It's not over-produced.''
The Kitchener - Waterloo Record
May 9, 1995
Rockers Thrush Hermit building good reputation
``We want to put on a ROCK show, not a cultural event where everyone's into free love, or something,'' says Rob Benvie, vocalist/guitarist of the Halifax quartet Thrush Hermit. ``We like to try and create some sort of weird mystique around our band,''
So far, the word on the band is one of anticipation. Their power pop sound and energetic live shows have earned the band a little bit of the spotlight as of late.
Benvie, along with fellow vocalist/guitarist Joel Plaskett, bassist/vocalist Ian McGettigan and drummer Cliff Gibb, have just released their second CD, The Great Pacific Ocean, a six-track EP produced by Steve Albini (Nirvana) on Murderecords, first home of fellow Halifax rockers Sloan.
In fact, since the early days of the band, comparisons to Sloan have caused some to peg them as Sloan Jr, a title that they are sure to lose once given a chance to be heard.
They join local band Jacob's Room and opposite coast rockers Slowburn in a great triple bill Thursday at the Volcano.
``We're not out to sell really big,'' Benvie says. ``Well, not right now. We just want to achieve some notoriety for being a good band amongst people who know about music.''
Their first EP, last year's Smart Bomb, garnered them accolades near and far. They've opened for such alternative bands as Veruca Salt, Redd Kross jale and Eric's Trip.
They have also kept their name on the tips of people's tongues by releasing numerous independent seven- inch singles and contributing songs to various U.S. indie compilations. They are planning a vinyl picture disc release of The Great Pacific Ocean through a label south of the border.
Though some major labels have come tapping on Thrush Hermit's door, they are not quite ready to sell their souls to find themselves in corporate rock oblivion.
``We've told them (majors) there are a couple of things we want to accomplish before we think about signing,'' explains Benvie. ``But we're starting to get around to the bottom of that list.''