Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Windsor Star
Craig Pearson
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 

Bernie Sadilek

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.''

Subj: th intv Date: 97-10-27 15:02:43 EST From: (doug jones) To: starkid59@AOL.COM by Aron Weir and Maren Dick (transcribed by Peggy Shanks)

On June 2 (election day), the Grudge Match Tour rolled into Kingston. This particular leg of the tour brought the Super Friendz, the Local Rabbits (replacing Plumtree who had been on the bill earlier in the tour) and Thrush Hermit to the Trasheteria. Aron Weir & Maren Dick spoke with Thrush Hermit's Joel Plaskett and Ian McGettigan.

AW: Did you vote today?

JP/IM: No, nope.

IM: I don't think we can, on tour. I think there's a law that prevents rock bands from voting on tour. I think we would have had to have been in Halifax. Or you can get some plebiscite to help you out, no I don't know. I have no idea what it means. I'm sure someone in Kingston does though...someone's sitting at home listening to the radio saying "I know what that is and you don't."

AW: Well we had a chance to vote actually, when we were on the internet. We voted for our favourite albums and songs by Thrush Hermit. Have you ever seen the internet site that has this "make a vote" sort of site where they actually say "chose your favourite Thrush Hermit song, album, songwriter..." You'll have to check it out.

JP: Shut up! Where's that? Who did that?

AW: I couldn't tell you who did that.

JP: That's really funny, I'll have to go there.

AW: It's brand new because we were only the eighth people to actually be there.

JP/IM: Wow!! That's hilarious. What's it called?

AW: I don't know, we just searched under Thrush Hermit.

IM: The Thrush Hermit engine search.

AW: Yeah, you'd be amazed at how many sites you can get, how many links.... Your latest release is "Sweet Homewrecker," and I was wondering, if there was a story to go along with the name that you chose for the album?

JP: Well there's another song that the title actually came from, that didn't go on the record. Um, that might go, I don't know, hopefully on a single or something like that. It's from this song called "The Northwest Arm" and so that's really where the title came from. We just felt like it was maybe sort of an appropriate sounding title, sounded kind of tough and you can link it in thematically with enough of the songs that it made sense.

IM: It sounded tough but we didn't know what it meant.

JP: It was more like "bad ass sweet hitchhiker" kind of thing.

IM: On the album Paranoid, Black Sabbath did not know what "paranoid" meant.

AW: Oh?

IM: Ozzy didn't know what "paranoid" meant, he just knew it was like...

AW: A tough word? IM: Yeah... "oooh paranoid!!!"

MD: What's the story behind the "Grudge Match Tour?"

JP: The Grudge Match Tour?

IM: A blatant attempt at getting some sort of press.

JP: Yeah!!! Trying to hype up the media into paying attention to...

IM: A goddamned frenzy!! Into a 1992 style frenzy!!

JP: And you know, we wanted to provide a little bit of an edge too, kind of like...

IM: Mystique!!

JP: A mystique, a competition with the Super Friendz. There is a little bit of that. Healthy, sort of, competition.

MD: So who's winning?

JP: We are! There's no doubting that... I think...

AW: So you've been alternating with the Super Friendz? Is that right? Seeing who's going to do the headlining or closing of the shows?

JP: Yeah, we've been alternating pretty much show for show.

AW: Those are pretty swanky posters you had made up for the tour as well.

JP: Yeah they were nice. This guy in Halifax named Steven Elwood did them. Sort of, they look almost like an old boxing poster or something.

AW: Yeah, exactly. That's what I was thinking when I saw them. Is there any other story about the tour you'd like to share, something crazy that happened or kind of interesting. IM: Last night Matt Murphy (from the Super Friendz) kept... I was riding with their van, and they kept "crying wolf" like making their lights blink on and off and we kept pulling over to the side of the road just 'cuz Cliff (Gibb, Thrush Hermit's drummer) was driving, and we knew that Cliff would pull over every time and he's like "what's up" and we're like "oooh, sorry!"

JP: (sarcastically): It was really funny, it was hilarious actually. I was riding in the van that thought that things were going wrong. We found it really amusing.

IM: It was very funny in our van! Very funny stuff.

AW: This was on the road from Toronto to Kingston?

IM: No, on the road from Windsor to Toronto, on the way to Chatham. We stopped in Chatham to sleep.

JP: (snatching the microphone and the question list): Thrush Hermit in the past, and currently, is considered a touring band, that is: always playing live shows. Are there any plans for touring, after the current tour ends June 6th? Are there any plans for touring outside Canada?

IM: We'll probably end up going on tour in the fall most likely, what do you think?

JP: I think the summer is going to be a slow point.

IM: Yeah, give it a rest. But to get to your touring outside of Canada questions. We just finished up a healthy month in the United States.

JP: It was rough!

IM: We were opening up for a poor band and it was really inappropriate. I don't know, we'll probably head back to the states probably before we do a Canadian tour. Kinda thinking of playing in Boston and New York, maybe a couple of times this summer. Who knows?

AW: How do you find the reception down there? I mean you've played down there many times.

IM: We've had really good reception there before but this is kind of like apples and oranges tour. Honest to God, we're opening for such a retarded band who had such ridiculous fans that like you know it wouldn't have mattered if we were Thrush Hermit, or Ozzy Osbourne or you know or Moist opening up, there's not discerning, not that we're like snobby about fans but it's just really an inappropriate bill. and even if there were any people there, our music was just so not like theirs that you know it didn't really work. But ah, so that sort of sums that little stint up.

AW: Have you ever considered putting out a live album?

JP/IM: That would be really cool.

JP: The whole idea of a live album I think would be pretty cool if we were to do it with songs, like new songs rather than... I mean, eventually if you put out five records you could do a live album of all the songs you've recorded or whatever. Like a live show. It would be cool to do a live album of just songs that were unrecorded...

IM: Who was the last person who said that?

JP: I think that could be pretty cool, it's just like here's a live record but it's not like any set you've ever heard. It's just a set of all new songs.

IM: A set unlike you've ever heard.

JP: Yeah!! Yadda!! But yes, so the answer is yes. But, I don't know. Probably not on our next record. It's not going to be a live record.

IM: Knowing us, we'll put out a live EP.

JP: Exactly.

AW: What is your favourite song to play live?

JP: Probably, for me, probably it's a new song, so it doesn't make much of a story for the radio but: there's a new song that we have called "Uneventful" that will probably be on our second record. That I think that is probably, as a band, probably the most fun song 'cuz it's just like a big heavy riff with, you know, lots of drum fills, Cliff gets to show off and then a big epic guitar solo. That would be the funnest song, but that's new. I don't know what would be the funnest song off the record? "Patriot" is always fun, that's on Great Pacific Ocean that's a good song 'cuz we can jam it up and connect it to other songs.

MD: Where and when did you get your rock and roll sign?

JP: We got it made in Halifax at Creative Neon Works, in November, December I guess for specifically this tour that we've been embarking on. To push it over the edge so I hope you enjoy it. But we don't have it tonight because it's stuck in our broken down motor home and, I don't know, we're either going to retire it after this tour or you know, especially after this album or we're gonna get another sign made maybe that says "Do it!" or something like that like a smaller sign or something that is not as expensive and maybe not as long and elaborate but just another neon sign that says "keep it real" or something like that.

IM: Or "Nasty Boys", maybe we'll all just get metal plate hats instead.

AW: Is the sign now kind of acting up or something?

JP: The sign is, um, the sign works fine. The foot controller that Cliff designed which he did a very good job on, but it's beaten up pretty bad and doesn't work as well, so it kinda flashes too much so....we have to just plug it directly in and leave it on all night.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007