These songbirds are no misers
By Greg Hubert
Life in a touring band is a very rough, tiring job going from city to city, playing the same songs night after night. Yet a few great bands are able to consistently bring home the bacon, playing tight rock music. One of these bands is Halifax's Thrush Hermit.
Guitarist Rob Benvie said this description surprises the band. "We never think of ourselves as tight we're not like a southern California punk band. We're loose, but tight, like Led Zepplin."
Thrush Hermit are once again touring across Canada, playing songs off their first full-length album, Sweet Homewrecker. This follow-up to the great E.P.'s Smart Bomb and The Great Pacific Ocean might have put a little pressure on Thrush's shoulders. But Benvie said this is not the case. "Sweet Homewrecker is the first record that we were really confident about the recording process. We were less concerned about keeping up with other bands and I think we found our own sound."
Benvie also feels that Sweet Homewrecker was a relief to record. "It was like, at last, now we can do whatever we want. We didn't have to think about a budget and time constraints. We could make this [album] and make it right."
Thrush Hermit have crossed Canada and the U.S. numerous times and one would think that constant touring might be a strain on the band. "We don't like to tour mindlessly, we only tour if we have an intention. We play an equal amount in the States as well as Canada, so it keeps things interesting, always moving," Benvie said. "Sometimes it gets a little weird, going back to the same cities. We've played London so many times in the last three years, we've played there a dozen times. Not everyone there knows us, but of those who do, I wonder if they are getting sick of us."
When the band performs live, they play tight, with the rhythm section laying down the groove. Guitarists Joel Plaskett and Rob Benvie spin interesting solos, drummer Cliff Gibb pounds out the beat and bassist Ian McGettigan goes, well, crazy. He has been known to balance his bass on his chin, climb up on the PA speakers and blow fire into the air, la Gene Simmons from Kiss. "Ian's kind of a natural showman, he likes to give it up to the audience. At home he's kind of like a dog tied up in the backyard, but when we go on tour, he's let loose," Benvie said.
Thrush Hermit has toured across the country many times although they have only been together since the early '90s, have three albums and only three videos. "Videos aren't something that we deliberately don't do, but they are expensive and it's always questionable how much they achieve," Benvie explained. "We like making videos, but we don't want to pay for them ourselves. I like videos, but I don't think they are necessary and we'd rather spend the money on a good van or better equipment. MuchMusic has played our stuff now and then, but there is no guarantee they will play what you make, so what's the point? We will make videos in the future, but it's not our priority."
College radio supports the band, for which Benvie is grateful. "College radio has done us really well and hopefully people are still interested. On commercial radio, the first single "North Dakota" was played a fair amount, more than what we would've expected. We do okay, but we've never had any big hits and we're still winning over new fans, which is basically the goal, as long as we keep progressing."
Thrush Hermit is one of Canada's best touring bands, consistently playing great shows, recording incredible albums and winning fans at every stop. They are one of the few bands that can kick it with the best of them and never make you feel let down.