Volume 92, Issue 49

Tuesday, December 1, 1998



From Grapes to whine... and back to Grapes

Gazette file photo
TEN DOLLARS TO TOUCH MY MONKEY. The Grapes of Wrath visit London tonight with a performance at Forwell Hall at Fanshawe College.

By Clare Elias

Gazette Staff

Change is always good, it allows for new perspectives, new ideas, the chance to grow and perhaps even the realization that the old ways were all you ever truly needed. For Tom Hooper, vocalist for the Grapes of Wrath, this circular philosophy characterizes the last six years of his musical career.

After many disputes for creative control, plus poor communication, the Grapes of Wrath disbanded in 1992 and reformed after reconciling their differences. "When we broke up we were young. We needed to grow up, talk about things and not get too hooked up on things either," Hooper comments.

But tensions between the members of the Grapes of Wrath go much deeper than difficulties in expressing their inner thoughts and complaints. Hooper is an artist who needs a large outlet for creative expression, without it being hampered by other voices. It was and still is Kevin Kane, Grapes' vocalist and guitarist, with whom he can banter his ideas, without having his style cramped.

"With Kevin, we just get along. I have a lot of trust in him as a songwriter, especially since we're the creative process of the band," Hooper says with a fleck of bitterness coming through as he reflects upon his time spent with Ginger, the short-lived band after Grapes' split.

"Ginger was a drag. For me it wasn't the best creative release. I thought it was pointless and I didn't know where to go next."

The natural progression was a return back to the Grapes of Wrath. After taking into account the difficulties endured with Ginger, Hooper's first endeavour seemed to shine a lot brighter.

"With Ginger, the whole dynamics of the band just wasn't working. There were two songwriters and the [band's] vision had a hard time getting through. How does the saying go? Too many cooks in the kitchen?" he says.

The resolution of the story has Hooper getting out of the kitchen and rejoining his childhood friend, Kane. "Kevin and I needed a break. We needed to figure out ourselves and what we we're about. And when we saw each other after five years, it was like old times," Hooper reflects.

The storyline continues for the new Grapes of Wrath, whose ambitions are to surpass the previous sounds and styles of their original group. "I don't think we reached any pinnacle of creativity. Now we need to aspire to be better than we were before."

Hooper attributes this optimistic attitude to his own personal views of always desiring a change. "I get bored of one thing and want to do something else. I get tired of it all. There's no grand scheme I have mapped out, I just need something new."

This need for change not only explains his shift in career, but as Hooper acknowledges, reflects the group's musical bent. "We're not doing this folk thing, have you listened to our singles?" Hooper quickly asks, in anticipation of setting the record straight. "The Grapes of Wrath is an electric band, we also do acoustic, just with more power."

Thus the tale of the Grapes of Wrath ends, with wounds healed and new musical visions evoked. But just remember next time you're feeling the urge to take off and expand your wings, stop and realize maybe "it's just all right here."

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998