Volume 91, Issue 77

Friday, February 13, 1998

chumping for joy


A bouquet of junk for your sweetheart

©Mark Bartkiw
"DON'T THROW YOUR F$#@'IN JUNK IN OUR BACKYARD, OUR BACKYARD'S FULL!" Tough guys with a soft heart, Junkhouse is set to play a very romantic gig at Call The Office tomorrow night with their special guests Copyright.

By Dave McPherson

Gazette Staff

Manouvering through the Quebec countryside while giving an interview on a cell phone is no easy task for an average person, but then again Dan Achen is not your average person – he is the guitarist for Hamilton-based rock band Junkhouse.

Junkhouse emerged from a relatively quiet scene in Steeltown in 1993 with the swampy blues debut Strays. This album was a major commercial breakthrough for Junkhouse, featuring the hit singles, "Going Out of My Head" and "Prayin' for the Rain." The album was recorded in New Orleans and produced by Malcolm Burn, creating an eclectic southern gumbo flavour. The band's sophomore effort, Birthday Boy, was released to mixed reviews in 1995, and left the band at a crossroads in its' young career.

Deciding to take this minor setback in stride, Junkhouse turned in a new direction by replacing original member Ray Wilson with bassist Grant Marshall. To round out the new Junkhouse, long-time friend and associate Colin Cripps of Crash Vegas fame joined the band before the new album, Fuzz, was released last fall. Cripps and Junkhouse frontman Tom Wilson have known one another for 15 years, so the partnership was just waiting to be forged. Rounding out the Junkhouse line-up is original member Ray Farrugia on drums.

Achen says the addition of Cripps was a natural choice and he was a major factor in creating the sound of Fuzz. In addition to playing guitar and co-writing most of the songs with Wilson, Cripps also produced the band's latest release.

"We all come from the same neighbourhood," says Achen. "Colin co-wrote some of the early Junkhouse songs and growing up together in Hamilton, we have all played together for years.

"Colin has also given a wider sound to our live shows as it now allows me to play more overdubs. This gives the band a looser sound and a more exciting vibe overall on stage."

The addition of Cripps has not only breathed new life into the music, but the band as well. Achen admits that recording Fuzz felt, "like the first album all over again." This new energy was apparent at the band's show in Kitchener last weekend. The show was sold out, as every gig has been so far on this tour and the band played a smoking set that left the audience begging for more. Wilson's trademark growl and the new interplay between Achen and Cripps demonstrated that Junkhouse is a tight-knit group that can dish out some serious rock 'n' roll. And, as Achen reveals, "things are starting to kick in."

The band's current single, "Shine" is garnering serious radio play and kicking up some major waves in the Canadian music industry. The single speaks of a longing to escape while never really being able to leave the Steeltown roots behind; a symbol of the band's growth and a commentary on the universal struggle of change.

Speaking of driving, back on the highways of Quebec, Achen is trying to negotiate his way through "the land of broken trees," as he calls it, while trying to conduct an interview. After a couple of shows in Quebec this week, Junkhouse returns to London for a show at Call the Office on Valentine's Day. Will there be any special songs performed for the occasion?

"Maybe we will hand out a bouquet of roses to everyone who attends," Achen jokes. "On a more serious note," he continues, "we are looking forward to returning to London and fans can expect something different at every show on the tour so far as we are trying to change things around."

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

Copyright © The Gazette 1998