Volume 92, Issue 43
Thursday November 19, 1998
billionaire boys' club
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Rheostatics relishing diversity
Photo by Graham Kennedy
By Mark Lewandowski
The Rheostatics have often been considered one of Canada's most innovative bands, at the extreme even compared to innovative rockers REM. With the new music they are creating, their reputation as innovators should be reinforced.
"Our drummer [Don Kerr] has a studio and it's easy to put out CDs. We've put out our last three or four albums this way [including] Nightline Sessions. We put it together for Dave Wisdom's last show," Tim Vesely explains. Vesely is technically the bassist for The Rheostatics but all the members of the band are multi-instrumental.
Nightline Sessions is the Etobicoke quartet's ninth album and honours Wisdom's alternative CBC radio show which gave many hidden talents invaluable exposure. "It was really no big deal, a modest recording project. But it's easily done so why not," Vesely says. The album is an uncut 40 minute homage to subtle artistic rock and fits admirably into the band's diverse mentality.
So why are the Rheostatics such a diverse band? "We enjoy doing it," Vesely replies. "For a while we had an idea of working to become more commercially successful but we were doing lots of different stuff. But we look back now and it's the most enjoyable thing about what we do. We have a clearer focus on [our music] and why we do it." The band has done a variety of albums including the scattered Whale Music and the cello-rific tribute to the Group of Seven.
"A promoter we've worked with in Ottawa at the [National] Gallery was thinking about how to promote the Group of Seven exhibit so he commissioned us to make some music and perform it for them. It was a good diversion for us. We like to divert ourselves once in awhile, in between regular albums," Vesely explains, using the term "regular" very loosely.
Besides supporting Canada's great visual artists, the band's singer/guitarist Dave Bidini has been touring Canada in support of his novel, On The Cold Road. The book looks at the history of Canada's rock movement and was written while on tour with The Tragically Hip.
But Vesely insists these outside projects do not make it difficult for the rest of the band. "As a Canadian band there's only a certain amount of places to play and a certain amount of commercial outlets for your music like radio and television," Vesely elucidates, himself a score composer for some Discovery Channel programs. "It's a healthy thing for the band because when we do get back together to work on our next project it's fresh."
The band also enjoyed fresh exposure while touring with The Tragically Hip a few years ago. "It was great. We were treated very well," Vesely explains, concerning the new experience of playing arenas.
"We try to make everything a change of pace, so it fit right in. After touring with The Hip we thought, 'what's the next step that we can take to be as different as possible?'" Well, watch out Raffi because you've got some competition. The Rheostatics' next project is a children's album.
"We're pretty much finished recording it but we're going to try and get a book together as well, which will delay the release to later next year," Vesely explains. "If we do put a good book together we'll try to release it through a publisher and tap into the mainstream children's music industry."
Now that's diversity.
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