Volume 92, Issue 28

Friday, October 23, 1998



A scenic highway to success

By Greg Smart
Gazette Writer

Finally, there's an unpretentious band that's all about fun. Unlike the multitude of contemporary bands obsessed with shaking a fist at society, the Orchid Highway harkens back to a time when music was purer – when it was about just having a good time.

The Orchid Highway is a groovy, hip ride down the byways of '90s pop music. Pop music is such a broad category these days that it encompasses the band but doesn't quite pinpoint it.

"Sometimes, we tell people that we are completely derivative '60s pop but we say that with tongue in cheek," says guitarist and vocalist John Woods. "When we sort of shrug our shoulders and go, ya okay, sure we're pop, we're trying not to be pompous about the music and claiming that it is something completely new."

The feel good music of the Orchid Highway assuredly has roots in the '60s scene but it has been updated and blended with a '90s flavor. "Each one of us is bringing our own separate personality and collection of influences into the band. All the stuff that we are listening to and digging, gets thrown into the pot and dissected and pulled apart. But there is definitely a common ground in the band." That common ground seems to be the basis for a winning combination.

The whole band is made up of Canadian talent hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba. "When we were starting out in Winnipeg it was the real, sort of, grunge capital of Canada. It had always been a heavy metal, hard rock town. We were playing pop in the middle of that and not getting much recognition so we took off to England. The whole Brit pop thing was going on there."

Their trip to England definitely had a recognizable effect on the band's style and lyrical content. "It was like waking up and finding all of a sudden that, wow, here is a scene that we fit into," Woods said. Now, the Orchid Highway is back to sew their musical oats in the Canadian music field again.

As a live band, the Orchid Highway has an admirable reputation, which stems from dedication to their fans. "When we perform live, it's partly for us, but mostly it's for the audience. We're up there to entertain and that's the number one thing. We want people to walk out of the show and say, 'wow, that was incredible, I had fun!'"

Their lush musical style is not only catchy but entertaining. "We are also thoroughly committed to bouncing around up on stage," Woods says. Fun and entertainment is really the bottom line about the Orchid Highway.

That's not to say their songs are devoid of depth. Under a whimsical pop style lies lyrics that are tangible and are drawn from real life. "What it comes down to is it's all stories and it's all from personal experience.

"Whether we channel it through a song that is specifically a story or we channel a certain emotion that we felt in our lives and try to paint a picture of it through words and music – in the end it's all us."

Follow the scent of the Orchid Highway to The Spoke tomorrow night.

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

Copyright The Gazette 1998