Volume 92, Issue 10

Friday, September 18, 1998

cheque please


Gandharvas grow from springtime to downtime

By Mark Lewandowski
Gazette Staff

In the United States, a good band's publicity train starts in New York City and concludes in Los Angeles. Many great artists have traversed this terrain in the hopes of fan approval and artistic recognition. Add one more great band to the list – The Gandharvas.

The Gandharvas have consistently maintained a strong following here in their home town and can easily fill a local show with their talent and ingenuity. But how did they fare in the United States?

"We had a deal with MCA so we were all over, coast to coast," announces Paul Jago, the band's front man and lead songwriter. The deal had the fearless fivesome doing up to five shows a week in southern states like Arizona.

"We were lucky to tour with the band Creed who has a huge following in the States, so we got to do arenas," Jago adds enthusiastically. One small step for band, one giant leap for Canadian band-kind. But like any adventure "down south" the good is always tempered by the strange and the inbred.

"At one show we did in Arizona it was over 100 degrees, you literally couldn't breathe. I like the dry and hot [weather] but that was too much," Jago jokes. But it wasn't just the heat the band noticed on their cross-country expedition.

"In Denver we pulled into a hotel just as [ex-Pogue] Shane McGowan was checking out. He was fat and bloated and his teeth were gone – he was looking pretty rough," Jago comments, concerning the well-documented intoxicated lifestyle of the infamous McGowan.

"When we got to Los Angeles we saw Joey Buttafuoco having drinks in a bar," Jago recollects. "And in Hollywood we saw Lenny from Motorhead playing Pac Man." He insists they approached Lenny for an autograph.

The Gandharvas, are riding the crest of their third album Sold For A Smile and as always, turning heads here in Canada. The band graced the Summersault Festival with their original brand of inspired rock beside many of today's local flavours. Jago insists that Bionic was his favourite. But bigger news came recently when the band was nominated for two MuchMusic awards for the single "Downtime" in the areas of direction and best performance.

"The album is different from the first two because it's much more stripped down," Jago explains, alluding to the new direction the band has taken. Their fans are also evolving into a more rock-oriented crowd because he insists "the hippies have all gone out west." What has really changed is that the band has acquired a greater sense of artistic freedom and a new producer.

"Laurence Currie is great because he doesn't overproduce things. He has a small studio on the East Coast where he's worked with Sloan. He gets really good guitar sounds," proclaims Jago. A good choice for a band that wants to "strip things down" and "[get] to the point."

The Gandharvas plan on spotting a few shows in the area this winter but generally hope to relax – a change of pace for the band who still comes home to London. From gigs with Jimmy's Chicken Shack and air play on NYC giant K-Rock, the band has a few stories to divulge. One of which is the strange experience of playing live at MuchMusic.

"Playing in the environment is strange because the people are trying to get their work done as you jam the amps and the crowd is bouncing up against the glass," Jago explains. Strange, yes. Funny – also yes.

So if you want The Gandharvas you've got them London, because Jago, Jud Ruhl, Brian Ward, Beau Cook, and Tim McDonald will be chilling on the home front for a while, starting with a big Saturday night homecoming at Call the Office.

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

Copyright The Gazette 1998