Volume 92, Issue 15

Tuesday, September 29, 1998



Spirit of the Western

Photo by Raeanne Holoboff

THEY'RE ALTOGETHER SPOOKY, THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Spirit of the West sweeps over London tomorrow night at The Drink.

By Christina Vardanis
Gazette Staff

"A Club Med with cows" is how Spirit of the West musician Geoffrey Kelly describes the surroundings of their most recent recording adventure. "It was the most romantic experience I've ever had without my wife."

Travelling to Great Britain to record their sixth major album, Weights & Measures, was agreed upon by the Vancouver-based band known mostly for its upbeat brand of folk rock. Needing a change of pace, Spirit of the West went looking for a different recording environment and found a welcome surprise along the way.

"We had this romantic notion of living, eating and sleeping in the studio," Kelly says. "We found one in Britain that just happened to be owned by Martin Barre of Jethro Tull."

Barre contributes some guest guitar to the album and is just one of many people sitting in on the foursome's fifth chair. Duncan Moss of Page and Plant and Martin Bell of the Wonderstuff both jumped at the opportunity to record with the band, resulting in an album more social in composition than past efforts.

"It was the most inspiring recording experience," Kelly recalls, while realizing the fleeting nature of the moment. For a band that's been around since 1983, the duties of daily life have had plenty of time to materialize.

"It'll be hard to go back to a regular studio. There's always something to distract us – like on our breaks, it's easy to leave the studio to go and drive the kids somewhere or take care of bills. When I'm here, I'm Dad."

Kelly isn't the only proud papa of the group. Three out of the four members answer to "Daddy," which has been a turning point for the focus of the band. "[Our lives outside the studio] definitely affect our writing. The world has shrunk down a bit and we don't think of ourselves as global thinkers anymore. We write about things that happen in our neighbourhood, things that are in our face," Kelly says.

Spirit of the West has always been a band known for its live shows. The band's version of "sing-song" rock mixed with a strong Celtic influence carries a contagious enthusiasm bound to energize any surrounding. However, with each member's increasing commitment outside the band, dropping everything to tour for months isn't a viable option. While other bands may see this as draining their lifeblood, Spirit of the West recognizes with a little rearranging, they can have the best of both worlds.

"The band isn't all consuming like it once was," Kelly explains. "But all that means is more control for us. Any success we have will be on our own terms."

While laughing at the longevity of pub mainstays like "Home For a Rest," Kelly recognizes the good fortune that has come by a word of mouth following for the band.

"Pop fans are always looking for the next big thing. A band's shelf-life is short. Our following proves we're not a flash in the pan, but we're not an overnight success either. We should have been dead and buried long ago."

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

Copyright The Gazette 1998