Volume 93, Issue 56

Wednesday, December 8, 1999


Weekend Pass

The best and worst of 1999

Grand production a comforting classic

Rheostatics habitually unpredictable

Funnyman Fox fancies fame and fucking

Dre smokin' the good stuff again

Rheostatics habitually unpredictable

Gazette file photo
...AND THIS IS A LITTLE DITTY WE LIKE TO CALL, "SEND IN THE CLOWNS." Canadian indie legends The Rheostatics are expected to land at London's Call the Office on Dec. 10.

By Aaron Wherry
Gazette Staff

The only thing to expect from the unexpected is the unexpected.

This makes just about as much sense as the twists and turns The Rheostatics have made throughout their career. They have been consistently unpredictable, if that's possible and their latest departure might be the strangest twist yet.

"It's our attempt at children's music," says Tim Vesely, bassist/vocalist for The Rheostatics, describing their newest release, The Story of Harmelodia. "The original idea was to make some music for kids. We eventually decided on this format, of a story that's narrated and then we'd drop in the songs that we specifically wrote to go along with the events of the story."

Picture, if you will, any other band putting together a Dr. Seuss-like album. It doesn't seem tangible, but in this case, the music industry just shrugs its shoulders at the band who has always defied logic.

Vesely recognizes such constant instability doesn't lend itself to commercial success. "We don't have the illusion that we're going to change our audience or anything," Vesely remarks.

"We usually put out pretty obscure records that only our diehard fans go out and buy and listen to. For a while we felt like maybe the diehard fans who have kids will buy it. And that's like two per cent of two per cent of the market."

With teenagers becoming a lucrative target for the music world these days, The Rheostatics appear to be trying to get the jump on the youngsters by attacking the kindergarten crowd.

"We hope that it will draw more people into listening and enjoying the Rheostatics, but we did try to market it towards the kids, music scene – getting it into gift shops and toy stores, because I think there's a chance it might work there," Vesely explains.

But even if the kindergartners don't sell their Pokémons to buy the new Rheostatics record, Vesely doesn't seem likely to worry. The outsiders have become satisfied with their obscurity.

"I don't think we do fit in, certainly not within the music industry which is basically reduced these days to video and radio. We have had limited success at both of those things in the past, but it's never done anything for us and that's not what we're about."

The description of The Rheostatics as outcasts, however, may be questioned in the near future, when they join the Tragically Hip in stadium shows to celebrate New Year's Eve. As unpredictable as it sounds, even the shy kids in class get invited to the party sometimes.

"We're between those worlds of success and acceptance. It's a pretty unique thing to be involved with, both on that level and how the band works creatively. I feel very lucky."

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