Volume 92, Issue 86
Thursday, March 11, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Bergmann's success on own terms
Gazette file photo
By Luke Rundle
Is he a Canadian punk rock icon or an aging relic of a deceased musical era? An institution of rock, or an example of what could have been? He is a Juno award winner, but is he an unmarketable product? This is for the listener to decide.
Throughout his never-ending struggle with record labels, substance abuse and the slippery concept of fame, musician Art Bergmann remains a steadfast defender of his beliefs, regardless of the consequences. His creed centres around the conviction of music speaking for itself, not in saddling it with constricting labels.
Bergmann has definite opinions on those who label his musical career with stereotypes. "I just think that they haven't done enough living or thinking. Anyone in punk rock is supposed to be an iconoclast, are we not?" he questions. "I guess if you're an iconoclast long enough and you live long enough, you become an icon."
For the past 20 years, Bergmann has remained a curious figure in the music industry. Inhabiting an era typified by larger than life characters, the soft-spoken Bergmann found a place with a powerful arsenal of honest lyrics and brutal guitar riffs. He has managed to mystify many record labels by refusing to give into commercialism.
His belief that music should stand alone has kept him at bay from the grasp of fame. Bergmann's latest album, Design Flaw, may not garner much recognition, but it does solidify his standing as an uncompromising musician.
Design Flaw is Bergmann's first album since his Juno award-winning effort, What Fresh Hell is This. Sony offered their congratulation by unceremoniously dropping him from their roster. This led him to record Design Flaw independently.
"I don't know what these record labels are thinking, lying to me like that," he ponders. "They tell me this and that, saying they're going to work this record for a year, then when they get the finished product, all they can do is find fault."
Eschewing frills, Bergmann recorded his latest collection of songs not in a grandiose studio, but in the adequately equipped kitchen of his producer. The result is a refreshingly honest effort, without any electronic decorations. A microphone, a tape recorder and life experience is all Bergmann needs to conjure up his musical magic.
However, Bergmann doesn't want to dwell on the past, either for its successes or its failures.
"Punk rock is for kids and I was a kid back then," he states. "It's like livin' a revolution every day of your life and I've gotten older so I can't do that. You do it so you can die, but I didn't die, so now I'm just an old guy makin' music."
Copyright © The Gazette 1999