Volume 93, Issue 24
Wednesday, October 13, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Canadian indie music mainstays call it quits
Photo by Ingram Barss
AND I GOT A HANGNAIL, TOO. Halifax's Thrush Hermit cut their farewell tour short after lead singer Joel Plaskett (far left) experienced health troubles.
By Shawn Despres
Many Canadian indie music fans were looking forward to Sept. 21 as it was the release date for the latest Sloan record.
However, in the early afternoon of that day a message was posted on the Sonic Unyon online mailing list and then again on Chart Magazine's Daily Alternative Music News site. This message tainted the day for those music masses. No, nothing had happened to Sloan, but their friends and former labelmates Thrush Hermit - who decided to call it quits after making rock music for almost 10 years.
One person quickly posted a message on the Sonic Unyon list saying the Halifax quartet's breakup had to be a hoax. People thought it was simply a practical joke to steal some attention from Sloan.
"That would have been a really funny hoax," laughs Thrush Hermit guitarist Rob Benvie. "But no, it's not a hoax, the band is really breaking up."
The next logical question could only be, why? "We were planning on going on tour and then heading back into the studio to work on our next record. I wasn't excited at all about recording though," Benvie states. "My heart just wasn't in it, at which point I made the decision that I was going to leave the band after the tour. After I discussed this with the band we decided that we all felt the same way and came to the conclusion that it was time to call it quits."
Thrush Hermit planned to end things on a high note by heading out on a cross Canada tour with The Flashing Lights and The Local Rabbits. Dubbed The Frontman War Tour, many considered this to be one of the premiere Canadian concert bills of the year.
"We knew we were going to tour and we always like to have a reason for touring. Since we didn't have any new material to showcase we decided to invite some of our friends along and have some fun."
When asked who was going to win the Frontman War, Benvie quickly and enthusiastically responded. "I'm pretty confident that we were going to win. We were going to blow the other bands off the stage."
Anyone who has witnessed one of the band's explosive live performances knows this most likely would have been the case. The Frontman War, however, was sadly not meant to be for Thrush Hermit.
Last week, during a routine pre-tour medical checkup it was discovered that lead singer Joel Plaskett had a disturbingly low white blood cell count.
Under doctor's orders, Plaskett and the rest of the Hermits were forced to drop off of the bill. The tour is still set to continue with The Flashing Lights and The Local Rabbits, but all of Thrush Hermits' plans have been postponed indefinitely.
In a twist of fate, the announcement of Plaskett's sickness comes on the heels of his recently released solo disc, entitled In Need Of Medical Attention.
While Plaskett is going to concentrate on his solo career, Benvie says he plans to do some writing and also hopes to collaborate with bassist Ian McGettigan on soundtrack work for television in the near future.
So with the demise of Thrush Hermit, can fans at least keep their fingers crossed for a reunion tour? "No, Thrush Hermit is done. Not to say that we won't work together on some other level, but it won't be as Thrush Hermit."
Copyright © The Gazette 1999