Volume 94, Issue 25
Friday, October 13, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
The sweetest fruit of all
Gazette File Photo
By Andrea Chiu
Down in the dumps? Feeling a bit sheepish? Ken Harrison has the answer.
One half of the Wild Strawberries, Ken and his wife, Roberta, have been pumping out feel good pop before audiences even heard the likes of Britney, Christina or Ricky.
Yet the band is incomparable to the pop celebrities plastered on magazines, television and littering the airwaves of commercial radio. Not only do the Wild Strawberries play intelligent pop-rock, but their careers have developed quite differently.
"We're starting to get rock radio play all across the country, which is kind of a first for us," says an excited Roberta Carter Harrison, from their home in Toronto. "We've had college radio support us before, but it tended to always trickle down to stations that your parents listen to."
Undoubtedly, the reason for this positive change is due to their latest release, LTwist, an album that signifies a departure from its predecessor, Quiver.
Although long-time fans of the band will have no trouble listening to Twist or finding the music familiar, the new CD has incorporated simpler, direct sounds, with more obvious hip-hop influences.
In the past, the Wild Strawberries' sound has had a happy feel, yet the lyrics have always verged on the darker side. With Twist, the listener can sense the record's creation has been inspired by more positive events, the most important being the birth of the first Baby Strawberry, Georgia, who is now two-years-old.
Another twist is the band's newfound independence. In the aftermath of the release of Quiver, the Wild Strawberries left Nettwerk, but all is well according to Roberta.
"We didn't have to lose touch with our fans and stuff when we signed to Nettwerk, but for some reason, we signed to a major label and we backed off in personal involvement," she says, explaining how different it is to run one's own record company. "One thing we're really enjoying is getting e-mail responses about the album, concerts and stuff. Just being personally in touch with people again is really nice."
Writing, recording and operating a record company usually occupies more than enough time for the average musician, but the Harrison's are not the average musical family. Ken and Roberta are parents, business people and doctors. Yes, doctors. Before Twist's release, Ken and Roberta were respectively a physician and a physiotherapist, but now the couple is concentrating on music and family.
"I'm not doing any medicine anymore. With Georgia and stuff, it's kind of crazy," Roberta says. "Ken still does a couple days a week down at Queen Street Mental Health in Toronto. He really enjoys it. We have to talk about ourselves a lot for interviews and he tries not to write about his life, but that always plays into it. He finds leaving Wild Strawberries behind a couple days a week and listening to other people's problems and other people's lives helps him keep grounded. It helps pay the bills too."
Although paying the bills is a constant concern for indie musicians of the world, the Wild Strawberries can't help but be optimistic. "We're totally this happy little family that loves doing music. It's a wasted effort that we're something else, so people either accept that and enjoy the music or write us off as too perfect."
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