ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 20, 1992
Some band names really leave you wondering. I mean, what do you make of bands called Scootertrash, Afghan Whigs, Hocus Pick Manoeuver, and Mutant Starfish? At least a fellow can relate to a group called She Stole My Beer.
“Back in our high-school days we used to keep our beer cold outside,” explains SSMB singer/guitarist Chad Chilibeck, “and basically we noticed that more were disappearing than we were drinking. So we just sort of scraped the labels off a few and left them in there, and we caught the person—who just happened to be female.”
It could have been worse for the rockers from West Van’s Hillside Secondary, though—they might have had to call themselves She Stole My Guitar, or even She Stole My Car. The loss of a few cold ones wasn’t enough to damage the positive outlook of Chilibeck and his bandmates singer/guitarist Tom Taylor, bassist David Hughes, keyboardist Jordan White, and drummers Dean Waisman and Darrell Stables—six fun-loving guys who make up one of Vancouver’s top club attractions.
Recently they released their debut tape, Sparks Off the Guardrail, a collection of fine originals that stand on their own, even if they do bring to mind such groups as Little Feat and the Grateful Dead. The latter comparison isn’t surprising, considering She Stole My Beer has spent many hours covering tunes by Jerry Garcia and Co.
“We essentially started playing Grateful Dead tunes because it gave us a chance to improvise,” says Taylor, “but after a while you get the ‘Grateful Dead cover band’ tag, and it’s a tough one to tear off.”
“We probably enjoy listening to Grateful Dead music more than playing it,” injects Chilibeck, “but it got us the gigs, so we can’t slag it.”
Those Dead days are pretty well behind the band, now; its lively original numbers are definitely the main attraction. Since many bands’ first tapes consist of just a few tunes, the 13 tracks on Sparks Off the Guardrail—the majority penned by 25-year-old tunesmiths Taylor and Chilibeck—are quite an accomplishment. Taylor’s personal fave is the southern-sounding “Georgia White”, a song that came to him right out of the blue.
“I woke up in the middle of the night, turned the tape recorder on, and ‘there she blows’,” says Taylor, who sighs and shakes his head when Chilibeck announces that his cut of preference is another Taylor composition, “Strength”.
“It’s the song we laboured over the most,” explains Chilibeck.
Sparks off the Guardrail was recorded at producer Shael (the Hitmen, El Kabong) Wrinch’s Midi City Studios, and was a hot seller at the band’s two-night record release party at the Town Pump late last year. The group—which hopes to make a video for the raucous opening track, “Vicious Clippers”—also has plans to release the sessions on CD.
“We’re basically just hangin’ on for a month or two,” says Chilibeck, “just to see what happens with the tapes we fired out with our promos.”
“We’ve got some major-label interest now,” adds Taylor, “and we just want to see where that’s going to take it. We were told that this cassette might have to be recut [for a possible major-label release], so we don’t want to have 1,000 CDs and a week later have somebody say, ‘You gotta do it again, kids.’ ”
While She Stole My Beer is a formidable club draw nowadays, the group has had its share of nightmare bookings. “Oh God, yeah,” chuckles Chilibeck, clutching a Pilsner that no one—woman, man, nor beast—will swipe: “SFU pub night on a snowy night. They closed the road up to SFU after we set up, and there were six people in the bar. So we played one set and then everyone went, ‘Well, you guys are great, but we want to go home.’ ”
More memorable gigs are usually the case for Chilibeck and his mates. “We played outdoors on Bowen Island about three years ago,” he says, “and it was the first time we got that big adrenalin rush of people having a good time. It was 10 o’clock at night, with moonlight and a warm breeze and people dancing as far as you could see. It was just, like, ‘This is good.’ ”