Russian hockey stars and broken legs inspire Vancouver’s Noise Therapy



Besides beer and back bacon, there’s nothing more Canadian than guitar rock and hockey. The Pursuit of Happiness combined those two Canuck ideals recently in its tribute to the Great One, “Gretzky Rocks”. Now local hard rockers Noise Therapy have answered with a pucky anthem of their own, “Red Army”.

’Course, it’s not the kind of tune Don Cherry would be crazy about.

“Mark [singer Mark Simson] and I are really big hockey fans,” says Noise Therapy bassist Rob Thiessen, calling from a tour stop in Salem, Oregon, “and we’re really big Russian-hockey fans. Mark has, like, a four-track studio that we used to write all the tunes on in his room, and we were just sitting around one night, so I just started jammin’ a riff on the guitar. He just started singin’ different Russian hockey players’ names over it, and it kinda worked.

“That song’s, like, a fan favourite in Canada,” adds Thiessen, “but in the States, nobody knows what it’s about. Nobody knows who anybody is—maybe Sergei Fedorov or Pavel Bure, that’s about it. The rest of the song doesn’t really go over that well down here.”

On “Red Army”, Thiessen pretends he’s NHL announcer Bob Cole, with a comic introduction to “the first-ever Red Army all-star game”, before lead vocalist Simson starts running through all the names of the Russian stars Don Cherry loves to hate. Then Simson proves himself a regular Jim Robson with an enthusiastic mid-song play-by-play that ends with local hero “Booo-ray” scoring on a one-on-one.

It’s a fun tune, driven by Kai Markus’s sledgehammer guitar and Oscar Irwin’s slamming drums. It’s joined on the band’s new 10-track CD by one other hockey-derived tune, “Broken Leg”, which was written a year to the day after Thiessen got injured playing hockey against a team from a local independent record label.

“Some guy tripped me cheaply from behind into the boards,” grumbles the 28-year-old rocker, “and I was screamin’ in agony. It was somebody from Cargo Records, number 24. I ended up doin’ a couple of shows on a stool with a full leg cast on. The song’s not really about my broken leg, but the title kinda fit.”

Although at least one dirty player in the Vancouver music industry might have been responsible for slowing Noise Therapy down a tad, it appears that others in the radio field are keen to support the two-year-old band’s new material.

“ ‘Sick Mind’ is doin’ really well on CFOX, actually,” says Thiessen of the CD’s raucous opening track, “and it’s getting played on the Lizard in Kelowna and KISW in Seattle. They actually even played it on Z95, or whatever that bad station in Vancouver is.”

During the past three months, Noise Therapy has spent most of its time on the road, steadily touring the States to support its CD, which was engineered by Christian Prekratic and mixed by Mike Plotnikoff. According to Thiessen—who spent five years playing in bands in L.A.—wherever the band goes, it never encounters a more productive music scene than the one in its hometown.

“We’ve been all up and down the West Coast so far,” he says, “and Vancouver’s definitely got the best scene. You can do whatever you want, there’s a lot of different styles goin’ on up there, and everybody seems to accept you a little bit easier than, say, L.A. or Seattle. We’ve gone over well there and stuff, but I think Seattle is still kinda stuck in the grunge kinda thing, and same with Portland.”

Noise Therapy has rattled the rafters at such local venues as the Starfish Room, the Hungry Eye, and the Town Pump, where the band will return on Monday (October 2) to join Souls at Zero in opening for California’s Ugly Kid Joe. Four days later, it plays its first Commodore gig, warming up for veteran Scottish ear-busters Nazareth.

“We’re just happy to get some shows with bands that hopefully will have a draw out here,” says Thiessen, “so we can play in front of a lotta people and steal their crowd. That’s what our main goal is, you know.”

If Noise Therapy manages to swipe enough fans to catch on big time, there’s a chance that certain band members may one day be chomping on the pricey snack that Simson claims to dislike—along with champagne and fast cars—in the new tune “Caviar”.

“I hope so,” quips Thiessen. “I’ve got nothing against fish eggs, myself.”


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