By Steve Newton
Some rock bands from decades past really push it when it comes to authenticity. Often you’ll see a group that’s touring under its old moniker with only one or two original members. Or maybe there’ll just be one—who also happens to be the drummer. (I’m talkin’ to you, Foghat!)
It’s a rarity when a band that you thought was awesome 20 years ago reunites with every original member intact. Such is the case with the Age of Electric, which is back at it with its original two sets of brothers—Ryan and Kurt Dahle, and Todd and John Kerns. Recently, the quartet started playing live shows again, their first since breaking up after a 1998 arena gig in Hamilton with Our Lady Peace.
“We often laugh about it now because none of us can remember what the hell the problem was,” explains Todd Kerns on a call from Coquitlam, where he’s visiting his folks. “But we’ve almost always been in contact in one form or another, and Ryan and I were already back writing songs over 10 years ago, with no real idea of what to do with them. It [a reunion] would be this funny conversation we’d have once in a while, and then of course, like the saying goes, life has a funny way of getting in the way of your plans. The next thing you know, it’s like years go by.”
Those years saw the AOE members accomplish great things on their own, though. Todd Kerns formed the formidable melodic-rock band Static in Stereo before earning worldwide fame as Slash’s bassist, Ryan Dahle found success as a solo artist and as a member of Limblifter and Mounties, and Kurt Dahle—who also spent time in Limblifter—helped the New Pornographers stake a rich claim on the indie-rock scene. But no one particular member served as the main driving force behind the reunion.
“That’s the weird thing,” says Kerns, whose band plays the Commodore on Saturday (April 30). “In a funny way, it just kinda felt like the Blues Brothers or something—‘We’re gonna get the band back together,’ like it was a calling. ‘We’re on a mission from God.’
“But the cool thing about it is it’s the original four guys. I was always kind of proud of ourselves for not going out with a version with a different guy—or sometimes many different guys and one original member. So I think that in doing it, it was more like, ‘Let’s just be the Age of Electric’—and in a weird way, I mean in the strangest way. Just the other day we were sitting backstage in Victoria, and it was the same laughs, the same gags, and I said to those guys: ‘It feels like somebody took 1998 and just erased everything up until 2016.’ In that moment it just felt like it was the next day.”