ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 11, 1993
By Steve Newton
As a kid growing up in the tiny Ontario town of Watford (pop. 1,500), Tom Beaton didn’t get the chance to see many of the world’s greatest guitar heroes. But one fateful day he took a trip to London, Ont., to see Ozzy Osbourne on the Blizzard of Oz tour, and his life hasn’t been the same since.
“I was initiated into rock ’n’ roll by Randy Rhoads,” says Beaton, “and it left me completely in awe. I was just mesmerized, and I knew right then that was what I wanted to be. My parents even got me a cream-coloured Les Paul, like he used to have.”
Although Beaton was turned on to rock by a young master of flash metal, his band—Ten Seconds Over Tokyo—didn’t follow the thrashy route favoured by so many of today’s Ozzy-influenced acts. His group delivers some of the most compelling and inventive hard rock around, as Vancouver rock fans can hear for themselves when the band performs on a bill with Toronto’s Juno-nominated Sven Gali and local ear-burners Class Action at the Commodore on Friday (March 12).
TSOT’s rugged fusion of rock styles is driven by powerhouse vocalist Bill Eldridge, a crooner from Point Edward, Ont. His dynamic pipes alternately call to mind Eddie Vedder, Bono, and Michael Hutchence, but he avoids sounding too much like any of them. Along with Edmonton native Vail McColman on drums and Detroit-bred bassist Matt Walsh, Beaton and Eldridge have developed a killer sound that has its origin in live performance.
“We play live as much as we possibly can,” says Beaton. “There’s a lot of bands that work for a long time on recording albums, but then when they go out, it’s not really happening live, and we’re the opposite. After we write songs, we take ’em out and play ’em live and play ’em live and play ’em live—we never really create ’em in the studio.”
From the sound of the band’s self-titled 1992 release—which was released on the small Montreal-based Monogram label but distributed nationwide by Sony—the group has grown into a dangerously tight unit. It had to work through one major hurdle to get that way, though, tackling bureaucratic red tape to get Yankee Walsh into the fold full-time.
“You’ll notice on the credits of the album that there’s a thanks to my local member of Parliament,” points out Beaton. “Well, that’s one of the advantages of growin’ up in a small town, I think—my parents personally knew our member of Parliament because he lived just outside Watford.
“We tried everything to get a visa for Matt and finally we just ran against a brick wall, so I phoned up my MP and explained the situation to him. He said, ‘Well, I’ll look into it,’ and I’m goin’, ‘Yeah, yeah—right.’ But three days later, Matt had his papers, so…hell, that MP’s got my vote for as long as he runs!”