That time I asked Alex Van Halen about his earliest memories of jamming with Eddie

By Steve Newton I haven't interviewed that many drummers over the years--mainly because I like talking to guitarists more--but when Van Hagar was heading to Vancouver for a show in 1995 and the opportunity came to chat with Alex Van Halen I didn't turn it down. And boy was I glad I didn't, because he … Continue reading That time I asked Alex Van Halen about his earliest memories of jamming with Eddie

The Tragically Hip causes traffic havoc before getting messy with a surprise gig at Vancouver’s wee Railway Club

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 20, 1995 By Steve Newton Canadian guitar-rock heroes the Tragically Hip took all of Vancouver by surprise on July 12 when they announced a last-minute concert that night at the wee Railway Club (capacity 176). When word went out over local rock station 99.3 the Fox that 75 … Continue reading The Tragically Hip causes traffic havoc before getting messy with a surprise gig at Vancouver’s wee Railway Club

Willie Nelson bares his down-home soul on Revolutions of Time box

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 14, 1995 By Steve Newton I’ve gotta admit that I’m not a real huge country-music fan. I actually view what’s known as “new country”—that lightweight, vacuous, fabricated piffle churned out by the Nashville music mill these days—with the same jaundiced eye reserved for lowly “gangsta rap”. But there’s … Continue reading Willie Nelson bares his down-home soul on Revolutions of Time box

Dance of the Rainbow Serpent features some of Carlos Santana’s finest moments on guitar

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 14, 1995 By Steve Newton Unlike the recent Tom Petty box, this three-CD package doesn’t contain enough previously unreleased material to make it a must-have, but it does feature some of Carlos Santana’s finest moments on guitar, and you know that can’t be bad. Dance of the Rainbow … Continue reading Dance of the Rainbow Serpent features some of Carlos Santana’s finest moments on guitar

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers box set is a must-have for Pettyphiles

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 14, 1995 By Steve Newton Some boxed sets are basically just glorified greatest-hits collections, with maybe a handful of remixed or previously unreleased tracks tossed in to lure die-hard fans with bulging pockets, but the 92-track Playback isn’t one of those. While it does contain all the big … Continue reading Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers box set is a must-have for Pettyphiles

The Gord Downie Tapes, 1995, Part II: life on the road with the Tragically Hip

By Steve Newton On July 2, 1995, I did my fourth Georgia Straight interview with the Tragically Hip's Gord Downie. It had only been six months since our previous chat, and it was unusual--even back then, when newspapers were thriving--to publish two feature stories on the same band within such a short span of time. But … Continue reading The Gord Downie Tapes, 1995, Part II: life on the road with the Tragically Hip

The Gord Downie Tapes, 1995: “I don’t think Canadians need someone to tell them that it’s okay to like what they like”

By Steve Newton As we wind down to the Tragically Hip's "last-ever show" on August 20, folks all across Canada are contemplating the legacy of the group. One subject that commonly gets bandied about is the Hip's famous inability to "break through" in the States, and to garner the same degree of commercial success down there as they … Continue reading The Gord Downie Tapes, 1995: “I don’t think Canadians need someone to tell them that it’s okay to like what they like”

That time Gord Downie raved to me about Tragically Hip tourmates Change of Heart and the Odds

By Steve Newton One thing I figured out about Gord Downie during the five interviews I did with him between 1989 and 1995 was that he really, really likes musicians. Especially musicians who play in bands. He was always quick to rave about the new groups he'd heard lately, or maybe the ones the Tragically … Continue reading That time Gord Downie raved to me about Tragically Hip tourmates Change of Heart and the Odds

The Gord Downie Tapes, 1995: “I like to think of [Nautical Disaster] in different ways every time I listen to it.”

By Steve Newton When I interviewed the Tragically Hip's Gord Downie in January of 1995 it was less than four months after the release of the band's fourth full-length album, Day for Night, and I was still playing the crap out of it. I would also play "Nautical Disaster" over and over again, until it … Continue reading The Gord Downie Tapes, 1995: “I like to think of [Nautical Disaster] in different ways every time I listen to it.”

The Gord Downie Tapes, 1995: talkin’ hockey right after the lockout

By Steve Newton When I interviewed Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie on January 18, 1995, it had been exactly once week since the end of the historic NHL lockout that had started the previous October. That lockout caused the 1994-1995 hockey season to be shortened from 84 games to 48, the shortest season in 53 years. Tonight … Continue reading The Gord Downie Tapes, 1995: talkin’ hockey right after the lockout

I played Neil Young’s “I’m the Ocean” eight times on my shitty commute today

By Steve Newton My morning commute from Delta to Vancouver can really suck—mainly because of a concrete montrosity called the Alex Fraser Bridge—but every now and again I slide in a CD that makes the trip a little less painful. Today I chose Neil Young's Mirror Ball album—that awesome one from '95 that he recorded with the … Continue reading I played Neil Young’s “I’m the Ocean” eight times on my shitty commute today

Bordello of Blood sets up shop on Vancouver’s old Expo 86 site

By Steve Newton So I was looking through my collection of old Fangoria magazines last night, searching for a story I wrote to post for Halloween, and came across a set-visit piece from back in '95 on the Tales from the Crypt movie, Bordello of Blood. Now, that vampire movie really sucked, but going on … Continue reading Bordello of Blood sets up shop on Vancouver’s old Expo 86 site

John Popper’s wild harp licks in Vancouver bring to mind Jan Hammer on Wired

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 7, 1995 Blues Traveler singer-harpist John Popper may be the most awe-inspiring harmonica player in the world of rock, but what really makes him special is the way he couples the mastery of his instrument with truly outstanding vocals. There aren’t that many virtuoso instrumentalists who can also … Continue reading John Popper’s wild harp licks in Vancouver bring to mind Jan Hammer on Wired

Aussie songwriting great Paul Kelly hits 40 and treads into Deeper Water

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 23, 1995 By Steve Newton Ever wonder what happened to the Aussie Invasion? Back in the early- to mid-’80s it seemed as if a band wasn’t on top unless it was from Down Under. Two-hit wonders Men at Work kick-started the worldwide interest in the music of koala … Continue reading Aussie songwriting great Paul Kelly hits 40 and treads into Deeper Water

Junkhouse’s Tom Wilson believes there’s a Birthday Boy in all of us

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 30, 1995 By Steve Newton If you happened to see the Beatles Anthology series on the tube last week, you’re probably aware that the Fab Four quit touring in 1966 and became just a recording act. That move worked out alright for them—but it probably wouldn’t suit Hamilton, … Continue reading Junkhouse’s Tom Wilson believes there’s a Birthday Boy in all of us

S.C.O.T.S.: the finest in high-cholesterol, toe-sucking geek rock since 1985

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 16, 1995 By Steve Newton “High-cholesterol, toe-sucking geek rock.” That’s how singer-guitarist Rick Miller describes the œuvre of his band, Southern Culture on the Skids. And he’s mighty proud of it, too. Miller’s been striving to produce the finest in high-cholesterol, toe-sucking geek rock ever since forming the … Continue reading S.C.O.T.S.: the finest in high-cholesterol, toe-sucking geek rock since 1985

Skydiggers look forward to getting into a groove with Road Radio and Warner

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 9, 1995 When a couple of Skydiggers show up at the Georgia Straight office to chat about their latest CD, I’m expecting to see at least one goatee, but instead I get sideburns (courtesy bassist Ronnie Von Johnnie) and long, straggly hair (courtesy singer-guitarist Peter Cash). The guy … Continue reading Skydiggers look forward to getting into a groove with Road Radio and Warner

UFO sightings and mining disasters fuel Weeping Tile’s Cold Snap

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 9, 1995 By Steve Newton Only six years ago, Kingston, Ontario, was a place best-known for its contrasting institutions of promise and penance (Queens University, Kingston Penitentiary), but the Tragically Hip’s breakthrough Up to Here album put a quick stop to that. The Hip’s burgeoning popularity has put … Continue reading UFO sightings and mining disasters fuel Weeping Tile’s Cold Snap

Seven Mary Three blasts straight outta Florida with American Standard

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 9, 1995 By Steve Newton As soon as I saw the title of Seven Mary Three’s debut release, American Standard, I felt an affinity for the Florida-based guitar-rock quintet. I’ve got a U.S.-made Stratocaster myself; no cheapjack Japanese copy for this kid. And none for 7M3 lead vocalist–guitarist … Continue reading Seven Mary Three blasts straight outta Florida with American Standard

Quadrophenia: Live in London gets primo packaging in a collector’s edition

By Steve Newton I've long posited that the Who's Quadrophenia is the greatest rock album of all time. The 1973 double-disc captured the British rock quartet at its creative peak, firing on all cylinders, and—thanks to Pete Townsend's songwriting skills—told a thoroughly engrossing tale of a young man's struggle for identity amid the Mods vs. Rockers turmoil … Continue reading Quadrophenia: Live in London gets primo packaging in a collector’s edition

Cosmic encounters inspire Locoweed’s Scott Towaij to get a message out

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 2, 1995 Vancouver’s homegrown talent pool has never been stronger than it is right now, but there’s a lot to be said for musicians who bring their talent here from other places, too. The most prominent transplants to Vancouver are folks such as Sarah McLachlan, k.d. lang, and … Continue reading Cosmic encounters inspire Locoweed’s Scott Towaij to get a message out

Brother Cane melds Zeppelin-style raunch and southern-rock spirit in Vancouver

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 26, 1995 When I first heard Brother Cane’s self-titled debut CD three years ago, I was mightily impressed by the Alabama quartet’s bluesy, southern-tinged guitar-rock, spurred on as it was by the multiple talents of Damon Johnson, lead guitarist, lead vocalist, and main songwriter. But aside from the … Continue reading Brother Cane melds Zeppelin-style raunch and southern-rock spirit in Vancouver

Horror-loving Tom Bagley gets ghouled up to rock out in Forbidden Dimension

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 12, 1995 It’s not hard to figure out where Forbidden Dimension is coming from when you check out the Calgary horror-rock trio’s latest disc, Somebody Down There Likes Me. The cool cartoon cover art by singer-guitarist Tom Bagley (stage name Jackson Phibes, as in The Abominable Dr. Phibes) … Continue reading Horror-loving Tom Bagley gets ghouled up to rock out in Forbidden Dimension

13 Engines felt right using the Coop’s Nimbus 9 board for Conquistador

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 12, 1995 Toronto guitar-rockers 13 Engines recorded their first two albums in a one-room schoolhouse in the bush near Ann Arbor, Michigan. They made their third one on top of a mountain in Malibu and their fourth in the village of Morin Heights, in Quebec’s Laurentians. For its … Continue reading 13 Engines felt right using the Coop’s Nimbus 9 board for Conquistador

Robben Ford bounces back from exhaustion, brings the Blue Line to Vancouver

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 12, 1995 I’ve been reviewing bands in the Georgia Straight since 1982—“Geez, when’s that old hack gonna pack it in?”—but this is the first time I’ve reviewed a gig at Richard’s on Richards. Since its inception, the upscale downtown club has been prone to hiring nondescript Top 40 … Continue reading Robben Ford bounces back from exhaustion, brings the Blue Line to Vancouver

Santo & Johnny put the instrumental bug in Friends of Dean Martinez

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 5, 1995 By Steve Newton You could foresee that by calling your band the Friends of Frank Sinatra, you’d be leaving yourself open for a spot of legal trouble—or worse—should Ol’ Blue Eyes catch wind of the misleading moniker. But could you forgive an instrumental quintet from Arizona … Continue reading Santo & Johnny put the instrumental bug in Friends of Dean Martinez

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

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 28, 1995 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 … Continue reading Russian hockey stars and broken legs inspire Vancouver’s Noise Therapy