In the early seventies, Montreal and various ‘other’ places benefited from two bands. One evolving into another. Each one took David Bowie’s courage, songwriting and performance style onto themselves.
Please listen below as David Henman, co-founder of April Wine and member of The Dudes ( among other bands) , discusses Bowie’s influences, Ian Hunter and how the band chose the name based on a David Bowie tune.
Foreshadowing has never met such a friend. Perhaps Jones himself never saw it coming. Or maybe he / she did. An alter name to match the alter ego. Legend says a Monkee was the reason. Legends are made from legends.
Undressing a style of music, tossing trends aside for a trendy statement never to be forgotten in anyone’s lifetime. Anyone, anyone, anyone that witnessed any of his musical / dramatic and reality characters. The forefather of reality shows with a question mark hanging over the reality. A question mark punctuating each and every questionable performance.
Others dressed the part of ambiguity. They sported cloaks of ambiguity. Others walked through drapes of ambiguity as they spoke with ambiguity through the shadows of ambiguity. Others sang songs with the gayness of Porter and the conviction of Sinatra. David Bowie combined them into one. For once. For all.
Hound Dogs were understood. Yellow Submarines were filed under water. Surfin’ was cool. Red doors painted black, however morose – understood as a repainted mood. Life on Mars? Say what?
Chuck Berry played guitar. John Lennon played guitar. Jimi Hendrix played guitar. Ziggy played guitar yet somehow Ziggy matters in the literary world. A descendant of Jones. The Grandfather of Offspring. Ziggy played guitar and nobody wondered how well. Ziggy played guitar and everybody wondered where?
Within the singer, within the songwriter – within the actor. Ziggy played guitar.
Curiosity over the curious. Craftiness over craft yet the craft on top disguised as a half dressed cherry on a half eaten sundae. Sunday morning melancholia mixed with magnetic beats from a Friday filled with flashes of fetishes. Places, names and things foreign to all yet familiar to David Bowie. Introduced as quickly as they leave and a slowly as they came.
Disguised as himself through glasses of different shades. Transcending time and altering minutes. Slapping the moment with innocent hands with permanent scars the remnants of stitched and roughened gloves.
Tender words chilled with gut wrenching ice cold stares. A priest and a devil. A flower and a weed. The duality of souls in a four sided ring. Scratching the surface of the inner self and providing ointment on the skins of the suffering. Battling the world within it’s own smoke and mirror battlefield. Displaying the world as a smoke – filled mirror of horror.
On the streets or in a bank, a diagnosis of mental illness by the mentally ill. The artiste painting the canvas among the blackened stills of time gone by. Of time to come. Of songs to come.
Rest in peaceful pieces and fly among us with occasional whispers into our ears deafened by music. Rest in peaceful pieces Mr. David Jones.
Listen below to a few Bowie Tracks and stay tuned for an interview with someone who was influenced by Bowie and in turn highly influential within the Montreal music scene.
Take Springsteen, add a sprinkle of Cat Stevens and what do you get?
Good music. Music from the heart. Music from the soul.
That is what the band The Rising Few bring to the mix. Add a producer who has worked with Keith Richards, David Grohl and David Bowie ( to name a few), this group of guys led by Cairo- born Karim – are heading in one direction. Up …!
Please listen as Karim talks about many things including a beautiful girl who inspired his song and ended up appearing in the video.
Wayne Cullen – one of the drummers in the 70’s band; ‘The Dudes’ – continues the saga of the demise of a band.
A fate which should never have happened …
Cullen’s band – Bacchus, reached it’s demise around the same time Wayne’s favourite group, The Wackers, played their final gig. Cullen approached Bacchus’ booking agent (who also booked the Wackers) and asked for Bob Segarini’s phone number. Wayne wished to find out if Segarini planned to start a new project.
Wayne explains how he received the number and became part of a band. Part of a legend …
“Armed with the number and steeled nerves, I dialed the number. I introduced myself to Bob and popped the question. Indeed a new Wackers aggregate had been gestating and they were currently auditioning drummers. Kharma? I’d have to say so.”
“When I arrived at the rehearsal space, there was another drummer being auditioned. He was really good but did not seem to fit musically. He was more jazz and soul oriented. Then it was my turn to sit in. With my knees wobbling and teeth chattering, we launched into a Wackers’ tune or two. For me, at the time, this was almost the equivalent of auditioning for The Beatles. In fact it was Bob, Kootch on lead guitar instead of bass, Leon Holt on piano and Norman Vosko on bass.”
One after another, the band asked Cullen if he knew such and such a song and Wayne responded affirmatively. He knew their repertoire almost cold.
“They seemed impressed and as Bob has often attested – he hates rehearsing. I was a very handy solution and I was asked to join my favourite band in the world!”
Cullen estimates this event took place in November 1973. Their first gig together was a two-week stint at The Mustache over Christmas and New Years’. Cullen believes it was February 1974 when he dropped out of university to play full time.
“My first experience in a recording studio ensued and produced a high beyond anything I had experienced to that point in my life. We released a single – All I Wanna Do Is Love You b/w I’ve Got A Feeling (not the Black Peas horror, obviously). Somewhere along the way and all-in-all we lasted about six months. Bob and I drove to Toronto to try to drum up (pun intended) some label interest in The Wackers.”
It became obvious to Wayne that something exceeding the reputation of the previous Wackers would be required. On the drive back to Montreal, Bob and Cullen hatched the idea of “supergroup”. An incorporation of Kootch on bass, Leon on keys, David & Ritchie Henman (whom the duo had seen perform several times in Silver) and Brian Greenway – recently a member of Mashmakhan. The idea of two drummers intrigued Wayne and the drummer loved David Henman’s songs.
“I was excited. Things got organized and we began recording the infamous demos before anyone fully committed to the project. It didn’t take long for everyone to see something special was happening and once the name was chosen -we were a band. The name could have been Seventh Heaven as far as I was concerned. There was some sadness about the final wind-up of The Wackers as an entity and losing bassist Norman Vosko.”
According to Wayne, The Dudes’ story is very long and complicated …
Before disbanding in the fall of ’73, AW took the summer off for everyone to clear their heads. The band had toured almost non-stop since fall ’70.
” I went camping and fishing with Claire ( my wife) for a few weeks and when I got back I was contacted by a band from California called “The Wackers“. They were living and working out of Montreal and their drummer had broken his left wrist in a diving accident. I filled in alongside Ernie until that group disbanded in October.” Explains Ritchie Henman – the original drummer of April Wine.
At that point David and Ritchie Henman started “Silver” with Danny Ceaser on bass and George Mack on keys. George had played with the brothers and Jim Henman in “Prism” in ’68-’69. Silver and the new version of the Wackers (with Bob and Kootch from the original group along with local drummer Wayne Cullen and Brian Greenway on guitar), began jamming at Smitty’s, a country bar in NDG.
“The bar allowed us the run of the place on Monday nights. Neither band was accomplishing much on its own and it wasn’t long before the principal songwriters got together on the notion of joining forces.” He continues. “We originally called the group “All The Young Dudes” to draw a lawsuit from Bowie’s company. Thereby drawing attention … ”
The stragedy sort of backfired when the band was notofied that Bowie loved the name! Nonetheless, the members shortened it to “the Dudes” which had always been the plan.
“We quickly became the number one unsigned band in all of North America and spent several weeks in the Twilight Zone entertaining obscene offers from almost all the major U.S. labels.” Explains Henman.
” Finally, with New York Attorney Nat Weiss (the former partner of Brian Epstein) doing our bidding, we signed a historical contract with CBS in New York. We ate, drank and made merry while leaving the production of our debut LP to one Mark Spector, a terrific guy personally (very personally) selected by the current head of CBS.”
According to Ritchie, Mark was in way over his head with that band and the LP tanked.
“We did that one magical tour with the Bee Gees… nicest guys ever, and had some great gigs and get – togethers with our manager’s other acts. Groups such as Blood, Sweat and Tears and Ian Hunter.”
By the fall of ’77 the group saw no point in carrying on. They did one last set of recordings at Le Studio with the top engineers from Criteria Sound in Miami. It was a study for CBS to decide what should be done with the band and the resulting recommendation was that they should have been self-produced from the start.
“CBS took a pass and cut us loose and we went our separate ways. I started a few original projects for the next two years and had some great experience, enough to keep my hopes alive for one more “career” group.
Late in ’78 I was asked to join a local group called Lyrock who had an eastern tour booked but were losing a few members. I went to see them play and saw for the first time Don Beauchamp on keys and some vocals as well as old acquaintances Wally and Tom Rathie who had been in Frames, our fave opening act during the Dudes period.”
Interspersed with Lyrock’s cover songs were several originals by Don and Wally and Ritchie was blown away. This was the music he had looked for.
” I took the tour gig but as soon as I got back to Montreal I got in touch with the Rathies and managed to get an audition for their new group.” Continues Ritchie. ” They chose a local jazz drummer over me and I was quite devestated but a few weeks later I was called back. It hadn’t worked out and I was in!”
As Ritchie had expected, the group’s music got immediate attention and they organized themselves with an indie label and local production Guru; Guy Rheaume.
” Our first LP, ‘Rollin’ With The Times was an instant in-trade hit.” Says Ritchie.
“The entire Canadian radio industry seemed to adore us. Unfortunately, our manager, fearful of financial ruin refused to sign off more than 5,000 units for our first pressing. This – despite urging from people who didn’t even have a stake in it, to guarantee at least 20,000 units.”
He goes on.
“Incredibly, just as we were charted with heavy rotation on 52 stations coast to coast, our distributor went bankrupt. It took our manager six weeks to find a new distributor and during that time the available pressings sold out. This forced the stations to drop it..Crash and burn … another one-hit wonder.”
Ritchie had been through this type of thing before but for the other four members of Cruiser ( this being their first real crack at the high-end of the entertainment industry), Henman believes they were devastated.
“Don left town shortly afterward and Wally, Tom, Ed and I did some studio sessions together but it was never the same and we drifted away from it by ’82.
Says Ritchie; “Even for me the project remains both the best and worst I have ever experienced.”
The first LP was finally released on CD three years ago as was the never-released second LP, Strange News.
” And I’ll go on record as saying they are both masterpieces!” Adds Henman. “To this day, the best players I have ever worked with are Ed Stevens on guitar, Tom Rathie on bass, Walter Rathie on keyboards and Don Beauchamp on vocals”.
For this statement, Ritchie Henman does not have to clear his head …
‘All the Young Dudes’ are a perfect example of what can happen when art and business meet. The right and left sides of the brain are in those positions for a reason …
Wayne Cullen, one of the two drummers in the band, reminisces on what a drag the whole ordeal became;
“There were enough completed, fully-produced tracks for a second album.” Explains Cullen.” Columbia decided not to release another lp rather than spend more money promoting the band any further. This was a shame because the band was very happy with the work we had done for the second album.”
The band had produced six of the tracks on their own and another five tracks had been produced by the well-known production team of Ron and Howie Albert. Two brothers who had been engineers at Criterion Studios in Miami under the tutelage of Tom Dowd and Karl Richardson.
The siblings had participated in the recording of the Derek and the Dominoes’ song Layla as well as recordings by Stephen Stills, the Allman Brothers and others.
“The brothers were asked by Columbia to supervise the production of some tracks for us after Columbia decided the six we had produced ourselves were inadequate.” Says Cullen. “When the Albert Brothers listened to the same six tracks they wondered aloud why they were asked to preside. They believed the self-produced tracks were excellent and they doubted they would be able to improve on what they had heard.”
Despite Columbia not knowing what was right, the ‘Dudes’ gave their all and have nothing but fond memories of the time spent together. According to David Henman, most of the funny memories took.place on stage …
“The band was quite spontaneous. In the middle of a set, Segarini would suddenly request that a table and six chairs be brought on stage so we could just sit, drink and goof around. Sometimes, when we used to perform downtown Montreal at the Moustache club, the next days’ newspaper would often arrive. Segarini would aks for it to be brought to the stage, whereupon he would put his own spin on the stories”. Laughs Henman.
One tale which Segarini or anyone else do not have to conjur was meeting and hanging out with the Bee Gees. A memory which floats dearly in Henman’s conscience.
“I was very sick during the Bee Gees tour.” Says David. ” Somehow, I always ended up in Barry Gibb’s hotel suite after the show sitting between him and his wife and passing out on his shoulder. We were fans before the tour and by the end, we practically idolized them. Barry, especially – one of the most down to earth people I’ve ever met. The effect they had on audiences was pure magic.”
David did not stay in contact with all the Bee Gees. Barry did invite him to le Studio in Morin Heights when he was recording the album “Nights on Broadway”.
Says Henman. “I sat with him at the console while he chain-smoked Panama Red and conducted a string section. He then went into the studio and without any warm up – sang like an angel.”
Henman and his fellow ‘dudes’ also met Ian Hunter. David became acquaintances with the singer and an opportunity to replace future Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson in Hunter’s band presented itself. Unfortunately, Henman was too shy to grab the opportunity.
Following the release of their first album, ‘the dudes’ thought about re – recording their first record.. A record which had and continued to have so much promise.
“Bob was on the phone constantly”.Says Henman. “Demanding that we be able to at least re-mix that album. If I am not mistaken, the guys at le Studio in Morin Heights offered to re-mix it for free.” He continues. “I think at least one other studio in Montreal made that offer as well but we were up against Columbia Records, a gigantic corporation at that time. We were told: “hey, Columbia Records insists that this album is going to be a huge hit and, well, they oughta know…” so, we backed down…”
Henman’s advice to young musicians and the lessons learned;
” If you are the artist, you should make the rules…”
Why? Does he have a pooch who nixes the idea of standing still? Does Randy spend his days observing the non – putrid pooch?
The Pointe Claire resident’s name should be Spot because Randy is always on the move and he would not have it any other way …
” My first cousins, my second cousins and what seemed like generations in my family were all musicians. I remember seeing a drum kit and amps for the first time – it was like ‘wow’, I gotta do this!”
‘Do this’ was exactly what Bowen did and judging by his success, the guitarist’s choice of playing music was the right one.
Channeling childhood idols such as Joe Perry from Aerosmith and Mick Ronson of David Bowie’s band, Randy – like a lot of teens, played in a couple of cover bands. It was at the age of twenty – one, playing in a band by the name Inner Germ, Bowen crossed paths with singer and bass player Chris Brodbeck.
“Chris’ band was falling apart and so was mine.” Says Bowen. ” I said to Chris why don’t we kinda merge and make a band …? Chris was more of a rock guy and I was into New Wave stuff. Somewhere in the middle – we realized a shared taste in music. I remember we played ‘Message in a Bottle’ by the Police. It was a song everybody in the band had played and we knew we were meant to be together.”
Along with Brodbeck ‘s brother Tom on drums and Paul Moore on guitar; the first incarnation of See Spot Run was born and it didn’t take long for the band to get some gigs.
” I believe our first show was at a high school, Father McDonald or something like that. We also played downtown Montreal in clubs such as Station 10. I still remember Chris and I hitchhiking to and from the city back to the West Island with our gear. It was very hot!”
See Spot Run’s first break came in the form of a two month tour opening up for a caucasian rhythm and blues singer by the name of Wayne Nicholson. The band had signed a contract with a new label; Loggerhead Records.
That cross – country jaunt was the band’s introduction to the music world. A realm which they were about to be part of – in a big way …
The group’s second ‘coup d’etat was landing Gary Moffet as a producer. The former April Wine guitarist brought everything he had learned with April Wine to See Spot Run’s virgin songwriting. According to Bowen, Moffet saved the day if and when himself or any member of the band locked horns with Brodbeck over one of his songs.
“Chris writes everything and then he introduces what he has to the group. We then take it and play with it – add our own ideas. Sometimes we don’t agree and that was when Moffet stepped in. To arbitrate.”
Bowen continues …
“Chris and I never came close to screaming and yelling – we were never that far apart in our view. Moffet was a calming, trustworthy presence. He was just what the band needed to bring us to the next level. Moffet had already been to that ledge and he showed us how to climb.”
After a non – commercial, no hit album named Traces introduced the world to SSR, the globe suddenly became that much bigger with their second album; ‘Ten Stories High’. A record which introduced the group to the world of videos and the reality of the music business.
“We were doing a video for the song ‘Au Natural’. It was filmed in an old dance hall in Wasaga beach. A place which we returned to twice – once with the band Moist and the other time we were on tour with I Mother Earth. We would shoot some footage and wait for an hour. Shoot then wait, shoot and wait … All day we did this and it was sooooo cold! I asked myself this is fame …?” He laughs.
“TEN STORIES HIGH” may have garnered the band fame. Their third album and single ‘Weightless’, shot them to stardom …
Since those releases; See Spot Run has had 5 charting singles and 5 videos played on MuchMusic. They have crossed Canada with seven tours and appeared on multi Canadian and international television shows.
The album “Weightless” made Canadian recording history. The disc’s title track was certified by BDS as being “the highest charted independent song on the rock chart since the inception of BDS”.
The single “Weightless” reached number nine on the rock chart, six on the Top 40 Chart and peaked at five on the all Canadian chart. The French translation of Weightless, Decoller – was number one on the Quebec charts. The follow-up single “Terrified/Terrifié” also climbed the Canadian CHR charts in both languages.
” When Chris played the beginnings of Weightless to us, I thought it was a very good song. I never thought it was going to be a huge hit. I just thought it was a little better than the rest he ( Broadbent) had written. I had no inclination of what would happen next …!?”
What happened was the band started playing with some very big names in music. Opening up for the likes of Bon Jovi and Kim Mitchell to name a few.
Another brush with greatness in Bowen’s views came when SSR was playing in Winnipeg. The group was on stage, doing their thing in a small club before a couple of hundred of people. In walks Stevie Wonders’ drummer James Allan and Dennis Davis – one of Bowie’s drummers from the seventies.
The pair joined Randy and his mates on stage which blew Bowen away. Randy, however was more impressed with what happened later.
“Following the show, those two guys joined us in the basement for some coffee. We all just sat around drinking coffee as musicians. There was no pretense, no egos from anyone’s part. Just a bunch of guys with the same vibe drinkin’ coffee. It was very cool …!”
Around that time, Chris and the band members re-located to Toronto. A city where the band is based, a city where Bowen travels to and from every week from his hometown in Quebec.
” This is my home!” Says Bowen about Pte. Claire ” Ever since Chris moved there, I drive up to Toronto where I have a place. Sometimes I feel that’s all I do … Drive, park and drive some more …!” He laughs.
SEE SPOT RUN released their third CD “Gonna Getcha” on August 28, 2007. The album is on Rocket9 Music distributed by DEP/ Universal Music. It is the band’s first record without Moffet involved as a producer.
The first single and title track, “Gonna Getcha” was selected by “Degrassi: The Next Generation” to be a feature song in their 2008 season. Leaning towards the band’s rockier side, the album is a result of collaboration between See Spot Run and producer Ed Krautner (Sum 41). Featured on the disc is drummer Josh Trager of the Sam Roberts band.
“Josh actually played with us in 2004 for less than a year before he left us to join Sam Roberts. In that time, we didn’t gig very much (one small tour) so we never had time to really gel as a band. He was already established with Sam Roberts when we asked him to come back and play on the Gonna Getcha record.” Bowen continues.” He played on seven of the twelve tracks on Gonna Getcha. Davide Direnzo played on the other five. Josh gave us as much time as he could but obviously had large commitments with Sam. It was during the recording of Gonna Getcha that Fudge and Aaron came on board. Josh played with us before Sam Roberts and came back to help us following the success of his band.
According to Bowen, that C.D; Gonna Getcha may be the last one.
“The music industry crashed right out. Nobody buys C.D’s anymore, it’s about buying a song at a time on ITunes. We won’t say for sure but one single at a time seems the way of the future!”
The group’s latest single; ‘Let it Go’ was released it 2009 and joins 2007’s ‘My IPod killed my girlfriend’ as the latest ability of the band to stay near the top of catchy alternative rock songs.
Since the days of meeting Chris in a basement, See Spot Run’s line – up has changed. Chris and Randy remain the two constants. The band’s current formation consists of Fudge on drums and Aaron Little on guitar since 2007.
Paul Moore and Tom Broadbent played on the first album Traces. They were followed by Reg Bennett on guitar and Bruce McQueen on drums for the albums Ten Stories High and Weightless. Mark Homer and Bryan Duffy then played on an album which was never released.
All the members left on their own terms for various reasons and all members, past and present – get along very well according to Bowen.
The group is also in discussion of possibly having a documentary made of their career. Talks are ongoing and a decision should be made shortly.
One of the nicest stories ever heard, will be a huge part of the documentary; as told by Mr. Brodbeck …
“We did a command performance for a young girl who’s last wish it was to see See Spot Run in concert. The young girl was from East Angus Quebec and had terminal cancer. The Child Wish Foundation contacted us in the spring while we were on tour out west and told us she only had a few months. So they sent a film crew from a local TV station to shoot us live and send it to the young girl in Quebec.
We were scheduled to return to Montreal from out west late summer so they asked if they could book a date in East Angus in the unlikely event that she might still be with us. We agreed and as the story goes she lived 4 months longer just to see her favourite band and then passed away shortly after. The entire town came to the show and their family has never forgotten. We still play East Angus once every year!”
You never know what can come from a basement meeting …