I’M ON MY WAY TO A PERFECT DAY
A CONVERSATION WITH DREW ARNOTT & ROB BAILEY OF STRANGE ADVANCE: PART TWO
Now that Strange Advance’s return has come to fruition, over thirty years later, with 4, and the band’s first live shows in over 30 years, founding member Drew Arnott and keyboardist Rob Bailey spoke to Spill Magazine about their new music, the challenges of a comeback and changes in the production of music. Strange Advance’s line-up consists of Arnott (vocals/keyboards), Bailey (keyboards), Sean Dillon (vocals/guitar), Alexander (A-Train) Boynton (bass), Ian Cameron (violin/guitar) and Ross Friesen (drums).
Touring for the first time in decades has changed. The fan base has aged, venues have changed and the production of music has changed. However, everything old is new again and Strange Advance soon will be sharing the stage with Images In Vogue and Spoons, two Canadian bands that were in the spotlight in the ‘80s, along with Strange Advance. In fact, Strange Advance recently recorded “Nova Heart”, for a Spoons cover album.
Bailey, who is also an engineer and owns The Treehouse Studio on Bowen Island, British Columbia, explained “Unlike when Strange Advance did shows in the mid-to-late ‘80s, we are able to do things now to present the production in such a way that is head and shoulders above what we were able to do previously. We’re talking with some really interesting video people and we have a great front of house engineer who’s been a dear friend for the last 35 years, who’s really great, so the potential for it to be the best it’s ever been is really there. We’re able to do things production wise that was science fiction thirty years ago. It’s a great new world out there and it’s really exciting to put the music across, using this kind of tech. Not to say we’re just standing there letting the tech doing everything for us. Everyone’s playing and we’ve got four really strong singers in the band.”
Arnott interjected “That was my dream, to actually go out there and present the music in a way it’s never been presented before. We just didn’t have the technology or the finances to put on the kind of show we wanted to. We’re going to get way closer this time, so that excites me. It’s a very cool lineup. Great musicians and even nicer people. I’m really looking forward to getting into some fisticuffs on the bus.” joked Arnott.
“We’re at this now where we’re all basically family because we lived and worked together in various combinations for 35 years. Everybody knows each other really well and there’s just this great group of people that really enjoys playing with each other. There’s none of that weird band politics that has been troubling us as younger men, perhaps.” stated Bailey.
Drew reminisced “Our touring history goes something like this. We rehearsed in Vancouver, flew to Toronto, we played two college dates as a warm-up, and then the next night we were at Ontario Place which had a revolving stage, it was an outdoor thing. It was a very cool place to play. But that was our third time playing, period. It was our first proper Toronto appearance and Images (In Vogue) opened for there, so full circle here. We did play some dates with Spoons, that was at the time that they had a horn section. So we were quite impressed. We go back.”
Strange Advance’s upcoming “Intimate & Interactive” sold-out concert at the Samuel Adams Stage at McBowl in Mississauga, Ontario, hosted by music promoter Ed Sousa, whom Drew equates as “a Deane Cameron kind of a guy”, puts a new spin on Strange Advance’s sound. The band dug into their catalogue to come up with an acoustic twist that they aren’t accustomed to.
“We convened at my place on Bowen Island and coming into it we’re all going, geez, I don’t know how we’re going to do more than one or two songs for this thing. And then we played with just purely acoustic instruments and by the end of the day we were going oh god, we have too many songs. We’re going to have to cut some stuff from the set.” explained Bailey. “We were thinking they must be decent songs because if you can play them all on acoustic guitars and sing it around the campfire kind of thing, then that’s a song. That was an interesting thing for all of us.”
Arnott concluded “It was a huge relief, too, because we’re rehearsing our big set and then it’s like now we’ve got to rehearse a second set? Completely different? Because there’s no way we’re going to fit on the stage in this little tiny room. They’ve got a little tiny PA which we’re going to fry because it’s a big sound. It turned out the acoustic approach works. You want to put on a great show and you want people to be happy and tickled to see us finally after all this time.”
Since the recent successful Vancouver performance, Strange Advance is scheduled to perform the following sold-out dates, with more to come:
- May 13th, El Mocambo, Toronto, ON
- May 14th, McBowl Concert Series, Mississauga, ON
- May 15th, Intimate & Interactive Samuel Adams Stage, Mississauga, ON