Legendary Canadian Prog-Pop Rockers STRANGE ADVANCE release their newest single “Perfect Day” & Tour Dates.
An ’80s kid through and through, I am super stoked for this opportunity!
Welcome, Strange Advance, to The Wire Megazine, which has been honorably on the music scene since 1989 as 1 of Canada’s longest-running entertainment tabloids. I am thrilled to ask a few questions today, and thanks so much for your time.
The core of Strange Advance was formed in Vancouver in 1979 by Drew Arnott, Darryl Kromm, and Paul Iverson. Emerging in a sea of radio rock and burgeoning music video-aimed pop, Strange Advance are 2-time JUNO nominees and Canadian gold selling artists who have remained steadfastly a band with many influences resulting in their own singular style. Creating three strong as steel albums from their haunting 1982 album debut with Worlds Away, the brilliant 1985 follow-up with 2wo, and the infectious and whip-smart third album, The Distance Between (1988), these gold sellers act toped the Canadian charts with singles like “We Run” and “Love Becomes Electric” and today their newest album, Strange Advance 4, continues this musical journey.
DEB: Q. 1. Drew, when Strange Advance was formed back in 1979, did you ever imagine that the band’s career would have unfolded the way it did and that your hits would make an impact in the world the way they have?
DREW ARNOTT: “When I was 15 or so, I used to lay in bed, listening to music on the radio, then fall asleep dreaming about what it would be like to play big concerts. It wasn’t until after Strange Advance toured that I remembered those dreams. I actually made a dream come true but didn’t realize it at the time. This time I’m going to take a good look around and enjoy it! I hear from people all the time who tell me how our music impacted them. I’ve heard from 4 or 5 people who told me how one of our songs saved them from suicide. It amazes me that our music had the kind of impact on people that Bowie’s music had on me.”
Some have called them pop, synthpop, new wave, rock, or prog, but the only true descriptor is that they are Strange Advance and they are primed and ready to show the world that great and evocative music truly has no best-by date.
DEB: Q. 2. What was the best advice given to you when Strange Advanced formed some 43 years ago?
DREW: “We got signed through a series of strange events. We have a lot to thank Bryan Adams for. He liked our demo tape and passed it on to legendary producer Bruce Fairbairn who also liked it. Bryan’s advice to us? Keep it simple! Which we appreciated – but ignored, probably to our detriment. Apart from that, my Dad always used to say ‘If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.’ I didn’t get it at the time but it’s become my mantra now.“
DEB: Q. 3. Had you felt a major shift in the music industry during your career, long before COVID-19 compared to 4+ decades ago when Strange Advance was topping the charts?
DREW: “I barely recognize the music business anymore. When we signed, it was near the end of an era. It was the last days of record companies building up acts, promoting them, giving them an opportunity to grow and develop. Now to get signed you have to prove that you already have a huge following. All they are capable of is amplifying your self-made success. It’s a business run by people only interested in profit. The people that did the job because they loved music are long gone.”
Leading this new chapter is founder, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Drew Arnott. Music is literally in his DNA since his first professional gig was playing drums in his father’s dance band The Baysiders, at the wee age of 14. In addition to being an integral part of Strange Advance, he has worked and helped guide younger artists, as well as delving into the new world of screenwriting.
DEB: Q. 4. What is it like today, to be claimed as 1 of Canada’s iconic musical leading Synth innovative troubadours?
DREW: “We grew up in such an amazing time period. First, with Bowie, Roxy Music, T. Rex etc then moving on to Ultravox, New Order, Numan. Synths were part of the cutting edge we wanted to belong to. That being said, what has always driven us, is the music. It all comes down to a good song no matter what it’s played on. Gotta say though, I still love synths!”
For this new leg of the journey, Drew will be joined by the dream team of Ian Cameron, Ross Friesen, Rob Bailey, Sean Dillon, and Alexander (A-Train) Boynton. With half of this current incarnation having roots in the 1980s era of the band, there’s a harmonious blend of roots and new blood.
In addition to playing guitar and violin with Strange Advance during the tour for 2wo, Ian Cameron has also worked with Jimi Jamison (Survivor and singers of the main theme, “I’m Always Here” for Baywatch), Shania Twain, and even once played for the King and Queen of Malaysia. On drums, Ross Friesen’s pedigree includes playing for Attic Records ‘Body Electric’, the CBC ‘Rock Wars’ show and many top Vancouver club acts. Rob Bailey has played keyboards for artists ranging from Gino Vanelli to Alice Cooper, on top of working as a composer and software engineer for gaming giants Electronic Arts, Activision, and Rockstar Games. Bassist Alexander (A-Train) Boynton spent years with the Payola$ and worked with David Foster and Bob Rock amongst others. At one point, Sean Dillon was taken under the wing of famed producer Bruce Fairbairn (Loverboy, Aerosmith, Strange Advance). Sean comes from Winnipeg where he played in a cover band that used to cover…Strange Advance – so things have come full circle for him.
Together, the culmination of individual talent, meshed with their like-minded influences in pop and prog rock, Strange Advance has continued and maintained their unique eclecticism of sound and song.
The time is now for Strange Advance to re-emerge with their past, present, and future music. After all, there can never be too much music that is sincere, expressive, lush, and the sonic definition of sui generis.
Borrow from tomorrow, and get a Strange Advance on a “Perfect Day”… The legendary Canadian prog-rock-pop indie group from those heady days of 80s MuchMusic have got the inside track on a throwdown with their latest single — available now! And it’s as exciting sonically as it’s a hat tip to the yesteryear of pop influence..
And the songs. Oh, the songs… “She Controls Me,” “Kiss in the Dark,” “Love Games,” “Worlds Away,” We Run,” and “The Second That I Saw You” still sound like the sweet-tooth brand of dance music like you remember. Their crisp, precision-tooled work shows the group were masters of unleashing wave after wave of melody with songs of bittersweet chances of love.
“This time Strange Advance has the best combination of players ever,” Arnott promises. “Each one of them is multi-talented and more importantly, super nice. That makes such a difference when having to deal with rehearsals, recording sessions, and of course life on the road. These guys are in this because they love the music and I think it shows in our performances.”
“Perfect Day” is the perfect amalgamation of career musicians creating an instant classic, using their perfected recipe of songwriting.
DEB: Q. 5. Contrary to popular belief, ‘making it’ in the art of music isn’t merely a game of luck. It requires talent, strategy, and determined effort based on your vision, goals, etc. If you can take us on a stroll musically through your current album, Strange Advance 4, and share your unique songwriting process of how both the single, Perfect Day, and the album Strange Advance 4 came to be?
DREW: “The songs on the record have been recorded over a long period of time from the 80s to the present. Personally, I write music every day. I have a huge back catalog of tunes and I’m just happy to have an outlet for them. What surprises me is listening to our lyrics. How relevant they are to what’s going on in the world whether they were written 40 years ago or today. We were a slightly covert social issues band. Often we wrote about dystopian futures, the failure of the ‘human’ project. We were a cheerful band of depressed brothers! And things haven’t changed much. Perfect Day is a great example of a positive feeling track that is about the death of one man in a dying world. Uplifting, aren’t we?” Drew continued, “I don’t normally write songs ‘about’ anything in particular, but ‘Perfect Day’ was different, It’s based on the death scene of Edgar G. Robinson’s character in the film Soylent Green. At the time he died, the earth had been ravaged by mankind and in return for volunteering for an ‘early death’, the powers that be allowed the volunteer to go out in style. A good last meal watching footage of the earth in its prime, listening to the music of their choice. In his case Beethoven. It turned out to be Edgar’s last film. He died two weeks after filming of his death scene. Powerful stuff.”
“Perfect Day” is the drastic juxtaposition between the acceptance of death’s finality, set to a groove that permits the listener to find the good in the vibe. Detailed lyrics that both metaphorically and categorically sum up the concession of inevitably, “Perfect Day” boasts licks, synths, and electronica 80s rock that sends the message home on a voyage of blissful hooks and melodies. It’s okay to permit the cease of existence. Just do it in style.
In March of 2020, COVID-19 appeared and all MUSIC stopped worldwide, lasting 2 years!
DEB: Q. 6. Just as the worldwide pandemic hit, do you recall where you were performing?
DREW: “I remember exactly where we were – in a fantastic barn in Surrey BC where a friend had built a big stage. We were rehearsing our show and were 6 days away from heading to Ontario to do our first shows. Then the plug was pulled. Crushing, not just for us but every musician, sound and lighting tech, agent, manager, tour bus driver etc. – all out of work.“
DEB: Q. 7. As well, Some artists are reluctant to talk about how tough the music industry is let alone add COVID-19 and its restrictions, yet, this still didn’t slow you down. Share with your fans, how you have endured throughout the last 24-months and how you stayed creative, and the unique ways you kept in touch personally with your fans.
DREW: “I’m a studio rat. I live in the studio. Really. I have a very nice cozy setup at home and I just carried on doing what I always do, writing and recording. The shutdown gave me lots of time to finish songs, learn some new skills (able to juggle up to 2 balls at once now) and have many walks on the beach. Also, it gave me more of a chance to connect with fans online which has been really satisfying. I’ve also loved hearing our songs covered by fans. Overall, COVID hasn’t bothered me nearly as much as people that continued working throughout (health-care, grocery clerks, etc), those that lost jobs, and the people who suffered the heartbreak of losing loved ones.”
DEB: Q. 8. What is it finally like to get the worldwide green light to go back out on tour, especially inside your hometown of Vancouver BC, and those seas of non-masked familiar faces?
DREW: “Strange Advance didn’t play live until after our second album. It was a mystery solved to finally meet our fans. I feel the same way now. It’s been so long and those fans have grown up. Mortgages, children, grandchildren…it’ll be awesome to see them again. Also looking forward to meeting our new fans. As you know, the 80s was a very popular time for music and we were discovered by so many younger people into the 80’s music scene. So glad that our first show back is in Vancouver (April 26th) and that our return to Toronto is at the El Mocambo – legendary!“
DEB: Q. 9. Well into a decade & a half of the 21st century, the Strange Advance sound is like capturing an infinite measure, both a creative workbook & an authoritative musical reference. Your stage presence is profoundly moving and a pertinent one filled with perfected measurements of rhythm and supportive harmony, that strongly leads an 80s resurgence that continues to play a crucial role in defining the sound of pop culture and the 80’s New Wave, changing not only Canadian music history but the world of music in general. What does success mean to you and what is next on the horizon for Strange Advance?
DREW: “Success? Waking up and not feeling like ending it all! Seriously, the fact that people all over the world have been touched by our music is remarkable and humbling. I love hearing all the stories about people falling in love to a SA song. Our music has been played for the first dance at many weddings, and the last song played at many funerals. I never imagined that my young dreams of playing music would result in touching so many lives. I don’t have children to leave as a legacy to the world so I’m happy knowing that our music will still be impacting people for years to come. Feels like success to me.”
Strange Advance is giving you the power chords to dance away the difficulty on a cut that makes the sad seem much more manageable. To sum it up: they’ve offered you a “Perfect Day.”
TOUR STARTS in their hometown of Vancouver on April 26 at the Hollywood Theatre – Tix @ https://www.ticketweb.ca/event/strange-advance-hollywood-theatre-tickets/11560585
TORONTO on May 13 at Legendary El Mocambo Tix ON SALE @ https://www.eventbrite.ca/d/online/strange-advance/
SOLD OUT show in MISSISSAUGA on May 14 at the 5th Annual McBowl Concert Series along with SPOONS, Jesus Jones, Images in Vogue all in support of Ronald McDonald House, hosted by Ed Sousa.
SOLD OUT show May 15 – Intimate & Interactive Samuel Adams Stage Mississauga
STAY IN TUNE WITH STRANGE ADVANCE by visiting their social platforms below;