Big Wreck finds big love on tour

Big Wreck is find­ing big love on throw­back tour

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - JOE BE­LANGER jbe­langer@post­media.com

This big wreck is back on the road with a few new parts — but the wheels are still spin­ning tunes.

Big Wreck, the Cana­dian-Amer­i­can rock band that dom­i­nated Cana­dian ra­dio in the late 1990s is cel­e­brat­ing their hit de­but disc, In Lov­ing Mem­ory Of. That means fans can ex­pect to hear that band’s most mem­o­rable hits The Oaf (My Luck Is Wasted), That Song, Blown Wide Open and Un­der the Light­house.

But there will also be a sprin­kling of new tunes from 2017’s Grace Street — nom­i­nated for a Juno Award for rock al­bum of the year — as well as Al­ba­tross from 2012 and 2014’s Ghosts.

“It’s the In Lov­ing Mem­ory Tour, so we’ll be do­ing that, but not in se­quence,” said Ian Thorn­ley, the band’s founder, gui­tarist and lead vo­cal­ist.

“But it’s chal­leng­ing and fun to per­form those songs. There are songs on that al­bum we’ve never played live.”

Win­nipeg-based rock­ers At­tica Ri­ots will open the show.

Thorn­ley said he was a “lit­tle wor­ried” when the idea came to tour the band’s first al­bum. But those con­cerns were put to rest at the first show.

“Peo­ple were go­ing nuts. It was pal­pa­ble,” Thorn­ley said. “Peo­ple wanted to hear the al­bum in its en­tirety — for us to play some ob­scure songs that are also some of my favourites.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing watch­ing these songs get­ting the love from fans, songs that I al­ways felt they should have loved.”

When he refers to “ob­scure” songs, it’s only be­cause four others were such mas­sive hits across North Amer­ica when they were re­leased in 1998.

“It’s re­ally too bad too, when some songs get blocked be­hind a sin­gle,” Thorn­ley said.

Tour­ing over the last cou­ple of years has re-en­er­gized the band, Thorn­ley said.

He re­mem­bers play­ing at a New York club as the house band in Big Wreck’s early days “and no­body would be there.”

About a year ago, the band played the same club, The Gramercy.

“It’s this lit­tle place in Man­hat­tan and the show was sold out and there were peo­ple from all over the U.S. at the show,” Thorn­ley said.

“I re­mem­ber sit­ting in the dress­ing room wait­ing to go on and sud­denly the crowd goes wild when this lo­cal band went on stage to open and they were re­ally, re­ally good with four-part har­mony and the crowd is just roar­ing, louder and louder and I think, ‘They’re here for that band, not us.’

“But then they in­tro­duced us and the place just ex­ploded. It re­ally meant a lot to us. It re­minds you that the love from fans shouldn’t be taken for granted.”

The band was formed in 1994 while Thorn­ley, gui­tarist Brian Do­herty, bassist Dave Hen­ning and drum­mer For­rest Williams were stu­dents at Berklee Col­lege of Mu­sic in Bos­ton.

Although Hen­ning and Williams are long gone, Thorn­ley and Do­herty, after years of not com­mu­ni­cat­ing, re­sumed play­ing to­gether in 2010, restart­ing Big Wreck the same year.

It’s clear Thorn­ley hasn’t lost his song­writ­ing chops, given the Juno noms and Grace Street top­ping the charts when it was re­leased.

Thorn­ley said he and Do­herty are “like broth­ers,” which has helped keep them con­nected.

“Just last night we’re on stage and some­thing struck me that that’s a lot of his­tory we have to­gether and it gave me pause.”

Thorn­ley said his song­writ­ing, which usu­ally ex­plores re­la­tion­ships, al­ways be­gins with the mu­sic.

“I tend to leave the lyrics un­til the last and I’m usu­ally in­spired by what­ever’s go­ing on in my life in the mo­ment,” Thorn­ley said.

“I’ve al­ways viewed song­writ­ing as an art form and you’ve got to be fully com­mit­ted, wholly, or not at all. If it feels forced, it doesn’t feel right. If I let a piece of mu­sic sim­mer longer, some­times it will show me what it was sup­posed to be.”

Peo­ple wanted to hear the al­bum in its en­tirety … It’s in­ter­est­ing watch­ing these songs get­ting the love from fans, songs that I al­ways felt they should have loved.

Big Wreck founder Ian Thorn­ley says the band is hav­ing a lot of fun on the road cel­e­brat­ing its sem­i­nal al­bum, 1997’s In Lov­ing Mem­ory Of. The tour in­cludes a stop in the city on Feb. 19.

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