MY TORONTO : CHRIS TAIT
My first love The first venue I fell in love with was the Beverly Tavern [240 Queen St. W., now a Spring Rolls restaurant]. We used to play it when we were still in high school. I didn’t grow up in Toronto. I grew up in Newcastle, which is about an hour east of the city. We’d play Thursday night and pack up our gear afterwards, drive home and go to school the next day. Then we’d hop into the van, drive back to the city and play the Friday, Saturday night shows as well. Revival tour We had such a great time playing [a reunion gig] at Lee’s Palace last June. To be honest, I had quite a bit of trepidation about doing it. I didn’t want to start anything and I didn’t think the guys wanted to either because we were all busy. But when Universal decided they were going to create a greatest hits record, we all got together and remastered some of the songs, and it was a great opportunity to see everyone again. That’s when we talked about playing a show together again, as long as we had fun. We contacted the crew we worked with on the road, people we knew from the record company. Even Adrian Heaps, who used to be the vice-president of Duke Street Records and is now a city councillor, came down to the show, which was on his birthday, actually. The show was sold out, which was fantastic because it’s been a long time.
As frontman for Chalk Circle, Chris Tait was a staple of MuchMusic’s video rotation in the mid-’80s. He’s now 43, and a partner and music director at Pirate, an audio production house that recently expanded its operations to New York City and also helped launch a hit with Rollercoaster, a song written for Maynard’s Swedish Berries by Major Maker.
Ghost writers on King I stumbled into this [audio production] business, I didn’t even know it existed. I started ghost writing for people ... and eventually became a partner at Pirate, five or six years now. This is my ninth year, but we’ve been on King a long time, 17 years now. We’re right across from the Sun building at 260 King St. E. I’ve watched the area change dramatically. There used to be studio facilities down here. A lot of the larger recording studios are disappearing. One in particular, Manta, I grew up at. There’s actually a Facebook group called I Miss Manta. It had an incredible recording floor and some incredibly talented people working there. That’s a condo now. Hit makers Rollercoaster was written for the [Maynard’s Swedish Berries] commercial. It was written by Todor Kobakov and Lindy Vopnfjord of Major Maker. It was one of eight tracks written for the spot ... very early on, it was the front-runner. It sticks with you. Basically we did an ad like we do every day. It went on air and the public response was overwhelming. Very quickly the hits on Major Maker’s site went up as people tried to figure out who wrote the song. We ended up working out a deal with their management ... and they basically wrote a two-and-a-half-minute pop version of it, finished the lyrics, re-recorded it and the rest is history. House crawl I’m in the Riverdale area. I think people tend to become east-enders or west-enders. I’ve lived out in that area forever. We started out by renting an apartment above a store at Carlaw and Danforth for two or three years and lived as far east as Coxwell. It’s always been a great mix of artists and musicians culturally and socioeconomically. When I first moved to Toronto, I was 18 and moved to little Portugal and lived in a flat on Manning Avenue right out of high school and just signed a record deal. The best Indian food in the city is Sher E Punjab [351 Danforth Ave.]: You call and in 10 minutes you have dinner. Rockin’ fatherhood I have three kids — 12, 7, and 2, boygirl-boy. I’ve taken Nolan, who’s 12 and loves music, to see Billy Talent but obviously it’s hard to get him into a club.
Chris Tait will release his second solo album next year. For more information on Pirate, go to www.pirate.ca