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- Posted on Mar 22nd 2010 2:30PM by Lonny Knapp
The band pulled the plug shortly after releasing their acclaimed second full-length record, 'Clayton Park.' To mark the tenth anniversary of the group's demise, Joel Plaskett, Rob Benvie, Ian McGettigan and Cliff Gibb have regrouped for a string of tour dates.
"We have remained friends. Everyone was in a somewhat nostalgic mood, and we just wanted to spend some time together," singer-guitarist Plaskett explains to Spinner.
Over the years, Thrush Hermit has been credited for breaking ground in the Canadian indie-rock movement that later produced bands such as Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene. But Plaskett, who went on to find greater success as a solo artist, admits that despite its storied legacy, the band's success was modest.
"We were often perceived as selling more records than we did," the singer says.
The band's first EPs, 1983's 'Smart Bomb' and the Steve Albini-produced 'The Great Pacific Ocean' from 1995 featured the fuzzed-out guitars, underlying wit and earnest pop sensibility that defined the east coast sound.
"We made some scrappy records. When I listen back I hear the musical shortcomings and pitchy singing. But we were young and there is a lot of spirit. It feels so real. It sounds like four guys who grew up together playing music," Plaskett says.
Those albums caught the ear of American record labels. The band eventually signed with Elektra Records, but were quickly and unceremoniously dropped due to disappointing sales of their first long player, 1997's 'Sweet Homewrecker.'
Thrush Hermit returned to Halifax to lick their wounds. They emerged from exile in 1999 with the hard-rocking 'Clayton Park,' a career defining record that just might be the greatest CanRock album ever released.
"Clayton Park is our most realized record," Plaskett says. "It was the pinnacle of our jammy, hard rockin' Hermit era. We were never sure if we were making fun of classic rock or embracing it."
Still, the band wasn't selling many records. At the turn of the century the hype that had enveloped Halifax in the '90s had faded and with the emergence of the superstar DJ scene, rock show attendance began to wane.
"We'd go on tour and do well and then six months later we'd go out and there'd be fewer people. This uncertainty is what caused the demise of the band."
These upcoming reunion shows are sure to attract a fleet of aging indie kids, and perhaps a few new fans that discovered Thrush Hermit via Joel Plaskett's solo work. More importantly, it will bring four friends together on stage to play great music.
Joel Plaskett isn't promising the shows will be perfect. But even if the shows blow, fans can purchase a memento that encapsulates the spirit of the reunion.
"We are confident we can pull this off, make good music and celebrate something from another time, but even if we fall apart in front of the audience, they can walk out with a t-shirt that says: 'Thrush Hermit were my favourite band.'"