Grapes of Wrath: Free Concert
Aug 27, 2013 / 4:00 pm
Tomorrow night Parks Alive! presents their biggest free show of the season at Waterfront Park (Island Stage). The Grapes of Wrath are returning to their roots and playing a free show in Kelowna on the eve of their 30th anniversary. I caught up with founding member Kevin Kane and did an email interview to talk about the Grapes of Wrath, the industry, and their return to Kelowna to mark this special anniversary.
Where: Waterfront Park
When: Aug 28th, 6-9pm
"The Grapes of Wrath" was formed in Kelowna in 1983 by brothers Chris and Tom Hooper, and childhood friend Kevin Kane. They took their name from the Steinbeck novel which, ironically, none of the band had ever read. Signed to Vancouver's Nettwork Records in 1984, they quickly rose to critical and commercial success with Canadian industry legends like Tom Cochrane and Sarah McLachlan working with the band, leading to platinum-selling albums and industry acclaim. Following the band's break-up in the early 90's, they reconnected in 2010 and began to work on new material, resulting in a brand new album in 2013, "High Road", their first in over 20 years. The first single off the disc, "Good to See You" is already garnering rave reviews with its upbeat, catchy sound.
Interview with Kevin Kane:
RD: It's been 30 years since your band started. Bring us back to the beginning. How was the band formed?
KK: I met Chris when we both entered grade 8 at Dr Knox, after I noticed him wearing a Beatles t-shirt (most kids were into Kiss and Meatloaf at this time) and discovered he also owned a drum set. We started hanging out and then I met Chris' younger brother, Tom, who had an electric guitar and amp.
RD: Is it correct that your first show was at the French Cultural Centre? How was the live music scene in Kelowna back then?
KK: That is correct. There really wasn't much of a live scene in Kelowna - the only place that had bands was a top 40 bar called Changes. We certainly weren't aware of anyone else in Kelowna who were playing their own songs. In fact, when we entered a battle of the bands at Changes (just so we would have the chance to perform live) one of the judges advised us against playing songs that people didn't already know.
RD: You have a reunion tour and a new tour. What was the spark that got this latest project going?
KK: Tom and I had already started doing acoustic gigs together in 2009 but "the spark" was an offer in 2010 for the full band to perform at a festival in Surrey.
RD: Is it correct that the new album's name "High Road" is named after High Road in Kelowna? If so why choose this name/street?
KK: Chris and Tom lived on High Road and it was in their basement that we first played together in 1978.
RD: Back in the 90's I caught a career development workshop you did at New Music West. One of the lines I distinctly remember from your presentation is that you said you made more selling a bootlegged copy of cover tunes you recorded than you did from your original record deal. I was shocked at the perspective.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry?
KK: The industry as it existed when Grapes were starting out is virtually gone now: labels like EMI are now functioning with approximately 5% of the staff they had when we were signed to them in the 80s and 90s, and new signings are all but unheard of. Whole record chains have vanished. While it's better for independent artists now in that professional quality recording is much more accessible and the Internet allows you to make your music available on an international level, streaming and file sharing make it close to impossible to make any money.
RD: Opening the show will be the winning act from a Music BC and K96.3 Artist Development Program initiative. What advice would you offer to any emerging bands these days?
KK: Same advice I would give anyone doing anything: be a good, positive person and be open to opportunity in whatever form it might arrive in. The world already has a surplus of bad humans.
RD: For the show on Aug 28th. Should fans expect mostly new material or will you also be mixing in some of your original hits?
KK: Everything from new stuff from High Road to a song we first performed at the French Cultural Centre 30 years ago.
RD: What do you see as the next steps for the band? Is this reunion tour the start of a new phase for "Grapes of Wrath" or simply an opportunity to reunite for a season?
KK: We've been playing again since 2010, so we've already been at it for 1/3 as long as we were initially together. We didn't go into this with any kind of grand planning - we're just taking things as they come and having a great time.
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