Age Of Electric, guitarist/lead vocalist Todd Kerns is on the phone to talk about the band’s reunion tour, the vinyl 30th anniversary re-release of their Make A Pest A Pet album, and something their long-suffering fans have prayed for, a new release in the form of a four-track EP titled `Pretty’
Band members Kerns, bass-playing brother John Kerns and the Dahle brothers; guitarist Ryan and percussionish Kurt are preparing to play at the Calgary Marquee Beer Market, Saturday April 1st, a return to the venue which triggered the band’s initial reunion when they joined forces August 29th for a one-off gig with Calgary’s Zuckerbaby opening.
Over the past couple of years, Music Express has chatted with Kerns about his debut solo album, ‘Go Time’, his gig as vocalist/bassist with Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators, a band that has supported Guns & Roses guitarist Slash on several high-profile world tours and his impending 2017 Age Of Electric reunion date.
The conversation was always about the potential of reuniting the band, something the two sets of brothers had talked about for awhile. But with Kerns’ obligations to Slash, Ryan still working with the Age of Electric spin-off band, Limblifter and brother Kurt behind the drum kit of The New Pornographers, there never seemed to be a full window to execute a proper relaunch.
“We knew the 30th anniversary of `Make A Pest A Pet’ was coming up and we wanted to do something special to mark the occasion,” Kerns noted. So when Slash decided he was going to tour with Guns And Roses, that suddenly cleared my calendar for the year, so it was like, right let’s get going.”
With the two Dahle brothers also freeing up their schedules and bassist brother John, also on board, the band set about revamping their `Make A Pest A Pet’ release into a two-record vinyl album and then set about recording new material for the current tour in the form of a four-song EP titled `Pretty’ which is an inside joke, considering their debut 1993 EP release was titled `Ugly’.
“Vinyl is obviously big right now, kids are re-discovering vinyl, I think they are getting a little sick of downloads ad streaming, they want something solid in their hands,” observed Kerns. “I am definitely old school in my love of vinyl. Just the idea of looking at a record jacket, reading the credits on the back of the record. Vinyl is appealng to a whole new market.”
In joining forces again, the Kerns and Dahle brothers had plenty of new material but decided to go with just four new tracks; “Kids Break Bones”, the first single “Keys”, “Elephant” and “Show Me Your Weakness”
“It’s just the way things go these days,”he allowed. “Release a couple of songs, see how they go and if there’s a demand, release a couple more. Considering people’s attention span these days is like 60 seconds, this is the way to go.”
Still only a few dates into a 14-date tour that takes them from Western Canada into Ontario with an April 13th date at Toronto’s Mod Club followed by an April 14th date in London (Music Hall), and April 15th in Oshawa (Music Hall) before concluding their tour in Arnprior (John Street Pub), Kerns is enthusiastic about the band’s on-stage chemistry and the crowd reaction they are generating.
“Just like old times, ” he buzzed. “The chemistry between they guys is great, everyone is having fun and enjoying themselves, it’s great to have new material to play and the crowds have been totally supportive. Young fans as well as older supporters, just a great mix.”
With “Keys” attracting national airplay, Kerns explains that there’s no definitive future plans for the band. “The thing is that the way the industry is right now, we can be flexibile and keep our options open. We are free to move on to other projects but we can rejoin at any time. I can still tour with Slash, I can play future dates with Age of Electic and I have my other band, Toque which is a bunch of guys who play classic Canadian rock songs just for the fun of it.”
A far cry from when the Saskatchewan’ quartet found themselves splitting up in 1998 after the band found themselves writing too much material to be contained in just one band. Having recorded their first, self-titled album in 1995, Todd Kerns and the two Dahle brothers had such a plethora of songs that their record label, MCA, had the bright idea of spinning off a second band, Limblifter which addressed the Dahl’s excess material.
Problem was that Limblifter enjoyed success on its own. So when the band reunited to record Make A Pest A Pet in 1997, there was internal unrest, even though the end result was lauded as one of the year’s most exciting releases with “Remote Control” proving to be a bona fide hit single.
“Looking back at it now, it was unfortunate what happened, but in those days, record companies wouldn’t give you the freedom to take a break and re-evaluate things, it was one way or the other,” allowed Kerns. “But these days, now that record companies don’t have the control they once had, there’s a lot more freedom to work on different projects. And that’s what keeps things interesting and exciting for all of us.”