By Keith Sharp
The death of David Bowie shocked Strange Advance duo Drew Arnott and Darryl Kromm as much as anyone in the music industry but the event also served as a stern warning of the fragility of their own mortality.
“Bowie’s death definitely created the impetus for Darryl and I to seriously reconsider relaunching the band,” noted Arnott from his Vancouver residence. “Darryl and I had been talking about it for years and now we’ve decided we’ve got to do this. We’ve got to make this happen, if not now, then when?”
Strange Advance hit their prime in the early 1980’s with Bruce Fairbairn producing their debut -`Worlds Away’ and Arnott himself producing`2WO’ (both released by Capitol/EMI) which generated strong airplay for tracks like “Worlds Away”, “We Run” and “The Second That I Saw You” Yet their synthesized sound and apocalyptic lyrical themes were at odds with the typical arena rock bands manager Bruce Allen was handling at the time (Loverboy, Bryan Adams, Prism) and he admitted to Arnott and Kromm he didn’t know what to do with them.
“We were linked with the New Romantics but if you listen to our music, it’s pretty dense and deals with major topics,” Arnott explained. “Our music is all about dystopian futures and technical advances. We were heavily influenced by science fiction – `Blade Runner’ was our favourite movie. That’s one of the key reasons we want to get our music back out there. We think our music is timeless.”
Strange Advance released a third album, `The Distance Between’ in 1988 after changing management and although the release spawned one hit single; “Love Becomes Electric”, the band took an extended break but Arnott and Kromm remained best of friends. Both were both aware that their music is still enjoying exposure on classic rock radio and You Tube continues to provide video exposure for their key tracks. And when Bulldog Records re-released `The Distance Between’ on CD in 2017, Arnott especially became aware of fan interest in Strange Advance which was communicated to him via Facebook.
Arnott is hoping there is enough fan interest out there to generate interest in a band revival and has even launched a fund-raising campaign to generate funding for band rehearsals and future touring (see strangeadvance.com)’
“I am hearing stories all the time about parents playing our music to their kids and them liking what they hear,” enthused Arnott. “They discover us blasting away on their car radios.”
However, according to Arnott, the most daunting task is to relocate that lost fan base and generate the word that Strange Advance is launching a comeback which will start to take shape next May when band rehearsals get underway.
Eighties bands may be currently enjoying a bit of a renaissance but according to Arnott, “It’s harder than I thought, we have a nice group of loyal fans on our Facebook page who seem genuinely excited about a potential relaunch but we are not reaching the tens of thousands of people who were fans back In the day,” he explained. “We know our music is imprinted in their brains, now it’s a question of finding out where are they and how do we find them.”
Originally, Arnott and Kromm were supposed to be part of a Bruce Fairbairn-inspired concept similar to The Alan Parsons Project but that changed as their first album took shape, with Paul Iverson joining the duo on bass. Strange Advance didn’t tour off their first album but became more active on 2WO with drummer David Quinton, keyboardist Ric DeGroot, bassist Joey Alvero and guitarist Ian Cameron joining the band’s ranks.
“The most important thing to me,” said Arnott “is getting to present our music in a way that wasn’t possible in the past. This will be the first chance Strange Advance has had to put on the show the band always wanted to. Although it is doubtful Daryll will be able to put in an appearance on tour, I’m happy that so many great players like Ian Cameron (guitar), Howard Ayee (bass) Will Chapman (drums) and Rob Bailey (keyboards) who have helped Strange Advance in the studio or on the road will be there.”