Strange Advance Releases 4 2022
By Keith Sharp
“Just like getting back on a bike, it was so great to play in front of a live audience again,” enthused Strange Advance keyboardist/vocalist Drew Arnott after finally getting to parade his reconstituted line up which now features six musicians; including vocalist/guitarist Sean Dillon, keyboardist Rob Bailey, guitarist Ian Cameron, drummer/vocalist Russ Friesen and bassist Alex (A-Train) Boynton (formerly of the Payolas).
“Yes, we were all a little nervous but just feeling that energy feeding back from the audience was amazing,” Arnott said in finally being able to showcase the band’s brand new album `Strange Advance 4‘ – a 16 new tracks which aptly capture that sonic atmosphere of their previous hits like “We Ran”, World’s Away” and “She Controls Me” from their first three albums.
Yes, it had been one disappointment after another for Strange Advance Initially it looked like Strange Advance had hit the jackpot when they were set to debut their new project on July 11 2019 at the ill-fated Roxadus festival at Edenvale Aeropark. And when that mega-concert went bankrupt, before it even got off the ground, McBowl organizer, Ed Sousa offered the band a spot on his annual Ronald McDonald House charity fundraiser plus an interactive spot at his facility.
Sadly, the pandemic put those activities on ice for the past two years. “It used to break my heart to call Drew and say sorry pal but it’s postponed again,” Sousa noted.
But finally, everything is a go this weekend, with Strange Advance set to play a full concert set Friday at the El Mocambo which will include tracks from their new album, before moving on to the second night at Sousa’s McBowl event Saturday where, according to Arnott, they will play a shortened set featuring their hits before returning to Mississauga’s Classic Bowl for a more personal interactive performance where Arnott will engage the audience in a more intimate performance.
“The pandemic was frustrating but it did allow us to spend a lot of time on the record,” Arnott announced. “Obviously, it’s going to be interesting to see how our fans react to the new material.”
When Strange Advance first burst onto the music scene in 1982 with their progressive `Worlds Away’, Arnott, vocalist Darry Kromm and bassist Iverson couldn’t have been more different than the sounds emanating from the Port City.
Loverboy, Bryan Adams, Prism, and Red Rider dominated the charts, and punk bands like DOA, The Subhumans and even the early Payolas gave the scene street cred but what’s with this atmospheric prog-rock stuff. “Nobody believed we were from Vancouver, they thought we had to be British,” laughed Arnott.
Hot producer Bruce Fairbairn worked on that debut and Strange Advance was thought to be a studio band. They didn’t even tour until 1985 when their second album `2WO’ produced their biggest hit “We Run” and now sans Iverson; Arnott and Kromm picked up a group of studio musicians and headed eastwards. They managed a third album, `The Distance Between’ in 1988 but Kromm was suffering through his own personal issues and so their project ground to a halt.
Yet the constant airplay of their hits and ongoing support from their faithful fans made Arnott feel there was unfinished business out there so, with funds raised from crowdfunding, he has resurrected the band with Sean Dillon replacing Kromm.
“Our first concern was how would our fans react to the new material, is it to 80s sounding,” Arnott noted. “But everyone seems to be fine with it. The whole image of the album is kind of spacey which fits with the current Star Wars vibe.” With “Way Past Midnight” already released as the album’s debut single, Arnott and Co have been delighted with the album’s immediate international response.
“Yeah, we thought we might sell a dozen at one of our gigs but, because of social media, we are getting a dozen orders from Japan and a bunch of orders from Germany, the word is getting out there and the fans are responding. Tickets for all three shows are totally sold out!”