Glass Tiger members Wayne Parker

Band refuses to break after 25 years

Funtastic music festival reels in another flashback to the ‘80s with Glass Tiger

They may have sung Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone), but Canadian band Glass Tiger doesn’t exactly live by those words.

The band, which is celebrating the 25th anniversary of that venerable hit this year, has had staying power. Just turn on the radio, and one of their songs is bound to appear. After all, the band had two platinum hits on the Billboard charts (the aforementioned single, and Someday) off their album The Thin Red Line.

And it’s not uncommon for Glass Tiger members to hear their fans from coast-to-coast singing their songs back to them word-for-word at their live shows, said the band’s keyboardist and co-songwriter Sam Reid.

“We were just commenting about our audience in Winnipeg (where the band just performed)  how it was awesome to see people singing along to every one of the songs in the first set,” said Reid. “Some bands fade –– you still remember them when you hear the songs –– but we’ve managed to still have gold rotations.”

There should be a bit of singing, albeit off-key,  when Glass Tiger headlines Vernon’s biggest ball and beer fest, the A&W Funtastic Music Festival.

“We’re very excited to be coming over (to the Okanagan.) It’s one of my favourite places we’ve travelled to,” said Reid who last visited the area when he and Glass Tiger frontman Alan Frew played a gig at Kelowna’s Cedar Creek Winery around 10 years ago.

Glass Tiger is also one of the few bands that have lasted over a quarter century, whose original members are still intact.

Guitarist Al Connelly and bassist Wayne Parker still join Reid and Frew at all their live gigs. (Drummer Chris MacNeill is the newest recruit, joining Glass Tiger is 2000 after the band’s original drummer left in 1988.)

“We are fortunate to have that original lineup in the band, for it to have stayed intact this long,” said Reid. “Now when we get called to do a show, if someone is not available, we don’t do it. We’re very close that way.

“We now mostly play summer festivals. It’s definitely not as crazy as it was in the ‘80s. All the band members now have personal lives.”

Glass Tiger actually started off with a different name, Tokyo, when the band first formed in their hometown of Newmarket, Ont. in 1984.

After playing in suburban high schools and the Ontario club circuit, Tokyo found itself before capacity crowds at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens opening for Boy George and Culture Club, and officially became Glass Tiger early the following year when a record deal was signed with Capitol Records.

They hit gold literally with their first album, The Thin Red Line, which set a record for being the fastest selling debut recording in Canadian history, going gold within weeks of its release, and eventually receiving four platinum records in Canada and gold status in the U.S.

The two resulting singles (Don’t Forget Me and Someday) also made Canadian history when Glass Tiger won successive Juno Awards for single of the year from the same album in 1986 and ‘87.

And the hits kept coming from subsequent albums, Diamond Sun and Simple Mission.

The former featured four charting singles: Diamond Sun, I’m Still Searching, My Song, and (Watching) Worlds Crumble, achieving double platinum status; while Simple Mission went platinum, with Animal Heart, and the duet, My Town, which featured Scottish-born Frew singing with one of his famed countrymen, Rod Stewart.

After 30 years in the music business, Reid has found himself more in the producer’s chair overseeing up-and-coming acts at his own music studio in Newmarket.

With Frew and Connelly still living nearby (Parker lives in Stratford), Glass Tiger has also been recording a few tracks of their own on occasion.

They released a greatest hits package, No Turning Back, in 2005 to celebrate their 20th anniversary, and Reid says more should be on the way.

“We’ve been chipping away at new things. We would like to put out some new tracks out on radio, and we are playing them in our live shows,” he said adding, “Alan and I cross paths quite often and are still co-writing songs for other people.”

And after playing those familiar songs for 25 years, it’s rare to see these guys rehearsing.

“The band really tightens up when we’re on the road,” said Reid. “We don’t rehearse unless we’re making a change to our set list. It’s like riding a bike.”

Funtastic revellers can catch  up with the band when they take the A&W stage at the Vernon Army Camp June 30 at 10:45 p.m. Opening acts include The Price of Fish, Mace, The Goods and The Young ‘uns. The festival continues throughout the weekend, with other headlining acts Great White and Blaze of Glory.

Tickets are on sale now at the Vernon A&W locations in Fruit Union Plaza and Anderson Way. Passes are also available at the A&W in Armstrong. Early bird day passes are $15 each for Thursday, and $25 for Friday and Saturday. A three-day pass is $40 until June 19. Passes go up in price after June 20.

See www.funtastic.org for more information.

 

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