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Big Wreck enjoying return

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What’s old is new again for Big Wreck.

One of the few bands that separated themselves from a sea of unoriginal, homogenous acts in the 1990s, Big Wreck reunited last year, released a new album and is currently on a cross country tour  with Theory of a Deadman. The two bands will stop in over 20 cities including Estevan on Dec. 9 at Spectra Place.

The tour kicked off Nov. 16 in Halifax and Big Wreck lead singer Ian Thornley, who spoke to The Mercury last Wednesday said he and the band are enjoying being back on the road.

“So far it’s been great,” said Thornley, who was born and raised in Toronto. “Everything has been really smooth. Quebec was different from the first few shows, they were in slightly smaller venues so with the amount of stuff we are travelling with, trying to shove all that stuff was a bit of a task for the crew but we had a great time.”

Thornley said although Big Wreck is friendly with the members of Theory of a Deadman, the decision to embark on the co-headlining tour was largely a marriage of convenience as the bands have the same agent and happened to have new albums out.

“It was just who was going to fit and put the best show together for people. I’m aware that it’s slightly different flavours of rock and roll but it’s still rock and roll,” said Thornley who added co-headlining the show is not an issue for either band.

“I’m a just give me a stage and people to play to type of guy. It’s nicer when you stretch out a little more and it’s just our fans, but the challenge is in trying to build a set every night that appeals to our fans and to people that might not be fans. You want to give them songs that they are going to know and perform them well, even if you’d rather be playing the more obscure stuff or new stuff that they haven’t heard.”

Along with the rare instance of two well established acts sharing headlining status, the tour is also somewhat unique in the range of communities it will hit with stops in the usual locales such as Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Montreal and more off the path locations like Cold Lake, Alberta and here in Estevan.

“I love playing to big crowds and I love playing to smaller, intimate crowds,” Thornley said. “It will be nice to see what type of shows we are going to be playing on the rest of the run because some of these places I have never even heard of. It will be a new adventure every time I wake up, which is always kind of fun.”

The fact that Big Wreck is playing anywhere is something of a minor miracle. The band broke out in 1997 with their debut album In Loving Memory of … which featured the single The Oaf (My Luck is Wasted). Thanks in no small part to the success of The Oaf, which climbed all the way to No. 9 on the U.S music charts, Big Wreck enjoyed a strong run of success which also included the 2001 album the Pleasure and the Greed.

However the group split up in 2002 and went onto other projects. For Thornley, that included the formation of his own band, which performed under his last name.

Thornley, the band, also enjoyed a solid run of success, primarily in Canada, and released two albums — Come Again and Tiny Pictures.

It was in 2010 when Thornley reconnected with bandmate Brian Doherty which led to Doherty helping out with a Thornley show and ultimately led to the reunion which spawned Big Wreck’s third album Albatross.

A return to the sound that gained them a devoted corps of fans, Albatross has been a hit, reaching No. 5 on the Canadian charts. Thornley says he has been pleasantly surprised with the fan reaction to the album.

“I didn’t expect any of that … it was all a shock,” he said. “It was an album where we didn’t go by any formula and there wasn’t anybody standing over our shoulder going ‘these are great, but why don’t you do something that’s a little more like this?’ There was none of that, we just literally went in and made music that we wanted to make and that was a joy and a great way to make a record and very refreshing given the last two records that I had been a part of. It was such a breath of fresh air and I it think shows in the music, you can hear and feel that we are having a good time doing it.”

Thornley called the band’s current sound a nice amalgamation of Big Wreck and what he had been doing with Thornley but added that performing under the Big Wreck name allows them to try some different things and experiment.

“The Big Wreck thing allows us to try some things that might not work. (Fans) are a little more forgiving and a little curious to see what is going to happen. It’s a great amalgamation because we are doing some stuff that is very tight and precise and it could be followed by something where there is a lot more exploration. I love everything about what we are doing right now. Musically, I think it is the best band I’ve played with.”

Along with the overall success of the album, the first couple of singles have also been warmly greeted by fans. The song Albatross was No. 1 on the Canadian rock charts and No. 2 on the alternative chart while Wolves made it to number 4 on the rock chart.

Thornley said his favourite song from the album tends to change with his mood and when it comes to playing them live, whatever song gets the biggest reaction is his favourite.

Fans in Estevan will have a chance to hear the new songs as well as the other tunes from Big Wreck’s catalogue during the 75-minute show Dec. 9.

“It’s been sort of a challenge that we have met in a positive way to pack in a two and a half hour show into 75 minutes and give them the same experience. I think we have arrived at a pretty good compromise of how to do it.”

Tickets for the show are still available through the Ticketmaster outlet at Henders Drugs or through www.ticketmaster.com


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