Before the term Orch-rock ever escaped the lips of hip New York music critics, the Rheostatics were making up compositions that little boy Mozart surely would have turned in had he watched Maggie Trudeau dance with the Stones and Neil Young climb to the top of the LA heap.
How can you describe the band that helped bring Stompin Tom back or who wrote an opus inspired by the work of The Group of Seven? How do you verbally describe the passion of the music that somehow has outlasted all the hype and in the end is what it is, leaving people happy in its wake.
How do you describe their latest release The Story of Harmelodia? Sure, its a concept album based around a childrens story. The mind reels at the possibilities! Anxiously awaited for over two years, the Story of Harmelodia is a delightfully delicious romp the land filled with strange instruments and colourful charactersthe kind that could only spring from the minds of the Rheostatics; Wingophones, the land of Popopolous and the conniving ways of Dr Drumstein!
Dave Bidini wrote the story. The band wrote the music and lyrics. The band was augmented by Ladies-man Kevin Hearn and fleet-fingered Michael Phillip Wojewoda, who produced the album with the band. Gord Downie wrote the lyrics for Fathers Sad Song. A gaggle of friends joined the Rheostatics in the studio, including Sarah Harmer (Weeping Tile), and Kurt Swinghammer.
The Story of Harmelodia finds the Rheostatics in top form, weaving a magical tale that satisfies the child in us all and appeals to the Rheos-fan. The fantastical story is brought to life through the vivid paintings of Martin Tielli.
The Rheostatics is the brainchild of four very fine musicians. Based in Toronto, Dave Bidini is the chief rhythm guitarist who occasionally works the bass guitar. Regular bass player Tim Vesely often sets his fretted five string aside for an acoustic or electric guitar, and occasionally for a piano or an accordion. Lead guitarist Martin Tielli is the resident visual artist and effects pedal aficionado. Finally, drummer Don Kerr is equally at home on the cello, double bass, piano, or mixing board. He produces other bands' albums at The band was formed in early 80s, during the hazy high school years in Etobicoke. Back then they were known as Rheostatics and the TransCanada Soul Patrol, complete with horn section. The horn section was dropped in favour of Martin Tielli. The sounds he coaxed from his guitar made the horn section seem redundant. With the success of The Ballad of Wendel Clark Pts 1 & 2, the band released their first album in 1987 naturally called Greatest Hits!.
The much-discussed Melville appeared in 1991 and was immediately picked as a CBC and college radio favorite. Continuous touring across our fair land from sea to shining sea and every club in between - confirmed the bands rising star. After 1992s Whale Music the band was signed to Sire Records. That brought us Introducing Happiness and the Juno-nominated, Genieaward winning single Claire, which makes a dual appearance on the Rheostatics' soundtrack to the celluloid version of Paul Quarrington's fine novel 'Whale Music' (which is different from the album Whale Music, which musically has little in common with the novel). Confused? Well you should be.
In 1995, the National Gallery of Canada commissioned the Rheostatics to compose a piece commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Group of Seven. Originally intended for a limited number of multi-media events in Ottawa and Toronto, a live recording was released as Music Inspired by the Group of Seven.
1997s The Blue Hysteria produced the single Bad Time to Be Poor, which was a hit across Canada. The Double Live album and a collection of CBC recordings, the Nightlines Sessions were released in 1998.
The packaging of The Story of Harmelodia is spectacular. The 32-page, full colour, deluxe storybook edition is filled with the vivid paintings of Martin Tielli, as well as the story for read-along purposes.
The Rheostatics are putting the finishing touches to a millennial piece, commissioned by Torontos Harbourfront and preparing for a winter Canadian tour. How appropriate. Toronto's Gas Station studio.
Band members: Dave Bidini