Odds

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ODDS

When you spend over twenty years playing in bands, you pick up a few stories along the way. If there's a steady rise to fame, a mysterious hiatus, and a sparkling return, then chances, are the stories you’ll hear are good ones.Often, life's experiences find their way into new songs and onto albums. If you're Canadian power-pop legends Odds, you decide to share those experiences on stage. Since releasing their 2008 LP Cheerleader, the first album of new material since 1996's Nest, the recently reunited group has thrown itself into a strange and exotic creative endeavour -- story time theatre.“I guess you'd call it a play,” says Craig Northey, Odds' longtime singer and guitarist. “It's a narrative, maybe a storytellers’ concept about our strange history. We weave these ideas and war stories between [performing] the songs. There are visuals to accompany the show, including a large screen with gorgeous colours and dynamic clips. It all works together to take people on a different ride than that of a regular concert.” The band has been test-running the show in B.C. and is currently filming a DVD. Expect clips to appear on the Odds' website (oddsmusic.com) and for them to take it on the road in 2011-2012. Northey says the response so far has been fantastic.“The last thing we wanted was some dreary 20th anniversary tour run through the back catalog. We wanted to get to the core of why we are still out there as a creatively vital band.”Northey conceived the idea while working with longtime friend Kevin McDonald, actor and member of ground-breaking comedy troupe Kids in the Hall, on his one-man show. “I realized we had a lot to talk about as four guys who'd triumphed and screwed up together.”He thought back to the original "Storytellers" tour featuring the Kinks' Ray Davies. “It was spellbinding but all the Kinks weren't there and there was no rocking. I thought that having our whole band there would make it three dimensional but still intimate.”Northey wrote the first version of the play while on an airplane then took another plane to another Kid in the Hall's house, Bruce McCulloch, to whip it into shape. It all came together pretty fast. Fortunately for him, the band has a long, colourful journey to draw on. The journey began in Vancouver in 1987, when Northey (vocals-guitar), Steven Drake (vocals-guitar), Doug Elliott (bass) and drummer Paul Brennan got together for reasons they couldn't figure out. Maybe that's why the name stuck. When explaining the oddity of their name, Northey says “it's a dumb name that you can't really search on the internet, you know gambling and stuff, but it seemed to fit.” They cut their teeth and paid bills with a six-night house gig, playing sets as a satirical '60s and '70s cover band. This allowed them to record and write in the daylight and venture to places that might accept them. Soon, an LA bigwig heard what was going on and came to visit.
Odds eventually rolled the dice and made one of those naïve follow-up trips to Los Angeles. The music quickly opened doors as they duked it out at a regular house gig while commuting from Vancouver. After securing a deal with Zoo/BMG, they released their first LP Neopolitan in 1991. The debut was a precocious demonstration of the band's ability to craft songs anchored by addictive melodies, clever lyrics, and classic pop arrangements. It featured their first radio hits, “Love is the Subject” and “King of the Heap.” Rock scribes scrambled to applaud them for their black humour. Famed music journalist Griel Marcus included a description of their track, "Wendy Under the Stars" within his book Dead Elvis.The literate rock world came knocking and a mentorship followed as the touring band for “Mr. Bad Example” himself Warren Zevon. Odds then returned with 1993's Bedbugs. The album's leadoff single “Heterosexual Man” broke into the charts on both sides of the border. The music video featured the band members performing in drag with the Kids in the Hall. Two other songs, “It Falls Apart” and “Yes (Means It's Hard to Say No)” followed up to establish a pop culture beachhead for the band. 1995 brought a line-up change as drummer Paul Brennen left the group during the recording of their watershed album Good Weird Feeling. Old friend Pat Steward, who had previously manned the kit for Bryan Adams, walked right in. That year also saw the band break into the mainstream. Good Weird Feelingyielded six Top 40 singles, including “Truth Untold” and “Eat My Brain.” They quickly followed up with Nest in 1996, which featured the band's first #1 chart hit to date, the irresistibly catchy “Someone Who is Cool.”Playing to larger and larger crowds the band toured extensively until 1999 when, inexplicably, announced they'd be taking a hiatus to pursue other projects. Northey, Elliott and Steward continued working together on music in the coming decade, forming new acts like instrumental Memphis soul group Sharkskin and Strippers' Union with Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip. Northey released a solo album, Giddy Up (2002), and began a fruitful collaboration with Gin Blossom's guitarist Jesse Valenzuela. In addition to releasing an album together, the pair co-wrote “Not a Lot Going On,” the theme song for CTV's hit comedy Corner Gas. In 2007, Northey, Elliott, and Steward started writing together again and took an invitation to join pals the Barenaked Ladies' on their first Ships & Dip concert cruise. Joined by new guitarist Murray Atkinson, the revitalized group recorded the stellar Cheerleader (2008) album and released it under the name The New Odds. The original members wanted to honour their past, albeit with their traditional gallows humour. “The transition is documented in the play, the whole 'New Odds' idea,” Northey explains. “With The New Odds, we thought it was a funny in-joke and we kinda did feel like a new band. It's a rock cliché to break up and then add New to your name. It still gave people an indication of our past and we thought it might give us a leg up. But in the end it just confused the bejesus out of people.”In 2008, after some scrambling with the naming rights, the band became, once again, just Odds. Northey says it's been both strange and wonderful reintroducing Odds to the world. “The most
fun we have is playing this new music but we get a small charge out of the strange spell the catalog songs can cast. The whole cocktail makes new fans. We play shows and, we're in our forties, except for Murray, and we see people who are 18, 19, 20 going crazy in the front row. A lot of them were in Grade seven when they got an Odds record and it means so much to them because it was one of their first experiences with music. They just can't believe they're seeing us play because they thought it was never going to happen.”“And that’s cool, but we're not doing it to be some nostalgic curiosity. We got back together because we had something to say musically. That's why this play came about. We can look back and put it all together now. We see that every weird decision we made, every pratfall, was all part of staying true to ourselves. That's how we can still be looking forward to this day. We're still writing the story.”Check in with oddsmusic.com for new tour dates.

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