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Strange Advance releases new album

By Jim Gordon and Leeta Liepins

Published 11:56 PDT, Fri June 10, 2022

Last Updated: 5:21 PDT, Tue June 14, 2022

Iconic Canadian band Strange Advance was formed in Vancouver in 1982.

The following year, the band was nominated for a Juno Award as Most Promising Group of the Year. It received another nomination in 1985 for Group of the Year. Worlds Away (1982) and 2WO (1985) were Canadian gold selling records.

The Our City Tonight team recently spoke to original member and songwriter Drew Arnott and keyboardist Rob Bailey.

Congratulations on the release of a new single and a new album and (being) on the road touring again. Your sound is as good as it was 40 years ago. 

Arnott: We have a new single called “Perfect Day” which was inspired by a scene from a 1970s movie taking place in 2022, a dystopian futuristic film, Soylent Green. It was an important movie for me, and it inspired the song. 

You have quite the talented crew assembled for the Radical Orbits tour over this next year with many sold out shows already. Tell us who is playing with the band now. 

Bailey: We are very fortunate to have this interconnected collection of old friends. Ian, our guitar player, played with Drew in the original band when they toured back in the 80s. Our drummer Ross and I played in a band that was the first electronic music trio in the local club scene here in the 80s. I had also played in another band with Ian and did some session work with Alex, our bass player who was originally with the Payolas. It has been a real joy to just get together and play with friends.  

The band’s sound was so distinctive when you came out. What bands influenced you?

Arnott: Kraftwerk for sure, as (it was) one of the first electronic groups that made fantastic music even without the technology that we enjoy now. (Original member) Darryl (Kromm) and I were totally into the (United Kingdom) scene, and we had already played in bands in the 70s. So we had a giant love for David Bowie, Genesis, T. Rex, Mott the Hoople, all those bands, and that’s where our musical background took us. The 80s exploded (for bands) and instrumentation determined a lot. I fell in love with an instrument called the Mellotron which featured heavily in “We Run” and “Worlds Away,” plus we were one of the first groups to get into synthesizers. That opened up new vistas for us. 

Is there anything the fans can look forward to that’s a little different in the shows?

Arnott: Yes—when we toured originally it was an expensive proposition to tour that was totally dependent on the record company. This time we’re doing it on our own, but remarkably we’ve got way more production now with a visual artist who’s coming up with great content, and we’ve got lasers.

When you look out into the audience during these tours, is it a real mix of age groups and generations?

Arnott: I get stories all the time about people who have turned their kids and grandkids onto our music. And of course, 80s music is so much more popular now than it has been for a long time. It’s really surprising to see 25-year-old fans show up on Facebook.

Strange Advance’s new album, 4, is available now. For more information, visit strangeadvance.com 

For the full video interview, visit richmondsentinel.ca/videos

Jim Gordon and Leeta Liepins are contributing writers to the Richmond Sentinel.

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