Inside 54-40’s Green Milestone

Thursday, 25 March 2010

No matter what sort of relationship one might enjoy with other people (be it just a single individual or a group), in that moment when the relationship reaches a vintage of thirty years it is cause for a celebration. As anyone that has been married for a significant amount of time can tell you, managing to sustain a healthy relationship – an association that is mutually beneficial doesn't simply use up everyone involved – is difficult to negotiate. Over time, obstacles present themselves that can seem insurmountable to the point that it would just be easier and more humane to just give up. The same is true for a band; there is no shortage of bands that called it a day long before the thirty-year mark, often citing creative or personal differences that simply could no longer be overlooked or overcome. It's just what happens.

Some relationships fail, but when they don't and those involved can still say they enjoy the dynamics in place and find the relationship rewarding after thirty years, it is a milestone. It's the milestone that 54-40 is commemorating now and, without a doubt, the achievement certainly isn't lost on singer Neil Osborne; it's an anniversary he's happy to celebrate. “I think we were as surprised as anyone else when we stopped to think about it,” laughs Osborne from his home in Victoria, BC. “I don't think anyone ever really starts a band thinking they'll be doing it for thirty years, but none of us is complaining. We've had a pretty good run together so far, and we all respect that people have paid attention to us this long [laughing]. I think we're pretty lucky to have had the experiences we have and, of course, none of it would have happened had the fans we've made not stuck with us the way they have.”

As modest as Osborne is about the enduring success of 54-40, it's easy to understand why fans have stayed with the band through the decades. Since first appearing in 1982, the band has easily and fluidly evolved from a scruffy (but not rough) punk-inspired band to an entity skirting the edges of alt-country – thereby basically aging gracefully with their audience. At their core and above all else though, 54-40 has always been a pop band at heart and that's where their great hits spring from; songs like “Ocean Pearl,” “One Gun,” “Radio Luv Song” and  “Lies To Me” all incorporate different elements of punk, rock and alt-country, but the glue has always been a set of fine, melodic and poppy hooks which binds it all together. It's the kind of stuff that's fairly ageless – 54-40's songs go down as easily as they did on the day of their respective releases – but that doesn't mean the band doesn't appreciate how fans (who, let's face it, can be notoriously fickle) have stayed with them at every turn.
As a way of saying thank you to those fans, 54-40 has decided to do a special string of Canadian dates. Each night on their tour will feature two sets: one will feature some of the band's biggest hits including “Ocean Pearl,” “I Go Blind,” “One Gun” and more but, for the other, 54-40 will perform their breakthrough, self-titled 'Green' album in its entirety. The whole idea came up when 54-40 was thinking of a way to express their gratitude for the support they've enjoyed but, when they got together to begin rehearsing the material for the tour, they began to feel a little nostalgic for the time too. “Of course, we knew there was no way we'd be able to go through an entire tour without doing some of the hits like “Ocean Pearl” and that's fine enough because we still really like playing those songs,” says the singer of the shape that these tour dates are set to take. “But we wanted to do something to say thanks to the fans that have stayed with us and doing the green album seemed like a good idea.

“When we first decided to do the green record from beginning to end, it was funny because there are some songs in there that we hadn't played live in about fifteen years,” continues Osborne, warmly of the refresher rehearsals the band did to reacquaint itself with their back catalogue. “That first rehearsal, we did have that minute before we started working where we said, 'Okay these are the songs, shit – do we remember how to play them all?' [laughing] So we just started and discovered that they all came back pretty easily!

“There have been moments since we started working it all out that have been pretty nostalgic to a certain degree. Picking the songs up was easy enough, but at the same time we've also been working on a new album recently with Dave Ogilvie – who also produced the green album. We've been recording in the same studio we recorded that album in too; none of that was planned, so it's been really cool for us because we started reminiscing about it all and it's like we've come full-circle in a lot of ways [laughing].”



Most of 54-40's catalogue remains in print. Browse and order it here on Amazon .

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