Drew Davies has been writing and playing music in Saskatoon for well over a decade. In that time, Davies’ band Linus Hemmingway put on numerous bizarre, magnetic shows at venues like the Cosmo Senior Centre, Amigos and the Jazz Bassment, inadvertently helping sculpt the local indie scene around it.
But Linus Hemmingway is over.
The images that come to mind of Davies and company wearing strange costumes, spazzing out on stage and covering top 40 alternative rock songs are all but faded. In a sense, Friends Electric — Davies’ newest band — is a phoenix rising from the ashes of Linus Hemmingway.
“Friends Electric is like Linus Hemmingway, but with less of the Canadian nerd-core genre — Barenaked Ladies, Moxy Fruvos. It’s more like soft rock — Air Supply, Dan Fogleberg,” said Davies.
Drummer Charles Lemire and guitarist Brook Burns also survived intact from the dusty wreckage of Linus Hemmingway to contribute on the first Friends Electric album (released last month) External Feelings.
“[Burns] was the first guy I knew with a CD burner,” explained Davies. “He helped me with the [first] Linus Hemminway album Books. The first time I played music with Charles was for a Troupe du Jour play called Vendredi Soir.”
The three friends survived changes in their band’s line-up, name and place of residence before ultimately returning to Saskatoon from the West Coast to form Friends Electric along with new band-mates Kalon Beaudry and Janice Weber (of local power-pop band Foggy Notions). Will Kaufhold adds his talents by playing guitar and keyboards.
Friends electric has a similar emphasis on synthesizers and electric guitars to that of Linus Hemmingway, but with a more polished end result. The purposeful cacophony of earlier recordings is replaced with a greater pop sensibility.
The concept of waking up before noon was gone, as was the idea of leaving the house even for the simplest of tasks.
Davies described it as a mix of “Serial Joe, TBTBT, Kriss Kross, The Eagles, Lady Antebellum, Fun Boy 3… The music on the Weather Network.”
As for the name and concept of the new album, External Feelings, it was during the band’s doomed attempt to make it in Vancouver that Davies came up with the seemingly whimsical record title.
“The concept of waking up before noon was gone, as was the idea of leaving the house even for the simplest of tasks,” explained Davies. “The pantry had dwindled down to nothing but a yellowed jar of Ovaltine and an empty pack of cigarettes. After drinking my daily Ovaltine ration, my eyes took to the sky in search of the sun. After an hour of examining the imperial gray, I found nothing.
“I decided to retreat to the sanctuary of my basement suite, and focus on something more numbing; I believe they were playing reruns of Murphy Brown on TVtropolis. It was near the middle of the episode where Murphy Brown is returning to her life after her stay at the Betty Ford clinic, that I broke out into a fit of laughter and then started to cry. These were truly ”˜external feelings.’”
The Friends Electric had an explosive CD release party over the break, and their record is now available at your neighbourhood record store. The days of drinking leftover Ovaltine may be coming to a close, and the idea of future tours is becoming a reality.
“I think we’ll do the Hardcore Logo tour: Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg [canceled], Saskatoon, Edmonton. Hopefully I don’t freak out at the end of it.”