| Ottawa teemed with some of the country’s hottest and most innovative new wave music in the early ’80s during its infancy. Among them was Eight Seconds, formed as so many bands are – as a group of high school kids playing in garages and in front of whatever audiences they could take advantage of.
Singer Andre Del Castillo, Frank Levin on keyboards and drummer Scott Milks were all in their own bands, and bumped into each other in the local bars whenever one or the other was playing. They decided to form a new group and by the summer of ’82 had written their own material and earned a foothold on the local club scene. By the end of the year they rounded out the lineup with guitarist Marc Parent and March Cesare on bass.
For the next year couple of years they continued on the circuit, slipping their original material in their sets of covers of whatever was hot at the time. They entered “Where’s Bula?” in a local radio station’s “homegrown” contest. Winning CHEZ 106’s “Sharechez” contest, the prize was a financed video that would get airplay on both MuchMusic and MTV. That video also eventually won the 1984 Canadian Film and Television Association’s “Best Music Video of the Year.” All the attention they were getting made them catch Allan White’s eye, the owner of Corvideocom, the company that shot the video. He set up some studio time at Altair Four Studios outside Toronto, and they re-worked enough material for a record.
1985’s OTTAVA RIMA was a five-track EP put out by the independent Apprentice Records only in Canada. It contained “Where’s Bula?,” as well as “Kiss You (When It’s Dangerous),” which both got airplay around the Ottawa and Toronto markets. With word of the band’s unique ability of churning out mainstream accessible new wave pop, Rupert Hine (producer of Dalbello, The Fixx and Howard Jones, among others) was so impressed with the band he was quoted on radio as saying he wanted to work with them – which he did.
After they signed with Polydor Records, they took Hine up on his offer and flew to England, with ALAMACANTAR, their first full length album, in the stores at home and internationally less than a year later. They earned their first Top 30 hit in Canada with a remake of “Kiss You,” full of sweaty vocals and tight hooks, which popped up again in ’87 as an extended 12″ mix, as did others. One version of “Kiss You” also included the previously unreleased “Shot The Moon”) as the b-side. Other noteable tracks included the sultry “Just Pretend,” and “Sincere.”
The band continued on the circuit, and they found themselves on the road throughout the country for the better part of a year. By the summer of ’88 they’d recorded enough material for a second album, but conflicts with management led to head aches, and the tapes ending up sitting on a shelf for two years. The band drifted off to other projects while things were being sorted out. Parent left the group all together and would become a mainstay on the francophone music scene, and then form Wang Dang Doodle, an R&B outfit.
By early 1990 the group had been dropped by Polydor and they found themselves on WEA’s door step. BIG HOUSES saw the light of day that summer, featuring Sass Jordan guitarist Bill Beaudoin, although he didn’t tour with them. Produced by Paul Northfield, the record contained a reworked “We Set Him Free” from the debut EP. The band was on the road again but the single “Tell Diane” failed to crack the Top 40 and the band’s fate was in doubt yet again.
As if things couldn’t get worse, Atco filed for bankruptcy later that year, which spelled the end of Eight Seconds, and the members all drifted off to do their own proverbial things again. Del Castillo owned an A/V production company in Ottawa. Levin owns a studio in Toronto and has produced a number of acts, including Alanis Morissette‘s 1991 debut. Milks still continued playing off and on with various groups and formed Bigger Than John for awhile, and got a job as as IT manager for the Canadian government.
In 2002, “The Almacantar Project” was formed. This was an unofficial attempt to have the album re-released by Universal (now in possession of Polydor’s catalogue) in their new “Heritage Masters Series,” or at least some sort of compilation. All the attention the band was getting again helped see ALMACANTAR re-released on CD in ’05.
The core of the band also reunited in 2002 for the one-off project from Bullseye Records, when they recorded “Hey Jude” for the label’s IT WAS 40 YEARS AGO TODAY – A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES, released in ’04.