Born in Toronto in 1962, Andrew Cash grew up listening to most pop music, and formed his first band L’Etranger in the early ’80s with high school friend Charlie Angus. They developed a hybrid pop/punk sound while toiling on the local circuit until landing a recording deal with upstart indie label Ground Zero Records in ’82. They released the first of three albums later that year, touring the country sporadically during that time, and even cut a video for the single “One People” in 1984.
But when they called it quits in late ’86 after not being able to break out, Cash continued writing his own material and formed The Andrew Cash Band, which featured vocalist Andy Maize of Skydiggers, guitarist Graydon Nichols (High Noon, Willie English), Chris Stanford on bass (Ministry of Love), and Cash’s L’Etranger drummer, Peter Duffin. He released STICKS AND STONES in ’87 on the Fringe Products label. Simply a straight re-issue of the final L’Etranger four track EP of the same name, but with a new jacket, it produced the moderately successful single, “Trail of Tears.” Meanwhile, Chris Blackwell, head of Island Records, saw the band playing, and signed Cash to a contract shortly thereafter. The deal made him the first Canadian artist on the British label.
He released TIME AND PLACE in the summer of 1988, which featured straight-up roots rock, including the title track, which was a re-working of a L’Etranger tune as the lead single, followed by “Smile Me Down.” Critics and fans alike gave the record a generally positive response, due in part to a solid album, including other cuts like “Do Not Adjust Your Set,” “Morning Train,” and “Midnight Gone.”
For his follow-up album, he went to Charlotte, North Carolina to work with producer Don Dixon (REM, The Smithereens). He even borrowed Dixon’s band, The Ambassadors for the recording of BOOMTOWN, on the shelves in the summer of ’89. Three singles – “What Am I Gonna Do With These Hands,” “100 Years,” and the title track helped push the record gold at home and crack the top 40 Stateside. The subsequent tour took him throughout Northa America and into Europe, and included several legs opening for Melissa Etheridge.
In the middle of the tour, he was nominated for a Juno that year for Most Promising Male Vocalist, although he lost out to Colin James. A year later, he would avenge that loss by capturing the Juno for Best Music Video for “Boomtown.”
He assembled a new backing group he dubbed The Little Ones for his next album, HI in 1993, for which he called on the services of producer Bob Wiseman. Along with “A Lot Of Talk” as the only single, the record also included “It’s Over,” another L’Etranger resurrection written by Charlie Angus, the lead-off “John Endicott,” “Song Novelty,” “Hey Maria,” and “Like Refugees On The Run.” But a falling out with label brass had him cut from Island’s roster, and the record stalled before cracking the top 40 charts.
His return to the studio occurred in the form of his new group, Ursula, a makeshift group he concocted with guitarist Kevin Fox, Jason Collett on bass, and drummer Randy Curnew. They recorded HAPPY TO BE OUTRAGED in 1995. Recorded and mixed in barely a week, the record was never intended to be a commercial release. But Cash was so pleased with the end result they had it put out on the indie Shy Records label. A handful of dates around the Toronto area ensued, but Cash then took some time off from the business and, aside from occasionally appearing on stage dropped out of sight all together.
He teamed up with his brother Peter (ex of Skydiggers) in 1999 and formed the uninventively-named Cash Brothers. They cut four albums, starting in 1999 with RACEWAY. The brothers assembled a backing group and over their tenure toured throughout Canada, the US, and the UK with the likes of Cowboy Junkies, Blue Rodeo, The Tragically Hip‘s Gordon Downie, Jayhawks, Josh Rouse, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Nancy Griffith.
In 2000, he collaborated with Hawksley Workman and Jason Collett, then recording as Bird, on their CHROME REFLECTION album. He continued the new millennium doing soundtracks for over a dozen CBC, Life Network, Discovery Channel, Comedy Network, and History Channel TV productions, as well as writing for the Toronto weekly Now Magazine, lending his insight on a wide range of social issues, including politics, human rights, the environment, race, and religion.
He returned to the recording studio as a solo artist for MURDER EQUALS in 2007. Most of the material was written while he was touring and recording with The Cash Brothers, or earlier, and was initially intended to be an acoustic project. But with help from engineers/producers Chris Marks and Daryl Smith, it ended up being a well-rounded album, featuring the folk-inspired “Black Type on a White Page,” “The Naked Man” and “20 Miles of Texas Left”. The album caught the critics’ ears, but few others.
Cash’s music has always often politically charged with socially conscious themes. He took that passion to the next level in late 2009, when he became the federal NDP candidate for the Toronto-Davenport constituency. For the 2011 election, he campaigned against then-incumbent MP Mario Silva, who he argued was never around enough to properly represent his constituents. His two slogans were – “Cash for Toronto,” and “Trade your Silva for Cash.” He became the riding’s MP when he won decisively. The victory also reunited him with former L’Etranger bandmate Charlie Angus, who was elected as an NDP Member of Parliament during the 2004 election.