From the basis of a group of high school friends practicing in the basement on weekends, Waterloo, Ontario natives Rob Taylor (drums/vocals), Robi Banerji (guitars) and Jack Smith (bass and keyboards) formed their first band. They got serious once out of high school, and formed LOTH in 1980. Before long they’d changed their name to Artok, based on a fictional Thor-like character of Taylor’s imagination.
For the next few years they toured the Kitchener/Waterloo region, while honing their skills and writing some material. By the time they walked into Elora Sound with producer Bill Mather in January of ’83 to cut a three-song self-titled EP, Taylor and Banerji were going it alone. Only 1,000 copies were printed, but they sold well during the live shows, once Berlin Beddessee was added on bass and keys. They carried on sporadically on the Ontario circuit, but by ’85 Banerji left to do studio work (later working with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Etta James, David Crosby, and dozens of others), and Beddessee soon followed out the door.
Al Affeldt was added on bass and vocals while the two auditioned guitar players. They came and they went through a revolving door for the next couple of years, while Taylor and Affeldt also moonlighted in other groups. One of the new guitarists was Rob Juneau, and some songs they’d worked on together ended up as his 1988 solo album, PUSH PLAY.
Carrying on with outside projects, in August of 1998 Affeldt was killed in a head-on collision by a drunk driver outside Hamilton. That winter, Banerji lured Taylor to LA, and the two reformed Artok part-time. Outside projects included Taylor finally releasing a couple of comic books about Artok.
Taylor was back in Canada by 2006, and with Banerji, bassist Chris Tristram and guitarist Mark Jacobi now added, their first full length album, ABOVE GROUND, was recorded in LA and released Christmas Eve, 2010. Following the same hard progressive rock style as before, it was ten original tracks, including the title track, the lead-off “Explorer,” and “Heavy Hearts,” along with a cover of Rush‘s “Subdivisions.”
But before long after only a handful of gigs, the band broke up and everyone went on with their lives and carried on with their own individual projects.