Arguably the most prolific act to come out of Cornwall, Ontario, the roots of Barstool Prophets initially grew out of a band called The Edsels that bassist Glenn Forrester and drummer Bobby Tamas started when they were only 14. By the time they were in high school they recruited singer/guitarist Graham Greer and changed their name to The Wallflowers, adding Phil Inouye as a second guitarist shortly after.
By 1988 they were playing the bars and trying to make a name for themselves. They turned some demos they’d recorded into the 1992 independent cassette, BIRDMAN. Although no singles found their way to the charts, they still made some noise on campus radio stations across the country with tracks like the lead-off “Daddy’s Cadillac,” the title track, and “Little Death.” But the band’s name itself however was causing confusion, as Jakob Dylan’s group made its first appearance on the charts shortly afterwards. So Forrester and company changed the name of their band to Barstool Prophets in ’92, taken from a line in their song “Short and Curlies.” Sensing a move was also needed to attract bigger audiences, they also packed up their gear and moved to Ottawa, but as Inouye stayed behind, they soon filled the vacant guitarist position with Al Morier.
A year later, they released their debut album as Barstool Prophets, another self-produced indie effort and engineered by Marty Jones (ex of Furnaceface), cleverly entitled DEFLOWERED. Although still without any singles, the straight forward rock album again made waves with the ballsy hard rockers, and also included tweeked versions of four tracks from the previous album – “The Birdman,” “Little Death,” “Robin’s Song,” and “Short and Curlies.” Thanks in no small part to landing the opening slot on cross-Canada tours for The Odds, Age of Electric, 54-40, Moist, and opened for The Dave Matthews Band in Toronto, their first time north of the border, they managed to sell over 8,000 copies of the album.
This in turn kept them on the road doing smaller gigs on their own, as well for the better part of a year and a half. Their high profile was expanding their audience, and all the while they were sending out demos. They eventually caught the attention of Bryan Potvin (Northern Pikes), who was working at Mercury Records, who signed them to a deal in late ’94.
Recorded at Orchard Studios in Norval, Ontario and Sound of One Hand Studios in Ottawa, their next album was CRANK in the spring of 1995. Jones returned to the studios with the band, but this time as producer. The album featured their first single and video, “Mankindman,” and their break-out second single, “Paranoia,” soon followed. Both videos got heavy rotation on MuchMusic, and the song peaked in the top 10 in Canada, and was then added to the Antonio Banderas/Rebecca De Mornay film, “Never Talk To Strangers.”
The added video exposure also landed them on the MuchMusic stage several times, including one of their first Video Awards shows. Along with North American tours with The Headstones and Junkhouse, all the attention earned them a US deal, and the album was in the stores Stateside by the following summer. Around that same time a third single, “Little Death (Oh Mary Mary)” found its way on to the charts while the video made the video circuit, helping push the album gold (50,000 copies).
The mid ’90s also saw the band on the roster for the Edgefest concerts in Toronto. For their next album, the band travelled to Memphis to work with producer Joe Hardy, whose credits included the likes of Steve Earle, ZZ Top, Tom Cochrane, and Colin James to name but a few. 1997’s LAST OF THE BIG GAME HUNTERS was another critical and commercial monster hit. The title track was followed into the top 20 by “Upside Down,” while “Friend of Mine” cracked the top 10. More incessant touring had them on the road for nearly the next two years with Tea Party, I Mother Earth, Our Lady Peace, and Big Sugar.
But unhappy with the business side of things, and feeling there was little they could do about it, on top of feeling burned out from the all the non-stop touring, the band took a break in late 1999, then announced their official break-up shortly after.
“We broke up after Morier quit the band in ’99. We were all upset with upheavals that were occuring around us. Mercury/Polygram was bought by Universal Music, then they in turn were bought by Seagrams,” Greer explained. “On top of that, our SUPER-faithful publishing company TMP:The Music Publisher was bought by Peermusic AND we’d fired our management while in Memphis recording LAST OF THE BIG GAME HUNTERS … all HUGE deals for us. But Morier was the first to say he’d had enough, basically.”
Although they’ve reunited every now and then for charity events, everyone went on to other projects. Greer continued to work with Joe Hardy, releasing a pair of solo albums – PALOOKAVILLE as Moonlight Graham, then a self ittled album in ’09.