Hailing from Toronto, New Regime was the brainchild of Midland High School friends Kevin Connelly and drummer Neil Taylor. After Connelly’s covers act Persons Unknown was going nowhere, they formed a David Bowie tribute called Diamond Dogs with guitarist Les Stroud and bassist Jon James. Before long, Bill Telep replaced Stroud, and Tim Durnford replaced James.
They were managed by Jake Gold and David Kirby, who helped get them a deal with RCA in ’84, who shipped them off to Sounds Interchange studios in Toronto. By this point Stroud and Durnford were gone again and were replaced by new guitarist Norm McMullen (who Connelly played with in Persons Unknown, and also formerly with Stumblin’ Blind, and The Tribe – another covers band) and Rick Lintlop on bass. Going synth/pop, they added keyboardist Russell Walker. Producer Terry Brown (Rush and Klaatu, among a million other credits) was brought in for their self-titled debut album in 1985.
Thanks in part to the video getting good rotation on MuchMusic, the first single, “Seduction” peaked at #80 on the Canadian chart. It was a McMullen tune re-worked and re-titled from “Production.” The follow-ups “Love In Motion,” “Fools To Cry,” and “Treasure” didn’t fare as well, although the album made it to #87. Brown was also nominated for his production work at that year’s Juno Awards.
They got some high profile gigs over the next year or so, including the New Year’s Eve show at Maple Leaf Gardens, opening for Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and the Thompson Twins, and opening for Platinum Blonde on their cross-Canada tour. But as they began working on a follow-up album, musical differences saw Lintlop and Walker leave, replaced by Rob Laidlaw and Jim McDonald, ex of Rational Youth.
A couple of months at Phase One studios in Toronto with producer Steve Webster (Parachute Club, Dalbello, Billy Idol, among others) resulted in THE RACE in the summer of ’87. It had a harder edge than the predominantly keyboard oriented first album. The first single, “Love and Satisfaction” became their biggest hit, peaking at #67. A 12″ version of the single, with a couple of dance club remixes was also released before the end of the year. The follow-up “Where The Heart Is” didn’t fare as well, and failed to chart. Other noteable tracks included its b-side – “I’m Alright” – a track they’d dusted off from the early days, written by Stroud and Jeff Ireland.
Unable to gain any traction and amid creative differences, the band eventually broke up and everyone went their separate ways. Connelly launched a solo career, releasing the critically-acclaimed SON OF THE SUN album in ’96. A few years later he went back to his roots and formed a David Bowie tribute show called Life On Mars. He then tried his hand at acting, and performed in stage productions of A Christmas Carol and the musical Job & The Snake. He then created an original rock opera entitled Burn – The Real Joan of Arc Story. He also spent some time with his new band, The Iron Age Mystics.
Jon James joined the short-lived group Britton, then became a hired gun for a number of groups over the years. Russ Walker joined Heads In The Sky for awhile, then became the house composer for Kitchen Sync Studio in Toronto. Les Stroud eventually gained notoriety in his own right, becoming TV’s Survivorman – nature television’s answer to Macgyver, helping us all get out of life and death predicaments in the wild none of us are likely to ever be faced with.