Hailing from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont, Treble Charger was formed by singer Greig Nori, guitarist Bill Priddle, Rosie Martin on bass and drummer Morris Palter. Originally called NC-17 after the movie rating, they changed their named in 1991 after an American band complained they owned the name NC-17 first and threatened a lawsuit.
Their sound evolved into a garage indie style over the next few years while writing material and playing the greater Toronto area. After Michael Murphy agreed to manage them, they landed a deal with Smokin’ Worm Records, releasing their debut album, NC-17, in 1994, which sparked their first single, “10th Grade Love.”
A year later, they released SELF TITLE on their own. Along with grungey guitar solos and pounding backbeats in songs like “Even Grable,” Cleric’s Hip,” and “Motor Control,” the album included a CD-ROM promoting 30 of the band’s favourite Canadian indie bands, including The Inbreds, By Divine Right, Hayden, and Change of Heart. Music from the album, as well as the debut started getting airplay on campus radio around Toronto, and then MuchMusic picked up the indie video for the single “Morale.”
Sonic Unyon re-released NC-17, and then SELF TITLE. The attention the band was getting led RCA to take a look at the band as well, signing them in ’95. They re-released a modified version of SELF TITLE to the North American audience, making it three versions in less than a year. Two singles were cut, but neither “Even Grable” or “Morale” made an impression on the charts.
High on RCA’s priority list was to make the band more palatable to the American audience, so they set up some studio time with producer Lou Giordano. But Palter was growing disenchanted with the group, and left after only a few sessions. Session drummer Mike Levesque was called in to finish out the album, and Trevor MacGregor was brought in as the permanent replacement shortly after the album was finished, appearing in the band’s videos.
With Smokin’ Worm still handling Canadian distribution, MAYBE IT’S ME was in the stores in the spring of ’97, and in the US a couple of months later. Giordano was particularly impressed with the song “Red” from their debut album, and convinced them to include a new version of for the new record. The album was more polished and commercially accessible than their previous works, and with the help of the singles “Friend Of Mine” and “How She Died” (featured on the soundtrack to the TV series, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”), the album broke ground on the homefront, giving them a pair of top 20 hits in Canada and gave them their first gold record for sales of over 50,000 copies. Several of the songs, as well as the band, were featured in the 1999 film, “Mr Music,” where the band played the role of an indie rock band trying to get discovered.
The band’s evolution to a refined but hardcore punk rock sound was complete with the 2000 release of WIDE AWAKE BORED, produced by Matt Hyde. With the smash hit singles, “American Psycho” and “Brand New Low” both making the top 10, the album went platinum for 100,000 sales in Canada, and gold in the US (50,000). The album earned the band a JUNO nomination in ’01 for Rock Album of the Year, and “American Psycho” was up for Best Single, but neither brought home the band a doorstop.
The band released DETOX, its final album in 2002. Along with newcomer Deryck Whibley, Hyde returned as producer, and the songs weren’t necessarily tamer, but were more palatable to a general audience, even featuring some horn arrangements here and there. As well as the hit singles “Hundred Million” and “Don’t Believe It All,” the album also included “Once Again” and “In Conclusion To Myself,” a pair of tracks only available on the Japanese release. But after only a few shows during the subsequent tour, Priddle left in 2003, citing musical differences. Kelly Osbourne’s guitarist Devin Bronson filled in on guitar for the remainder of the tour, and the album eventually made it their third straight gold or better album.
An animated version of the group included Priddle when they appeared with Sum 41 on The Comedy Network’s series “Kevin Spencer.” Treble Charger was one of the inaugural inductees into the Sault Ste. Marie Walk of Fame in 2006, during the grand opening weekend of the Steelback Centre, the city’s new sports and entertainment arena.
The band was put on hiatus, and eventually informally dissolved while everyone went off to other projects. Nori went on to continue producing and managing Sum 41 until the mid ’00s, which he’d been doing since the late ’90s. His credits include production for Hedley, The Organ Thieves, and Cauterize, among others, and managed Gob, Surplus Sons, and The New Cities. In 2008 he became one of the musical gurus on the reality TV show, “DisBAND.”
Priddle meanwhile worked as a studio musician, then collaborated with Broken Social Scene, and then joined Don Vail, before forming his own group, The Priddle Concern. Members included fellow former Vail alumni Mitch Bowden and David Dunham. They released a self titled debut album in 2008. MacGregor kept himself busy writing music for TV and film, while Palter went on to pursue degrees in contemporary percussion performance, and continues to perform solo and chamber music of contemporary composers around the globe.
Treble Charger has enjoyed renewed exposure since their last album, as several hits have been featured in video games. “American Psycho” and “Brand New Low” appeared in EA Sports’ NHL 2002, “Wear Me Down” and “Business” were used in Triple Play 2002, and “Hundred Million” was used in both NHL 2003 and in SPlashdown: Rides Gone Wild. “American Psycho” also appeared in the movie, “Dude, Where’s My Car?”