Grapes of Wrath

albums w/ jackets & lyrics
While attending highschool in 1987 in Kelowna, BC, brothers Tom and Chris Hooper met Kevin Kane. They all hit it off instantly, and formed the short-lived punk outfit called Kill Pigs. Their musical paths drifted apart for a few years, but managed to stay in touch, during which time Kane even contributed to Tom Cooper’s local punk music magazine, “Indecent Exposure.”

They re-united in ’83 for the onetime gig as Honda Civic, a cover band for a local charity event. A spark was re-ignited, and they changed their name to Grapes of Wrath, after the classic book and movie nobody had read or seen.

Soon they were touring up and down both borders of the west coast. Scraping pennies together led to recording four tracks with producer Greg Reely in the summer of ’84. The demos found their way to Terry McBride at Nettwerk Records, who signed the band and released the demo as a self-titled EP that November.

After moving to Vancouver, they released SEPTEMBER BOWL GREEN in 1985. With the singles “Misunderstanding” and “Love Comes Around” first catching on with campus radio stations across the country, they soon spread on to the mainstream charts with their slick folk/pop fusion. Videos for both singles also got heavy rotation on MuchMusic, and helped land a distribution deal with Capitol Records.

In between spring shows, new mixes of the singles were done with Tom Cochrane. The album was re-released this time without the cover of The Beatles’ “If I Needed Someone,” and the band continued on the road for the better part of the rest of the year, including a stop at the ’86 Independent Music Festival in Toronto.

Cochrane returned to the studios to produce the follow-up in ’87, TREEHOUSE, but actually left the project before it was finished, after conflicting with engineer Ric Arboit over the first single, “Peace of Mind.” Cochrane disliked the way it was turning out, and so Arboit and Dave Ogilvie (Skinny Puppy) finished the final mixes. Although “Piece of Mind” failed to crack the top 40, it was backed by the follow-ups “O Lucky Man” and “Backward Town,” both of which also hovered around the top 40. The record didn’t break any ground Stateside, but it was certified gold for 50,000 copies sold in Canada.

Following an exhaustive year on the road, they promoted touring keyboardist Vincent Jones to the ranks of an official member. Following that, the band decided to become hermits, keeping to themselves in upstate New York while writing material for the next album. They talked Sneeky Pete Kleinow of Flying Burrito Brothers fame to sit in on a few sessions with his steel guitar, and Allman Brothers/Rolling Stones alumnus Chuck Leavell to do the same with his keyboards.

They recruited Fier to come back, and this time produce the sessions at Dreamland Studios outside Woodstock, NY, an old haunted Catholic church. NOW AND AGAIN was released in the fall of 1989. A harder, yet more accessible tone led “All The Things I Wasn’t” gave them their first top 20 hit. Over the next year it was followed onto the charts by “Do You Want to Tell Me?,” and “What Was Going Through My Head,” the b-sides for both which were recorded on CBC Radio program Brave New Waves. One was an acoustic version of the song “Backward Town”, and the other was a cover of the Paul McCartney hit, “Let Me Roll It”. A fourth single, “The Most,” pushed the album over the platinum plateau in Canada with 100,000 units sold.

Their stock rose and so did the crowd capacities as their year-long road trip carried on from the bar room scuffles to opening for Lloyd Cole on a European tour. The second Canadian leg saw them headlining their first stadium concerts, headlining Sarah McLachlan.

They were in Vancouver’s Mushroom Studios for a couple of months starting in December ’90 with new producer John Leckie (XTC, Stone Roses, Poises), who talked his XTC pals into making a cameo under the name The Dukes of Stratosphear). After three weeks of mixing at Abbey Road Studios, THESE DAYS was on the shelves that spring. A harder edged sound in “I Am Here” and “You May Be Right” gave the band its first two top 10 hits at home, both also hovering around the top 40 in the US. As a promotional stunt for the third single, “A Fishing Tale,” a contest was held on MuchMusic. To be eligible to win a fishing trip with the band and VJ Terry David Mulligan, viewers had to submit the name of the magazine that Tom Hooper picks up in the video.

In 1992, the band released a VHS video collection entitled THOSE DAYS, consisting of all of their promotional videos to that point, as well as rare footage of the band and the members as children. After another European tour, they were again greeted when they came home with a platinum album. But by this point the band was feeling the rigors of a relentless and non-stop tour schedule, and along with musical and personal differences saw Kane leave after their final show in 1992 on Halloween night in Vancouver.

Versions of the band toured intermittently, but when it was discovered their name was actually in litigation. It remained in limbo for the rest of the decade, and as a result, the sideline act Ginger was formed. EMI Canada meanwhile released the greatest hits compilation called SEEMS LIKE FATE in 1994. It featured the band’s singles, as well as various out-takes, remixes, demos, and live recordings.

In 2000, with the band’s name cut from all the red tape, Tom Hooper and Kevin Kane reunited for the album FIELD TRIP on Oasis Records. Critics reception was lukewarm, and the buying public’s reaction was about as good. Still, the single “Black Eye” was released with an accompanying video, although neither made any significant chart action. A repackaged album came out later in the year, featuring a bonus disc that contained new renditions of some of the band’s back catalogue, as well as the two new songs – covers of The Monkees’ “Porpoise Song” and Albert Hammond’s “Ninety Nine Miles from LA.”

The video THOSE DAYS was re-released on DVD in 2001 under the new title, SEEMS LIKE FATE – THE VIDEOS. Along with the original material, it also featured “A Fishing Tale,” all of the Ginger videos and Kevin Kane’s solo video for “The Sinking Song”. However, it doesn’t include any material from FIELD TRIP. Following a series of Canadian dates that took them into the spring of ’01 , Hooper and Kane again parted ways to go on to their own individual projects.

Kane and the Hooper brothers re-united again for the 2010 Fusion Festival in Surrey, BC, after a few acoustic shows Kane had done with Tom earlier. One thing led to another and they hooked up now and again over the next year and a half. Response was good to the return of their always energetic shows. Always full of surprises, they often included the rare gem cover of “If I Needed Someone,” cut from the original demos when they landed a major deal in 1984. They signed with indie label Aporia Records out of Toronto in 2012, and a new album is said to be in the works.