Not to be confused with an American band of the same name that ran rampant for a few years in the early ’90s, one of the most prolific groups from the East Coast was Haywire. Formed in Charlottetown, PEI in 1982 by Paul MacAusland on vocals, guitarist Marvin Birt, Ronnie Switzer on bass, David Rashed on keyboards and drummer Ron Leblanc, they toured the Maritimes, developed their style for the next few years and built a loyal following for their no-nonsense pop approach along the way.
They gained added exposure by venturing into Ontario on several occasions and entered a Toronto radio station’s ‘battle of the bands’ contest in ’85. They took the prize money for “Jealousy” and recorded an independant 5 song EP. A hit in the Maritimes, they added to their popularity with more tours and won even more ‘battle of the bands’ contests. They shopped the new demos around, eventually signing with Attic Records in the spring of ’86, home to such artists as Lee Aaron and Triumph.
Brian Allen of Rose & Toronto was called in to produce BAD BOYS, released the same year. The lead-off title track paved the way for what was easily one of the strongest major debuts of the decade. The other singles “Standin’ In Line” and “Shot In The Dark” were typical of the album – slick production of keyboard-oriented pop. Eventually selling 100,000 copies and going platinum, it capitalized on the AM pop market. In addition, their mere image was a natural match for MuchMusic and their videos were in constant rotation.
After a cross-country tour, they returned to the studios for the follow-up, DON’T JUST STAND THERE. Released in ’87 and again produced by Allen, it carreied on where its predecessor left off, but took a slightly different path. The lead single, “Dance Desire” had more guitar-work than anything on BAD BOYS but still managed to carry Haywire’s stamp, becoming the band’s first Top 20 hit. By the time “Black & Blue” was released as the second single the album had been gold-plated and the band was overseas winning more awards and on tour with the likes of Honeymoon Suite and Helix. Other noteable tracks from the record included “Hard Reaction”, indicative of their apparent new attitude and the powerful “Man Enough”. Despite being one of Canada’s top live shows and nearly 200,000 total record sales, the American signing still eluded them.
The next year and a half was spent writing material – then RE-writing it once or twice. The end result was 1990’s NUTHOUSE. In an attempt to insert new blood, the band recorded it in Norway with Bjorn Nessjoe, one of Europe’s most sought-after producers. It continued the band’s growing emphasis on a harder, guitar-oriented sound. The singles “Operator Central”, “Short End of a Wishbone” and “Taken The Pain” all helped maked NUTHOUSE the band’s third straight gold record. But despite some finely crafted pop with an edge, there was still no American distribution deal in sight.
They returned to the friendly confines of Toronto’s Masterworks Studios to work on the next project. GET OFF hit the stands in 1993 and was seen-over by new producer Mark Berry. The 12 tracks marked their most musically diverse record to date. It spawned three singles, the title-track, the ballad “Wanna Be The One” and “Buzz” – one of the year’s sleeper party hits.
Along with “Hypnautica” and “All Touch, No Action”, it actually impressed the critics – something the band wasn’t particularly accustomed to. But the band’s growing maturity came at a price. Expanding into new genres left the core audience confused as to what to expect and GET OFF marked the first Haywire lp not to turn gold.
Disappointment was weighing heavily for both the band and execs at Attic. Contractual obligations were filled with the release of WIRED, your typical ‘best of’ collection. Now without a label, they went on hiatus for awhile until disbanding in ’95. The band regrouped before the end of the decade and are now in the process of shopping around some material with the intents to record again.