The brainchild of Lance Chalmers, Sump Oil was a 2001 side project during some off-time while touring as Trooper‘s drummer. The Ottawa native grew up with music in the household, and his father played guitar and sang lead for the band The Rhythmnaires.
“I’ve always had music in my blood. I can remember seeing reel to reel tapes, and Beatles music eminating from home made speaker enclosures my dad built to spec. I saw my Dad’s drummer way back when spinning sticks. I think that’s the first desire i had to want to play. I felt the pull of drums until I got my first set at 12. I got my first snare drum and one cymbal off my neighbour, and searched high and low for cardboard boxes to use as toms,” he said, but noted his parents had actually put him in piano lessons first.
He claims Deep Purple’s Ian Paice as one of his earliest influences, and remembers MACHINE HEAD being the first album he ever bought. “The bible of rock drumming – I studied that album – every nuance and every fill – I know by heart to this day.”
In school, he listened to “everything that no one else listened to” – and never conformed to the status quo of being cool in high school, citing Rush, Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper, and more notably – listening to the needle drop on the first Van Halen album.
“I played in a band with two guys who were 19 while I was only 14, learning Rush songs and learning everything I could to prepare for life after highschool. I remember sneaking into bars to watch an ultra cool band called Butler, who had Peter Fredette (Kim Mitchell) singing lead. And my idol to this day on drums is still Steve Hollingworth.”
With three years of private lessons under his belt, he joined his first rock band at 19, and was on the road the day after graduating from high school. “I had the coolest friends and was ready to pay my dues. And although i was warned of the time I would waste playing clubs, I cut my teeth with some amazing musicians. I wrote music during the day and played by night…. no regrets for any of that time,” he said.
Time in a Genesis cover band was followed by playing in a Police tribute, and then Tokyo Rose. “My biggest turn of events was moving to Vancouver. I have accomplished more out here than in my home town. At one point i was filling in for five different bands while holding down a day job,” he said.
“Then I joined a band that was going to be produced by nick blagona, while on retainer for deep purple,..we had a pending record deal with capitol records canada,.but? i fortunately got out of that, as the people involved turned out to be anything but truthful. We rehearsed at a studio in town called Ambience Studios, and later at Marc Recording Studios and had some great songs. But corrupt intentions led me to quit a possibily lucrative endevour,..but could not condone the business direction. Live and learn as they say! Dont get involved with people who make virtual agreements with flakey studio owners.”
Chalmers then spent eight years with Trooper, but needing a break from music all together, left in 2003 to pursue other interests. “I threw together a three-piece that rehearsed for the next three years in his basement, vowing to only learn songs they liked. They played a few shows around Vancouver for a few months, but decided instead to abandon the project and instead turn his attention to Sump Oil.
EEL WRESTLING was released in 2001, and though out in limited numbers, was a critical favourite, with several standouts, including the title track, “Movin’ On,” and “You Radiate Me.” That song is about the sun… or missing a girl. I guess it can be taken either way.” Like several other tracks, “Say Goodbye” is a personal lament written around relationships, both professional and personal. “That song was written while i was breaking up with a girl after eight years. It got incredibly stifling near the end, and the only way i could let it out was to write it in a song,” he said.
“The disc was originally going to be a full band. But I changed the direction, didn’t call it a Lance Chalmers solo album. Came up with a name and wrote the entire thing myself. There are three guests on the CD – Paul Gogo, (who Chalmers played with in Trooper) on keys for one song, an incredible bass player who I did 10 other CDs with for other artists by the name of Marc Rogers on one song, and my producer- turned band member on guitars, Pat Meldrum for one song. I played and did vocals for all the rest of it. The budget was so tight the only promos done were a bunch of pictures of me sweeping the studio floor to trade for studio time.”