The Canadian Tire Centre is about to host the return of Canadian Rock royalty this week, as Corey Hart and Glass Tiger will be gracing its stage.
Hart rose to prominence almost instantly in 1983, with his debut single “Sunglasses At Night” launching the singer into heavy rotation on video channels and radio around the world. His debut album First Offense went triple platinum in Canada, followed by Boy In The Box in 1985, which placed Hart in a very select group of Canadian artists to have a diamond-certified album. Follow up albums Fields of Fire (1986), Young Man Running (1988) and Bang! (1990) also all went platinum.
Having essentially retired from touring after the 1990s (save for a few festivals and one offs) in order to focus mostly on his songwriting and family. Hart kicked off his return with a 2018 Christmas double-single “Another December” and “Dreaming Time Again”, followed by his induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame last March as part of the Juno Award festivities.
Joining Hart on this tour is another groups of guys that earned their place in Canadian rock royalty in the 80s. Glass Tiger’s rise to prominence was similarly meteoric, as their debut single in 1986 “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)” went straight to the top of the Canadian chart, and reached #2 on the US chart as well. What followed was a whirlwind five years that saw the band release a total of three platinum albums and eleven Top 20 singles. However, the grind of the constant touring and writing was taking a toll, and the band decided to take a break after wrapping up the Simple Mission tour.
With the recent release of a new EP 33, the first album of new material since 1991, Glass Tiger is hitting the road once again this year, first in support of Corey Hart, with more shows to come after that run across the country.
We caught up with Sam Reid, keyboardist and founding member of the band, as they prepared to embark on their cross-Canada tour.
Apt613: Thanks for taking the time Sam. I know you guys must be busy gearing up for your tour with Corey Hart
Sam Reid: No problem, we’re just wrapping up rehearsals, getting ready to head to St. John’s to start a Canadian tour. We’ve got a new EP out, and we’re joining Corey on his Never Surrender Canadian Tour, which is awesome.
It’s been a while since you put out new material. Your last release, 31, was more of a re-imagining of your hits, but this one here being completely new material, I guess it’s the first since the third full album in 1991?
It’s the first studio album since 1991, which was Simple Mission. We have had some bonus tracks over the years, but this is the first studio album since the first three.
It’s interesting listening to it, as there’s still the distinct Glass Tiger sound, but it does seem a little different from the early days. Basically you guys have all matured by now (I guess we all have). It seems like there’s a bit of the reimagining of the original material from the 31 album influencing the sound of 33.
31 was something that we did which was more of a vision of Johnny Reid, to re-imagine these songs, and we loved doing them and giving them a different treatment. For 33, we had been promising fans new music for such a long time, more than a decade, and whenever we go across the country, we’d bump into people and they’d say “when are we getting new music?”.
We loved putting out 31 and we’re really proud of that, but Alan [Frew] and I realized we were going to do this tour with Corey, and go across Canada one more time, I figured, we have a bunch of songs that we feel really good about, let’s get together and record them and at least give the fans a six song EP. That’s what was really driving the focus to get that done before this tour. That’s what we’re happiest about, finally getting a chance to tell everybody about these brand new songs.
In terms of writing 33, how long have you been working on these songs?
It varies. There’s one song called ‘Keepers of Time’ – literally days before we went into the studio, that was the one that I was really hoping that we’d get it finished. And then there’s a song called ‘Show Me’ which has been in our work folder for around eight years. I’ve always loved the song, but for whatever reason we just never focused and got it finished. So there are the two ends of the spectrum – you have ‘Keepers of Time’ freshly written days before we went into the studio, and then you have ‘Show Me’ that was on a work list eight years ago, so there’s quite a variation in time frame.
That’s what was really driving the focus to get that done before this tour. That’s what we’re happiest about, finally getting a chance to tell everybody about these brand new songs.
In terms of recording the album, did you work with an external producer or do it yourselves?
There’s a gentleman named Andrew Cole, he’s Canadian but lives in Liverpool, a little bit like Alan, who was born in Scotland but raised in Canada. He’s a bit younger than us, a terrific writer and musician, somebody who we’ve respected, and he has a great knack for parts, so we decided to partner up with him, so myself and Andrew produced the record together.
You seem to have a penchant for Commonwealth migrants, considering Johnny Reid was also born in Scotland and grew up in Canada.
There seems to be a bit of a history for us. I don’t think that’s intentional, but it seems to be the way things have always worked out for us.
You’d gone a long time now of doing spot shows here and there, a few festival appearances, etc. but you really became active again in 2017. How has that constant process been, as opposed to just the one offs?
Last year someone told me the number and I was shocked as it was like 150 shows, which back in the day in 1985 when I was 20 years old, that was nothing. We did 17 months pretty much, from one tour to the next tour to the next tour. But 100-150 shows a year is a pretty good pace now, we try to balance home life, with half a year you’re with the band, and the other half you’re off doing other things. It’s busy enough, where we’re as busy as we want to be, but we also want to enjoy it.
We’re really careful that we don’t burn out doing that. We’ve given our manager a 2-5 year window where we want to put out as much new music as we can and tour, because we’re all still doing it 33 years later, and we realize how special that is. Unless you’re the Rolling Stones, not many can claim that, and it’s something quite special for us.
Even then, you guys have stuck together for the most part with the same lineup, with just one change at drummer, everyone else has been there from the start. Even the Stones can’t say that.
That’s true. I like to use the term lifer – when someone asks “were you in the band at the start?” I just say “yes, I’m a lifer”. Al Connelly, Alan Frew and myself were just in the process of archiving some of the earliest of photos of the band. You get a sense of how many years we’ve been doing this, and it’s a great feeling – you see these pictures and we’re young fellas, and not that we’re super old now, but we realize we’ve been doing this for quite a while.
Speaking of the early days, to say you guys burst out on the scene is an understatement. Your debut album went gold within weeks, and your debut single went to #1 in Canada and #2 in the US, the demands must have been crazy at that point. Was there a risk of burning out at that point?
Oh there definitely was. Probably the reason there was such a big gap between the third album and this fourth one, is that by the time we were done with the third, we hadn’t let up since 1986, and that was 1991, and we really didn’t come up for air. So there was some risk, and at the time we finished touring the third album, we were tired. And it wasn’t like one guy wanted to take a break, we all just looked at each other and said “why don’t we take a little break?” and we thought at the time it meant a year or two. Then you blink, and eight years go by.
Our intention was to take a temporary break, but then you get busy. It wasn’t a fight or a breakup or anything like that. I think it’s probably the reason we’re still together now and we still enjoy being on the road together. We’re not one of these bands who show up to a gig, but other than that, they can’t be in a room together. We actually have a laugh, and probably more now since we don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. It’s just great to get out there, and see Canada, and see fans singing along, and we appreciate it.
Catch Corey Hart and Glass Tiger at the Canadian Tire Centre on June 12, 2019. Doors open at 7pm. Tickets available through Ticketmaster, starting at $58.50 plus fees.