Og Records

BY Michael BarclayPublished Jun 1, 2000

The Gruesomes were one of two flagship bands for the Og Records label; the other was label owners Deja Voodoo, a sludge-abilly duo of Gerard Van Herk (guitar, vocals) and Tony Dewald (drums). Og played a seminal role in Canadian independent music history by setting up a truly national network of bands through their It Came From Canada compilations (or "ickfucks," as Van Herk calls them), of which they released one a year between 1985 and 1990. Resisting modern trends, Og bands drew from traditions from country to blues to garage punk to '60s pop, all approached with originality and goofy enthusiasm. Along with the establishment of campus radio across the country, and the crucial CBC radio programs Brave New Waves and Night Lines, Og paved the road for the indie explosion of the early '90s. Og called it quits in 1990, after the demise of both flagship bands and the dawn of the CD revolution. Og released full-length albums by Jerry Jerry & the Sons of Rhythm Orchestra, the Dik Van Dykes, the Vindicators, UIC, Condition, the Ripcordz, Cap'n Crunch and Let's Do Lunch, and Supreme Bagg Team. They also turned down the Tragically Hip on several occasions. Where are they all now?

Deja Voodoo's Gerard Van Herk, the man who penned such classics as "Duh Papa Duh," is now a professor of linguistics at the University of Ottawa. After Deja Voodoo, he withdrew from the music industry entirely. Tony Dewald, the other half of Deja Voodoo, has been a brewmaster for the past ten years in Toronto and now his native Montreal.

Roots rocker Ray Condo (ICFC Vol. 1-3) left his Hard Rock Goners behind in Montreal in the early '90s and moved back to his native Vancouver with bassist Clive Jackson. The Hard Rock Goners' Sandmark brothers, Eric and Peter, formed the Crazy Rhythm Daddies in Montreal. Ray Condo formed a new Western swing band, the Ricochets, featuring Stephen Nikleva (Red Herring, Veda Hille); Jackson left the band last year. Ray Condo and the Ricochets tour the West Coast frequently, California in particular. "I went to see him the last time he played Ottawa," says Gerard Van Herk. "He was playing the Museum of Civilization, which is quite funny because I don't associate Ray Condo with either museums or civilization." He has recorded three albums for the Western Swing label Joaquin Records; the latest, High and Wild, was released in late April. Condo will be touring extensively throughout North America and Europe this summer.

Jerry Jerry released two albums in the mid-'90s on Aquarius; he moved back to his native Edmonton from Montreal in 1999, with his wife and five children. "I was pretty much retired," he says, but quickly reunited with two original members of his Sons of Rhythm Orchestra: guitarist Rockin' Roland and drummer Ed Dobek, (aka Sparky The Happy Troll), "easily the most hated man in show business," says Jerry. "We wound up having a band, and we're having the bestest time in the whole world." Along with bassist Sherry-Lee Heschel (Mike McDonald Band), the new SRO have been playing Western Canada and will be touring Europe in the fall; Jerry recently obtained European distribution for his first album, originally released on Og, entitled Road Gore: The Band That Drank Too Much. "Hey man, my records are timeless," he chuckles. He is currently planning his 40th birthday party.

Shortly after their track "Blue Moon Revisited" appeared on ICFC Vol. 4, the Cowboy Junkies signed a worldwide record deal and sold millions of copies of The Trinity Session. The song didn't appear on the original indie vinyl pressing of their album; when it reappeared on the major label reissue, it became one of the band's best-loved songs. Before their success, the Junkies would often appear on incongruous bills with Deja Voodoo, including a live CBC broadcast for Night Lines in Winnipeg, offering audiences two decidedly different takes on modern blues.

Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet appeared at several Deja Voodoo BBQs and contributed tracks to ICFC Vol. 2 & 4; the latter featured a Russ Meyer-inspired Xmas classic, "Faster Santa Claus Ho! Ho! Ho!" Their three full-length albums are Canadian classics, and they've been immortalized around the world for their work on the Kids in the Hall.

Drummer Don Pyle would later produce and briefly join King Cobb Steelie, and now records electronic music under the name Greek Buck. Pyle joined Shadowy bassist Reid Diamond in Phono Comb, featuring members of Fifth Column and the Sadies. Shadowy guitarist Brian Connelly collaborates with Neko Case.

The Hard Rock Miners (ICFC Vol. 5) featured Michael Turner on guitar, who would go on to pen the CanRockLit classic Hard Core Logo, and The Pornographer's Poem; the latter won the BC Book Award in April, 2000.

Al Okada was the bassist in Maggot Fodder from Guelph, Ontario (ICFC Vol. 2), who would go on to play guitar with King Cobb Steelie from 1993 to 1997; he departed that band to work on his solo project, Microbunny, who released their independent debut in 1999. He now lives in Burlington, Ontario.
UIC has mutated into The Chickens, who recently recorded their debut CD scheduled for release later this year.

Bryce Dunn, the drummer for Calgary's The Vindicators (ICFC Vol. 5), served time in the Smugglers for a good part of the '90s. He now plays for Vancouver band The Come-Ons.

Ottawa's Fluid Waffle (ICFC Vol. 4) would mutate into Furnaceface in the early '90s; their latest album is And Then The Days Are Short Again, a 1999 release on Upright Records.

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