Back in the early 90s, I heard the name Tankhog from a former room mate, who very proudly and robustly declared he had seen the band the previous evening. The way he pronounced their name was akin to an Incredible Hulk smashraowr.
Frontman Bruce Wilson has a lengthy history in the Vancouver underground music scene going back to The TV Repairmen and later in ’88-’94 when Tankhog was active. Tankhog never really fit in to any of the music scenes that were happening at the time; Bruce and I shared a laugh about Skinny Puppy taking them on a 3 month tour as the support act, figuring SP possibly got a kick out of pissing off the crowd with an underground Iggy-inspired glam rock band.
His new project Sunday Morning began in 2012, the result of which is a slightly strange story involving a chap who had acquired some of Bruce’s belongings from the dump (see top comment on that video link), after Bruce had necessarily parted with them before heading back to Vancouver from Massachusetts in 2010. This knowledge inspired him to write a novel (his first attempt, although he’d been writing for years); In the novel his original idea was to interpret strangers’ lives and what they’d been through, but in the process he also began to realize musically how personal the songs felt, and the musical project Sunday Morning was birthed. He’s very comfortable with this project in terms of exploring aspects of himself, as opposed to his novel’s approach (release date TBA), however the video 1986 does reference a character in the novel. For a song about failure, it has a feel-good attitude.
The video trilogy R.D. Cane has put together feels very authentic and representative of often-overlooked underground scenes which Bruce has both witnessed and been musically an active part of.
R. D. Cane will be performing along with Lisa Joyce opening for the Sunday Morning multimedia cd release Jan. 21 at The Cultch (tix at the box office); Their digital indie debut self-titled album will be available to purchase on Dec. 23, and will be available on vinyl at the Cultch show.
Here’s further info from their press release:
Vancouver’s indie art rock band, Sunday Morning, fuses Southern musical influences with 1970’s New York and Berlin. Formed by writer/artist Bruce Wilson (vocals) and Stephen Hamm (keyboards, piano), who played together in the 90s in Vancouver’s thunderous Tankhog, Sunday Morning is a departure from their riff laden pasts. On their upcoming self-titled record, which will be released on December 16th, they enlisted the talents of bassist Coco Culbertson (Bif Naked. The Gay and The Choir Practice); drummer Justin Leigh (Pluto); guitarist Kevin Rose (Tankhog, Coal, The Wongs); cellist Finn Manniche; and vocalists Leah Commons (Bubble 11) and Carmen Bruno (Trailerhawk). Together they present a powerful and irrevocable account of all that is Sunday Morning.
Sunday Morning was recorded, mixed, and mastered over an eighteen month period with John Raham (Frayze Ford, The Be Good Tanya’s, The Belle Game) and engineer Erik Neilson at Afterlife Studio in Vancouver. Overdubs and mixing was done with Vancouver indie juggernaut Felix Fung (Spectres, Girlfriends and Boyfriends, Wishkicker) at Little Red Sounds Studio.
“Come the Rain” acts an opening soliloquy for the album. Described by Wilson as “Almost a prayer for salvation put into terms of a simple love song waltz”, he began thinking of the lyrics when he moved back to Vancouver in 2010 after ending a relationship in Western Massachusetts. He says, “It rains a lot in Vancouver and I’ve learned I can either embrace it or be miserable ten months out of the year. And miserable is a drag.”
The first single from Sunday Morning, the blistering “Sick in the City”, is about being dope sick in New York; the nihilism and isolation that heroin addiction embraces, and the self-centered narcissism and misanthropy that accompanies drug withdrawal. The desperation to just feel alive.
The album ends with “When Sunday Morning Comes”, which Wilson wrote as an antidote to the weekend noise of the hotel he lived at, when the bass bins in the club downstairs would shake the thin glass of his windows. The song features Commons’ female vocal to counter his own on the previous tracks, and represents the salvation prayed for in the opening track “Come the Rain”. “It’s the safety in waking up next to someone dear to your heart and being still beside them as they sleep. Feeling them breathe against you in that moment. Past pain and trauma dissolves and the future is irrelevant in that moment of peace,” says Wilson.
Drawing upon from both his own experiences and his fictional ones growing up in Florida and living in New York, Wilson began writing the lyrics for Sunday Morning when he started writing his novel while living in a tiny hotel room in Vancouver. He asked Hamm if he wanted to collaborate on a couple songs and that mushroomed into several songs they were doing rough demos of in his little studio. Wilson says, “We wanted to do the antithesis of Tankhog and write simple poignant songs. We listened to a lot of Roxy Music (Avalon was on repeat), Drive By Truckers, 70’s Iggy and Bowie (particularly Kill City), and Nick Cave during the writing process.”
Hamm suggested we put together a band to play the songs we’d written. Says Wilson, “We basically went after our dream band of Vancouver musicians and got exactly that. We’d played with Kevin Rose previously in Tankhog. Hamm played with Justin in the Evaporators with Nardwuar. Coco we knew from Bif Naked and The Gay. Interestingly the core band were all alumni of Mint Records at some point. We brought in other key musicians and vocalists as we needed them. Leah Commons is a childhood friend who wanted to be involved in some capacity so I gave her the lyrics to “When Sunday Morning Comes”. She came back the next day with a rough sketch of the music and vocal line and it fit beautifully into the other material both musically and tonally.”
To compliment the release of Sunday Morning, he worked with acclaimed Vancouver photographer and filmmaker R.d Cane to create videos for “Come The Rain”, “1986” and “Sick In The City”. Cane, who started in the film industry in 1974 and has shot thousands of movies, commercials, and music videos in North America and Japan, was Wilson’s obvious choice for photographs and videos. “The emotional content of all these pieces was drawn from personal trauma so I needed to work with someone I felt completely comfortable with. His direction was unobtrusive and he captured the raw essence of the content”, he says.
Sunday Morning can be a time of quiet streets and peaceful reflection, or coming to in a stranger’s bed trying piece together fragmented images from the night before. Feeling the weight of living in reflection on events impossible to change or recreate. It is a journey that travels thousands of miles, and starts here. On Sunday Morning.
For additional information on Sunday Morning and their self-titled record, please contact Jocelynn Loebl at Howlin’ Wuelf Media at Jocylibs@yahoo.com or at 917-523-8881.