Edward Bear Interview

The following interview appeared in the August 5, 1970 issue of the Georgia Straight. Copyright 1970 by Mike Quigley. No reproduction of any kind without permission.

I encountered Larry Evoy and Danny Marks of Edward Bear in their hotel room where they'd been based for nearly a week without any work except for a sparsely-attended concert at UBC. The following is slightly over the first half of an interview which rambled on to a variety of other subjects including influences on the group and the reaction of critics to their first album.

MQ: How long have you been together as a group?

LE: We've been together going on four years. We started out as a five-piece group, myself singing and another drummer and a bass player. We went through a whole bunch of different drummers and then I ended up singing and playing drums at the same time. The bass player dropped out because he was super-critical and couldn't get anything going, but after he left things started to work out pretty well. We played The Rock Pile when it was running and we got a lot of jobs there, like with Paul Butterfield and Led Zeppelin. And then Capitol signed us.

MQ: What's the situation like with record companies in Toronto?

LE: Well, it depends on the company. Capitol is very cautious. You'll notice that even in the U.S., Capitol doesn't have many rock bands. They've got a lot of people like Glen Campbell, Bobbie Gentry, Wayne Newton...

DM: Jackie Gleason...

LE: ...but they're hesitant about signing a lot of groups. RCA in Toronto is just scooping up all kinds of bands and not doing anything with them. And then there's Quality. Anyone who wants to record could get on Quality, but the "quality" is pretty bad. They don't spend much on sessions, they cut costs everywhere. It just depends on the company. Like I said, RCA's just scooping up people, but that's not gonna do any good, because if you get grabbed with a mess of others, you just get lost in the rush. Capitol just has us and Mother Tuckers and ... what's that other one from Nova Scotia?

DM: The Pepper Tree.

MQ: What kind of a relationship do you have with Capitol?

LE: It's quite good. Mother Tucker's has a bit of trouble. They're kind of skeptical of Capitol, I think. We're getting a bit more promotion than them, probably because of record sales. Our first single did quite well. We demand more, too. Like we designed our second album cover -- the first one had bad copy on it. And our second single, we put a little sleeve on it so that kids who can only buy a single can see who Edward Bear is, and then turn it over and see both the albums and relate to both the albums and at least be aware that they're happening. Paul, our organist, is a graphic artist, and he laid it all out and then we gave it to them and said, "Here -- why not put a jacket on the single," so they did.

MQ: What about the fact that Capitol is pushing you as a Canadian group through this "Sounds Canadian" promotion?

DM: We're really excited about being on a 99 cent album with Bobby Curtola...

LE: Far out!! That part you can sort of forget. After all ... you saw the Sounds Canadian album??

MQ: Yeah, I went to the promotional lunch that Capitol threw for it.

DM: Didn't somebody cut them up here? Like saying what kinda shit...

MQ: Yeah, Fred Latrimo, one of the guys from CKVN got up and said "How can you judge talent on the fact that it's Canadian? After all, talent is talent." And they really didn't know what to say.

LE: Yeah. That's part of the letter of complaint that we sent to Capitol, about all the complaints we've had up to date. One of them is that Sounds Canadian sticker that makes it look like a 99 cent album. You know, here's an album cover that Paul took a lot of time to figure out, because it's subtle, and then you get this big red and white thing - SOUNDS CANADIAN - Ugh!

MQ: So you don't look on yourself as a Canadian group?

LE: No. I don't know, it's funny. I'm proud of being a Canadian. I'd rather see a little Canadian flag on the back instead of this ridiculous sticker. All this bullshit -- after all, just like the guy said, talent is talent. Especially right now, proclaiming that it's Canadian, there's still that feeling that Canadian talent is second rate, and making a point of saying it isn't such a hot idea.

MQ: What about the CRTC proposals on Canadian content for radio and TV?

LE: Well, we're in kind of a funny position, because though we're not guaranteed airplay, when you've done reasonably well, you've got a really good chance of getting airplay again. I think it's helped the average band, because it's increased record production and helped to make better quality records.

MQ: Well, I interviewed Terry Jacks of the Poppy Family on this and he seemed to think it was gonna put out a lot of garbage...

LE: Well, garbage has always been coming out. Like Quality Records has always been putting out low-budget things. But if bands can't record, if there's no industry, then they can't improve, write all kinds of original material, get new ideas for recording because there's no impetus for it.

MQ: If you got an offer to base yourselves in The States, would you do that?

LE: A lot would be involved in that. I think that personally each guy likes Canada. Like I like Canada -- I feel secure living here. The States scares me. I'd like to go there and work and make money, but I'd remain based in Canada. I wouldn't like to live there but it's a nice place to get money from.

MQ: Have you played any rock festivals?

LE: No. We played a concert at a park in Toronto for about ten thousand people. It was pretty interesting, because we only played one song and then the police shut us down because the permit ran out.

MQ: There's been a certain amount of opposition to rock festivals because of the prices that're charged. Does that bother you?

LE: It's really a touchy situation, because people are saying "It's our music - give it to us for free." And they're saying that the promoters are ripping them off. But the band are demanding fifty thousand dollars a night, like Led Zeppelin. And the promoter has to make that money as well as his profit So if the people are saying "Give us our music for free," they should say it to the bands. I don't know about other bands, but I think it's insane to ask them to do it for nothing. It's like saying go out and be a truck driver and earn enough money to live, and on the side write a few songs, and learn how to play, and buy twenty-seven thousand dollars of instruments and then play for us for free because it's our music. I don't really see it that way.

DM: If everybody has money, it sort of brings us back to doing everything for free anyway. You just pass it on from one person to the next person. It's like saying you give us this money so we can live and eat and buy this equipment, and then we'll give these pieces of paper to the people who make the equipment, and they'll buy food and live. So we're really just passing all this paper around, so it all brings it back to that everyone does their share, and he gets money for doing his share, so it's just like doing things for free. I guess if we do things for free, I we should expect to get food for free.

LE: The weird thing is that this objecting about money is killing bands -- the kids are destroying their own culture. Like bands are breaking up in The States. Our agent here was saying that Country Joe was booked to January in universities, and they're all cancelled now, because there's so much revolution happening down there that no one'll book anything. And as a result, the music is gonna disappear -- the bands don't have any money so they'll break up. With gate crashing, the promoters won't run the shows. They'll say "Fuck you -- if you're gonna destroy the show, we won't hold the show." So the bands don't get paid and they don't show up because they've got no place to play. I don't know if people don't know that bands are playing because they want the money. Maybe ethically speaking, bands shouldn't be asking all this money -- it's really hard to say. But if the people who scream "Let's have our music for free" knew how much a band, let's say Led Zeppelin, throws away by air freighting their equpment across the fucking country, it's no wonder they charge fifty thousand a night. Like the overhead is phenomenal. The money you end up with isn't the fifty thousand dollars -- it's a small percentage of that. I guess people don't consider that, or don't care. I guess that's their problem. But they're destroying their own thing from within. It's funny -- straight people won't have to do it, the kids'll do it themselves.