Archive for March, 2012

Art in the control room between takes

Our CD is nearing completion! As we speak, hamsters are working overtime on their treadmills and minions are feverishly scurrying around the office typing liner notes & finding suitably tasteless graphics. Vintage tapes are being remastered and digitized, new tracks are being remixed and committed to hard drives and frightened villagers are fleeing New Westminster after the berserk thrashing Art has given the studio Les Paul. We are now aiming for a summer 2012 CD release party (although we said that LAST year, didn’t we?) to commemorate the planned demolition of the Flamingo Hotel in Whalley. Advance warning will be posted here and on Facebook, to give each of you ample time to either find higher ground or to gird your loins for the Sparkling Apple onslaught, the likes of which has not been since the Dawn of Time (or last week, anyway).

So in honour of our threatened and as yet unnamed CD, we present exclusive never-before-seen outtakes of the band in a sound studio environment in 1978 — for further photos, go to “Windmills of Your Mind” on the Road Stories section of the Official Sparkling Apple website, and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

On November 20th and 21st, 1978, Sparkling Apple recorded Killer By Night, Roll Em On Down and Play At Your Own Risk in Ocean Studios which was still located in North Vancouver (the studio later moved to larger premises in Kitsilano near Granville Island). Production and engineering were ably handled by the amazing Dick Drake and Dave Thomas (not the SCTV guy). Shown on this page are two of the few existing photos of our manager, Bob Burrows, who single-handedly (OK, Simon Gunn helped) launched us on our spiraling journey to the depths of obscurity! Without his able assistance and direction, we could be languishing in the depths of Walmart cutout bins or whimpering in The Middle of Nowhere, BC, anguishing over why we’re not as big as Twitch! Although we didn’t say so at the time, we now offer our heartfelt thanks, and offer you a laurel and hearty welcome to our blog. (Hey, how about that — a rhyme for languishing is “anguishing”. Not bad, eh?)

By the way, readers — to see these photos at full size, just click on each one. We now return control of your computer to you, until next week at this same time when the Control voice will take you to… Out of Limits!

Art on guitar in the studio, with his favourite adult beverage close by. Note the shape of the beer bottle!

Buzz in the studio, on the fabled White Bass.

Colin on the drums in the studio. For those of you keeping score, the kit is Ludwig, but the snare drum is a wood shell Camco.

Bob in the studio, while Dave Thomas (not the SCTV guy) sets up microphones.

Bob in the studio control room with Ding.

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It’s 1972, and agents, bookers and potential managers are all anxious for us to come up with 8×10’s of the band , widely known as promo pictures. (As Rodney Dangerfield once said, “If I had an 8×10, I wouldn’t need to be in show business!”) After researching rock group album covers, we scouted locations for a suitable photoshoot. “Let’s get us up in a tree; let’s get us up against a brick wall; let’s get us out in a field,” were among the suggestions, striving ever-so-carefully to walk the fine line between the Beatles’ album covers and something so embarrassingly kitschy that even Ed Wood would approve.

Accompanied by our old friend, photographer Jerry Murakami, we set off to an area near Art’s home. Back in the early 70s, he lived in an old house on River Road in Delta, so in our infinite wisdom, we chose the construction site next door as our shooting location. We donned the same clothes we would normally wear onstage, and Jerry was instructed to “shoot pictures that look they belong on an album jacket”! These are a few of the resulting photos (the rest can be found here), and as you can see, the shots were obviously taken on the shore of the Fraser River in Delta.

© Sparkling Apple 1972 — All photos by Jerry Murakami. (Interesting story about Jerry: he later became such a proficient photographer that he opened up his own photo studio/camera shop known as “Photo Shop”! He sold the business long before Adobe thought that this might be a cool name for photo-editing software!)

Back when we was lads! Rocky Rockamoto (Gord Higo), Captain Maniac (Colin Hartridge) and Art the Fart the Heavy Metal Kid (Art Kyllonen).

Sparkling Apple 1972 — Photo by Jerry Murakami

Sparkling Apple 1972 — Photo by Jerry Murakami

The above shot is historic in that the house behind us was where Art lived with his wife & kids, 5 years after the photo was taken! I distinctly remember the log bridge over the ditch, which was the scene of many a motor vehicle accident. One night, after consuming one or two adult beverages, Art & our old buddy Dennis failed to negotiate a turn (possibly the same one in the third photo from the top of the page), and ended up in a ditch which was the depth of the Mariana Trench. As in our story of driving the Coquihalla Highway in a snowstorm, Art and Dennis just sat in the car (now almost submerged in a muddy swamp), laughing their fool heads off!

“Sittin on the dock of the bay…” As we imagined ourselves as some sort of tourism boosters, we needed a shot of us on a wharf with the Mighty (or is that Muddy) Fraser River in the background. We were all Marx Brothers fans, so Gord & I did a Chico and Harpo pose!

Sparkling Apple used this promo shot in 1973 — until the next, more suitable and up-to-date photo could be found!

Here’s the photo we finally chose, featuring Art doing his “bunny ears” routine, and Gord & I trying our best to look like Foghat. We deemed the real background to be too boring, so we substituted a brick wall (interesting in the fact that my very first band in 1966 was called The Brick Walls). Time flies when you’re having fun — fruit flies like a banana!

As “perennial touring veterans”, Sparkling Apple would endure countless road trips to Take Our Music To The People. Seen here are some exclusive photos of Sparkling Apple on tour: the “topless” shots were taken at a roadside stop on what is now the Sea-To-Sky highway, on the way to Whistler BC. I remember this particular viewpoint (“layby” in the UK), because spray-painted on the side of one of the massive rocks was graffiti immortalizing our visit. Unfortunately, the artist misspelled our name (in all likelyhood it may have been Ding), and for many years we would drive by the same location to see “Sparkleling Apple”! With the renovation and reconstruction of the Sea-To-Sky highway, this sign no longer exists, but it was a permanent fixture on Highway 99 for years.

Gord and Art at highway viewpoint on the road to Whistler, 1974.

Art and Colin at viewpoint on Sea to Sky Highway, 1974. Tantulus mountain range in the background.

The other shot of the band was taken outside the Whistler Mountain Lodge on Alta Lake. The lodge itself was a vintage log cabin-style structure from the 40s, and band would stay overnight upstairs in the 60s-era panelled rooms. The band rooms, of course, had been lovingly christened by scores of touring rock bands performing at the lodge. As such, these accommodations were not fit for human habitation (unless the visitor played in a rock n roll band and would be well-acquainted with lodgings that looked as if Keith Moon has exploded some nuclear device within). As we were in our early 20s, however, our surroundings were taken as more of an adventure than as cruel & unusual punishment.

Whistler Mountain Lodge proved to be a popular spot for the early-70s ski crowd and assorted hippies. I recall one occasion where an attractive blonde girl was enjoying the music throughout the evening, and during a break, her male friend introduced her to me. He said, “Meet my friend, Joni,” to which I replied with the smartass remark, “Oh, Joni Mitchell, that hippie chick?”. Both of them answered in the affirmative, “Yes!”. In one swell foop, I had just insulted the real honest-to-god Joni Mitchell!

Sparkling Apple at Whistler Mountain Lodge, Alta Lake 1974

The dances held in the old lodge were rollicking, exuberant and joyous, reminiscent of the toga party in “Animal House”! Back in those days, Whistler was pretty much the Husky Station intersection, as well as cabins overlooking Alta Lake. Skiing could be accomplished at the Gondola area near what is now Function Junction, and today’s bustling Village was at that time the local garbage dump. For excitement, we’d cruise out to the dump late at night and watch the bears scrounging for wares!

An actual poster from 1974, advertising weekend dance at Whistler Mountain Lodge.

Good day and welcome to our continuing coverage of ancient artifacts from Colin’s bottomless scrapbook. This just in…

Presented for your approval, two photographs from 1973, showing Sparkling Apple performing outdoors. The occasion was some sort of barbecue/goat sacrifice/free concert at the Village Green apartments, near Guildford Mall in Surrey BC — these same apartments are still standing, but are now considered social assistance housing for low-income residents (no, I didn’t say “slum”, that would be inappropriate, right?) . All band equipment was supplied by a local rock group named Griffyn, and all bands who played that day were courtesy of Dottie Gunnarson Agencies. At the time, Dottie was our friendly neighbourhood booking agent. If you have any information about whatever happened to Dottie, please leave a comment!