Gentleman Reg back in Jet Black

JASON MacNEIL - Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:00 AM ET

Reg Vermue, better known as Gentleman Reg, had to be a gentleman after everything around him seemed to fall apart following his 2004 album, Darby & Joan.

His band dissolved and his label, Three Gut Records, also ceased to exist, leaving the musician to his own devices and songwriting.

But now Gentleman Reg is back with the new album Jet Black, a record that kept him occupied during the rather trying period.

"I just thought I would record anyway to keep myself from going crazy and just be creative," Vermue says from Arts & Crafts headquarters in Toronto, the label he now calls home. "Me and my drummer, we just went to Ottawa -- the same place we did the last record -- and just started. It was like a new beginning. It wasn't like, 'Oh, we're making an album.' It was like, 'We're starting to record some songs.' "

Jet Black, which was released yesterday, also marks the first proper studio album the singer will be releasing in the U.S. A compilation album entitled Little Buildings was released late last year in America as a primer for Jet Black.

Vermue wrote 15 songs for Jet Black but felt he hit something strong with We're In a Thunderstorm, a dance-oriented number which distances itself from the pop/rock tracks.

"Suddenly that was a spark and it was unlike anything else on the record," he says. "It has a good energy."

The musician also says a few songs have touched a nerve for their autobiographical tone, including his personal favourite, To Some It Comes Easy, and the catchy Falling Back.

"It's very direct and lots of people have e-mailed me and said, 'Oh that sounds like you,'" he says about Falling Back. "That's one of the older ones on the record and it's just about a past boyfriend who has a bit of an aim. I often write songs about specific people in a sense, but not usually this obvious."

As for guest appearances on Jet Black, Bry Webb of The Contstantines, Land Of Talk's Elizabeth Powell and Katie Sketch of the now-defunct The Organ all contribute. Vermue says it was quite easy to work with Sketch and Powell, the latter a longtime friend of the musician.

"That was just really natural for those two things to happen because one of the songs -- Coastline -- is a co-write with Elizabeth so it was just natural for her to come and sing.

"With Katie, I mean The Organ had broken up and I thought it was such a shame to not be out there. I wanted to have her on the record and asked her, 'What do you want to sing on it?' But Rewind, I wanted to record that one with her and luckily she liked it."

Gentleman Reg played Soundscapes last night and plays the Horseshoe Tavern on March 12, but he's also planning a U.S. tour in support of Jet Black. He says "it's a big deal" to have the album coming out in that market but also says he's not in total control when it comes to the business side of things.

"Unless you're Ani DiFranco who continues to do it all and is her own machine, that's not the person I am," he says. "I want to write and I want to be on stage. I don't want to be thinking about the bills, even though I do anyway. Or grant applications -- I'd rather not think about it."

Releasing album, touring like riding a roller coaster, singer says

With new albums comes a new set list and trying to find the balance between satisfying yourself as an artist with the new material and giving fans what they want.

But for Gentleman Reg, the track We're In a Thunderstorm is serving as some sort of black cloud as the singer tries to get it show-ready.

"We still don't know how to play We're In a Thunderstorm because that's the most out there (song) and the band never played it on the record," Reg Vermue says. "There are a few songs that we'll need to figure out but we'll do a lot of them, I think. We've been trying them all out over the last little while."

While he might be a bit hesitant about that song, Vermue says he's not very nervous about the actual release of his new album, Jet Black.

"I've been waiting so long and now that it's here it's like, 'Oh my god I have so much to do,' " he says. "Even though I've been doing a lot it feels like I've got to get on the ball. But it's a good nervous. It's like going up a roller coaster. It's so scary going up and then it's going and it's fun and you're in it."


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