Glass Tiger's frontman Alan Frew is seen in this handout.
Don’t put Glass Tiger on the endangered list just yet.
In fact, the vintage pop-rockers are healthier than ever these days, roaring back to life atop a new wave of ’80s nostalgia. They’re touring arenas across Canada once again with fellow retro-popsters Roxette. They recently released an expanded 25th-anniversary edition of their 1986 debut album The Thin Red Line. And they just put out the best-of Then…NOW…Next, with four new songs including the piano-pop cut I Take it Back, their first single in nearly two decades.
It all adds up to a perfect storm of interest and opportunity that no one predicted — not even frontman Alan Frew.
“It was just a case of everything lining up, the way life does,” the 55-year-old singer says from his old stomping grounds in Newmarket, Ont. “But it feels good to get back in the saddle.”
Not that he’s been at loose ends. An in-demand songwriter, Frew co-penned the title single from Johnny Reid’s latest album Fire it Up, which is up for two trophies at this year’s Canadian Country Music Awards (and has just been covered by Joe Cocker). You might have heard another of his tunes — the anthemic I Believe, sung by Canadian jazz wunderkind Nikki Yanofsky — played ad infinitum during the Olympics. Over the past few years, he’s also written an autobiography, tried his hand at acting and even gigged as a public speaker. Bottom line: He’s a busy cat.
While packing up after a rehearsal, the musical multi-tasker found a few moments to discuss his new Tiger tracks, going country and the irony of singing Don’t Forget Me for 25 years.
It would seem difficult to approach new Glass Tiger music after all these years. Do you embrace your past or run from it or what?
It’s a little easier than you would think, because it stems from me and I just write songs. If you and I were writing a song, it would have a natural Glass Tiger feel to it just because I’m writing it. The chords and the phrasing and what-not could generally work for Glass Tiger. Then we would ask ourselves: ‘Lyrically, is this meant to go somewhere else? Should it be a female singing this? Is it a bit too young?’ For instance, when I first wrote I Take it Back, I wasn’t absolutely thinking Glass Tiger. Matter of fact, there’s a huge artist who’s heard it and would love to have their hands on it. But when I realized that the lyric was very simple and universal — ‘Sorry may not cut it, but I’m sorry anyway’ is something you could say at 15 or 55 — then it all fell into place.
Is this the first step toward a new album?
I don’t know. You read what’s going on with the industry and everybody says it’s singles-driven again. We’re back to that. And it’s all about YouTube. So it all depends on whether we’re given a shot. But I’d like to make a new album. Absolutely. I’d like to tour Canada again and I’d like to be invited to play other places. The band is playing extremely well and we’re not near the place yet where it’s time to hang it up.
It must feel ironic to sing Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone) after all these years.
Of course, there is that element of it. But more and more, I see how far Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone) reaches to this day on this planet. I never knew it was going to make its way into the fabric of pop culture. And when you think about it, the nostalgia involved in it, that kind of keeps you going. It puts a smile on your face and it puts smiles on the faces of people looking up at you. And it makes it all worthwhile.
Between your tour with Roxette and the return of Platinum Blonde, it seems the ’80s are back.
It’s so ironic. You couldn’t make that up in a bad movie. You know, I just saw Mark (Holmes from Platinum Blonde). I ran into him the other day. They launched just prior to us back in the day. And now they’re back and here we come. Now all we need is Honeymoon Suite and we’ll have an ’80s love-in.
What else are you working on?
I’ve been writing a lot of songs in Nashville. And I’m not going to be able to sleep properly until I conquer Nashville and have a No. 1 hit out of there. I have a couple of little gems, may I say, sitting there. So that’s next for me. I really enjoy writing country music. It’s such a great headspace. It’s as anti-pop as you can get, yet it’s as beautifully crafted as pop.
Shouldn’t Glass Tiger be in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame?
I have no idea. The music industry is rediscovering Glass Tiger now, but at the time what we did wasn’t thought of as cool. We were seen as corporate pop. But now, if you look at Glass Tiger’s legacy in this country, it’s like wow. I don’t know if that penny has dropped with the Hall of Fame. Do I care? Nah. Would it be nice to be recognized? Of course. But I’m certainly not sitting back in my rocking chair waiting for the Hall of Fame to wake up.
Glass Tiger Canadian tour dates (opening for Roxette):