June 10, 2004
Harem Scarem and OLP guitarists start band
By KAREN BLISS -- For JAM! Music
Harem Scarem's Pete Lesperance and former Our Lady Peace's Mike Turner have joined forces. While the two Toronto guitarists still don't have a band name yet, the material will be culled from "Down In It," a solo album Lesperance just released in Japan on the independent label, Avalon/Marquee.
"It's not at at all in the Harem Scarem vein," says Lesperance, who handles lead vocals on this project. "It's radio-rock, pop-rock with an edge to it, especially now that I have Mike in on it. I had Mike play on a couple of songs for that particular record and then I just got the idea: he's not doing anything at the moment, other than production, and I'm doing the same, we should turn it into a band."
Lesperance calls Harem Scarem "the money gig." The melodic-metal band has sold an estimated one million albums worldwide since releasing its self-titled debut in 1991. Fronted by Harry Hess, who now owns the studio Vespa Music Group, the band released "Higher" last year, which was licensed to Avalon/Marquee in Japan, and Frontiers in Europe.
In Japan, Harem Scarem has released nine studio albums, plus various greatest hits and live recordings. In Canada, where it was signed to Warner Music Canada (WEA in the early 90s), Harem Scarem released just four albums, none of which achieved gold (Warner released a Hess/Lesperance album under the band name Rubber in 2000). Lesperance says Harem Scarem is still together and will make studio album number 10 "when we have the time."
Besides writing his own material, Lesperance has been producing and developing other acts. He wrote a single, "Happiness," for country artist Tara Lyn Hart last year, and he and Turner are producing an "emocore" act from Oshawa, Ont. called One Short.
Lesperance has known Turner for years. "I used to work at Long & McQuade and he was one of my customers," he laughs. "We always kept in touch, but I was always on tour and he was always on tour, so we started hangng out again, a lot more, when he left OLP (December, 2001)."
They plan on using the majority of songs Lesperance wrote and recorded for "Down In It," but he and Turner will be also collaborate on more songs. Lesperance doesn't know if they will keep the album title.
The band has its first rehearsal the third week of June with Toronto singer-songwriter Brad Stella on bass and New Deal drummer Darren Shearer, although the line-up is tentative at this point. "Hopefully, we're going to start doing some pre showcase shows in July," says Lesperance.