November 28, 2004

SJP


Artist: Vital Sines




Rick Winkle (vocals, percussion)
Terry Michaelson (bass, vocals)
James Gray (keyboards; studio only)
Gord Wilson (guitar, vocals)
Chris Weekes (drums; 1980-1981)
Mike Clarke (drums; replaced Weekes)
Glenn Milchem (drums; replaced Clarke)
Kurt Swinghammer (guitar; replaced Wilson)

Riding the wave of the late '70's punk movement in Toronto, Vital Sines eventually transformed themselves into a moody 'dark funk' band. Often mistaken for gothic (only because they preferred black leather as stage apparel), Vital Sines managed to combine industrial rhythms and Jah Wobble meets Brian Eno ambient guitar sounds.

Their first indie single -- the sarcastic "Subway Suicide" -- was released on their own Musicians On Drugs (M.O.D.) Records in 1981. It was hyper-New Wave with a speedy punk sensibility that helped get the band into some of the less prestigious live venues in Toronto. Vital Sines wanted to rise above the C-level clubs but they needed to refine and define their sound so they took paying shows at the seedier dives as Tryfono & The Heat Resistant sheep as openers on many bills. All the while they began contemplating an image and a sound that they could master as Vital Sines proper.

By this time, Weekes had left the band for the family life and was replaced by Rent Boys Inc., drummer Mike Clarke. Taking one part '60's Motown and one part Euro-Dance (sans keyboards), Vital Sines re-invented themselves. Clarke's stay was short lived and Whitenoise drummer Glenn Milchem was brought in as a permanent fixture.

The band's first rallying cry for a new audience was to release a 7 songs cassette entitled "Rhythms In Dark" as they began to gain a strong foothold in the Toronto club scene. This tape spurred enough interest from a new following of fans to convince the band to funnel all their extra cash into a vinyl release.

The result was 1984's 4 song EP 'Collage' which landed them solid airplay with the Gerald Packer produced video of the title track. CFNY-FM nominated the song as "Single Of The Year" and the video for "Video Of The Year". As the last of the indie copies sold out in Canada, David Ross, who helped record the EP, got a job with Midnight Records in the UK. The label picked up the disc and re-issued it as an import (the record was selling nearly 30 copies a week in Toronto record stores up to 18 months after it was issued).

During this flurry of activity, Winkle and Michaelson had started their own Rhythms In Dark Studio and began recording other Toronto acts to supplement their income like Between The Lines, Swedish Fish and Moving Targetz. To keep their stage chops up between Sines gigs they moonlighted with members of Between The Lines in The Burundi Plumbers.

The band decided that a bigger, bolder avenue of recording was necessary for the follow-up Vital Sines record and they headed into Daniel Lanois' Grant Avenue Studio in Hamilton to begin production with, then unknown producer, Michael Phillip-Wojewoda (Shuffle Demons/Barenaked Ladies).

It was at this time that Gord Wilson became disenchanted by the music scene, specifically Vital Sines' style and opted out of the band to retire to a life of a commercial artist. Former Lawn/Woods Are Full Of Cuckoos guitarist Kurt Swinghammer was brought in as production moved full-tilt.

The result was 1986's 6 song EP called 'Big Dark Dreams' which was picked up by Toronto punk/thrash label Fringe Product as a means of diversifying their roster. The resulting airplay and more U-Know Award nominations on CFNY for the song/video "Break These Chains" allowed Vital Sines to open gigs for the likes of Shreikback, Hunters & Collectors, Siouxsie & The Banshees, and Love And Rockets. Fringe re-issued the 'Collage' EP once more after Midnight Records failed to issue any royalties for the sell-out 1985 re-pressing.

A tour of the Eastern US seaboard helped gain US recognition on the college circuit but despite this, both Kurt Swinghammer and Glenn Milchem decided to quit the band in May of 1987 at the height of the group's popularity. Winkle and Michaelson were left trying to hold Vital Sines together, which they did for another year with ex-members of Miami's Sleep Of Reason. Alas, the band's momentum had faded with the advent of keyboard driven acts in the late '80s and Vital Sines split up.

Rick Winkle still dabbles in production; Kurt Swinghammer has a highly successful music and graphic design career; Glenn Milchem is the drummer for Blue Rodeo; Chris Weekes is a member of The Blue Voodoo in Vancouver, BC; James Gray joined Blue Rodeo.

with notes from Rick Winkle, James Gray and Gord Wilson.


Singles
1980 Subway Suicide//Erik The Generik/Sex & Babies (M.O.D)

Albums
1982 Rhythms In Dark [cassette] (Vital Sines)
1984 Collage (Vital Sines)
1985 Collage [re-issue] (Midnight)
1986 Big Dark Dreams (Fringe)
1987 Collage [re-issue] (Fringe)

Video
1984 Collage
1987 Break These Chains

Compilation Tracks






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