While Crash Karma may be a relatively new group on the Canadian music scene in one sense, the experience brought to the band by their four members would combine to number in the decades. Comprised of former members of I Mother Earth, Our Lady Peace and The Tea Party, the group has taken the Canadian modern rock world by storm.
But to hear Crash Karma guitarist Mike Turner tell the story, you’d think the band has just encountered a series of happy accidents since forming in 2008.
After leaving Our Lady Peace in 2001, Turner kept himself busy with his own recording studio, playing music with friends and also producing the likes of Fredericton band Age Of Daze and Toronto band Zygote.
“I remained very much connected to music after departing Our Lady Peace,” Turner confirms from the confines of his Toronto recording studio.
Turner recalls that he was approached by one of Zygote’s band members, Amir Epstein, about the possibility of joining him in a new group he was forming. At that point in time, Epstein has already recruited former I Mother Earth vocalist Edwin and was hoping that Turner would join them.
“Honestly, I think Amir made Edwin sound a lot more committed to the band than he actually was,” Turner laughs. “But when it came down to it, Amir was a very creative and positive energy type of guy, to the point that he was his own selling point. I didn’t need much more convincing to work with him, I was very open to anything at that point.”
Former Tea Party drummer Jeff Burrows would join the group shortly after Turner.
At one of the group’s first practice sessions, Turner says that Epstein arrived at the group’s first practice armed with a wealth of material that he was eager to play for them. But contrary to some songwriters who are extremely protective of their songs, Turner was encouraged by Epstein’s openness to tweaking the material as each band member provided their input.
“It was great because there was no ego involved. Some writers are protective of their songs like they were their kids – you don’t mess with them. But Amir wasn’t like that at all; he was a prolific and generous songwriter.
“Plus I had a tremendous amount of respect for Edwin and Jeff. We had crossed paths many times in our previous lives and Amir’s openness allowed everyone to contribute their fair share to the songs he brought to the table.”
According to Turner, the group fed off the energy that each member brought to the band and as things progressed, they realized that they were onto something that might very well hold a lot of promise.
Once the songs that would comprise their debut record were committed to tape was when the “happy accidents” started occurring, allowing key pieces to any band’s puzzle start falling into place:
“Long before the CD was released, we ended up giving a copy to Ralph James who runs The Agency Group booking agency here in Canada. Ralph books some pretty big names and doesn’t really need to take on additional bands and work but agreed to be our booking agent without requiring us to sign any contract with him,” Turner recalls.
Soon after James got on board with Crash Karma, the band secured a management deal with Jake Gold, the former Canadian Idol judge whose primary job is guiding the careers of musical artists such as Lily Frost and Sass Jordan. Gold saw the group live and like James, agreed to work with the members of Crash Karma with no contract.
Even though the group felt relatively confident in their material, they ended up passing a copy of their songs to Dale Peters, a radio promotion person whom the band felt they could trust to provide an honest opinion on their songs.
“But instead of Dale just checking our stuff out and getting right back to us, he sent our song ‘Awake’ out to radio programmers and music directors right across the country, without providing much more in the way of details other than the song and band name. Nobody necessarily knew who was in the band.
“He ended up getting people coming back to him asking when they could add the song into rotation!” Turner says.
“We honestly had modest expectations about everything at the outset of the group and the next thing you know, everything fell into place. None of us are as smart as everything has made us look though,” he laughs.
While some detractors might be quick to accuse the group of using their past success to further the agenda of their current band, Turner is quick to dismiss such naysayers:
“We could be accused of writing new music based on our respective pasts but honestly, each of us is very comfortable in our own skins. We like to think that ‘Awake’ sounds like what you would expect it to sound like considering who makes up the band. We are not consciously trying to emulate the past but it is bound to happen.”
Having recently returned from some shows in Western Canada, Turner says that he and his band mates are very much looking forward to their upcoming shows in the Maritimes. The group is playing a remarkable nine shows in the region where most bands will only take the time to play the Maritimes major centres such as Moncton and Halifax.
In addition to their Metro Moncton show on August 26, Crash Karma are also performing in “out of the way” places such as Bathurst, Miramichi and Marystown, Newfoundland during their almost two week stay in the Maritimes.
“We are very excited about finally getting out to the East Coast. Bands don’t seem to get out to Atlantic Canada as often as they should so we figured we should make the most of our time there.”