When Vancouver rock band The Age Of Electric take the stage at Toronto’s Adelaide Hall this Friday night, it will mark the group’s first show in that city in almost two decades.
Formed in 1989 by two sets of brothers – Todd & John Kerns and Ryan & Kurt Dahle – the group carved out an impressive fanbase over the course of a number independent and major-label releases. The band’s tireless work ethic culminated with the 1997 Gold-selling release Make A Pest A Pet, from which the hit “Remote Control” quickly bounded up the national radio and video charts.
By the time 1997 wrapped up, following a year that had arguably given the group the highest profile it had attained, it looked as though the long, slow climb of The Age of Electric was about to finally begin paying handsome dividends. But following a show supporting Our Lady Peace at Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum in early 1998, The Age of Electric quietly went their separate ways.
The Kerns brothers formed the short-lived group Static In Stereo, while the Dahle siblings had enjoyed success with indie-rock band Limblifter, even while The Age of Electric was a going concern.
At the turn of the century, drummer Kurt Dahle went on to form The New Pornographers, which he also managed and produced in the group’s formative years until subsequently leaving the band in 2014. Guitarist Ryan Dahle kept Limblifter afloat, while also busying himself producing records by Hot Hot Heat in addition to forming the group Mounties with fellow Canucks Hawksley Workman and Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat).
Vocalist-guitarist Todd Kerns relocated from Canada to Las Vegas, keeping himself busy with a number of different musical projects. In 2010, Kerns was enlisted to play bass with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, the backing band for Guns N Roses guitarist Slash, which in turn gave him the chance to tour the world behind 2012’s Apocalyptic Love and World On Fire, released in 2014.
But now, following an August 2015 show in Calgary along with a series of triumphant shows in Western Canada earlier this year, and with a new EP slated for release in 2017, Todd Kerns says he and his bandmates in The Age of Electric are excited to be back in the game.
He shares there was no one single factor that originally sent The Age of Electric their separate ways, but was rather a combination of things.
“Looking back, I think we had been together for a long time at the point that The Age of Electric started seeing success, we had all begun branching out in different directions. Getting a Juno Award nomination for ‘Best New Group’ almost 10 years after we formed felt ludicrous in itself,” Kerns says with a laugh.
“Realistically though, we were young and had more of a big picture mentality. We were all ambitious guys that had different things we wanted to do, things that didn’t necessarily work within the parameters of The Age of Electric. We came to view the band as the mothership that helped send us off on our respective journeys these last 18 years, and now we’ve returned to it with a greater appreciation for what we had created.”
While some band splits are rooted in bitterness or petty personal shots, Kerns insists that even in the time they spent apart, there was never bad blood between the band members.
“I always liked being a part of The Age of Electric. Even after we went our separate ways, I maintained I was as big of a fan of the band as I was a member. We all stayed in touch with each other in the time we were apart. In fact, it wasn’t long after we had split that Ryan and I were trading riffs and making racket together. Had I not moved to the States, I’m confident that we would have regrouped much sooner.”
Kerns says that while show offers had been floated by the band numerous times over the last 18 years, it wasn’t until the summer of 2015 that the timing was right for all four members to return to the stage together. The resounding success of that Calgary show led to a brief Western Canadian tour earlier this year, setting the stage rather nicely for their upcoming Toronto performance.
He insists that while it didn’t take long for the group to find its footing once they sat down in a room together again (“like riding a bike,” he offers), the group’s members remained cognizant of the fact some skeptics may see their return to the concert stage as nothing more than a nostalgia grab.
“Even before that Calgary show in the summer of 2015, we had a whole batch of new songs in our pocket, so it just made sense that we would play them. We didn’t want the shows to be this lame ‘Remember the 90’s?’ kind of theme,” he chuckles. “Yes, we are that band from back then, but we also wanted to show off a collection of new material. It’s an important piece of the puzzle because if we didn’t feel we had anything of quality to offer and put out there, we probably wouldn’t have even considered doing an initial show to begin with.”
To help commemorate new life being breathed back into The Age of Electric, the group will be reissuing Make A Pest A Pet as a limited-edition double LP, currently slated for release on Feb. 17, 2017. In addition to the inclusion of the original record, the record will offer four previously unreleased tracks that were recorded during the same sessions as the album.
That same day, the group will also be releasing a new digital-exclusive EP, further details of which remain currently under wraps.
What is for certain, however, is that this is not the end of the road for The Age of Electric. Kerns promises tour dates behind the reissue and the group’s new release will follow, including the possibility that The Age of Electric will perform their first-ever shows in Atlantic Canada.
Regardless of where the future brings them, Kerns is simply happy to have arrived at this point.
“After being away for so long, it still doesn’t feel weird or dated to be on stage playing ‘Remote Control. It still feels fresh and relevant to all of us. The Age of Electric has always been one of the most important, if not the most important, thing in my life, and now, being all grown men that are able to communicate in ways we didn’t 20 years ago…It feels like we are in a good place. It’s funny how life happens.”
What: The Age Of Electric
When: Friday Nov. 25, 9 p.m.
Where: Adelaide Hall, 250 Adelaide St. West, Toronto
Ticket info is available online