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Renaissance of simplicity


54-40 reflects on world tour, new albums

Who: 54-40

Where: Whistler Conference Centre

When: March 23

They’ve found their ocean pearl.

54-40 have maintained a consistent following for nearly 17 years, with their heartfelt vocals that linger a little longer in the chorus and a prominent bass line that leads songs like Ocean Pearl.

Brad Merritt (bass) sounds relaxed and happy, musing over two new singles recently released, Love Rush and Plenty Emotion.

"Music for the band has always been a very organic process," says Merritt.

"We’re always looking for an angle, a single creative device that helps start to define what the song is about."

The combination of process-oriented and results-oriented personalities has contributed to the band’s longevity. Established in 1985, lineup includes Neil Osbourne (vocals, guitar), Phil Camparelli (guitar, vocals), and Matt Johnson (drums). Their two new songs are part of a larger album called The Singles Collection , a compilation of new and older songs.

With this collection due for release on April 2, and a new album in production from 15 songs recorded last December, the next three years of the band’s life have basically been planned out.

As one pleased fan quipped: "Canadian music has come a long way, and so has 54-40 on this necessary album."

Highlights from the band’s lengthy CD lists include a series of live jams on The Green Album in 1985, Dear Dear in 1992, and Trusted by Millions , where the city and country where each song was created was included in the liner notes.

Throughout the years 54-40 has managed to get the music out without a whole lot of fuss.

"We like what we do, and we have never really had the huge star-making machinery," Merritt says.

The band’s goal with their Web site redesign was to incorporate a world trip with their music, videos, and online site.

Titled How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Malaria Pills, an essay matches experiences in different cities with song tracks from Casual Viewin ’, their previous album.

The title track takes its name from Genesis’s 1974 album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway , which included the lyric: "Marshall McLuhan casual viewin’ head buried in the sand."

The band sites singing amid the busy traffic of Bangkok streets and on safari in Nairobi as two experiences that inspired the song.

Meanwhile the song Castles is about "creating your own renaissance of simplicity."

A re-mixed verion of Baby Ran is included in the new collection, alongside She La and Since When.

The band considers harmony vocals, guitar interplay and evolved melodies as key elements in their continued success.

"You don’t really grow as artists unless you try new things, and in the studio we’re really comfortable with that creative process," says Merritt.

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