For those who may not know, I am one of 4 kids. I have 2 older brothers and an older sister. Now, you are probably asking yourself, why is he starting the story this way? Well, you need to know how I found out about Glass Tiger. I’ll admit, I was a very silent child growing up. Honestly, I am still a shy introvert today. We had a few ground rules in our household growing up and one of them was that it was forbidden to enter into my sister’s room. Forbidden, you say…One day, the little quiet child was wondering what all the hype was all about so when my sister left the house for the day, I sneaked in.
Today, I’ll admit with the difference of ages growing up, I didn’t really get to know my sister very well, but at that moment, I was quite amused by what I was seeing in front of me. I felt like I just walked into a museum. On every wall there were posters. Yes… posters…everywhere. At that moment, I was slowly starting to figure out what my sister was all about. Posters such as George Michael, Bruce Springsteen, Wham!, U2, Bryan Adams, Guns N’ Roses, David Bowie, Aerosmith, and Glass Tiger. A few of them had some kiss marks on them but…I will never tell you who. (Hmmm…Maybe another day) Oh-oh! I heard the front door open. My sister was at home. I made my escape outside the window and into the backyard. I made my way to the basement.
Now back in the 80s, we listened to records of our favourite musicians. I was downstairs playing my favourite game called ‘the life of a DJ’ and I decided to grab a record from the collection. “Ladies and gentlemen,” [I would announce] “I bring to you the latest song from (I looked at the record) … a Canadian rock band … [Hmmm … interesting I thought] (and in my “cool” voice I would say) … Glass Tiger. (A short guitar entrance)
Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)
“You take my breath away oh
Love thinks it’s here to stay oh
There’s still so much for me to do
And I can’t stop loving you
Oh, can this be true?”
And I would play it over and over again while singing as loud as I can until my mom would shout “turn that music off”. What a fun memory. Today, I get to interview them.
This is Sam Reid from the Glass Tiger band. My manager passed along your message to interview Glass Tiger.
1. I think it would be great to get a bit of a background about the group. How did everyone start in music individually?
Each band member has a different story for how they got involved with music. It’s really a miracle that we were able to put together a band from all the variations in backgrounds and musical influences.
I’m the only band member who took the traditional route with formal lessons. I started piano at age 5 and was heading in a direction towards classical music and possibly teaching.
When things got serious in the higher grades of piano I was a teenager and realized that I wanted to play rock n’ roll and also write songs so I made a left turn in that direction and joined a band.
Alan (singer), came to Canada from Scotland and grew up more interested in UK football (soccer) than music. He discovered his singing talent when he arrived in Canada as a teenager and started singing at parties etc. That’s when people started telling him he had a great voice and should think about performing professionally.
At the same time as he was singing casually, he met the other members of the band, Wayne Parker (bass) and Al Connelly (guitar). They were both involved in local bands and because we all lived in a small town the word spread fast about who was good and more importantly who was serious about music.
2. How did the group eventually come together?
From the ashes of a few local bands, we put together a band called Tokyo and performed at local high schools, bars and community centre dances. We started writing our own music and eventually got a chance to showcase for the local record companies. Opened for Boy George and Culture Club in 1984 at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens and the rest is history. Signed an international record deal with Capitol Records following that special showcase.
3. “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone) was a massive hit. It reached the Top 10 in the U.S. charts. Bryan Adams actually made a memorable vocal cameo on the single. How did that relationship happen for this song?
When we were signed to Capitol Records, they wanted us to write a few more original songs before releasing the first album. They connected us with Jim Vallance who was responsible for writing all the mega hits for Bryan Adams (and many other artists).
Alan, Al and I flew to Vancouver to write some songs with Jim and on the first day we wrote “Don’t Forget Me” and also “Someday”.
Those songs turned out to be two of the band’s biggest hits. Bryan Adams had heard about the band through Jim and when he was in Toronto for the Juno Awards we asked if he would lend his voice to a couple of songs.
He sang vocals on “Don’t Forget Me” and “I Will Be There”. We were so happy working with Jim that we asked him to produce the album, Thin Red Line.
4. Can you describe your relationship with Jim Vallance who co-wrote two songs and who was your album producer? Can you let us know how you collaborated together to create such impactful music?
See the answer above. One note to add, due to the success on our debut album release we decided to write more songs with Jim and he produced our 2nd release, Diamond Sun as well which went triple platinum in Canada.
5. Can you tell us about your time at the Junos when Glass Tiger won three Juno Awards?
When we released “The Thin Red Line” debut album in 1986 it rose up the charts very quickly and put the band on the map. Due to the success of that release, we were nominated for 4 Junos in 1986 and we won 3.
One interesting note is that we won “Most Promising Group Of The Year” and we were on stage getting ready to perform live on the broadcast so we were not able to accept the award in person.
There is a rumour that if you win “Most Promising Group” it was bad luck for your future in the business. Since we did not physically accept the Juno we have always felt we dodged the curse! Of course, we won three more Junos that same year and one more in 1987 and 1989.
An interesting fact is we were the first group to win “Single Of The Year” for two years in a row from the same album release. No other band has done that but Alanis Morissette did it as a solo artist later in 1995.
6. Describe your reactions?
It was a great feeling to be honoured by your music peers and made all the hard work in the early years worthwhile. Very proud moment for our families as well.
7. Can you tell us about album 33? (2019). How was the tour with Corey Hart in June 2019? Any fun stories?
We released “33” in May 2019 just ahead of our Canadian tour with Corey Hart. We worked on new music over the past year and had planned to release a few songs at a time. Once we secured the tour we really wanted to give the fans at least an EP with 6 new songs. GT fans had been asking us for new music and this was the perfect time to release it.
The reason for using the number in the title was to represent how many years the band had been together since we released The Thin Red Line. Been planning to release some new music for our 30th anniversary however Alan suffered a stroke that year and we needed to take time off to let him recover.
Essentially we missed our 30th but started working with fellow Canadian artists, Johnny Reid who suggested that we should “re-imagine” some of our most popular songs to say thanks for all the years we have been friends. We wanted to celebrate our lifelong friendships and it was fun to work with him and take the songs in a different direction.
We called that release “31”. You never know, we may continue to use the number system for future releases as we enjoy marking each year to show we are grateful for a long and rewarding career as a Canadian band.
Other #cinqque5tion Interviews
Author Jovin Tardif
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