Considering the legacy of hard feelings between brothers throughout the history of rock and roll, it seems hard to fathom how The Age Of Electric worked at all. This is a band comprised of not one, but two, sets of brothers, and despite all four of them establishing individual identities over the past decade or so, the original bond they’ve shared since forming The Age Of Electric in the late Eighties appears to be as strong as ever.
The main reason for Saskatchewan natives Todd and John Kerns - and Ryan and Kurt Dahle - reuniting now, is to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the most successful album as The Age Of Electric, Make A Pest A Pet, which is being given the remastered double vinyl treatment by Toronto indie label We Are Busy Bodies. But since playing their first show in 17 years back in 2015, the band rekindled a creative spark and have plans for more shows and a new EP in 2017.
Is it a much different Age Of Electric than the band known for the hits “Remote Control,” “Ugly,” and “Untitled”? It’s certainly hard to ignore the experience each member now brings to the band. Todd Kerns has been a member of Slash’s solo project since 2010 and will also be a part of its next album in 2017. Meanwhile, Ryan Dahle’s other band Limblifter is still going strong, on top of his work with Steve Bays and Hawksley Workman in Mounties. And it was only two years ago that Kurt Dahle ended his long and extremely fruitful association with The New Pornographers.
So, it seems likely that their show on Nov. 25 at Adelaide Hall in Toronto will usher in a new Age Of Electric for both old and new fans. Keep tabs on their activities at the revamped theageofelectric.com.
What’s made this the right time for Age Of Electric to get back together?
It’s funny how everything just kind of lined up. For years, there had been activity bubbling up here and there, but our schedules just couldn’t match. Suddenly, an offer for an AOE show back in August of 2015 appeared and it all came together.
Coincidentally, I have another anniversary coming up. I played my first show ever on Dec. 12, 30 years ago. It was at the Town Hall in my hometown of Lanigan, Saskatchewan. I was paid $60, a fortune to me then, and I bought my family Christmas presents.
What’s the process like creating new material, and what can people expect from the upcoming EP?
Oddly enough, Ryan and I started getting together years ago to knock ideas around. Many of those ideas became the new material. It’s crazy how when it’s these four guys it immediately sounds like AOE. We’ve been playing three of the new songs live since reforming in ‘15 and they always get an amazing response.
I’ve always been very thankful that I grew up in remote Saskatchewan because I was never influenced by any particular scene. Metal, punk, new wave, goth—these were all the same to us. If we liked a song, we liked it. This is why I can segue from Iggy Pop to Iron Maiden to The New York Dolls to Depeche Mode to Motörhead to The Cure and so on. All of those elements exist in AOE and everything I’ve been involved in since.
What are your fondest memories now of that time when you made Make A Pest A Pet?
We were a machine back then. We would rehearse for hours and hours, recording jam sessions and turning those into songs. By that point we had such an unspoken shorthand language that everything came together pretty quickly.
What have been the biggest lessons you learned from playing with Slash?
Slash is tireless. I’ve never known anyone to be so focused. Nothing happens by chance. He works very hard and it shows in his playing. He’s at the peak of his ability and still growing. If anything, I try to have that same work ethic.
If there were anything you could change about the music industry, what would it be?
That seems an endless conversation. I suppose I wish the industry had been wiser on the changes coming back when downloading appeared. I miss the romantic notion of purchasing new music. I still love going to Amoeba Records in L.A., or Zia Records in Vegas. As a kid, the record shop was a holy temple. Even today, when I’m in a mall, I have quick flashes of when there were record shops among all the other stores. That might all seem an antiquated notion now, but when you love music as much as I do, you want it everywhere. Now I suppose, in digital form, it really is everywhere: Within my phone and the ether. Music changes. Technologies change. I find that all very exciting, even though I tend to romanticize a forgotten era.