Canuck psych legend Bob Bryden joins forces with Saffron Sect to reanimate Bryden?s best-loved creations as part of A Reign Ghost / Christmas Revival event with guests the Hoa-Hoa?s and DJ Christian Hamilton at Sneaky Dee?s (431 College), Friday (November 2), 9 pm. $7. 416-603-3090. www.bobbryden.com.
How did you get started in rock 'n' roll as a teenager in Oshawa?
Entirely by accident. A friend of my father's stored his drums in our basement that turned out to be a Ludwig kit - exactly like the one used by Ringo. This was 1965, at the height of Beatlemania. A couple of guys at school were starting a band and asked if I knew how to play drums. I told them, "No, but I have some drums." They said, "That's good enough, you're in the band."
You've played in the Outcasts, the Christopher Columbus Discovery of New Lands Band, Reign Ghost and Christmas. What's up with unusual names?
My publishing company is called Marketing Man's Nightmare for good reason. I can't take credit for the Christopher Columbus Discovery Of New Lands Band, though. That goes to Paul Froud, an artist friend of ours. That was partly the inspiration for naming another band the Society for the Year-Round Preservation of the Spirit of Christmas. Someone at our label suggested we shorten it to simply Christmas. Those records bombed anyway. Years later I would find sealed copies of our LPs in record stores misfiled in the holiday section next to Bing Crosby and Lawrence Welk Christmas records.
What's your reaction to pirate copies of Reign Ghost and Christmas albums that have been circulating?
I was flattered. I mean, who gets bootlegged - Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stoneso and my groups? That's kinda cool. I found it interesting that the people at the Arkarma label, who I discovered didn't have the rights to release my recordings, sent me a whole box of Reign Ghost CDs and LPs for free. If you totalled the value of that product, it would easily exceed the biggest royalty cheque I've ever received from a label that issued my recordings legitimately.
What brought about the Christmas/Reign Ghost Revived concert series with Saffron Sect?
About a year ago, I went to see Saffron Sect at Sneaky Dee's and thought they had the whole psych thing down. So I suggested that if they were interested in trying some of my Reign Ghost or Christmas work, I wouldn't let them down. I've never been into nostalgia for nostalgia's sake, so I told them I'd only do this if it really worked. The way they launched into the Christmas song Point Blank with such velocity and intensity, I could see this was going to be really exciting.
You've just released Polaroid Verite, your first solo album in ages, on which former bandmate Lynda Squires sings. What led to the reunion?
My original idea for the new album was to record songs with different members of Reign Ghost and Christmas. That didn't happen, but I've always kept in touch with Lynda. So I went over to her house with an acoustic guitar to see what we could come up with after 30 years. When she started singing, I was completely floored. I managed to coax her into the studio to sing on one song. Everybody who knows Lynda, myself included, has been trying to encourage her to sing more. I'm not giving up.