LEGION OF GREEN MEN as part of the Smirnoff Experience, with ERICK MORILLO, MARQUES WYATT, MATT C, JARKKO and more, Thursday (December 19), at the York Event Theatre (101 Eglinton East). $30, advance $25. http://www.mysmirnoff.com.
LEGION OF GREEN MEN at the Alieninflux/Promise Warehouse New Year's Eve party, with IAN GUTHRIE, CHOCOLATE, LEE OSBORNE and more, 28 Eastern, December 31. For ticket info, write alien email@example.com. Rating: NNNNN
You'd be forgiven if you thought Canadian electronic music legends Legion of Green Men had dropped off the face of the earth following their last album, 1999's Floating In Shallow Water.
Other than last year's compilation of remixes, Incarnate Perspective, and a couple of rare live appearances, they've been on an extended hiatus. It wasn't necessarily what they wanted.
"After Floating In Shallow Water, things kind of ground to a halt for a while," Lex explains over drinks at a downtown cafe.
"Our studio was in Burlington, but we had both moved to Toronto. The commute back and forth on the trains became really tedious. As soon as we'd get a good groove, we'd have to leave to catch the last train.
"Finally, we decided to bring everything here, but the search for a studio space and then the renovations we had to do ended up taking way more time then we'd expected."
Lex and partner Rew came to most people's attention with their 1995 debut full-length album, Spatial Specific, which got picked up by Richie Hawtin and John Aquaviva's Plus 8 label before getting snapped up and reissued by Virgin.
The video for the single Synaptic Response ended up winning MuchMusic's best alternative video of 1996, and LOGM seemed poised to be the next big electronic crossover act. Corporate major-label hype didn't suit the pair, though, and they severed their ties to Virgin for Floating In Shallow Water, their follow-up album, which was released on their own Post Contemporary label.
Although Virgin may have opened up a much larger market to them, the label didn't really have a sense of how to deal with a chilled-out electronic act like LOGM, and they frequently found themselves in increasingly surreal situations while promoting their music.
"When we were involved with Virgin, we were booked to play this Molson street party thing. They thought it would be a good promotional opportunity for us. There ended up being this big beer banner behind us, and during our set they had these go-go dancers painted with the logo up onstage with us. We were just a bit weirded out by the whole thing. I don't even drink beer."
So why are they doing a vodka- sponsored party now, especially without the pressure of a label?
"We've been out of the spotlight for a long time, so we're a little surprised to be involved with this Smirnoff thing. It's a big corporate event, which is kind of the opposite to the kind of ethic that we promote. We're struggling with it, but it's not General Motors or something we're really politically opposed to. I'm not a huge supporter of alcohol, because I've seen it destroy a lot of people's lives, but I do occasionally drink a Smirnoff Ice, so I can't really say I don't endorse the product.
"We also felt that we needed to do another show after all the technical problems at Om. But realistically, left to our own devices, we probably wouldn't get around to it. We'd rather stay in the studio making new tracks."
Luckily, there are new tracks on the way, including a new limited-edition coloured vinyl single, 21st Century Disease. Long-time fans should expect a bit of a shift in direction, although the track still has the trademark gronky LOGM sound and features more of their well-loved locked-groove vinyl loops for the DJs.
"There's a certain kind of light-and-fluffy pastoral tranquility to our earlier stuff that I don't think we'll be doing in the same form any more. We still want to make some really nice, gentle music, but I used to be really into punk and harsh industrial music, and I've been going through my old records lately and realizing there is some really aggro history that we came from. We've been feeling that things are pretty edgy in these times.
"We're very frustrated with the state of the world, and we're not really feeling light and fluffy right now."