Photo credit: Davida Nemeroff
Five months after controller.controller announced a reunion, the post-punk group is grappling with a devastating setback.
In April, the band’s 37-year-old bassist, Ronnie Morris – who also plays in experimental orchestra Flowers of Hell – suffered two massive strokes that involved a double arterial dissection and brain bleed. He underwent two life-saving operations and his family and friends are now attempting to raise funds to pay for his lengthy recovery, which could cost in the hundreds of thousands.
“We are thankful to report that he is on the road to recovery,” the band said in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “However, this recovery will take months, perhaps even years. Much of his health coverage will not extend past his treatment in the hospital. Without long-term health care, the costs that he will incur as he regains his strength and his quality of life might total over $200,000.”
“Three weeks ago I called up my dear friend and bass player, Ronnie Morris, to work out details about a show the Flowers of Hell were playing that night (a benefit gig to buy burritos for the homeless),” FOH main man Greg Jarvis wrote on the band’s Facebook page. “Turns out he was in the midst of having a major stroke and he’s been in hospital ever since, kicking at death’s door more than a few times as neurosurgeons have fought to save his life.”
As a result of the strokes, Morris is paralyzed on the right side of his body and has lost the ability to speak, so his recovery will involve intensive therapy to learn to walk and talk again. His loved ones have set up a website for donations and have raised more than $5,800 so far.
Known for angular, guitar-heavy dance music – dubbed "death disco" – controller.controller were one of the buzziest bands in the city for a time, gracing the cover of NOW and touring extensively in support of their X-Amounts album, which came out on Paper Bag in 2005. They broke up in 2006 when vocalist Nirmala Basnayake left to pursue other interests.
Controller.controller reformed late last year to perform at a birthday party and made the reunion official in January. They played music series Wavelength’s 15th anniversary festival at Sneaky Dee’s a month later.
Morris is also a doctorate student in history at York University where he worked as a TA.