The Odds will be in our favour next weekend

Maybe you can't get tunes like Eat My Brain and Someone Who's Cool out of your head.

THE ODDS — from left

THE ODDS — from left

Maybe you can’t get tunes like Eat My Brain and Someone Who’s Cool out of your head.

Perhaps you’ve found yourself humming along to the Corner Gas theme song.

Or maybe you’ve seen those four bearded guys in Canucks’ jerseys playing with guests such as Elvis Costello and Randy Bachman at playoff games in Vancouver.

If so, then you know the Odds, a power pop group from Vancouver that had a number of hit songs in the 1990s, took a hiatus in 1999 and started writing and came back together in 2007.

After a busy summer performing throughout Western Canada, the Odds are coming to Courtenay on Sept. 24 to play the Sid Williams Theatre Season Rock Concert Opener with the Grapes of Wrath.

The Odds started playing together again about four years ago.

“It’s taken a bit of time for people to realize we’re there again,” said singer and guitarist Craig Northey. “It’s starting to feel like people are getting to know we’re there and that it’s fun to watch us.”

Being the Vancouver Canucks’ house band during the 2010 and 2011 playoffs certainly hasn’t hurt that.

“They associate it with something fun and good — unless they hate the Canucks; it doesn’t help us in Calgary,” said Northey. “It’s interesting playing to 14,000 people a night twice a week in your own hometown. It was great. Hopefully we’ll do it again this year.”

Northey, Doug Elliott, Steven Drake and Paul Brennan came together in Vancouver in 1987 and formed the Odds.

After working the bar circuit, the band headed to L.A. and signed a major label deal with Zoo Entertainment. They released their self-produced debut, Neopolitan, in 1991.

After Brennan’s departure in 1995, Elliott invited his longtime friend — and former Bryan Adams drummer — Pat Steward into the band.

The Odds took a hiatus in 1999, but Elliott, Steward and Northey kept playing together in various forms and working on different projects.

They collaborated on projects by Strippers Union with Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip, Northey Valenzuela with Jesse Valenzuela of the Gin Blossoms, several Colin James albums, session work for Jeremy Fisher, Matthew Good and Payolas, two feature film scores and the themes for CTV’s hit show Corner Gas, while Northey released a solo album called Giddy Up.

“We kept working together and decided we’d start writing again together as a band in 2007,” said Northey. “It was just the three of us at the time, and we thought ‘this is fine; we’ll stay as a three-piece.'”

The Barenaked Ladies invited Northey, Steward and Elliott to play with them on a Caribbean concert cruise. The name Odds had lapsed, and they decided to call themselves The New Odds.

“We thought that was very Spinal Tap and thought it was a good joke,” said Northey.

The New Odds started thinking they could use another guitar, and Ladysmith’s Murray Atkinson came on board. Steward and Elliott were playing with Atkinson in a house band in Vancouver, and Northey had seen the band and met Atkinson.

The New Odds invited Atkinson to play with them on the cruise, and he’s been with the band ever since.

“As soon as he was playing, we realized he’s one of us,” said Northey.

The New Odds released their “debut” album, Cheerleader, in 2008.

Northey says they’re all really happy where they are today.

“We love playing with everyone, and this is what we all feel we were born to do,” he said. “We’re all best friends, and we get along really well. We have Murray, who’s really fresh blood and maybe experiencing things for the first time that maybe we’ve done 100 times.”

The Odds, who are working on a new album, have had a chance to tour with and perform with many incredible musicians, and those experiences have had a lasting impact on Northey.

When he was younger, Northey was a guitar tech with Barney Bentall, and he considers Bentall a big mentor.

“He was somebody who really taught me a lot about how to write songs, how to take care of yourself and how to handle a crowd and so much of how to take everything with a grain of salt,” he said.

In 1991, the Odds backed up Warren Zevon on his Mr. Bad Example tour.

“He really taught us a lot at a point where we’d just had our first big record on a big record label, and our eyes were wide open and we were heading into this great, big world,” said Northey.

Northey has learned a lot about performing from Colin James.

“He’s a great entertainer,” he said. “I can’t really quantify it — he becomes something else.  He’s himself, but he’s possessed by some energy you can’t describe. You learn how important every note is and how much you have to put in every night to make sure it’s something special for the audience and for you.”

Northey is always learning — from the bands with which the Odds tour and from the people with whom he collaborates.

He hopes that if bands working with the Odds learn something from them, it’s that music is fun.

“I hope they take away the joy, that you should be finding something in it that enriches your life, and don’t take yourself too seriously,” he said. “People become wound up, and it becomes over-earnest and hard to take. We have such a dark sense of humour; in the face of everything that goes wrong, we tend to find what’s funny in it. I hope other bands we meet take away the idea that you can have fun doing this for a long time.”

The Sid Williams Theatre Season Rock Concert Opener is Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, call 250-338-2430 or visit www.sidwilliamstheatre.com.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

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