P., Toby, Pete and Bryce circa 1989

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September 1, 2006:
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The Miscellaneous "S" Story

Although the story is not yet over, it still bears telling. Indeed, it demands telling as time begins to cloud the details of the early days. It all started on Thanksgiving Day, 1988, when, after dinner, Keith, Peter, Bryce and Toby, decided to put together a band. Their different music backgrounds and complementary good humour produced work of a high standard. Working in Studio "A" at CFRC in off hours (i.e. 2 A.M. to 5 A.M.) they recorded enough material for an album by the following February. Entitled "A Thing of Beauty. . . Destroy It!", it met with mixed reviews, and mediocre sales. Nonetheless, the die had been cast. One song especially, "Psychic Penetration", composed by the group one evening over copious amounts of draft beer at the Grad Club, presaged the heights of success the band was destined to reach.

Spring work slowed progress down considerably, but starting in May of 1989, the band, now including P., who had been brought in from the group "Krabba Kott" around the time of the release of the first album, entered a period of robust creativity. It was a dreamy time. The result of these sessions was the critically acclaimed album, "File Under", released in August of 1989. Its mixture of hillbilly music, novelty material, and sarcastic wit made it a favourite of record buyers from coast to coast.

At this time, though, came personal upheaval for two members of the band. While Peter, P. and Toby stayed in Kingston, Bryce moved to Montreal and Keith moved to Toronto. While this did put strain on the band, they were still able to meet on weekends for recording sessions. The result was the album "Partykiller", which was released in the spring of 1990. It met with mixed reviews. While some hailed it as an adventurous "magnum opus", most derided it as "a directionless offering, confused and sprawling". Whatever the truth, sales were good, the result of a loyal fan following from the success of "File Under".

While the release of 3 albums in little more than a year though, the band was reaching creative exhaustion. Starting with the gig at the "Café Crepe Divine" in the summer of 1990, the band began to concentrate more on its live act. This change in emphasis reaped good rewards. Misc "S" moved out of the "cognoscenti ghetto" and into the popular mainstream.

The addition of Bill Wood and Ian Norton to the permanent line-up was crucial in making this transformation. Long trusted session musicians and close personal friends of the group, they more than compensated for Bryce's departure to Singapore in the late summer of 1990. Smash show dates in Kingston, in Peterborough, and at the mysteriously sited acid-head gatherings in the Canadian Shield propelled them into the front rank of Canada’s pop music establishment.

The emphasis on touring also brought a renewed creative edge to the band, and recordings from the summer of 1990 through to the spring of 1991 results in the breakthrough album "New and Improved". Utilizing new production techniques such as overdubbing and sampling, the album was received warmly by critics. However, the departure of Keith and P. to Toronto, and of Peter to Ottawa in the summer of 1991 hampered the promotion of the album, leading to poor sales.

These departures also brought recording to a standstill. However, the band continued to perform live shows through 1991 and into 1992, and anticipate playing more shows in the future, as time and logistics allow. While they don't meet to record as a group much anymore, they are all in close touch with one another and continue to be good friends. Some have started work on solo projects, some seem to have left the music business altogether, but they are all adamant that ‘the "S"’, as they call it, will never die. As Keith said, ‘so long as there are a couple of members in the same room with musical instruments and twisted senses of humour, there will be a Misc. "S"’. One must wonder; is that a threat or a promise? Whichever it is let’s hope that they keep it.

... And Now We're Back!

Most of the band members (P., Bill, Keith, Pete, Bryce and Toby) have kept in touch over the years, primarily through email. Their collective creative juices have been simmering for many years, and the pot boiled over in January 1997. In two separate re-unions held on two continents, P. and Bryce got together in Ifrane, Morrocco and Keith, Bill, Pete and Toby got together in Toronto to record a number of new songs and systematically re-define (and demolish) some of our older "standards".

The results of this re-union can be heard in the first release of new material from Miscellaneous "S" in six years: "Epochal 'S' Now". (This has since been followed by a 10-year "Wreck-rospective" called (THE Me)s, with plans to follow that up with at least one more release of new matetrial that is already "in the can" and one more retrospective of early stuff. CM - 12/22/98)

Thanks to ever-cheapening computer technology -- especially the drop in the price of CD-ROM "burners", which allow you to create your own music CDs -- the band is now commencing to release their material on CDs. The band makes CDs on demand for those that want them, so there are no big record company or pressing plant hassles to deal with. It essentially makes the production of CDs a "cottage industry", and while we may not get the same sort of distribution through stores, we hope that the World Wide Web will prove to be a better venue in the long run for getting our music-thingy out to those that want it. We make this music for ourselves and if anybody else likes it, that's great. As far as we know, we were the first to do this sort of thing -- but don't expect us to be the last...

We're back. Get used to it.