<< A SOUNDDAY EXCLUSIVE >>
THIRD AND FINAL PART OF OUR INTERVIEW WITH JAY SEMKO OF THE NORTHERN PIKES.
Yesterday we looked at the Northern Pikes glory days in the early-’90s but also noted they broke up in 1993. Bassist/singer Jay Semko told us that was one of his regrets, especially walking away from the contract the band had with Virgin Records.
Semko went on from the Pikes to do the music for the TV show Due South, which was shown on both American and Canadian networks, writing and performing the Pike-esque theme song and scoring episodes through the series four seasons. All the while it seemed like there was unfinished business with the band though. He told one interviewer that at the time “we didn’t really hate each other. I think that’s the reason we did break up. We would have ended up hating each other.”
However, around the end of the decade Virgin Records decided to put out a Greatest Hits album, and that got the band interested in being back together for a show or two and bit of promotion. Soon they were working together again, recording a new studio album, Truest Inspiration, which they put out themselves. Although not a major success in terms of sales, it could be Semko’s personal favorite of their discography.
Since then they’d toured at times and put out another album in 2003…around when Merl Bryck quit the band. “Merl stopped playing with us around 2005,” Semko told us. “We did a New Year’s Eve show in Manitoba. We had the offer and Merl just wasn’t keen on playing anymore. You know, he had – still has – a good job with the City of Saskatoon” and they realized there was little sense in keeping a guitarist in the band who didn’t want to be in the band anymore. They went along as a trio until a few years back when they brought in new blood in the form of Kevin Kane, formerly from the neo-psychedelic Grapes of Wrath.
The infusion of new talent led them back to the studio for their first new work in 16 years, Forest of Love.
“I really like it,” he says. “It was recorded at the National Music Centre in Calgary. It’s amazing. If you ever get out to Calgary, it’s well worth checking out. It’s like a rock & roll hall of fame, and it’s country music too – it’s kind of a museum. They have great recording studios in there too, vintage equipment. Recording there it was a really good setup. They had movable sound booths with plexiglass so you could see everybody when you’re recording. I really like (Forest of Love). I feel we made a really good record and there are good memories of making it. We cut it live, we all played in the same room at once. In my experience, a lot of studios don’t have the size. You couldn’t set up realistically,” resulting in recording individual players separately, lots of overdubs and a less organic-sounding product. So the large studios were the coolest thing about the Centre? Well, maybe second coolest.Continue reading “March 4 – Northern Pikes & Music In The Age Of Covid”