Vancouver alt-rockers 54-40 prepare to rock the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre stage Feb. 17, 2018. Tickets go on sale Oct. 14. (Photo submitted)

Rock icons to take the Vernon stage

54-40 plays the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Feb. 17, 2018

“I got an ocean pearl.”

All it takes is five words before sounds of trucking guitars and stomping bass flood the brain with a wave of nostalgia, transporting the listener through post-punk angst back to the early ’90s.

Vancouver’s iconic alt-rockers 54-40 will conjure such images as they ignite the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre stage, both with old hits like Ocean Pearl and the group’s newest offerings.

54-40’s 14th album Keep On Walking, which drops Nov. 24, falls on the heel’s of the group’s 2016 release La Difference: A History Unplugged. From their formative years cutting their teeth in the Lower-Mainland dive-bar scene to their more than three decades of touring, selling more than a million records worldwide, their’s is a sound that has evolved.

“It’s fairly eclectic in nature with a bunch of different types of songs,” said 54-40 bass veteran Brad Merritt of Keep On Walking. “I think the record moves from one place to another — there’s a thematic thread. We have a sense of melody. The words sort of hold together and the chorus ties together the verses. It’s kind of old-fashioned in a way.”

Despite their success and sonic evolution, 54-40 has always remained true to their passion, Merritt said.

“It was a real exploration — we created our own sound,” Merritt said. “There’s growth and regression, which is good, and then we push in another direction. It’s an exploration. When you don’t have the will to change and explore, you’re just dead artistically. We’re not interested in that.”

Their unquenchable thirst for creative growth pushed the group to rework a selection of their hits spanning their 36 year history for their most recent release — a project 54-40 had never imagined.

“What a privilege to be able to re-imagine our catalogue in a way that is equal parts fresh and familiar,” said 54-40 pianist Dave Genn. “Given the opportunity to frame Neil’s lyrics in a different light reminded me of the emotional connection between the words and music, and how that connection can be massaged in order to give the songs new moods and meaning. A thoroughly inspiring exercise and a labour of love.”

When going into the studio to work on an album, that love is what 54-40 focusses on.

“When we hand the thing in, the completed master, and everyone in the band is proud — that’s a successful record,” Merritt said. “Otherwise, you’re looking to external markers and you have no control over that. We want the validation from the people who like our music —that’s all good, but it’s not what we’re about. We’ve never been about that.”

But their hard work and dedication to the creative process, one of Merritt’s favourite parts of being a musician, translates to the stage where they have no choice but to embrace the music.

“Whether it’s good, bad or ugly, no matter what happens, you’re out there,” Merritt said of performing live. “I really like it when the stage sound is really good, you just build this emotional momentum and there can be a moment of catharsis that happens.”

In a few short months, Merritt and singer Neil Osbourne will have racked up 37 years with 54-40, and it’s that drive for creative evolution and the resulting catharsis that keeps them going.

“I can see right through to 2019. After that, I have no idea what the future holds,” Merritt said, adding that the group will be on the road until then for La Difference and Keep On Walking.

“Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t mind slowing down a bit here or there before speeding up (again).”

54-40 rocks the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre stage Feb. 17, 2018. Tickets are available Oct. 14 for $69 all seats from the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.

Just Posted

Vees drop heartbreaker in West Kelowna, host Teddy Bear Toss Saturday

Penticton loses overtime game to West Kelowna Warriors

Apex hosting Canadian selections mogul event

Apex Freestyle Club along with some local competitors from the B.C. Freestyle Ski team are competing

Video: Update one man arrested in Okanagan Falls

The RCMP has requested the school go into lockdown

Okanagan Taste: Favourite food and drinks of the past year

When it comes to food and drink, the most frequent questions I… Continue reading

Christmas hamper volunteers pitch in to give back to Penticton

Volunteers begin work in preparation for Salvation Army hamper distribution

What’s happening

Find out about the events happening in your community this weekend

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

Column: Make it a green Christmas

Instead of purchasing a cuddly stuffie this year, put your money towards helping the real thing.

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Interior Health holding immunization clinic in Vernon Saturday

IH issues list of Okanagan meningococcal immunization clinics

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Michaels: Big Brother has become a big letdown

“You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide, but privacy should still have some appeal.”

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Most Read