The Return of Treble Charger: Bill Priddle talks Broken Social Scene, reunions and regrets

Treble ChargerBy: Sheena Lyonnais
March 20, 2012

“This whole thing has felt like the Hollywood Bromance that Hollywood hasn’t made yet – the professional falling out then the sweet reunion.”

Bill Priddle seems like a really cool guy. He calls me to chat about Treble Charger’s reunion at this week’s Slacker Canadian Music Fest and immediately apologizes for missing our original scheduled time of which he forgot and I forgave. After a decade of prolonged tension between Treble Charger’s two vocalists/guitarists Greig Nori and Priddle, the band is reuniting for two shows: the first at the Phoenix on Wednesday and the second on Saturday at the Royal York as part of the Independent Music Awards, where Treble Charger will be inducted into the 2012 SiriusXM Hall of Fame.

But the real question remains: why now? Priddle left the band/was fired under messy circumstances back in 2003 and Nori officially disbanded the group in 2006.

“Greig and I have known each other for a long, long time and it’s probably an open secret that we weren’t too crazy about each other in the last days of Treble Charger. This has been a really sweet rebuilding of our friendship. It wasn’t very long after the band broke up for me personally, after a little time and perspective, that I realized Greig wasn’t really trying to make me miserable he was just being himself and I think he kind of had the same thing with me. You grow up. As the years went by I realized I wasn’t completely innocent of being a miserable prick myself. “

Priddle and Nori put bad blood aside and began entertaining the idea of reuniting Treble Charger last year, but they wanted to do it right with proper rehearsals. It wasn’t until CMW approached them about the Hall of Fame induction when the stars aligned and the timing seemed too good to pass up. It was decided they would play.

Rehearsals began only last week. Forgotten solos and lyrics suddenly returned in an almost eerie fashion, sometimes kicking in as soon as the full band burst into sound. “It’s strange how the mind works. You just don’t forget,” Priddle says.

The Hall of Fame induction lands them in the ranks of Anvil, Lowest of the Low and Pursuit of Happiness. They’ll be introduced by none other than Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning, who has played with both Priddle in BSS and Nori’s old band, Rockets Red Glare in the mid 90’s. It happened so fast, Priddle has had little time to reflect on a legacy that includes numerous Juno nods, two gold certified albums (Maybe It’s Me and Detox) and one platinum (Wide Awake Bored).

“It’s flattering and unnerving to wrap your head around the idea that people could look at your band the way you look at your favourite bands. It’s very humbling,” he said.

So what have Nori and Priddle been up to?

After Treble Charger, Nori shifted to behind the scenes. He started working with bands, expanding his mark through his side project Bunk Rock Entertainment and focusing more on songwriting, managing and producing. He earned two Juno nominations for producing and co-writing Hedley’s hit tracks “For The Nights I Can’t Remember” and “Never Too Late.” He also worked with bands such as Mariana’s Trench, San Sebastian, The New Cities and Organ Thieves, and penned and produced tracks for vast names such as Iggy Pop (“Little Know It All” featuring Sum 41, Nori’s first discovery) and Ludacris (“Get Back” remix). He moved into television production with MuchMusic’s disBAND, the show (in)famous for making STEREOS a household name. He also apparently has an awesome cottage, or so I’ve heard.

Priddle stuck with guitar and released a solo record under the name the Priddle Concern. It featured guests such as Amy Millan and Brendan Canning who Priddle knows from his deep roots in Broken Social Scene.

“I refer to myself as a founding non-member of Broken Social Scene. I keep shooting myself in the foot every time I have a chance to be a real member.”

Priddle’s understated involvement with Broken Social Scene comes down to what he calls a series of bad decisions and bad luck. Back in 2007, Priddle headed overseas with the band but his tour was cut short when he fell and broke his collarbone. Mitch Bowden, Priddle’s band mate in both The Priddle Concern and Bowden’s main project Don Vail, quickly replaced him. Both bands are since static. In 2010, Priddle joined BSS for a Neil Young tribute concert at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver as the resident Young expert.

“Kevin Drew, I love Kevy, he loves drama. He’ll never say ‘we’re going to take a break’ when he can say ‘this is our last show ever!’ I would bet money that in six months there will be a little Pitchfork thing saying Broken Social Scene working on a new record.”

Nowadays, Priddle plays guitar in a band called Adaline. The guitar parts are more technical and were crafted by Hawksley Workman. He also fronts a cover band for fun with a bunch of guys from his neighbourhood called All The Tired Horses, named after the Bob Dylan song. “It’s pure gravy for me. We play all my favourite song. There’s a lot of obscure 70s stuff – Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Kris Kristofferson,” he says. They play once a month at various venues in the Junction and soon Priddle hopes to revive originals from his solo effort.

I couldn’t help but talk to Priddle about regrets. A man who weaved in and out of the spotlight was surely to carry with him some deeply rooted baggage. Priddle doesn’t hesitate. He talks calmly and matter of factly.

“I always look at my life as a series of bad decisions. I kind of wish I had joined Broken Social Scene instead of making the last Treble Charger record,” Priddle says, before adding the everything-happens-for-a-reason safety net.

Regrets aside, Priddle is stoked to play old tracks again. “It’s been really exciting this rehearsal because we’re all better singers and guitarists than in 1996.”

What’s old is new again. The band will dig into the archives of songs that haven’t graced the stage in years with the intention to herald some indie gems from the early days. “It’s a really awesome set list we have because we’re bringing back a handful of songs we stopped doing in 96/97. The indie tracks from the first two albums,” he says.

The dynamic has shifted and so have the sounds. Both Nori and Priddle have since moved into a more country and alt-country feel musically, and though Priddle says some future shows aren’t out of the question, he’s looking forward to potentially working with Nori on developing the newfound style – be it through Treble Charger or otherwise.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re going to see how the reunion gets received and maybe do a couple shows in the summer. We’ll get through, take stock and figure out what our next step is.”

See Treble Charger this week here:

March 21 @ Phoenix Concert Theatre
w/Teenage Kicks, Twin Atlantic, The Organ Thieves
All wristbands/passes accepted but must be picked up beforehand
Tickets: $24.50 + tax/charges

March 24 @ Fairmont Royal York Hotel
w/Passion Pit, Dan Mangan, Rich Aucoin, The Sheepdogs, Young Empires and The Pack a.d.
Limited wristbands/passes
Tickets: $39.50 + tax/charges

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