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September 24th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 37
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Independent filmmakers unite for documentary on the smalls
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Herald Contributor Photo
The 90s band The Smalls reunite for a tour after their 13 year hiatus.
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
Anybody who’s anybody, who was a fan of alternative music in Western Canada in the 90s, will remember the smalls.
The smalls rocked much of the country with songs like Payload, Fistful of Powder and VCR and were, at one time, one of the most prominent bands in Alberta.
Formed in 1989, the band included singer Mike Caldwell, bassist Corb Lund, guitarist Dug Bevans and drummer Terry Johnston.
Then in 2001, the smalls called it quits after 12 years of rocking across Canada, the United States and Europe.
They had built a rabid fan base, particularly in western Canada, probably owing to the fact that they were based out of Edmonton.
But this year they’re reuniting for their (Slight Return) Reunion Tour.
Will a new generation of music fans connect with the smalls? Has the Western Canadian music scene changed in 13 years? Will their original fan base come out to support them and if so will they be able to mosh pit without breaking a hip?
Independent filmmakers John Kerr and Trevor Smith hope to answer these and other questions in their coming documentary Forever is a Long Time.
After meeting at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), Kerr and Smith began mulling a documentary film on the smalls and after a successful Kickstarter campaign, the filmmakers are finally ready to begin production.
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“This film is the genesis of 20 years of separate paths ultimately coming together,” says Kerr.
Kerr says he’s been a smalls fan since seeing them live in concert at the Republik Nightclub in Calgary.
“It was my first introduction to mosh pits and a live punk show and they were larger than life,” says Kerr. “The guitar player Doug had these big mutton chop sideburns and a John Deere hat. Corb Lund, the base player, had really long hair down to his knees… I’ve never forgotten those guys.”
Kerr would later found his own production company; Crowsnest Films and ended up producing several music videos for Lund.
Smith had gotten to know the band personally in Edmonton while hanging out with them, putting up their posters, selling their merchandise, playing on their hockey team and opening a few shows for the smalls with his band Molly’s Reach.
The last time Kerr saw the smalls was in 2001, within weeks of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“The world was different back then,” says Kerr. “It was a pre-Internet world. I think the smalls were ahead of their time. They were viral before the Internet or cellphones took off. They had this really beguiling marketing shtick that made everybody want to go to their shows and buy their records and merchandise.”
They were on the cusp of great commercial success when they broke up, says Kerr.
“They were poised to break through and succeed on another level,” says Kerr. “I think they were very close to becoming very successful and very famous internationally.”
Since the breakup, Lund has found success as a country music artist with the Hurtin’ Albertans.
Bevans lives in Vancouver, B.C., raises his two-year old daughter and runs a school tour company. According to the band’s official website he was awarded a three-month composer’s residency at the Banff Centre in 2011.
Caldwell, the most enigmatic member of the band, says the website, has been living between Victoria, Lethbridge and Taber.
Johnston has remained in Edmonton the whole time, working for the city and playing with the hardcore metal band Secret Rivals.
On Sept. 20, 156 backers had donated $21,625 to fund Forever is a Long Time, well over their $20,000 goal. Crowd funding will continue until Oct. 1.
The next phase is getting distributors and broadcasters to finalize the financing of the project, says Kerr who estimates the film could be into production as soon as the second week of October.
“We’re going to tour with the smalls throughout October and November and interview a lot of people and get as much footage and pretty pictures as we can in that amount of time,” says Kerr.
Kerr says it will be interesting to see how the tour unfolds and to experience how the music scene in Western Canada has changed.
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September 24th ~ Vol. 84 No. 37
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