Interview: Glass Tiger

Canadia outfit GLASS TIGER, recently seen wooing over audiences opening fir Swedish Rock/Popsters ROXETTE, took Chris Miller on one of their live sorties before debriefing him on their latest album entitled mission. 
"You know we were doing an interview in Germany a few weeks ago and the interviewer came straight out and said 'Look what is this? Are you just an opening act or do you ever play your own shows?"
Sam Reed, keyboard player with Canadian Pop Rockers GLASS TIGER, is seated in the foyer of the Holiday Inn in London's Swiss Cottage with the band's lead guitarist Al Connelly, the morning after a very well received support slot to Swedish Pop Stars ROXETTE at the Wembley Arena. In their native Canada, GLASS TIGER are a household name and one of the country's most successful Rock bands, with three multi-platinum selling albums to their name. In Europe too, the band have always enjoyed a considerable degree of success. Yet here they are supporting ROXETTE!
"We sold out the Marquee a few years back," recalls Al, "and we have nothing but good memories from that show. In fact the Marquee is considered such a prestigious venue even back home that a review of that gig appeared in all the local papers!"
GLASS TIGER enjoyed a minor hit single in Britain around the same time with "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" from their 1986 debut "The Thin Red Line." The album went platinum four times in Canada, with the follow up "Diamond Sun" almost matching it for record sales.

Earlier this year, GLASS TIGER (Alan Frew - vocals, Al Connelly - guitar, Sam Reed - keyboards, Wayne Parker - bass, and Randall Coryell - drums) released "Simple Mission," an album which has already equalled the success of its predecessors in Canada and which is now scheduled for release in Britain and Europe. Produced by veteran Hard Rock producer Tom Werman (TED NUGENT/ MOTLEY CRUE) it's an album which manages to merge the infectious commercial sound of the old GLASS TIGER with a guitar heavy approach well represented by the No. 1 Canadian hit single "Animal Heart" and the blistering title track, songs which should erase any doubts you may have about GLASS TIGER's credibility as a real Rock band.
"We specifically wanted to make a harder record this time," explains Sam. "Tom (Werman) was into the idea of working with a band who came from a poppier background, and we were into the idea of working with the guy who produced all our favourite CHEAP TRICK albums!"

"Prior to recording the new record, we parted company with our original drummer Michael Hansen, so we used Tony Thompson (POWER STATION/ CHIC) in the studio as we wanted the heaviest drum sound we could find and that man hits the skins phenomenally hard!"

"We recorded our last album 'Diamond Sun' a little too quickly, and we learnt from making that mistake," reveals Al. "We considered working with Jim Vallance again [Vallance produced both of GLASS TIGER's earlier albums] but he didn't want to commit himself for that length of time. That left us free to find the right person and to write a lot more material."
"A lot of people remember GLASS TIGER for 'Don't Forget Me,' but in all honesty although we never looked a gift horse in the mouth, that song isn't really representative of what this band is about. I think we wanted to prove that with 'Simple Mission.' Although I think there were some very heavy tracks on 'The Thin Red Line' album, songs like 'Ancient Evenings,' 'Vanishing Tribe,' those songs really kicked, and I think some people may have forgotten that."
As it was, their Wembley show the night before seemed perfectly balanced between the lighter, poppier moments and the all-out Harder Rock approach that the band now pride themselves on. 

With their line-up augmented by backing singer Jennifer Hansen (Al: "She turned up at the studio with a one-way ticket from Winnipeg, and she was so cocky we had to give her the job!") "One Night Alone" (from the "Simple Mission" album) started the proceedings. The venue was already virtually full and, surprisingly, the rather young audience shrieked their appreciation throughout a tight forty minute set.    

"Animal Heart" is almost the perfect GLASS TIGER song, boasting a monumental chorus and a spledidly raw guitar riff, while new skinsman Randall Coryell proved himself more than able to recreate Tony Thompson's studio skills live on stage. "Don't Forget Me" was greeted with several flickers of recognition, while the new single "My Town" received an almost deafening roar of appreciation, suggesting that another long-overdue hit may just be around the corner.

"My Town," which on record features a guest vocal from ROD STEWART, is another shrewd stab at commercial success and offers Scottish-born singer Alan Frew the chance to vent a little national pride.
"Alan has lived in Canada since he was fifteen," explains Al, "but he's still very Scottish despite the fact that we've tried to assimilate him into Canada ever since! We wrote 'My Town' with ROD STEWART's guitarist Jim Cregan, and it was one of those songs that came together very easily over a shared bottle of Cognac. The following day Alan wrote the lyrics and when Rod heard about it he asked if he could come down and record some vocals."

"We're hoping the single takes off in Britain. Already when we played it in Alan's old hometown of Glasgow the reaction was amazing, so it's become one of the high spots of the set."
Al and Sam both agree that the ROXETTE audiences being younger and in some cases made up of whole families on an outing, would probably consider it impolite not to applaud! But there can be no doubt that throughout the tour GLASS TIGER have managed to attract a large number of new fans who might well investigate the band again at a later date.
"When we played Germany, we approached the promoters about coming back after Christmas and doing a full club tour," states Sam. "And we're hoping to do the same in Britain. We really shouldn't have left it this long before coming back to play."

"If it hadn't been for the ROXETTE tour we wouldn't have known that there was still this interest in Britain. When we agreed to support them we really had no idea what to expect, and we had a lot of problems deciding what kind of set to play. Do we come out and start with "Don't Forget Me" to remind people who we are, or do we just pile into all the rockers and end up offending the ROXETTE audience."

"We played 'Simple Mission' [one of the new album's heavier tracks] on the opening night in Helsinki and it just went over everybody's head. So that one came out of the set straight away. But since then I think we've managed to get the right mix without wimping out completely and just presenting ourselves as a Pop band."

"We were very nervous before the Wembley shows," admits the guitarist. "I saw LOVERBOY open for DEF LEPPARD a few years back at the arena and it was horrible. They bombed completely and I must admit that was in the back if my mind when we went out on stage. Needless to say we were all pleasantly surprised and a little relieved by the reaction we got!"

"The worst thing about playing as support is the time you're allowed," continues Sam. "We're just getting warmed up and it's time to come off. That's why we're all looking forward to coming back over to Europe and Britain and doing the full show. There's no way we want to leave it for another few years!"
And it would appear that they won't have to, as a headline tour is being pencilled in for early next year. As Al explains the band have sold out some serious aircraft hangers in the North American continent can't wait to play venue such as London's Town and Country Club and Glasgow's King Tut's Wah-Wah Hut! Make sure you catch them next time around.

Chris Miller
Riff Raff 
January, 1992
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