Grapes of Wrath are a new wave combo from the Vancouver, B.C. area with post-punk leanings that recorded for the seminal Nettwerk Records label (Skinny Puppy!). By the time of this Brave New Waves Session (1988) they had curved into a strumming-paisley sound.
On one of the earliest Brave New Waves sessions, The Grapes of Wrath performed cuts from their then-new Treehouse album, adding cover versions to kick things off in Studio 13, Montreal. A few years later, they would be invited once again to do an acoustic set, this time in promotion of the 1991 album These Days. This Artoffact Records release contains the original, 1988 session in full.
From the weekly K News (November 11, 2020):
Brave New Waves:
Grapes of Wrath!
Kelowna, British Columbia (Canada!) is not in the middle of nowhere. It's more like the edge of nowhere. The outer edge. Kelowna is the town that spawned Grapes of Wrath, comprised of brothers Chris and Tom Hooper and pal Kevin Kane. They started playing together as twelve and fourteen year olds in the punk trio Kill Pigs before going their separate ways in a series of punk (Gentlemen of Horror!) and new wave (Empty Set!) bands, recombining the magic three in April 1983. Things happened fast for a band from the edge of nowhere - by December they were playing Seattle and Vancouver with savant rockers 54-40 and recording for the newly minted Nettwerk label (Moev, Skinny Puppy). Grapes of Wrath went on to record several albums (for Nettwerk and Capitol) and tour the world. They left Kelowna as soon as they could but it never left them.
As a member of a trio from the other side of nowhere, Olympia, Washington, who also started playing in early 1983 I can relate to their musical journey and their mix of influences: punk art monster damage new wave '60s sounds. Though I was vaguely aware of Grapes of Wrath our paths never crossed. I kept in touch with them on the Astral Plane and finally connected via telephone hotline last week with Kevin Kane about broken amplifiers, Nick Drake and the height of their musical career, recording several sessions for CBC Brave New Waves with producer Kevin Komoda, which are now available as an album on Artoffact Records.
Kevin had a lot of wonderful anecdotes, I'll telegraph a few of them here: One of the early Grapes of Wrath shows in Vancouver was at a high school promoted by eleventh grader John Ruskin (Aka Nardwuar the Human Serviette). In attendance was underclassman Grant Lawrence who decided “this rock music stuff looks fun” and soon formed his own combo, The Smugglers. A weekend of shows in Olympia and Seattle August 1984 were cancelled when the proprietor of Graven Image (Seattle art gallery) got offered Jodie Fosters Army the same night and to him the choice was obvious -bye bye Grapes of Wrath. A representative of Capitol Records was in Vancouver to check into a diff band when a local music journalist recommended he detour three doors down the street and see Grapes of Wrath. He was immediately charmed but had to swing a distribution deal with Nettwerk to gain access to the band. Their first low-budget video was produced about the same time Canada's Much Music (similar to our MTV) started broadcasting; spurred by Canadian Content laws and the fact that Grapes of Wrath were young and cute, they received a lot of play on Much Music, launching them to national prominence. The band loved Calif. Paisley Underground-type combos like Rain Parade and the Three O'clock and played songs from the Salvation Army debut album in rehearsals to get warmed up.
The band met producer Kevin Komoda on their first tour east, staying at his house for a few days. They became friends. He recorded all three of their Brave New Wave sessions, one in Montreal (above photog) and two in Vancouver, B.C. You can hear the Paisley Underground influences by the time of the 1988 Brave New Wave session on the Artoffact album, it has a stronger Americana vibe than the post-punk/new wave style of their earlier work (see cover of Discorder, below).
Thanks to Kevin Kane for taking the time to explain Grapes of Wrath, and to Kevin Komoda for sharing his treasure trove of photogs.
The Brave New Wave session albums are a wonderful record of the underground music of the mid-'80s to mid-'90s. The K Mail Order Dept. is carrying volumes featuring artists from British Columbia, Grapes of Wrath, Mecca Normal and cub. Check into it!
Further information about Grapes of Wrath Brave New Waves Session LP:
Never before released commercially
Originally recorded in 1988, in CBC Studio 13, Montreal
Classic Treehouse tour line-up: Chris Hooper, Tom Hooper, Kevin Kane and Vincent Jones (Vincent Jones regularly tours with Sarah McLaughlin, David Gahan, and Morrissey).
Curated by Kevin Komoda (Rational Youth)
Brave New Waves was a Canadian radio program which aired on CBC Stereo, later known as CBC Radio 2, from 1984 to 2007. Airing overnight five nights a week, the show profiled alternative and independent music and culture, including film, comics, literature and art. The show was once described by longtime host Brent Bambury as "explaining fringe culture to a comfortable mainstream audience," and by his successor Patti Schmidt as "invented with an idea of what John Peel's show was, but without ever having heard it."