UIC began in 1982, when five young men who were bored out of their minds decided to start a band in Exeter, a small town in South-Western Ontario. As teenagers living an hour and a half from Detroit, founding members Fred and Murray and friends would drive in Fred’s car to “FM hill” to pick up late-night Detroit rock radio, where The Stooges, MC5 and Alice Cooper dominated the airwaves. Before the days when any song fathomable was a mouse-click away, discovering new tunes was a chore. And quite honestly, those efforts made people appreciate the music more. In my opinion anyway.
As is the case with many great bands; the music came out of friendship and comradery. Friends hanging out and discovering new sounds together. Hanging out with you pals, without a cell phone or device in sight. Now, on the day that UIC’s new record, “FM Hill”, drops; we bring you this transcript from a recent chat we have with Murray Heywood
You have a new release coming out, tell us about it and why people should give it a listen.
We are pretty excited for this record. We have been doing this for a long time and after a substantial hiatus, we got back together to do a tribute show for a friend who passed away (Mike Starr – Star Records). We decided to keep it going and realized we still had gas in the tank and songs to write. This album is also special to us because we lost 2 original UIC members (Teddy Triebner and Danny “Hack” Preszcator) over the past couple of years and this is a tribute to them. It’s also the first recording with the current lineup which includes Dave Dysart on Guitar (Joined in 2016) and Andy Hauber on Bass (Joined in 2018). This is a fun Rock & Roll record that should appeal to punk rock, rock and roll, rockabilly and alternative fans alike. The title track is a song written about a spot where we would go as teenagers to pick up Detroit radio. We grew up two hours from Detroit in the small southwestern Ontario town of Exeter Ontario. We were heavily influenced by Detroit rock and roll including The Stooges, MC5 and Alice Cooper to name a few. The influences come out in this song. This record has a variety of musical styles and influences. It’s the first time we have incorporated horns into the mix, and we had a lot of fun doing it. We were part of the early 80s indie scene in Toronto that helped pave the way for indie bands to tour and get their music out. That same scene influenced the grunge bands who would come after. A good example of that is a song on this album called Mystery Train that was originally on our Live album (Live Like 90) recorded at Lee’s Palace in Toronto in 1988. I think people will hear how the Grunge bands were influenced by bands like us when they hear that song.
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The first single is a really fun garage rock & roll song titled “Superstar”. The sentiment of the song is a salute to every musician that hits a stage somewhere to give it their all, leaving nothing behind, for a crowd who’s number matters little. Playing In front of ten fans or two thousand, it doesn’t really matter. These are the unsung heroes of rock & roll who aren’t actually Superstars…except for that one or two hour set that they are up on that stage kicking ass. There, that night, for that hour… they are superstars, if only in their own minds. It’s a beautiful and addictive thing that keeps people loading $5000 worth of gear into a $2000 van and traveling a hundred miles, spending $75 on gas to play for $300. It’s a beautiful thing. I really think people who like Indie Rock, punk rock, Garage Rock or just straight ahead rock and roll will like this record.
How was the writing process for these new songs and what was your mindset going into this recording session?
We were just really excited to be back together and start writing songs together again. We simply realized we still loved to do this and still had more to say. One of the songs (Honest Can’t Survive) was a song I wrote in 1983 and we recorded as a demo in 1984, but it was never released on an album. It’s a Ramones style rocker with a message that still resonates today. The song Mystery Train I mentioned, was a song given to us by Richard Carstens. Richard was an amazing Toronto musician and song writer. The original was much different and we rearranged it and rocked it up. Shadow on the Wall was actually recorded when 4 of 5 of the UIC members formed a band called “The Chickens” with Ken Mikalauskas. We released it on FM Hill just as it was recorded in 2003. The rest of the songs are songs we wrote over the last two years in anticipation of recording a new record.
Do you do anything special when writing new music? Any specific routines or traditions?
UIC has always been a band that collaborates on the music. We usually start rehearsals with a jam session to get warmed up. Someone brings in a riff they are jamming on and everyone adds their parts. The lyrics most often come later. As the drummer I also write a lot of lyrics. I often have three or four song lyrics I am working on in my head at any given time. When I hear a riff that I think suites the lyric I bring it forward. Lead singer Dave Robinson is the consummate jam vocalist. He is better than anyone I know at creating lyrics on the spot. There are certainly times when people will bring in a completed song and we will arrange it. I often have a melody I am working with when I write lyrics. Sometimes I have the basics figured out on guitar. I am a really lousy guitar player so it is very basic. In the end we really just write Rock & Roll songs about life and life experiences. We typically aren’t very political, we try to write good positive songs about what we feel and know.
How did you choose the studio and engineer(s) for these new tracks and what sound were you looking to capture? Walk us through the studio process!
We chose Jeremy Darby from Canterbury Sound to track the record. Jeremy is a Grammy Award winning engineer who has recorded hundreds of albums in his career. He has great ears, and is very aware of how to extract the best performance from a group. We tracked the full band to tape, and then overdubbed in the digital domain. We were looking to capture the essence of the songs live off the floor, with additional colour added by bringing in Trombone, Alto and Tenor sax, and Trumpet. When it came time to mix we brought in Ian Blurton, who is renowned for mixing big loud rock records. And he made it big and loud ! Mastering was handled by Noah Mintz, who did a splendid job. We’re very happy with how this record sounds !
Who would enjoy your new music and where can it be heard?
Any fan of indie Rock & Roll, Punk Rock (New and Original versions), Rockabilly and garage rock should appreciate this record. We hope your readers support college radio, that is where you will hear this. CBC will play it and hopefully some of the more daring Indie rock stations will give it a go and support Canadian Indie rock. It will also be available on all the typical streaming service, Apple Play, Spotify etc. I get the streaming thing, but I encourage people to BUY Canadian bands music from a distributor or the band directly, from the stage or their website. Streaming unfortunately doesn’t pay the bills for artists. Cool record stores will hopefully order it and lead people to give it a try.
The new album, entitled FM Hill, is being released on UIC’s Like Ninety Records on October 23rd (CD and streaming) with vinyl being available on October 30th distribution by Warner Music Canada.
Following that UIC is the next band to play the Horseshoe Hootenanny at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto with their new album FM Hill! they will be celebrating and playing songs from their new release as well as playing hits from their decades-spanning catalog. The show will take place Saturday, Nov 21 and will be live-streamed live across the globe!
Livestream tickets are on sale now. Purchase includes access to the live stream and the ability to re-watch the show until Dec. 23. Livestream tickets are $15 + fees and taxes.
This will be the first show in over 6 months at the Horseshoe Tavern with a live audience. A very limited number of in-person tickets are on sale now. Tickets are available for tables of 2 and 4 and everyone in your group must be in your social circle. Social distancing, masks, and safety rules will be enforced. All in-person tickets are 19+ and prices are $29.50 and $39.50 + fees and taxes.
Livestream airs around the globe!
8:30 PM EST – Toronto / New York
7:30 PM CST – Winnipeg/Chicago
6:30 PM MST – Calgary/Minneapolis
5:30 PM PST – Vancouver/ Los Angeles