Stories from Bent Wind
Long regarded as the holy grail of Canadian heavy psych fuzz bombers.
Myself and Gerry jammed together before Bent Wind. We met through a mutual friend during the days of Yorkville Village where all the ‘hippies’ hung out. At that time we would play cover tunes together of Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, some old Dion & The Belmonts stuff, etc. We always kind of had a natural harmony so it was easy to find rock songs with good melodies. I say we had a natural harmony between us but that doesn’t mean we were good vocalists at any sense… we just sang. As far as Gerry’s lead guitar style, so different from many other guitar players was the fact that the tip of his forefinger on his left hand had been chopped off during a crazy night on LSD on New Years Eve 1968. He was reaching for something under a metal folding cot when someone jumped on the bed and it collapsed… cut the tip of his finger clean off. They grafted some area of his body to his finger but it was tender for more than a year so he had to learn how to play chords and lead guitar using his other fingers. It made me crazy trying to follow him as he was using finger positions that I had never seen used before…
We rehearsed in the basement of 57 Sussex Avenue in Toronto. It was an old house owned by Eddie’s mother. The ceiling in the basement was a plaster ceiling that had large holes in it where you could see the old wood strapping underneath. When we played a bit too loud pieces of plaster would sometimes fall on us or the drums, etc. I used to hide my hashish in the holes of the ceiling many times… More than likely there’s still a few forgotten pieces… This also reminds me of our candle making fiasco in one of the small rooms in the basement as well… we would make candles and then take them over to Rochdale College and knock on doors to trade our candles for drugs… Rochdale College wasn’t really a college but more of a rental building for ‘heads’… the security of the building was run by the Vagabonds Motorcycle Club… if ever there was a police raid on the building, they would pull the fire alarm to notify everyone in the building to hide their stuff…. what a crazy time…
We had a special mascot as well… He came with us to all our gigs and was always chained to my amp. It was Leroy, a red ape, made from a plaster mold that was given to me by Gerry and his wife on Christmas, 1969. And, many things have come from Leroy….. The song, “Leroy Goes West”, on the LP, The Fourth Line Is…You Will
, and a game we invented called, ‘Leroyville, A Wild West Adventure’, also a western town built completely with wooden matches as seen on the cover of the Bent Wind CD, Shadows On The Wall
and also the gang that hung out on the porch at 57 Sussex, ‘The Leroyville Lions’ who were made up of close friends of the band. We even made a throne for Leroy in the basement at Sussex. (In the first line of the song, “The Lions”, … “Lions, there on porches, protecting sovereign’s throne…”).
And, like the band and the Sussex
LP, Leroy will be celebrating his 50th year next year. He’s still with me. You can see his pic on my blog
. We took him up north camping… he loved playing with fire… Klemen, we were pretty crazy…
I remember when Joe, our manager, Sebastian’s brother, came to us for the first time with the news of our first gig… smiles everywhere… He said, “You’re playing at Sigma Kai, a fraternity house for the University of Toronto. It’s a dance.” We didn’t own a vehicle but the frat house was only about 6 blocks away so we got a few of the “Leroyville Lions” and walked all of our equipment to the job. The pay was $165.00 and Joe got 15% of that for getting us the gig. It didn’t matter that we weren’t a dance band… the worry was that the dance was happening that weekend and we only had enough tunes for one set… Also, most of our songs didn’t have real words. We used a lot of reverb on the vocals and used a kind of scat where it sounded like words but was just garble. Somehow we managed our way through the first performance by playing the same songs a few times, just at different speeds and a lot of 12 bar blues. Best news was that someone from Sigma Nu, another frat house happened to be there and we booked our second gig before our gear was packed up.
The original members of Bent Wind never performed live more than 7 or 8 times and the revamped versions of Bent Wind also never played more than a few times and when we did it was mostly for charity events. Not sure if you were aware of how I picked the title for our 1989 release, The Fourth Line Is…“You Will”
. I had pages of titles that I could have used and couldn’t make up my mind even up to the last minute when my producer told me I had to come up with a title that night. When I broke the title to him the next day, he loved it… he said he didn’t understand it at all but loved it… and so it came to be…
When someone first hears that you play in a band, the first line is:
What’s the name of the band?
The second line is: Bent Wind.
The third line is: Never heard of them.
The Fourth Line Is…“You Will”
Before Bent Wind, none of us had ever played in a band. Without any band experience, Eddie got to play drums over the flip of a coin. And, I don’t remember any of us ever making any plans for rehearsals… Rehearsals were every day of the week with the original band… There was never a day off… true. And, after rehearsing every day for the first 3 months, somehow we became tight enough with our original songs that we were able to finally get booked at a 12 hour pop festival with 11 other bands. When Merv Buchanan, sitting in the front row during the concert, met us in the parking lot while packing our gear, that’s when our first recording offer was made… July 26, 1969. And although not related to the first single, here’s a true fun fact about the LP…
After we had recorded all the songs on the Sussex LP, I had recorded the sound of urinating in a toilet which I wanted to have appear at the end of the album. Merv decided not to include it when it went to pressing… I still think it would have been a cool thing to add at the time… even cooler now if it was there…
… After coming back from hearing bands in Yorkville, I would always come back complaining to the guys, “Why can’t we sound like The Ugly Ducklings? Why can’t we play like the Paupers? Why can’t we be good enough to even come close to McKenna Mendelson? Why can’t we sound that good?”
And even though our music is now recognized in psych circles in many places around the world, I still wish we sounded as good as those bands including most of the other Toronto bands playing around town at that time.
– Marty Roth
Read our in-depth interview with Marty Roth about Bent Wind.
– Klemen Breznikar
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