Picking up squashed grapes

By Paul Margach

There are three kinds of people in this world: those who fit in, those who want to fit in and those who don’t care. It was true in junior high school and it still applies today, only without quite as many sloppy joes thrown at your French teacher.

Kelowna’s The Grapes of Wrath have been on the outside looking in for the better part of 15 years.

"We didn’t really fit in with Glass Tiger," reflects singer/guitarist Tom Hooper. "But I don’t think we fit in with Creed either."

Also-rans throughout the ’80s, the group began to make significant gains with 1989’s Now and Again and appeared to be on the verge of breaking through with 1991’s These Days. But instead of breaking through, they broke up.

For his part, Hooper defends their decision to go out on a high.

"If you’re going to [break up a band], you should do it like that I suppose," he suggests somewhat romantically.

Along with long-time Grape cohort Kevin Kane, Hooper may have left on a high note but their friendship suffered and soon both began to throw lawsuits at one another.

Eight years later and things could not be better for Hooper and Kane. After resolving their differences ("we watched the money we had staked being eaten by our lawyers," says Hooper with more than a little bit of exasperation), they began recording together again and this year’s Field Trip, their first album in nine years, resulted.

The album represents both a continuation and a re-birth for the duo. Brimming with melodies and harmonies straight out of the cannon of the Byrds, Field Trip is unmistakably Grapes of Wrath. But they are now in their thirties and the songwriting has become much more reflective.

"You can’t write songs about your girlfriend," says Hooper. Uniquely, Field Trip’s bonus disc includes cover versions of their own songs such as "What Was Going Through My Head" and "You May Be Right," indicating both a desire to make up for lost time and an attempt to bridge the gap between 1991 and 2000.

Hooper describes re-recording their old material as "strange" and approached each track as though it was "some old song."

When asked why he and Kane decided to re-form, Hooper offers the old cliché, "You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone," before adding thoughtfully, "When you learn your instruments and grow up on the same songs together, you have a certain instinct with each other."

Such a sixth sense may help explain why the two haven’t missed a beat since their return.

But just like in 1985, The Grapes of Wrath are on the outside and aren’t particularly concerned with what’s going on inside. And it is here where they will continue to thrive, the band fashion forgot.

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