Top Canadian rock band a decade ago returns for two shows at Sound Academy — and something beyond.
Jag Tanna, left, and the rest of I Mother Earth in 1999. The band’s then-new singer Brian Byrne, second from left,
For the first time in eight years, Canadian alternative rock band I Mother Earth has returned.
The band’s most recent lineup — singer Bryan Byrne, the Tanna brothers (Jagori on guitar and Christian on drums) and bass player Bruce Gordon — is booked to play two gigs at the Sound Academy Thursday March 22 and 23. Yet Jagori Tanna has other concerns.
“My God, there’s so much going on right now, my stomach hurts,” he cheerfully jokes from his Peterborough studio. “It’s totally ridiculous. I have a song coming out next week and I still haven’t finished it. It’s crazy.
“But once we get closer to the actual show, we’ll feel better. Then we can just disappear again, which is awesome.”
How long they’re going to stick around for is another matter altogether. Tanna is adamant that the Toronto shows are not a reunion.
“We never looked as it like a reunion, because we never told anybody we were breaking up,” he explains. “We never said anything to anybody. Eight years ago there was an announcement on our site that just said thanks to everybody, and that was it.
“We just split up to have families and make a million babies and live a life. In a very strange way, we just drifted back together.
“We weren’t looking for it. I hadn’t seen Bruce in eight years, and I saw him for the first time just a couple weeks ago. And just slowly all of our paths started crossing together. When we talked, the conversation inevitably went back to music. But it wasn’t the grand design. It was just about being friends again. I kind of missed the fellas.”
Tanna said that back in 2004, after four albums, including the platinum efforts Dig, Scenery and Fish and the gold Blue Green Orange, I Mother Earth had run out of things to say.
“It was one of those things where I think more bands should actually take a look at themselves and say, ‘Maybe we should just take a step back,’ ” says Tanna.
“I think when you stop having anything to say, you should step back and make room for somebody else. And we felt that we’d hit that wall, not so much musically, but I think we were tired of existing in the business as we were, because that’s what was kind of taking the fun out of being together. And that’s not right — when you’re friends for so long and other things tend to be in the way of just normal guys doing your thing.
“There was nothing evil . . .
It was funny how it happened. One day we were playing, the next day the rehearsal space was clean.”
While away from IME, Jagori Tanna produced efforts from Sarah Slean and J.D. Fortune, started up his own content company called Segment X, which developed and produced the IFC TV series The Rawside of . . . , while his brother Christian became an agent and transitioned into managing The Venue Peterborough.
Singer Byrne has stuck with a solo career and opened a number of tattoo parlours, while Gordon relocated to Orlando and is performing with The Blue Man Group.
Time away from music partially served as a catalyst for the upcoming show, and Tanna is currently working on a still-untitled 12-minute track that he’ll be giving away to the Sound Academy patrons who attend the band’s performance.
But if I Mother Earth continues, Tanna says it will be on their own terms, and exclude the usual activities associated with the music business.
“No more albums for us,” Tanna declares. “No more tours. No more anything. We’re going to exist as the new business of I Mother Earth: we’re going to create our own thing, just for us, and not please anybody but us and our fans.
“Making albums is too psychologically taxing and too emotionally taxing on all of us.”
In the same breath, however, Tanna says there will be shows outside of Toronto.
“To just say it’s in Toronto, I don’t think it’s very fair,” Tanna concedes. “We just don’t know when it will be. So we kind of pick some areas, and go, if we can make something special at the right ticket price, at the right venue, and somewhere where we can play for three hours, like we’re about to, then we’ll find a way to do it.
“We’ll be a band on demand.”