Canadian guitar player Brian Greenway jumped into April Wine in 1977, making the band a 5-piece at the time, and beginning a 7 year run of massive tours and 5 major release albums. They shared the stage with some of the world’s biggest bands, toured the US multiple times, as well as trips the UK and Europe. The classic 5 piece era came to an end in 1984 following the release of Animal Grace. Brian Greenway would go on to record a solo album a few years later, and return with a reformed April Wine in the early ’90s. The band recorded a few more albums, and Greenway remains still from those glory days, alongside the band’s founder – singer/songwriter/guitarist Myles Goodwyn. In this interview Brian talked album the April Wine albums he was on, as well as his solo album, and what he’s up to over the passed year, as the band’s touring has been postponed due to Co-Vid. *Check out the links below I’ve posted to other articles and sites of interest.
You auditioned for April Wine back in ’73?
I did. Well, Not with a guitar, I just had a meeting with Myles. and at the time I just wasn’t the person, Gary Moffett was also a consideration, and in hindsight he was the right choice.
You were in the last incarnation of Mashmakan around the same time!?Yes. The 2nd edition of Mashmakan, after Jerry Mercer and Rayburn Blake and all those guys had left, Pierre Senecal was Mashmakan.
All you guys seemed to know each other, even before you were in April Wine. You knew the Henman brothers before you were in the band.
Mashmakan had open for and toured with AW in the Maritimes, quite a few times. and I remember seeing April Wine in their first show actually, in Quebec in 1970. Jimmy Clench I knew from other bands in Montreal, and Jerry Mercer I knew. so it was just the Henmans and Myles that I got to know, really. and Richie and David are still good friends.
You just did the one single with Mashmakan?
Yes, “Dance A Little Step”, we did some other stuff… actually there was one called “Ride Johnny Ride” on Columbia, just after I joined. I’d forgotten about that.. but it didn’t do f**k-all. Pierre wrote the lyrics for it, and it was about my step-father, his name was John, and it didn’t go over so well in the house, because it wasn’t a positive song.
Interesting that he would write about your step-father.
Yeah, I suppose. He was always writing about family.
You went on to do The Dudes album.
Yeah. I got a call from Bob Segarini and he told me David and Richie Henman were going to join The Wackers [which became the Dudes], so I thought ‘oh I’ll join then’, and he told David and Richie that I was going to join – when neither of us had said Yes yet. haha
There was a lot of hype with that band!?
There was a tremendous amount of hype. We had some incredible demos, and the record companies were sort of fighting over us, and we ended up choosing the wrong record company. And the album went from being recorded badly, very badly at Le Studio.. It almost wrecked the name of Le Studio, itself! Andre Perry wasn’t happy about it. He offered to re-mix the album for free, but Columbia wouldn’t let that happen. I guess they didn’t want the album to happen, so they did everything they could to not let it happen.
At the time you got the call to join April Wine had you kinda given up on the music thing?
Well I’d got myself a day job because i needed to work. There was just nothing going on. So I was working in a warehouse, driving a forklift truck, and then eventually up to the head office, and in charge of inventory control – which is really bizarre because I’m terrible with numbers, and it was all about numbers, and there was no computers then, it was just a calculator and paper and writing it down in this card index box. there was a lot of scratch-outs!
What were sort of your first impressions when you met up with Myles about joining the band? What was the plan or how was it put to you?
Oh I thought I was joining the band, but in reality I was joining the band for the summer tour to see how it worked out, and if I’d fit in. and then I’d become a permanent member, so I was on trial for 3 months.
One thing I’ve been curious about with you guys during that era [I’m jumping ahead] – but what was the comradery like with you guys – was it all business or was there certain friendships, did you guys hang out much?
It mostly was business. I mean, Myles was married and having kids, I hung out with Gary a bit, ..Jerry was married and had kids, so there were families. Gary had a daughter that was much older. We would go cycling, but we’d never really hang out that much. Sometimes I’d see Myles at a club somewhere, and that’d be about it, but there was no plans, I’d go to his house – stop in and say Hi, you know – trying to build a friendship, and we did.
But it wasn’t a social club much!?
It wasn’t a social club, we weren’t best friends, but we liked each other and respected each other musically, and as people. But it wasn’t like ‘hey – what are you doing, let’s do this….let’s do that!’ … But, towards the end, as it is now, no one really hangs out, nobody drinks like we used to, there’s no social thing – now it’s all business. And it was also the ’70s – it was the party.
The first album you did was First Glance, and that was done in 2 studios…
Yeah. the band had already started that record, I wasn’t aware of it. But when I was brought in as a full-time member in the fall of ’77 we went in to the studio and worked on stuff like “Roller”, and “Rock n Roll Is A Vicious Game” was cut there, with Jimmy Zeller playing harmonica. and then “Roller” was actually re-recorded up at Morin Heights, at Le Studio, when we moved up there. And Nick Blagona took over engineering from Terry [I forget his name, we called him the Bearded Clam], and Bill Szawlowski. It was an upgrade.
You had one song on that album, and you also sang another song – “Let Yourself Go”. I’m kinda curious what you brought in, I know Myles generally the writer, but were you guys sort of encouraged to bring stuff in, try new things..?
In the beginning I was told that they were looking for a 3rd guitar player who could sing, write, contribute, and play additional instruments – like I can with harmonica and keyboards. So that was the attraction there, and I already had some songs, and “Right Down To It” got on the record. But Myles was the chief writer.
Did you guys regularly write more than enough for an album or was it you got 9 or 10 songs ‘let’s go with those’. !?
Well, I never really knew because Myles always plays his cards close to his chest, and we’d always seemed to have just enough songs for the record. We would never record anything more than was necessary, looking back at it I can see that it would incur extra expense on the budget of that album. So maybe there was other songs that were there that I was never aware of. I just thought of that actually.
I’m curious how a song might’ve been presented, how Myles brought it in, maybe on acoustic guitar …
He would play it or bring it in on cassette. and we would learn the arrangement and the chords for the verses and choruses, and then we would put it together as a band and create our own parts – like with “Roller”, he brought in the lick, and that worked in to the 3 part solo – that was created in rehearsal. Plus we had the extra bonus of being able to play that on the road, live for about 2 or 3 months before we recorded it. So we could see what was working in the song and what wasn’t, from the live reaction. and not every song is like that.
There was a couple of songs that went on First Glance that were in the setlist before, right?
Yes, those first 3 albums we were playing a lot, we were on the road all the time, and we would try new songs. We would rehearse on the road, and try things.
From FG, what of those songs do you recall playing ahead of time? I read a set list with “Hot On the Wheels Of Love”
Yep, I was going to say that. That was created partly in the studio too with ideas ‘hey let go try this and go try that’ – like the ‘sheriff’ part, that was my idea. And that worked in to a neat live part, we had a white bar at the side of the stage that would swing out and there’d be a hat and the glasses there, and I’d put them on and the spotlight would go on. It was a part of the song that added a bit of theater.
How would you guys develop a song in the studio – was most of it laid out, or did you have much input?
On the first few albums, everything was rehearsed beforehand, ‘pre-production’ as we’d call it. So when we went in to the studio rarely was something torn apart and replaced and re-written. One instance was “Say Hello” from the Harder…Faster album. We’d recorded it, and Nick Blagona said ‘let me try some edits’. He was very good at editing – there was tape hanging everywhere in the bloody studio. And he cut out every 2nd or 3rd bass note, and created that bass part from edits. and then he said ‘let me try something with the guitars – -Gary go out there and record each guitar note 3 times’, triple it, and then the harmony on that, the 3rd and then the 5th, and that was the guitar part, he would mute it by gating it. that song was really structured technically and with technology in the studio. He was very talented at editing.
Back to First Glance…. You wrote “Right Down To It”.
Yes. that was originally with The Dudes.
Do you recall anything about writing that one, where it came from?
No, it’s just one of those songs that sort of jumped out. The same way with “Before The Dawn”, I just had an idea, and sat down in the hallway of my townhouse, and 20 minutes later it was written. I wish I could do more of those. We were touring a lot, so I had lot of ideas, lots of energy, you know.
How did you end up doing vocals on “Let Yourself Go”?
I wasn’t intended on doing it. It was Myles’ song, and he said ‘go sing this’, and while I was singing it he was still writing the lyrics. and I finished the first verse he said ‘ok I’ve got the 2nd verse, go do it’. and Nick said ‘try to sound like John Lennon on there in places if you can, and sound softer in places’.. so I said ‘OK, I’m a good mimic’, so I did it. I had no idea it was going to be on the record, it was just ‘go try and sing this’.
“Rock N Roll Is A Vicious Game” came out well before the album, and the band were still signed to London Records in the US. So when did Capitol thing come about? Was that well after the album was done and out [on Aquarius] ?
Well, “Roller” came out on Capitol …… Well we needed distribution in the States and London didn’t want to do it any more. We always had Aquarius [in Canada]. and then Capitol came in, and nothing was happening really – towards the end of 1978, and the band was seriously thinking about moving to Los Angeles. There was just nothing going on for us in the States – nothing. And we needed to reinvent ourselves. So everybody was actually making plans of moving to the States, and It was like ‘well I don’t know if I wanna do that’, it’s a long way to go. And then suddenly “Roller” became a hit, and that changed everything. At the very end of the year a station in Saginaw, Michigan, a big reporting rock station – reporting to the charts ya know; reported that it was #1 in Saginaw, Michigan. and other stations are going ‘What!? Who’s this?’ and then Capitol, Mike Dymond out of Detroit with Capitol Records, and Jeff the disc jockey up in Saginaw, and pretty soon everybody was loving it, and it became #1 in Michigan, and then it took off, and the rest of the stations started playing it across the country. And all of a sudden we had a good record going, and then Capitol became very interested, and the ball started rolling – ‘let’s get them out on the road.’
You guys did a lot of tours – with Rush and Styx…
Yes, in ’78, ’79, and then in 1980 we started headlining ourselves, but we would do some larger tours with Nazareth, or like double-billing [or triple billing, whatever]. the market was changing, so shows with multiple acts were starting to happen.
When you guys went in and did Harder…Faster, you had “Before The Dawn” on there, and you guys also did “21st Century Schizoid Man”. Who’s idea was that?
I can’t remember… Steve Lang, the bass player (God rest his soul, who died a few years back, a friend of mine for all my life), he was in a prog-rock band before April Wine called Devotion and I don’t know if they were doing it or not, but I believe he suggested it. And we messed around with it…
I think they [Devotion] were, because a buddy of mine, Derek, was familiar with Devotion because he had a connection there
And April Wine was by no means a prog-rock band. And once we did it, we did it well, and recorded it well, and oddly enough Nick Blagona who was engineering the album at Le Studio had been involved in the original recording with King Crimson, so he says ‘I know how they put the song together in the studio, so I’m going to do it the same way they did and see how it works for us’. And it came out pretty bloody well! And when I went to sing it, because it was different, I said ‘Nick – how do I sing this?’ And he said ‘I wanna hear teeth!’ , so I said ‘OK – teeth!’. and at the very end there was this high laugh that I did a mimic of a laugh I did by a fellow who used to own a club in Montreal, and whenever he laughed he’d laugh like that, so I did it, just as a mimic.
And that became a huge part of the live set..
It still is. And oddly enough Capitol records did Not want to release it on the album. They did not want to have it on the record at all; they thought it was just terrible! But it became a staple in the States, on FM. I only found out later that Capitol didn’t want us to do it. i had no idea.
On Nature of The Beast Nick Blagona was out and you had Mike Stone in for the next few albums.
Yes. Myles wanted to change things up, so he called Mike Stone and the 2 of them hit it off, and he started to help produce it. They wanted a bigger name producing the band. Nick was great, but he wasn’t as well known as Mike.
Now, NOTB you didn’t have any songs on…
No I didn’t.
“Sign Of The Gypsy Queen” was the Lorence Hud song. Were you familiar with the original?
Oh yeah, that was a hit in Canada, in the ’70s.
Who’s idea was that one?
Myles came in and said we’re going to try to record this. but I don’t know what talk went on beforehand.
Did you ever meet Lorence Hud?
No. Never have met him. He’s a bit of a recluse from what I hear. But I remember Myles used to say ‘he’s got so many royalty cheques waiting for him, if he’d just surface’.
What do recall of making NOTB. Were you guys aware it was going to be a big deal when you were making it?
We had gone to England and recorded it at the Manor studios, outside of Oxford, which was owned by Richard Branson, and I absolutely hated it! Le Studio was close to home, it was first class, it had modern comforts… The Manor was a 400 or 500 or 1000 year old bloody building that had been added on to and added on to, and it was in the middle of nowhere. We couldn’t go anywhere, and it was too expensive, I mean the English pound was like 3 Canadian dollars for 1 pound at the time, so ya know – hire a car and go where!? I walked down the canal to the local pub every night which closed at 9pm, and then sit up and do bloody nothing.
Did you get out and see the country much or any shows?
I went to Oxford and saw Billy Connolly, that was the biggest thing. Myles and Jerry would go out and play golf, but every day we’d be working.
What stood out for you on that album?
Well, we did “Just Between You And Me” on that record, and that took a long time to record, just to get the feel right – to the point where I played rhythm guitar for hours and Gary played rhythm guitar for hours, and his was the track that stayed. So there was no need for me to play on it, so I’m not even on, except for a voice.
Did you guys ever have much input in to the album covers with Aquarius?
Yes. In-house was one of the owners of Aquarius Records was Bob Lemm, and he was a graphic artist, and he was very good. He would design all the covers.
Would you guys ever get a say in it? Was it presented to you guys…
It was presented to us and talk about it – ‘do you like this idea?’, and we would approve it eventually.
So did Bob do the lettering?
Yes, he created the logo.
Did anything change between NOTB and Powerplay? Because on Powerplay you had some outside written songs, and it seemed a bit softer, and maybe that’s the whole difference between Mike Stone and Nick Blagona.
Yes, and some input from the record company I imagine. And Myles became very controlling in that time. It started out – ‘everybody write’, and everybody did write; everybody brought in quite a few songs, and I think it probably shocked and surprised Myles because some of them were pretty good, and he said ‘No, I’m the only singer and I’m the only songwriter’. And that’s probably what the record company wanted too – because he was writing the hits, so that’s where they placed their bets. There was a lot of unproven songwriters and the record company might’ve said ‘no, we can’t afford to chance that, and we don’t want to spend the money recording it to find out.’
So there was nothing that might’ve been seriously considered – whether you had a song or Steve wrote a song…
I’d written one, but I hadn’t completed the lyrics, and it got rejected, so I just dropped it.
There are 3 outside written tracks here, which I find odd, with Myles being such a prolific writer and if you guys could contribute, why would you need outside songs. Particularly “If You See Kay” – where did that one come from?
That was from a writer in the States, and IMyles, I guess, was taken with the fact that it was a clever way to say Fuck and get it on the album. And I remember Steve Lang not wanting to have anything to do with this song.
Because of the title? Yeah. He was ‘I don’t want to be known as the fuck song band’, you know. And he had a point. And it was catchy in the same way that Billy Ray Cyrus had that first song of his, I forget the title.
And then The Beatles’ song. And I guess everyone wants to do a Beatles song at some point!?
Myles was always a Beatles baby, as all of us, and he took great interest in trying to re-write a Beatles’ song that would be a hit. He gave “Tell Me Why” the sort of same treatment as “You Won’t Dance With Me”, and that was a big hit, so maybe the record company was hoping the same thing would happen, but it didn’t.
There was a lot of good songs on it, but I think those covers made a little inconsistent. “Anything You Want, You Got it” was a great opener, “Enough Is Enough”, “Waiting On A Miracle”…
Yes, “Enough Is Enough” became a very popular song… “Waiting On A Miracle” – it was a good rock song at the time, but it was a bit dated.
And then you guys get to Animal Grace and the first thing I notice is the logo is changed.
Yes, and I and have no idea why.
And obviously there was a lot of turmoil amongst you guys during that album. You had another outside writer – Tom Lange with “Hard Rock Kid”, and then Myles wrote everything else. I actually kind of like that album but I wasn’t crazy about that ’80s production, but for me I liked the songs more than I did on Powerplay – “Sons Of The Pioneers”, “This Could Be The Right One”… I thought it was a fairly consistent album.
I guess It was, but there was a lot of internal strife, so the vibes weren’t all that good recording it.
Yeah, there was the article that came out around the time of the album, which Myles said some things that lead one to believe it would leading to the end of the band.
Yeah – New Music Express.
And when I saw you guys in ’84 at the Kingswood Music Theatre, you only did one song from that album. You only did the single “This Could Be The Right One”.
Yeah, the rest was garbage.
There was no discussion of playing any more of it!?
There was no mention, I can’t remember. There were better songs to play in the amount of time we were allotted to play.
By the time you guys were done the album was it kind of a done deal that you guys would be breaking up?
That was not known until the tour started in the spring – early summer of 1984. I was never an included business member in April Wine. I wasn’t included in April Wine Limited, the company. So at the beginning of that tour, it’s documented in books – Myles wrote and Keith Brown wrote that he demanded that everybody give him their rights or he wasn’t going to tour and it was going to cost a lot of money to the band. It was a capitulation. And he got what he wanted, and that was the end of the band there, so he was saying ‘that’s it – the band’s breaking up, I’m going on my own.’
But you came back for Walking Through Fire, which I assume was really of a solo album.
It was, but it was a contractual album for him, because he was April Wine – he owned the name, and he got some really good musicians, Jean Pelleran, Martin Simon, and Daniel Barbe – who played keyboards on “This Could Be The Right One”. and we did that at the studio at the Bahamas, in Nassau.
In the history of April Wine…. Forever For Now was originally going to be a Myles Goodwyn solo project, but it ended up being an album for April Wine. So he kept on wanting to do a solo project, and finally he moved to the Bahamas, but contractually he owed Aquarius another record, so Walking Through Fire was sort of made quickly.
How did you wind up on it?
I was never a partner, therefor I could never lose anything, other than a job. So when I was asked ‘Do you want to go down to the Bahamas? Here’s what we’ll pay you.’ I said Sure. I liked to the people, and it lead ultimately to my signing with Bud Prager and my solo record.
Now, I saw the One More For The Road show, and that was quite a lengthy show, around 2 hours, but then the album came out and it’s a single album.
Yeah. Again, it’s on vinyl right, so it was just ‘put the hits on it.’ Now, the Live From London video – that was the full show.
How did you guys like touring over there?
I loved it. I loved touring there. Especially Germany.
And you guys got kinda lumped in with all those heavy metal bands over there, seeing from some of the bands you were touring with there.
Yeah, they featured us as a heavy metal band, and maybe we were in Canada, but in England and Germany ‘heavy metal’ had a whole different meaning.
Who do you recall touring with that you particularly liked, or any friendships or guys you’ve kept up with?
Uriah Heep we played with a fare amount. We did a couple of shows with Motorhead… Wishbone Ash, there’s another band…. Yeah, Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash, we had a good time together; we were all around the same age, and like the same things.
I want to talk a bit about your solo album. Were you happy with how it came out?
Oh I loved the outcome. Money was spent, we had great players, really great players. But unfortunately once again, there was politics involved, beyond my knowledge at the time. It wasn’t much about music at the time, it was about Bud Prager who was my manager, who was also Foreigner’s manager and also Ben E King’s manager in New York, and who was looking to become head of Atlantic Records, there was rumors’ of Doug Morris replacing Ahmet Ertegun, but that didn’t happen. So of course, all the projects that Bud had going, like me , were dropped. and although Atlantic records released it everywhere – they didn’t spend a dime on promotion. They turned to WEA in Canada, who I was not signed with, I was signed to Atlantic US. And it was ‘OK, we’ll release it Canada and see how it goes.’ And Bob Roper, who I knew well, in fact who I knew from his London Records days, he was the head of WEA at that point, and he rather unfriendly welcomed me to the office and said ‘Just because Atlantic calls us to promote you, what makes you think we have the budget?’, and I’m like ‘I don’t know, I’m just the artist’. But anyway, maybe I caught him on a bad day. But Kim Cooke, the head of WEA tried to make it work, but it just didn’t.
You had the video for “Danger Zone”…
Oh yeah, they tried. But it was expensive, but they also waited 6 months to release it after it was done. And in that 6 month window music had changed radically. and all the hits were like female and softer, like Tracy Chapman and My Name was Luka…. And I was all of a sudden very old fashioned overnight.
It’s a shame that it did, because obviously you guys had a great string of albums there.
Yeah, but we became old fashioned and out of style really quickley, all the bands did with the invention of the synthesizer and the Roland and the Yamaha. Bands like the Cars became the new wave, Elvis Costello, things changed – guitars became very unimportant, it wasn’t the sound. And the mega guitar solos like Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd had became famous for, it became old-hat, and nobody wanted to hear those any more. And the guitar became really unpopular.
Well, it eventually came back.
When you’re dealing with digital technology you can create a song without really having to play. And the guitar became something you had to sit down and learn, and spend time with, but nobody wanted to do that any more. And that lasted for a long time . The guitar slinger was unpopular. Now it’s coming back. But nobody wanted to take the time to learn. There was no guitar heros in the last 20 years… maybe 30 or 40.
Regarding Serious Business, do you have any control over that album still?
No. Atlantic owns it, and when I called them they never heard of me. A friend of mine has a label called Pace Maker Records and wants to put it out on that. He’s out of Toronto, but he also doesn’t want to get sued by them. But eventually if they don’t want to listen to us, we’ll just go ahead and do it, because sometimes it’s easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.
Now, you had a few years off. What was the difference when you rejoined with Myles and the new line-up in ’91-92? Well, originally when we started rehearsing, it was the original 5 piece. And we were told that perhaps we could get maybe 3 weeks of shows. And just before we said Yes to the tour, Gary and Steve said No – they didn’t want to be apart of it. Steve, at that point had gone in to the financial world and he had a very well paying high position job that he didn’t want to give up, and Gary just didn’t want to do because of what had happened in the old days with April Wine breaking up. He never really said, I don’t know what was on his mind. He never really said unless he wanted you to know. But he said ‘No, I don’t want to do it’. And that is when we got Jim Clench and Steve Segal. And Myles had been working with Steve Segal. who I knew and we had 3 guitars again, but I was the bottom guitar guy, Steve was getting the solos, so I wasn’t a very happy player. and it’d changed quite a bit. and people were saying ‘oh this isn’t April Wine’ and I mentioned that to Myles, and oddly his friends said the same thing, so eventually we went back down to a 4 piece. And that’s when the band started sounding like April Wine again.
Were you happy with Attitude?
It did pretty well, it brought you guys back a lot of attention.
Yeah, but I didn’t really like any of the songs. There wasn’t any I could really get my teeth into. I mean if you listen to the songs I had on Back To The Mansion they’re so different.
For you guys – going from playing the arenas in the ’80s and being that headlining band, then going back to playing the clubs….
We were doing anything we could. What had happened was we would go in to these smaller places thinking they were still arenas and blast the hell out of them, and not just us, but the sound technician, and people would complain and we wouldn’t get invited back. We were just too loud, and nobody wouldn’t change. People were saying we were the loudest band they ever saw, and it’s not a badge of honor. Even on stage it was too loud. Jerry at one point, used to have 15 thousand watt monitor just for the drums. It was crazy. I used to hate it. But then again I was drinking a lot, and that was my way of getting through it – I used to have 5 or 6 beers before the show, and go out, shake my little butt, and smile and play guitar.
I saw a couple of shows at Front 54 in Thorold and can attest to that. Was it a kick to the ego playing the smaller venues as opposed to playing the arenas?
I didn’t mind. I always gave the same show. As I said, I drank my way through the ’80s and mostly through the ’90s, and mostly the whole band did. And finally Myles stopped first, then I stopped 6 years ago. And then things became very clear – you just don’t go out and do that anymore. And we started working with a younger crew that would educate us on this. ‘No this is not how you do it anymore’. Plus, places we played now had decibel levels, limits that you couldn’t go over or they’d stop the show. People would complain, say ‘we’re not coming back’, and that would hurt the places we played rather than us, so people were voting with their dollars. And places were ‘there’s a 95 db limit – if you go over it you get fine heavily or we stop the show.’ It became politically correct, volume became a danger, and well so, I mean if we wanted to be that loud on stage that’s one thing, and lose our hearing, but don’t make everybody else do it.
The last think you did in the ’90s was the Frigate album. And that was kind of a mish mash …
That was done in Myles’ house, and that was a mish-mash, yeah. Once again – contractual.
There was a couple of great heavy songs, then was a couple of odd things at the end of it, there was one that was all keyboards, and you had a couple of covers…
There was one on there I called “Carrie” that I wrote, but it became something else and Myles sang it. It was a very grandiose type keyboard with a 12 string in it, it had a repeating chorus at the end. I forget what he called it. ..
“Whatever It Takes” !?
That’s the one.
There wasn’t much on it. Back To The Mansion was sort of strange too. I had 2 songs on there that I was quite proud of actually.
Yeah, “Holiday” was a great song.
Thank you. And I worked up a really neat acoustic version when I play it… well, when I used to play [haha]… when everybody used to play live shows. And the other one I wrote for my kids. It was about life experiences, but it was inspired by the George Harrison and the Beach Boys, the George Harrison song “Cheer Down” and the Beach Boys song “In My Room”.
With Back To The Mansion did you guys kind of do it like patchwork?
Yeah, we did it in between shows. We did it at Myles’ house. I would come in and do a few song, and we’d rehearse, but the rehearsal was nothing, nobody was coming up with any ideas, so it was a waisted effort and I would leave.
You also did the cover of “I Am A Rock”…
I thought that was very strange. At that point I thought you know, any song with the word ‘rock’ in it was a contender for an April Wine song.
You guys were competing with AC/DC for using that word in titles?
Yeah, or geologists – one of the two!
I thought it was a good album, but for me it lacked a real hard-rocker.
It did. The single, we were on the TV show with it – “Won’t Go There”, but it wasn’t rock though, but then again, there was no rock at that time. We were trying to fit in where we couldn’t.
Then there was the Greatest Hits Live.
It was at the Tournaments of Hearts, we recorded that live. That didn’t come out that well.
At that point you had Carl (Dixon) in the band for a couple of years, as well. How did you get along with him?
All right. It’s a funny story, Myles thought he had called somebody else, so this guy came to the door, and it wasn’t the guy that Myles thought. You know, they set up a meeting and this guy arrived and Myles says ‘who are you?’ But he couldn’t play keys that great, and he couldn’t play guitar like us, so it was kinda weird. But he did make up for it by being the band’s opener for a year or 2, so it was all a self-contained show. But he was all right. He had a terrible accident and I was happy that he recovered from it. It was just strange times the band was going through; nothing against him personally, but it was like ‘what are you doing here?’, ya know.
And since then, there was one further album, and then you guys have just been touring since then.
Yeah. And we were gaining some traction, in ’18, ’18, and ’19 we were doing bigger and bigger shows and then CoVid came along. I don’t know what will happen when we get back together; we still have shows booked, and they keep on getting postponed and put off. Ya know never in the history of music has it just closed overnight.
Brian & Myles Goodwyn on stage in Toronto, CNE. 2018. (Photo: Gordon Enright)
Myles has kind of talked over the years about doing another April Wine album.
Oh yeah, we still talk about it, and just recently too. We’ve been sending songs back and forth and trying to figure out how we can get one done before the end of the year. And I’ve got a good little studio set up now, so I could do it properly; I can send my parts out, and everybody can. So it can be done.
If there’s a new album, is there potential you’ll have anything on it?
I hope so. My whole style of writing has changed, I’ve been working on putting out a blues record. That’s my original roots, back in 1965 when i first heard John Mayall with Eric Clapton. Sort of British blues … I have a band called The Blues Bus, and I call it ‘British and American Blues served with a touch of Wine’. And I do my own April Wine stuff, but it comes off sounding so heavy, I’ve sort of brought down my intensity, I’m more like a JJ Cale.
So are you recording at home?
Yes I am. Right now, I’m working on a bucket list thing me, which is an old instrumental that was on a John Mayall album, with Eric Clapton called the Bluesbreakers, but most people ended up calling it the ‘Beano’ album. And it’s an old Freddie King song, an instrumental called “Hideaway”. And I was always stunned by Clapton’s performance on it, and I said ‘one day I want to record that’. So i sat down in the beginning of February and learnt it note for note, and I’m just working on recording it. I’ve got bass and drums down, and keyboards, I’ve just got finish getting the guitar down.
Who else plays on it with you?
A friend of mine, Lloyd, from The Blues Bus, Lloyd Dellaire is on it. He also filled in for Richard when Richard had some surgery, in 2019. Lloyd filled for a month with us. And right now it’s just a software program from Superior Drummer, but to me it sounds like a real drummer. Superior Drummer is a great program because what they did was they actually had a real drummer go in and do parts, in a very well known studio, so it sounds like real drums, it Is real drums.
Do you have a plan on when you want to get something out under your own name?
No, if no label signed, we’ll just throw it at the world or get some small label to release it, maybe through the blues world. I really don’t care at this point, I’m going to be 70 this year and whatever happens, happens. It’s just like I did when I was 17 or 15 – ‘Gee, it’d be nice if this happens but I don’t know how to do it so let’s just see what happens. I’m sort of starting over again, just having fun for the enjoyment of playing music. And during CoVid, I said ‘I’m going to learn how to use my studio properly’, so I did. I’ve learned an awful lot in the past year, which I wouldn’t have done without CoVid, . and an awful lot about myself. A lot of time to reflect. .. Well my wife went back to work, and she’s working from home and we have a 2 year old Labrador and he follows me around everywhere, and he won’t go downstairs unless i go downstairs. So everyday I’m spending most of my time dog sitting to prevent him from barking because she spends most of her time on the phone. (Dog talk ensues).
Any road stories?
Nazareth was always fun. They were so Scottish, right out of Glasgow. And we would be touring in the States, and Americans – the mid-west especially, just did not understand that thick Glaswegian accent. And I remember sitting with Danny McCafferty in a Holiday Inn once, by the swimming pool, because all Holiday Inns had swimming pools back then, in the ’80s. And the waitress came over with her little Farah Fawcett clip up hair-do and asked what we wanted, and I said ‘I’ll have a hamburger’, and Dan said – ‘[groans, grumbles..] with a sandwich’ – and she didn’t understand a word of it. So I translated for him [haha]. And i said ‘oh he’s from Glasgow, Scotland.’ And when she came back with his drink she said ‘If you’re from Scotland, why is everything on your t-shirt written in English?’ . And she walked away and he looked at me and said ‘so where are you from?’, and I said ‘well, I’m half Scottish myself’. And he said ‘you’ve lost your brogue, and I said ‘well I was born in Canada, and my mother was born in Canada, so I never had any other accent than the one I have now.’ And he says ‘I’ll tell you what, it’s real easy to get it back.’ and I said ‘how’s that Danny?’, and he says ‘it’s simple – just with everything you say – make it sound like a threat! – ‘Hey You! Git over here – Now!’ And I thought it was very funny, very Scottish. There was other times, the food fights and funny things that would happen on the road. that you really don’t want to say because they could embarrass someone, you know.
Lastly, after everything that’s gone on over the years with Myles, how do you guys get along now?
We get along OK. He’s made me angry, he’s made me sad, we’ve had some happy time. And we call each other friends, and we are after all these years – 50 together. There’s things that have happened that make me angry -still, and there’s others, but you become older and you say ‘Hey, we’ve been together for so long, let’s finish this on a friendly term, now’. So, that’s my take.