Side Effects

by Ann Scanlon, Sounds, April 14, 1990

Of all the bands that were featured last November [in the "Appetites For Construction" series], it's The Pursuit of Happiness who have undergone the biggest physical change.

Two weeks ago - just after the band had finished recording their second LP, One Sided Story - bassist John Sinclair and vocalist Leslie Stanwyck quit TPOH to pursue their own project.

John had teamed with singer/songwriter Moe Berg and drummer Dave Gilby in the summer of 1986 while Leslie had been recruited, along with guitarist Kris Abbott, in December 1987 when the original girl singers decided on solo careers.

Since Leslie had previously played guitar and sung in her own band The Reds, it was natural that when she and John teamed as a couple they should also start writing their own songs.

Back in November, Leslie was discreet about their offshoot band (which, for now at least, is called Loud Factory) but made it clear that her ambitions were greater than that of a back-up vocalist.

And while TPOH are very much a band in the traditional sense of the word, it's definitely Moe's band.

"The reason why I'm in a band is cos I'm a songwriter. I don't think I'd do it otherwise," he says. "So when I started the band that was the concept: I was always going to write the songs. Other than that it's very democratic."

Moe, Dave and Kris are currently auditioning in their home base of Toronto for a new bassist and vocalist, and hope to have a settled line-up in time for One Sided Story's release in May.

"We're pretty much going to stay with the same format," begins Kris, "because that's the way we've presented our next record.

"I really feel strongly that you can't stop your life just because a change is presented to you. when change occurs you have to go on and make the best of it - that goes for everything.

"The Pursuit of Happiness had two singers before Leslie and I joined and when they left I'm sure the others thought, Oh, how are we ever going to replace them and move on. But were just sitting around the corner waiting to join.

"So it's very much the same sort of situation. We don't know what's ahead but it's up to us to make it a really positive thing and there's no hard feelings or anything."

Moe, for his part, fully understands Leslie's frustration at being a songwriter forced to sing someone else's songs and is optimistic that they will find suitable replacements.

"We're on the road all the time, so it's important for them to fit in on a personal level as well as on a musical one. The Pursuit of Happiness isn't just about five people - it's the interaction between them. Just like Guns'n'Roses isn't just four guys in a band - it's all to do with chemistry."

Like Love Junk, One Sided Story was produced by Moe's hero Todd Rundgren and recorded in his Woodstock studio, Utopia.

Moe finished writing the last of his songs a few hours before TPOH started recording, and surprised himself by being able to write an album's worth of material in four months.

"Songwriting became more of an intellectual process in that in that before, I'd have bolts of inspiration and write a song in an hour. But this time I'd have an idea, think about it for weeks while we were touring, and eventually reach the perspective where I could write a song."

But One Sided Story shouldn't differ too much in format from Love Junk.

"I didn't feel I'd said everything I wanted to say in that particular style, so I would have felt uncomfortable trying to do something radically different."

He does, however, envisage a definite change in the future.

"It's a little premature to say really. But I think I've taken this as far as it can go and I'd definitely like to get involved in production at some point."

For now, though, TPOH are looking forward to getting back on the road and hoping that One Sided Story will give them even wider recogition than the eighth place in the Sounds LPs of the year that Love Junk landed them.

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