by Brad Oswald, Winnipeg Free Press, February 24, 1988
The Pursuit of Happiness is in search of success.
The Toronto-based band has a new song, a new video and two new members, and drummer Dave Gilby says they're ready for the next step - a recording contract and an album.
"We've been ready for an album for a very long time," said Gilby, a former Winnipegger, who backstops the band tonight through the second of two nights at the Banana Club. "As a matter of fact, I think we've probably dropped an album's worth of material in the two years we've been together. We just keep putting new songs together."
The Pursuit of Happiness appeared out of nowhere with the 1986 release of their I'm An Adult Now video, which gained heavy airplay on Muchmusic. They subsequently released it as a single and landed a distribution deal with WEA Records.
The exposure gained with the offbeat song earned the group CASBY awards for most promising group and best independent video. Gilby said the success of I'm An Adult Now was as much of a surprise to the band as it was to the rest of the world.
"Originally, it wasn't even supposed to be a single," he recalled. "It was just a tape we did with a friend and then another friend, who's a film director, wanted to shoot a video. Everything after that was just a fluke - all of a sudden it became popular and the initial pressings were selling out."
Gilby, who grew up in Charleswood and played with a handful of local bands during his teens and early '20's, moved to Edmonton in 1981 to team up with guitarist-singer Moe Berg (who also writes all the band's songs). They toiled in the Alberta capital for five years before moving to Toronto in search of a new start.
There, they were joined by bassist Johnny Sinclair (an alumnus of the Saskatoon band Seventeen Envelope, the nucleus of which went on to become the Northern Pikes) and Manitobans Tam and Tasha Amabile (formerly of Dash and the Dots), and The Pursuit of Happiness began its quest.
The sisters left the band last month to form their own project, The Fatales, and they've been replaced by Kris Abbott and Leslie Stanwyck. Gilby said the band's vocal sound hasn't changed much but a new dimension has been added by Abbott's ability as a guitarist.
"It frees Moe up a bit and it definitely thickens the sound," said the 28-year old drummer. "The other day someone called us The Pursuit of AC/DC because the two guitars give off this wall of sound."
With a new single, Killed By Love, set for release this week and rumours that a rep from Chrysalis Records is flying in from New York to catch tonight's show, Gilby said things are looking up. But they won't make the same mistake they made when they tried to take advantage of the initial success of I'm An Adult Now (when a major American label backed out of a recording deal at the last moment and they were left high and dry).
"We weren't playing the market. We had our sights set on one company and they wanted us, so we just pushed everybody else aside," he said. "Then at the last minute they pulled out. And we weren't talking to anybody else. What can you do?
"We learned from that mistake. Right now, we're talking to several Canadian and American companies."
Copyright © 1988, Winnipeg Free Press