#85: Girl With A Problem by Northern Pikes

City: Hamilton, ON
Radio Station: CKOC
Peak Month: October 1990
Peak Position in Hamilton ~ #12
Peak position in Vancouver ~ #27
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube: “Girl With A Problem
Lyrics: “Girl With A Problem

In 1984, The Northern Pikes became a band. They were from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The band was made up of members from three existing bands in the city: Doris Daye, The Idols and 17 Envelope. John Peter “Jay” Semko was from Saskatoon and was already a gifted singer, songwriter, bass guitar player and pianist. Bryan Anthony Potvin was born in 1963 in Ottawa and his family moved to Victoria where he began playing guitar. Merl Bryck, born in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, was a backing vocalist and rhythm guitarist. There were a number of lineup changes. In 1986 The Idols drummer, Don Schmid, made The Northern Pikes a permanent quartet, playing drums and percussion. Schmid was born in Saskatoon. Initially, the band released several EPs. The first was the self-titled The Northern Pikes in 1984. The second EP was Scene In North America, released in 1985. They recorded both EPs at a studio near Pike Lake, SK.

In the mid-80s, The Northern Pikes toured extensively in the Canadian prairies. By the end of 1986 they got a record deal with Virgin Records. The following year their debut album, Big Blue Sky, was released. It featured a single titled “Teenland”.

Two more singles from Big Blue Sky, “Things I Do For Money” and “Dancing In A Danceclub”, were released in the winter of 1987-88.

Their second album, Secrets Of The Alibi, was released in the spring of 1988. Since their were no Juno Awards in 1988, The Northern Pikes were nominated in the Most Promising Group category at the 1989 Junos. They also received a nomination for Best Video. However, they didn’t come away with any awards. Blue Rodeo won Best Video for “Try”. And Barney Bentall and the Legendary Hearts won for Most Promising Group. Still, Secrets Of The Alibi was certified a Gold record in 1991, becoming their second Gold album. In conjunction with the album’s release, the band toured as an opening act for Robert Palmer. They were constantly on the road for two years.

In 1990, The Northern Pikes released Snow In June. This third album release earned them three nominations at the 1991 Juno Awards. They were  nominated for Group of the Year, Single of the Year for “She Ain’t Pretty”, and Best Video for “She Ain’t Pretty”. Blue Rodeo won Group of the Year. Colin James won the Single of the Year for “Just Came Back”. And the Best Video Juno went to Maestro Fresh Wes for “Drop The Needle“. Snow In June featured the bands’ most successful singles on the RPM singles chart in Canada. These were “She Ain’t Pretty” peaking at #6 on the RPM charts, and “Girl With A Problem” which peaked at #8.

Girl With A Problem by Northern Pikes

“Girl With A Problem” was written by Jay Semko. The song concerns a female who has “a problem.” It drives the guys she gets involved with crazy. The boyfriend laments, “I tried to help her out, but she won’t listen to me.” He concludes, “she needs to have a good friend,” which she clearly doesn’t have. Getting too close in a relationship with her starts to feel like having a noose around ones neck, or like you’re walking toward the gallows. As a result, the only solution is to “let her run loose.” Moreover, she just “wants to be alone.” It’s hard to try to be in a relationship with someone who pushes you away.

“Girl With A Problem” peaked at #3 in Burnaby (BC), #12 in Hamilton, and #27 in Vancouver.

Snow In June went Platinum in 1990. In 1992, The Northern Pikes released Neptune, and the album was certified Gold in Canada later that year. After touring into 1993 the band retired. But they also issued a live album titled Gig.

In 1999, after a greatest hits album was released they went on tour and released a live album in 2000 titled Live. A studio album, Truest Inspiration, came out in 2001. One more studio album, It’s A Good Life, was released in 2003. Semko, Potvin, Schmid and Bryck continued to tour into 2006. Them Merl Byrck quit the band and was replaced by Ross Nykiforuk. He left the band in 2011 and Semko, Potvin and Schmid continued to perform as a Northern Pikes trio. In 2017, Kevin Kane who was a member of The Grapes Of Wrath, joined the trio for their 30th Anniversary Big Blue Sky Tour that included 42 concert dates.

From 1994 to 2000, Brian Potvin was employed as an artists and repertoire (A&R) manager for Polygram Records. More recently, he has recorded music for the Discovery Channel and released a solo album in 2014 titled Heartbledwhite. In addition to tours with The Northern Pikes, Potvin and Kevin Kane have toured as a duo.

From 1994 to 1999, Jay Semko was a composer for the Canadian TV comedy-crime series, Due South. He has worked with numerous recording artists and also released nine solo albums. His latest, Never Sent, was released in 2018. In 2018, The Northern Pikes have scheduled 18 concert dates, including one at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver on November 10th.

May 6, 2024
Ray McGinnis

Northern Pikes Tour Schedule, The Northern Pikes.com
Jay Semko bio, Jay Semko.com
Brian Potvin bio, Brian Potvin.com

Girl With A Problem by Northern Pikes

CKOC 1150-AM Hamilton (ON) Top Ten | October 24, 1990

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