#656: We Run by Strange Advance
From 1974 to 1977 Drew Arnott and Darryl Kromm played in a Vancouver band called Stan. The band split up and the pair parted ways. But they reunited in the late ’70’s and in 1979 were playing gigs around Vancouver in a band named Remote Control. The bass player for Remote Control was Paul Iverson. The three met up in 1980 and formed a band named Metropolis. But they changed their name to Strange Advance when they learned another band in Germany had the name Metropolis. Strange Advance was formally launched in Vancouver in 1982. Arnott played keyboards, percussion and usually backing vocals. Kromm played guitar and was the lead vocalist. While touring with Bryan Adams, Kromm gave him a demo tape of the tunes he and Arnott were working on. Adams liked what he heard and passed it on to producer Bruce Fairbairn. Along with Iverson, Arnott and Kromm went to the recording studio and made an album titled Worlds Away. It was produced by Bruce Fairbairn, a producer of Loverboy, Bryan Adams and Prism albums. The sound of Strange Advance was a fusion of progressive rock and new wave. Their debut single from the album, “She Controls Me”, became a regional hit, but not in Vancouver. The single climbed to #3 in Ottawa and the Top 20 in Montreal, Regina and Halifax. The album won Strange Advance a Juno nomination for “Most Promising Group of The Year” in 1983.
Paul Iverson left Strange Advance after the first album. In February 1985 Arnott and Kromm went back to the studio and recorded a second album titled 2WO. Drew Arnott produced the album and personnel included rock guitarist Domenic Troiano, Streetheart bass player Kenneth “Spider” Sinnaeve, Status Quo guitar player Andy Bown, former Sly and the Family Stone drummer Andy Newmark, frequent touring guitar player with David Bowie – Earl Slick, longtime keyboard player with Anne Murray – Steve Sexton, Keith Scott – longtime collaborator and guitarist with Bryan Adams, among others. The debut single from 2WO was “We Run”.
The single written by Drew Arnott who provided the lead vocals on the song. “We Run” is a song about harm done in a relationship: “You’re on your own and meet a friend, who doesn’t kill but wounds for life.” The male singer is singing about a female friend who “kissed me softly on the cheek.” Later he concludes “I know you never meant to deceive.”
In the relationship it is as though she is like the sun that blinds him to the harm she is doing, only to find clues of harm done later. The fatal nature of the relationship is likened to someone who threatens another person with a knife. They don’t need to do anything more than wound with the knife. But the knife wound remains for life as a reminder of the traumatic encounter.
In life, the singer observes “how the strong will survive at the end of their gun.” Those who trade in intimidation, threats of violence and deception, can leave their victims spending years trying to sort out what happened and why. The singer who is wounded for life by the relationship is trying to make sense of what has happened: “I walked for miles and miles to the sea.” Going for a long walk is his therapy.
“We Run” peaked at #4 in Ottawa, #9 in Vancouver (BC), #12 in Montreal, #13 in Toronto, #15 in Regina (SK) and #18 in Edmonton (AB).
Over the years “We Run” has become a Canadian New Wave synth-pop ’80’s classic. Another track, “Kiss In The Dark” became a club hit in the UK. The album earned Strange Advance a Juno Award nomination for Group of the Year.
Until 1985 Strange Advance had never performed in concert. With the hit “We Run”, the Arnott and Kromm assembled some session musicians to help them launch a tour to eastern Canada. A second single “The Second I Saw You” was a Top 30 hit in Canada on the nations’ Adult Contemporary chart.
Arnott and Kromm went to the recording studio a third time in 1988. The result was the album The Distance Between. Randy Bachman from Bachman-Turner Overdrive and The Guess Who, was among the personnel on the recording. The debut single from the album was “Love Becomes Electric”.
Within a year after the album’s release Strange Advance was almost dormant. However, they did go back to the studio for further work. A collection of demos, past hits, and a few new tunes was released in 1995 titled Worlds Away & Back.
In 2019 Strange Advance reformed, crowdfunded, and began touring in July. So far they’ve played in Vancouver and in Sidney on Vancouver Island. A concert date at a rock festival north of Toronto was cancelled due to rainstorms that damaged the festival site.
August 21, 2020
Heather Drain, “Who Can Touch Us When We Run?: The Pain & Beauty of Strange Advance,” Diabolic, January 5, 2019.
Jamie Vernon, “Boom Go the ’80s,” bobsegarini.com.
“Strange Advance,” Strangeadvance.com.
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