In recent years, it hasn’t been uncommon to hear of long disbanded bands regrouping to create new music together. Although in many instances the most successful comeback stories belong to well known bands such as Guns N’ Roses, or even Spice Girls, Groupoem has made an exception for themselves through an interesting story full of coincidences and inspiration.
Through a number of coincidences, the formerly disbanded Groupoem found all of their native Toronto members in Vancouver, BC. Being drawn by each other’s fondness and admiration for Terry Robinson’s music, the band decided to regroup. Having first starting to record as far back as 1983, the band has recently released their brand new album DIRT CHURCH, a 19-song album that include never released songs recorded in 1987. Having gone through a 25-year hiatus, one would expect to be able to hear a significant difference in style and character, however the 19 songs meld with one another well enough for the differences to be nearly negligible. Having completed their album, Groupoem has begun preparing for their live tour.
The band Groupoem, first known as Mr. Science in 1983, include band members Terry Robinson as the songwriter, guitarist, and lyricist; Marph (aka Mr. Science) as the lyricist and vocalist; Christopher “Flea” Lee as the drummer; and Darren Katamay as the bass guitarist. The band is known for their punk/progressive rock music, and has performed with a variety of other Canadian bands like No Means No, SNFU, and Psychich TV.
When first listening to the album, you are struck by the upbeat rhythm and melody of the electric guitar. The contrast between the instrumental introduction and the introduction of Marph’s vocals creates a very unique atmosphere that grows on the listener. On one hand, the atmosphere resembles that of an opening gig of a punk rock concert. While on the other hand, Marph’s belting of the lyrics resembles atmosphere you would potential find during a punk rock poetry slam performance.
The band’s album, which was recorded at Farm Studios and Greenhouse Studios in Vancouver, was recorded and mixed by Tim Crich and mastered by Craig Waddell. Having worked with artists such as David Bowie, Gene Simmons, Billy Joel, Mick Jagger, and many other rock musicians, Tim Crich as well as Craig Waddell’s expertise has excelled in pushing Groupoem’s music to even greater heights. The different elements of the album’s songs are balanced delicately so that each part works in harmony. While Marph’s vocals are on the forefront, the electric guitar, which is arguably just as important as the vocals, is never hindered.
Although Groupoem’s style and music is unique and often interests the listener, there are times when the distinctiveness works against them. Marph’s style of delivery is sometimes unconvincing. There are sections where he attempts to add vocal harmonies to his delivery, however it doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the song. An example of this can be heard in the song “Flat Earth,” where I personally found it off putting. Disregarding this fact however, Groupoem has successfully created a great album.