The Wet Secrets are bringing Free Candy to the masses
by Chris Morin
The Wet Secrets
Like so many great things, The Wet Secrets began as a one-night stand. Formed in 2005 for a one-off gig by bassist and vocalist Lyle Bell (whose other projects include Shout Out Out Out Out and Whitey Houston), the Edmonton-based band quickly become a Whyte Ave. favourite, packing bars in their hometown and beyond.
“It was originally supposed to be a one-week stunt — it was never supposed to be something you’d be trying to explain eight years later,” says Bell.
But after finding a fervent audience with a sound that fused the theatrics of ’60s sunshine pop with dance-party garage-punk, The Wet Secrets began drifting apart: Shout Out Out Out Out began touring more extensively and Secrets drummer Trevor Anderson’s film career took off.
“We were still playing though, and it never really fell into nothing. But it was really tough to make plans at that point,” says Bell. “Donna, one of our original trombone players, moved to Scotland. It was really tough to keep the whole thing cohesive.
“We tried to record and it was a slight disaster. And we eventually played a show in Calgary where we realized that we would have to make a decision to actually try to be a band again or else just let it go,” he says.
They chose the former.
The Wet Secrets produced two albums in their first couple of years — 2005’s A Whale of a Cow and 2007’s Rock Fantasy — and have now returned with their third, Free Candy. A combination of shtick, sweetness and straight-up sexiness, the group’s sound is rooted in Bell’s dirt-scraping bass lines, disco dance beats, doo-wop backing vocals and plenty of dirty little melodies.
They’ve got catchy songs, but it’s always been their live show that stands out — clad as they are in matching marching band regalia. The group’s costumes are courtesy of the Red Deer Royals, a band that Anderson used to march in when he was young.
“His mom brokered this deal where we got these uniforms for next to nothing,” says Bell.
Between the coordinated clothes, the fun they have on stage and the slinky songs they play, The Wet Secrets are pulling in a new crowd to go along with the mainstays who’ve followed them from the beginning, says Bell.
“One of the things I like about this band is that we’re always able to draw people in, even those who don’t know a thing about us,” he says. “We were just over in the UK and no one there knew who we were in advance. But those shows did really well; everyone came up front and moved around. But that’s the power of having two magnetic ladies front the band, doing crazy dance moves and pointing at everyone.
“Part of our original concept was to be slightly weird and different. Now we just want to have as much fun as possible.”