When Despistado broke up in 2004 it was big news. On the strength of their wildly popular EP The Emergency Response, the band (which featured Dagan Harding [vocals, guitars], Leif Thorseth [guitars, vocals], Joel Passmore [bass] and Brenan Schwartz [drums]) had been signed by prestigious indie label Jade Tree Records in the United States.
With the band on an extended U.S. tour that included dates in a pile of major cities, and their debut full-length The People Of and Their Vices just months away from being released, the band imploded. I covered the story for prairie dog, and spoke with several of the band members, along with one of the principals from Jade Tree.
It was a weird article for me to write. On one hand, I felt kind of bad intruding. All the band members except Passmore were in their early 20s. They had a band, they broke up, what’s the big deal? Except, for Regina anyway, it was a big deal. Had Despistado, who had an edgy intelligent sound that indie music fans found irresistable, broke big, they could have maybe done for Regina’s music scene what Sloan did for Halifax’s.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a band, I know. But the feeling was definitely there. In places like Seattle, Montreal, Halifax it’s happened before: a band from the city rockets to fame and that draws attention to other top bands and opens doors for them. Regina is on a smaller-scale, obviously. But in the music biz it never hurts to have buzz. And Despistado’s full-length did garner many favourable reviews.
After the break-up, some people on the scene pointed to the absence of Passmore on the tour. He’d been forced to stay behind, if memory serves, because of work commitments. A tour veteran with Sylvie, Passmore might have have brought a calming influence to the band as the rigors of the road began to take their toll.
Since the break-up, which could fairly be described as somewhat acrimonious, band members have either formed or played in several Regina bands: Rah Rah, most notably, but also Geronimo, War Doves, Anatta, and more. Now, they’ve reunited for three dates. Sandwiched between tonight’s 19+ gig at the Lazy Owl with Tinsel Trees and an Aug. 28 all-ages gig with Edmonton punkers The Fight at the Exchange is an August 27 gig in Saskatoon.