When the Devil Drives
Alternative Rock legends Econoline Crush to perform debut concert in Cranbrook
By Ferdy Belland
“It’s so exciting to be releasing a new single and a new album,” says Trevor Hurst, vocalist and bandleader of Canada’s alternative-rock heroes Econoline Crush.
“It took a lot of perseverance to get it all done. We named the album When the Devil Drives, and the title comes from a saying (Econoline Crush’s late great guitarist) Ziggy Sigmund always had: ‘Needs Must When the Devil Drives!’ Apparently, that’s supposed to be the oldest written-down quote, or something…it’s usually attributed to William Shakespeare, but he probably got it from somewhere or someone else.
“Anyways, I always thought of it as a winning quote. I wrote and recorded the album with Ian Alexander Smith, who’s a highly accomplished singer-songwriter and producer, and the end result is a very cool record! It’s an album that takes Econoline Crush into the future. We weren’t trying to rehash what we did in the past. I wanted to be progressive and create different things with this record. So I’m pretty happy with it all. The first single is a song called ‘No Quitter.’ That song is self-explanatory, but it is an anthem for those of us who need to keep going and don’t have any idea how to stop, in some ways.”
Trevor Hurst is someone who certainly needs to keep going with what he does, and the bright world of Canadian rock music is all the better for it.
Hurst formed Econoline Crush in 1992, back in the glory days when good old rain-sodden Vancouver was Canada’s most bustling nexus of the new scene of arty / edgy / hard-riffing music which became titled Alternative Rock, and right from the get-go the band made one hell of a big splash.
The band signed to EMI Canada after only 26 local shows that established them as a powerful and visceral live act which focused on Hurst’s tuneful vocals and energetic onstage charisma.
Econoline Crush swiftly rose above the ranks of the grunge wannabes then clogging the Vancouver clubs and welded themselves permanently into the national spotlight through an aggressive international touring schedule (sharing stages with other far-flung alternative rock notables as Filter, the Young Gods, Waltari, and Die Krupps) and constant rotation on MuchMusic and Alternative Rock Radio.
With four full-length albums and two EPs to their credit (1997’s The Devil You Know sold platinum in Canada), the band’s hit singles (including “You Don’t Know What It’s Like” and “All That You Are”) remain in steady rotation on rock radio now as they did 25 years ago.
And now Econoline Crush brings their unflagging live show onstage at the Cranbrook Hotel Pub on the evening of Sunday, June 11.
Hurst is more than happy to share insight into the latter-day creative process of Econoline Crush.
“The song ‘Going Under’ was a song I wrote before with Ross Childress, who was the lead guitarist in Collective Soul, and I felt the urge to rewrite it,” says Hurst. “It was written originally for one of my solo EPs, but I knew it would be a great Econoline Crush song if only I tweaked it up a bit. The songs ‘Invincible’ and ‘Smashing Optimism’ – Ziggy and I wrote those during a recording session in Los Angeles a good 10 years ago. We tried working on them with the American producer Sylvia Massy, who’s worked with a long who’s who of notable stars, and we got a little ways in… Sylvia’s vocals can be heard on ‘Going Under.’ So there are a few gems from the vault that needed to finally see the sonic light of day. But there were other songs that sprang up quickly, seemingly out of nowhere – there’s a song on the album named ‘Whisper,’ as well as ‘No Quitter,’ which basically burst into life right in the studio, instantly.”
Hurst sees the writing and recording process as a prideful expression of craftsmanship and joy.
“The current live lineup of Econoline Crush contributed to the additional recordings we did in Vancouver,” says Hurst, “but most of the time we took raw demo-track recordings of the tunes and worked shoulder to shoulder with Ian at his home studio, blasting through the songs, tightening certain screws there, changing and altering arrangements whenever necessary, adding parts, taking away parts, and it was awesome to work with such a talented multi-instrumentalist who could pull everything off. It was a bit of everybody coming together and collaborating on the album’s creation. And what a rush. This is first full-length Econoline Crush album since we released Ignite back in 2008. A long time coming, and high time indeed.”
Hurst reflects on where he stands now as a Canadian rock musician in the 2020s, and how he found his inner creative torch again, and why he holds it high.
“At some points, you spend time analyzing your future,” says Hurst. “I have children now, and you try to figure out what makes senses now. And I came to a place where I was wondering if there was still a place for Econoline Crush in the world of modern rock. Should I even be doing it anymore? I had gone back to school and got my Bachelor’s of Science in Psychiatric Nursing, which took some time, but we were always fitting in shows around my semester breaks. But it seemed like a placeholder approach for the band, where I asked myself: how does this feel now? What do I think about it now? We tried, in fits and stops and starts, to relaunch things, but it wasn’t until my experience with the Canupawakpa Dakota Nation that things truly reignited.
“The elders convinced me to not give up and keep going. ‘When the Creator bestows a gift upon you, even if you don’t believe you’re worthy, please believe us when we tell you that they give you this gift for a reason. And the fact you’re sitting on this gift is not cool.’ So I asked them what they meant by that, and they said: ‘you have to express yourself. You have to do this, regardless of what it means in terms of livelihood.’
“That was a very interesting and compelling conversation, and I took it to heart, and then I went back into professional music with full steam ahead. You realize after a while that there’s a quality of life there. I may not make a whole bunch of money being a songwriter or a recording artist or a live performer, and who knows how you’re going to make it work – but you have to go for it. You have to live in this moment. In all moments. I do not want to live with regrets.
“After that conversation with the Dakota elders, I thought: I’m going to do this again. I’m going to go back at it really hard. I’m going to write a bunch of songs and we’re gonna tour. It really is what I love to do the most. And it’s a wonderful way to impart some positive vibes on the world at large, and hopefully enlighten people, even for a little bit.”
The release of When the Devil Drives has prompted Econoline Crush to hit the road again, and Hurst couldn’t be happier.
“We’re just doing a quick jaunt through Western Canada. We’ll be partnering up with a bigger band to do another, wider tour come the fall, so we need to avoid certain regions now in order to make that work later, but we’re aiming to squeeze in Eastern Canada during the high summer. There is some talk about touring again in the United States. Our management and our agent are currently frowning over a map, trying to nab some more shows, and the goal is to keep playing and keep spreading the gospel according to Econoline Crush.”
Like everyone else, the recent pandemic experience drove the wind from his sails, but Hurst is hopeful for the present and future of the music scene of Canada – and the world itself.
“Don’t you think that this year, just looking at the live-music landscape, have you ever seen so much activity happening all at once?” asks Hurst.
“I am so excited for all these new albums coming out – there’s a new one from Queens of the Stone Age and whoever else, all these bands coming out with records, and I think – call me crazy – this is leading to a live concert renaissance. People are going to see a lot more shows, with combinations of strong acts, and a city like Cranbrook could very likely be a place where you land a three-band concert in the RecPlex that you never thought of before! And it’s like: holy crap, look at this! There’s going to be some great lineups going out on the road, throughout the rest of 2023 and beyond. Just think about it!
“During the whole agonizing time, everybody was forced to slow down their lives. Everybody had the chance to read a book. Everybody had the chance to watch a movie. Everybody had the chance to listen to a record. A lot of people re-immersed themselves into the arts. A lot of people didn’t realize how good live music was until live music was taken away from them. I believe there’ll be this very interesting renaissance, I really do – I think there’ll be a lot of good music that rises to the top, and makes the transition into something more serious, or even on a global scale, starting from our own backyards.”
And the upsurge Trevor Hurst speaks about includes Econoline Crush’s upcoming debut performance in little old Cranbrook.
“I can’t believe this is our very first time playing in Cranbrook,” says Hurst. “The only other time we came close to Cranbrook was a long time ago, when the Columbia Brewery used to host those amazing Kokanee Summit rock festivals right there on the brewery grounds in Creston! And it’s just nuts to me that we’ve never been there before.
“It’s such a beautiful part of British Columbia, and one of my favourite parts of the province. Cranbrook’s a great place to visit, and if we could establish a touring foothold there, then we’d love to keep coming back – if the good people of Cranbrook would have us!
“There are many regional audiences all across the country that we don’t always get to see all the time, and we don’t just want to hit the big cities – after all, Canada only has about a dozen of them. And when you’re crossing B.C., trying to connect the touring dots between Vancouver and Calgary, oftentimes you’re lucky if you can get a show in Kelowna or Kamloops, but the Kootenays gets skipped over quite a bit, which isn’t fair to either the artists or the audiences. So we’re truly ecstatic about appearing in your fair Key City!”
Econoline Crush perform live in concert at the Cranbrook Hotel Pub (719 Baker Street) on Sunday June 11, with local opening support from Cranbrook’s own hard-rocking hooligans Brotherhood of Lost Souls.
Admission: $25 advance (tickets available at the Pub during regular business hours), $30 door; only 110 tickets will be available for this special event, so do not delay! Doors open 5:30 p.m., Showtime 7:30 p.m.
Please visit www.econolinecrushmusic.com for all your Econoline Crush needs. Thank You for Supporting Our Local Arts Community.