I'm proud of the music I've made over the years. I like to cover a wide range of styles, from pop to electronic to experimental. On many tracks, in particular the "How Animals Sleep" album, I worked with friends Doug Parker, Lorne Schneider and Chris Short. My bandmates on "Wolf" were Matthew Jackson, Neil Jackson and Keith. Everything else was written, played and recorded by me.

My Recommendations: Start with "Storm Animal" (more acoustic) and "Loose" (more electronic). My favourite tracks? Probably "Loved by a Queen" and "Hooked" from "Storm Animal".

You can download any or all of it (see links below with each release). Use it non-commercially in any way you like. But I would like to know about it and get credit please.

Rheostatics Live, Ultrasound Showbar, 1993 - LINER NOTES

Rheostatics "Green Sprouts Music Week 1993"

Why Rheostatics will live forever

There was always a crackle in the air at any Rheostatics gig. But in their golden age of the early to mid-90's, and especially at the Ultrasound Showbar, you knew the Rheos would ignite that crackle into a smoldering, moody fire.

Anyone who comes to know the Rheos, knows what a top-flight band they were, by anyone's standards, anywhere. I hate to try and describe them, but think art-pop-rock-folk. And when you met the guys, on stage or in person, you learned how genuine they all are, how much they cared, loved their fans ("Green Sprouts"), and how little they thought of commercial success.

The very word "Canada" describes what they did. Early on in their road life, they toured extensively, in parts foreign, and all over Canada, notably including small towns everywhere. They experienced the essence of Canada during that time, and the two inspirational albums, "Melville" and "Whale Music" were largely conceived then. Those are the kind of albums where you realize there is not one wrong second throughout. They're perfect and they'll live forever. Don't get me wrong, you will find much joy in any Rheos album. But those are just .. special. "Northern Wish" from "Melville" could most certainly be an alternate Canadian national anthem. Oh, and if you noticed the double-neck guitar that Martin sometimes played (it's on the cover of "Double Live"), that design is special. 10 points if you know what it is - *answer below.

Rheostatics "Double Live"
I can't help but mention one band member in particular - Martin Tielli, vocals and guitar. In terms of all-round virtuosity in the context of meaningful and accessible music, I've yet to witness a better musician. Martin is always able to be in every moment (except when he's not!). A true artist. To the extent that if his flow is interrupted, he will make very noticeable mistakes. And generally, either repeat them, or screw around with them to weave some magic. Or get fiery and angry. Do check his solo work and collaborations, too. Did I mention his painting and drawing? Oh my God! Just go look at the cover of "Introducing Happiness". In a previous incarnation, Martin had done some art work for the Royal Ontario Museum. There's an Escher-like obsession and beauty about his work - look at the receding scales on the fish!

Rheostatics "Introducing Happiness"

So, the Ultrasound Showbar. Quite a unique spot that was. Located upstairs on Queen Street West in one of Toronto's key art scenes. Unique, because it was very small, but had a beautiful, large sound system. One capable of great volumes, but which, for the Rheos, was under-driven, resulting in great sound quality. Spectacular sound, in fact. Dan Akroyd (yes, him) was the then-owner, and was responsible for the equipment investment.

However, there always was a significant portion of the crowd who felt it was okay to talk loudly during the Rheos' sets. But the real Rheos fans always took care of that, gently telling them to shut the hell up. I can say for sure that many like-minded Rheos devotees made lifelong friends at their gigs, myself included.

Rheostatics' stage banter was an absolute mainstay of their performances. In fact, it's on their albums too - "Don't tune. Tuning's not cool. Lou Reed wouldn't tune." When I once spoke with Martin, he told me that tuning is over-rated. I've never known a band that was so engaged with their fans; truly driven by them. On one popular song, Dave Bidini sings about his first concert and his favourite bands. He always polled audience members as the song went along, giving them the mic and wanting to know their favourite bands. Among the live banter I recall, was one incident where the banter actually became a song later - "Dead is the drunkest you can get".

On stage, Rheostatics would inspire each other into silly co-ordinated dances. And Bidini would always get into a pogo-frenzy. The Ramones were among his serious music milestones. But for me, the chills were mostly Martin's. His soaring guitar, soaring voice (amazing falsetto), his song-writing, and the way you always felt like you got his everything. Tim Vesley was the "most still", but even he slowly rotated on the spot, along with the rest of them, during the introduction to "Fan Letter to Michael Jackson".

I missed, and will always miss, their original crack drummer, Dave Clark, who left the band in the mid-90's. He was perhaps the most joyful one, and what a drummer! You don't find one like him every day, if ever. While the music is different, U.S. band Aloha's Cale Parks' meticulous craft comes to mind. And even jazz legends like Chad Wackerman (Chado-san to his friends).

More than anything, Rheos fans flocked to the shows for the love they would always feel.

"TV's twinkling. The sky cushioned my ditch with a couch of snow. So soft. So deep and so cold. And you?" - A Mid-Winter Night's Dream.

Martin Lomas, March 2012

Martin Tielli

* The guitar features one of the originally-proposed Canadian flag designs, before the Maple Leaf was chosen, eh!

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