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Greg Johnson and Frodo of THE FIENDS - Bev Davies photo

Spirits, pranks and rogues

No stranger to notoriety and pranks, the rare performances of Vancouver’s garage rockers, The Fiends would become a spectacle, even before hitting the stage.

Greg Johnson of THE FIENDS

“We were heading to the mighty Niagara for a show, when we walked past a car accident near the bar. Paramedics mistook us for accident victims as we were in full bloody costume,” chuckles drummer, JT Massacre as he recalls memorable gigs. October 30th, the night of mischief, was lead singer, the late Greg's Johnson's birthday. "He loved the classic Hollywood monsters,” explains bass player Pete Fiend and “Halloween was a natural fit for The Fiends. “I would get props from movies that had completed production and buy prop gravestones," says JT Massacre and "We built a keyboard stand for Bill that had black pipes on the side with skulls on top and smoke pouring out of the skulls. Greg would have a mason jar full of fake blood and a goblet on stage that he would drink from time to time.” The Fiends are known for their sold out Halloween shows. “The band's peak coincided with a renaissance of sorts in Vancouver's post-Seattle music scene (1995-99) fuelled by the heyday of The Niagara and The Pic,” says Pete Fiend. Who was one of the longest running members of the band since he joined in 1998.

The tenure for band-mates Rieuwert Fiend, Frodo Fiend and Pete Fiend collided in 2007 with them playing at Portland's Fuzz Fest with: the Chocolate Watch Band, Electric Prunes, Strawberry Alarm Clock and The Seeds. It was mutual for these three that this was a landmark garage event for the band. The Fiends evolved from a group of likely aficionados known as The Worst, inspired by garage classics, namely California's Gravedigger V, The Cynics, the '80s garage revival.

Halloween reunion for THE FIENDS - tiina liimu photo

So, a leap forward to the ‘now tyme’ with The Fiends. “We were all Greg's friends as well as band mates and it was one way to keep his spirit and his music alive," explains Rieuwert, who had joined The Fiends as a keyboardist and guitarist early 2000 and but he was also with Johnson back in the day with The Worst. “Last year, though, we got in touch with some former members of the band [The Fiends] and had them do guest spots throughout the show.” This special Halloween show was in honour of tradition and the late Greg Johnson. “Originally we were just going to do Halloween shows, but we had unfinished songs and we used to hang out with Tanya Van.” says guitarist Frodo Fiend. Tanya Van stepped in on vocals. Since then, some time has been spent in the studio. “The material we are recording are all new songs. Most were started when Greg was still alive, so he does have some input even today” says Rieuwert. As for unreleased older content coming out? “Yes, just as soon as Rieuwert finishes 'fixing' the drum tracks!” laughs Pete Fiend. “We are currently working on new songs with Tanya on vocals.” explains Frodo Fiend and “I've been in touch with Greg's family and in the future we might be able to release a song with him on it.”

- More Betty