The Staying Power of Hard Rockers
Originally formed in 1987, Sven Gali is a Canadian Hard Rock band from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Out of the gate, their debut album, Sven Gali, went Gold in Canada, produced by BMG Canada's David Bendeth. Hot singles and videos from that sophomore album included, "Under The Influence", "Tie Dyed Skies", "In My Garden", and the ballad, "Love Don't Live Here Anymore." It also featured a cover of the Teenage Head tune, "Disgusteen," featuring guest vocals by Frankie Venom. The video for "Under the Influence" won the MuchMusic Best Metal Video Award in 1993. In that same year, the Juno Awards recognized Sven Gali as Most Promising Group, and Hard Rock Album Of The Year.
Sven Gali toured extensively throughout Canada and the USA, Germany, Belgium, Ireland and the UK, headlining and on the bill with acts including April Wine, Foreigner, Candlebox, Pearl Jam and Def Leppard. They were a stable on MTV’s HeadBanger’s Ball in the UK and Europe.
Their follow up album, Inwire (1995), recorded at London Bridge Studios in Seattle, was produced by Kelly Grey (Candlebox, Brother Kane, Dokken) and featured guest musicians Christopher Thorn of Blind Melon, and Candlebox's Kevin Martin and Scott Mercado.
After that album received mixed reviews, the band split up to pursue other avenues. The band reunited in 2007, but tragedy struck when cancer killed founding guitarist Dee Cernile in 2012.
In 2018 and 2019, they sold out several of their shows in Canada and are now looking forward to getting back out on stage. Their members are, Dave Wanless (vocals), Andy Frank (guitar), Shawn Minden (bass), and new members Sean Williamson (guitar) and Dan Fila (drums). Their latest album, released in 2020, is called 3, featuring the singles, "Kill the Lies," "You Wont Break Me," the more recent singles, "Now" and "Hurt" embodying strong vocals in Dave Wanless, a cool intro, choice guitar riffs, and a memorable chorus. This is the stuff of true Hard Rock, and the band's first full album in 25 years.
It's been a tricky path for the band, yet they have remained loyal to their sound and to creating more catchy Hard Rock music. I caught up with lead singer, Dave Wanless, to ask him some questions about the band:
By Abbe Davis, July, 2021
AD: I love "Hurt," your voice seems to have more power now, do you agree? If I were listening to you guys back in the 80’s as a covers band, which covers were you playing in Canada?
DW: Back then, we were playing Ratt, Cinderella, Nazareth.
AD: Cool. You guys get to work with Greg Gerson on drums, did he share some good stories about working with Mick Jagger, Mick Jones, or Roger Daltrey ever?
DW: Not really. He was hired, and was a great drummer.
AD: Ah, OK. So if we listen to some tunes from the mid 90's, is it fair to say that you guys were influenced by Def Leppard, " Under the Influence," or " Here In My Garden," do you hear that and who do you feel influenced your sound the most?
DW: There are so many bands that influenced our sound - that is a really hard question to answer. Each of us would have chosen a different band.
AD: "Love Don’t Live Here Anymore" Did BMG say stuff like, "Well, Extreme just did a cool acoustic ballad, so you guys need to also!" Did anyone force that back then /business wise, etc.?
DW: We have always done things on our own terms. Dee and I were in a warehouse in LA and the song just happened.
AD: Is Andy's riff on "Hurt" an intentional nod to Metallica [Enter Sandman] for this song?
DW: "Hurt" was definitely inspired by Metallica. Love them, always have, always will.
AD: Oh,yeah. How can ya not, right? "Disgusteen," I dig how you guys take this tune, and then Andy flares it up so that it has an Eddie Van Halen sort of guitar thing going on and this song redone, you guys amp it up and it's just great. Do the guys from Teenage Head like it? Or do they say, “Eh, it’s not ours but ya know…” LOL.
DW: The guys loved it! Frankie Venom and I spoke after the session and he said he commented on how much he was into the Sven Gali sound and energy.
AD: I like your sound the most in the harder, overdrive like that. Which style do you want to do ahead? Would you mix styles or keep it where it is now?
DW: We are definitely going to keep growing and evolving as a band. There is so much great music out there (much which is not in our style) that inspires us to keep moving forward. It would have been very easy for us to do a repeat of the first record, but would not be representative of who we are today.
AD: So, back in 1996, SG was being criticized for jumping onto Grunge (maybe abandoning the hairband Rock) but how did you see it back then, how did your band see it?
DW: We really liked what was coming out of Seattle and wanted to grow our sound. Inwire is a record we are all very proud of. It is deep and dark and has so many great moments. As far as people criticizing what we did back then, it goes along with the territory of being on a major label and you need a thick skin to survive. People also criticize our new EP “3” - everyone is entitled to their opinion, but at the end of the day, we are in this to create music together without boundaries.
AD: It's important for band longevity, being authentic. If you had a time machine, which decisions would you have changed back then before the split up?
DW: We would have spent more of the record labels money.
AD: Ha, interesting answer! So how did you guys meet up in the 80's?
DW: Andy and I were in a band called “Sweet Cheater” and I got a phone call from Shawn regarding putting a band together. He was playing with a drummer and was friends with the late Dee. Andy and I drove to Hamilton from Niagara Falls in a blizzard to meet with the guys. When we were together, a movie was playing in the background, it was called “Sven Gali.
AD: Cool, so the movie inspired it, OK. Now, 2012 was a hard year, you guys doing the Reunion tour. Tell me, prior to the reunion, you have about 11 years away from each other. What did each of you end up doing? How did you handle each other when you broke up, did you talk or not? Why? Why not?
DW: We were always in contact with each other . We started businesses and families. Dee moved to California and time marched on. We remained close friends through that entire period of time.
AD: Good to hear, cause that doesn't always happen. Dee dying in 2012 from cancer around the age of 47. How did you guys handle it? Did it make you guys think about changing your lives at all, I mean, why didn’t that have you guys going, “Well shit, we could die in a second, we need to record now, as in all year-let’s do this!!” Why the breakup then? What 2 or 3 things in your mind, caused it to happen?
DW: Dee’s passing made us more appreciative of what we accomplished. From being a garage band to opening up for bands like Def Leppard and Pearl Jam to name a couple. It also made us appreciate the things we had then and the goals we were achieving.
AD: Looking back, do you think having that 7 album contract with BMG Canada was a good idea for you guys? Isn’t that a lot of pressure for any band?
DW: We never felt any pressure. There are a very small percentage of bands that ever get signed to a major label - we deserved to be there and were ready to share our music and live performances with the world.
AD: How do you see the industry now and what has changed how you view or do the business these days with these guys now?
DW: We aren’t interested in the “industry”. We create music to fulfill our passion for music and share it with the world. We are fortunate enough to have jobs and careers that give us the opportunity to create music on our own terms.
AD: That's good to hear. There are so many bands with pressure out there, as I'm sure you know, to sell Merch and they aren't with big labels, and they sound phenomenal. When can we hear more new singles?
DW: We will have a new single by the end of this Summer. We are also releasing demos from 91-95 on RFL records. There is so much great music in the vault - we wanted to share it.
AD: Thanks for your time, we're all looking forward to hearing more music.
Abbe Davis is Editor of TRR and the lead singer of the Hard Rock band, Sordid Fable. She has performed alongside legendary Blues artist, Buddy Guy, and formerly with Day of Colors nationally. She co-hosts The Tru Rock Show. Abbe is presently in the studio recording an EP with Sordid Fable for release in 2021/2022.