Idyl Tea reunion starts flood of late ’80s Edmonton indie-rock nostalgia

The much-anticipated Idyl Tea reunion this summer is hung on a filthy lie – the new album that was just finished will be called The Song That’s Not Finished Yet, which contains a song called The Song That’s Not Finished Yet. Which is finished.

It’s terribly confusing if you think about it.

Solution: don’t think about it. Idyl Tea’s first show since 1995 happens Saturday, July 16 at the ARTery. Details to come.

For Rock Fans of a Certain Age, mere mention of the words “Idyl Tea” brings back a flood of late ‘80s-early ‘90s, Edmonton indie rock nostalgia. The band’s zenith probably came after its 1991 self-titled album yielded a modest MuchMusic video hit for Oh Brother, with a cross-Canada tour backing up Spirit of the West to follow. By the last show – in 1995 at what is now the Haven Social Club – the band members Everett LaRoi, bassist Hank Engel and drummer Craig Metcalfe decided to do other things, to “see other people” (as one would say when comparing a rock band to a marriage), yet still remain friends. This they did. Ev got a gig hosting an open stage for four years, a place where songwriters could try out new or unfinished songs, which is where he got the idea for The Song That Isn’t Finished Yet.

The reunion happened over a mundane thing: concerns that the old Idyl Tea tapes might be disintegrating. The original band members got together regularly and set about transferring the tapes to a digital format, and at a certain point said to one another, “Are we just going to sit around and talk about the old days or are we going to do something more?” They got their instruments and played over some of the old songs, for old time’s sake, and took turns introducing new material ­– “which actually sounded really good,” LaRoi says, “really natural, so we figured we should record them.”

Which, as mentioned, were finished in the studio recently. The rest is, or will be, history.

Thinking about Idyl Tea raises the question: who might be next on the local late-‘80s/early ‘90s indie-rock reunion train? Darkroom? Jr. Gone Wild? Neo-A4? This Fear? Sadly, Famous Blue Raincoat is probably gone for good because of the untimely death of guitarist Frank Juskiw. But elements of Grace Under Pressure – hugely underrated   Edmonton band – are still working around town. Keyboardist and producer Van Wilmott is the artistic director of the Mayfield Dinner Theatre, while singer Lin Elder went on to make solo records and is a member of Calgary trio the Fates. How about it, guys?