The Extroverts: Regina’s First Punk Band is Back

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Queen City’s first punk band aim to record new full-length album

Editor’s Note – On July 25, 2013, The Extroverts took to the stage at The Exchange in Regina, SK. Having first formed in 1979 in the Queen City, the members sound like they haven’t missed a beat. The songs are still loaded with vitriol, the vocals still melodic yet impudent. Brent Caron is still a charismatic front man with plenty of swagger and oomph in his step. Along with a cover of The Jam’s “In The City”, The Extroverts cover plenty of ground, with both old songs and new, in their razor sharp set.

There is a lot of history there. Check out Sam Sutherland’s book Perfect Youth: The Birth of Canadian Hardcore for more anecdotes and punk rock narrative.

Suffice to say, The Extroverts are back. And that’s pretty fucking awesome.

Back in 1979, Regina didn’t exactly have the spit and bluster of the burgeoning, safety-pinned punk scenes of Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. Even so, this city had a pocket of misfits who found refuge in the hardcore riffs of the era.

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The Extroverts, a self-styled punk band that maybe fell more on the side of new wave, were billed as one of the Queen City’s first groups that dared to inject their songs with the piss and vinegar of contemporaries such as Teenage Head or Young Canadians.

Playing the first-ever gig at an impromptu space called The Schnitzel Haus — which would go on to become The Distrikt, one of Regina’s most storied venues — The Extroverts would go on to terrorize Saskatchewan and western Canada, including a gig in Moose Jaw that ended in a riot.

When the group originally broke up in 1982, they left behind only one recording, a 7” 45 RPM record with the songs “Living in Poverty” and “Political Animals”.

And, following a reunion gig in 2009, and an appearance at O’Hanlon’s earlier this month, the original members are back together for good, reports guitarist Les Holmlund, A.K.A. Eddie Lester.

“The instigator of this was that D.O.A. was touring again, and we had played with them and are longtime friends with Joey [Shithead],” says Holmlund. “I knew the drummer would be fine with it. Our bass player only wanted to do it if the singer was going to do it, and he was banking on the fact that the singer wasn’t going to do it — he hadn’t been on stage in 25 years.

“The singer wasn’t really interested at first, but I convinced him to come to a rehearsal and we felt all the same energy, whatever that connection was originally,” Holmlund says. “It was really rugged sounding, I won’t lie to you. But it really energized us all. And we decided at that point to do this again, in preparation to open for D.O.A. back in 2009. And we decided to continue because it was so much fun.”

Charging up simplistic songs with plenty of vitriol and snot, The Extroverts took the rock formula and pruned its excessive frills. Even so, songs like “You Gotta Lose” are total, pure pop; vocalist Brent Caron likely wouldn’t have admitted it at the time, but there is a sense of melody in his delivery.

And while they are reviving the punk spirit of ’79, Holmlund says that the band are currently at work on the full-length album that never surfaced during their heyday.

“We jam once a week and we continue to work on new material,” says Holmlund. “When we got back together in 2009 we went through the archives of stuff and discovered a pile of unused lyrics. On our first go around we probably cranked out 75 or so tunes, just learning how to play as we went along. We got more developed as songwriters toward the end.

“So we found this batch of lyrics that never got put music to. We probably have about seven or eight new songs now with those lyrics, which has been fun. And there are some songs that are still intact from the first go around. And, of course, we mess up a few covers as well.”

– First published in Prairie Dog Magazine, July 11, 2013

Here’s a video of what the band looked like back in 1980.