The triumphant return of Regina’s Despistado

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Despistado added to MoSo’s 2014 festival line-up

Despistado first burst out from the basements of Regina back in 2001 with a sound unlike most others in the province. Emerging at a time when music writers typically described similar sounds as “angular”, the four-piece, comprised of childhood friends Dagan Harding, Leif Thorseth, Brenan Schwartz and Joel Passmore, combined bouncy rhythms with guitars that were both melodic and melancholic. Live, they exuded pure vitality and fun.

Simply put, Despistado was a rare combination of musicianship where urgency meets intelligence.

The band quickly exploded south of the border: Having signed to Jade Tree Records, their song “Stirstick Prediction” was featured in a T-Mobile commercial. This was it: Three years after it began, Despistado was officially a big deal.

And that’s when it all fell apart.

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– Photo courtesy of Ryan Jackson/Punkoryan.com

A few months before they would release their album, The People Of and their Verses, the band split mid-tour in America. From all accounts and rumours, it was an acrimonious break-up; the official announcement from their label was candid on the details.

The members all moved on shortly after. Harding did a stint with The War Doves and Geronimo before heading off to Montreal for school; Passmore led the band Sylvie and is now a member of Rah Rah with Thorseth, while Schwartz played with Anatta.

And so it was more than a little shocking when the news started trickling in that Despistado was reuniting once again. Having played a series of one-off shows back in 2009, the group recently embarked on a short tour throughout western Canada, including an appearance in Saskatoon – if you weren’t there rest assured that it was an amazing night.

Half a year later, bassist Joel Passmore says the band are hoping to make their latest reunion a permanent thing.

“Leif and I play in a band together, and we were always talking about it,” says Passmore. “And we’ve always been close friends. We did some one-off shows a couple of years ago and they were a lot of fun.”

Having released their full-length digitally, along with the rerelease of their debut six-song EP The Emergency Response, Passmore, whose most recent album with the band Rah Rah was nominated for the 2013 Polaris Prize, hints that new songs are imminent. So can fans can expect a new album?

“I’d like to think so,” says Passmore. “We are passing some ideas back and forth and we are going to start rehearsing right away so we will know what’s happening after that. But I think we would all really like to do that, which is to play those old songs and just play again in that style. The bands that we’ve all played in since hasn’t been that sound at all. We all have a lot of ideas. And, I’d really like to do some new stuff as well.

“We are going to be living in different cities again, so we’re going to have to get creative with the internet and then take some time to meet in the same place for a couple of weeks at a time.”

While it was roughly a decade ago when they were poised to breakthrough and lead the rest of Saskatchewan into a new indie rock renaissance, Passmore cautions that the band plans on taking it slowly – the lessons learned from a young band that burned too quickly.

“We’ve been in touch with Jade Tree to let them know that this is happening and there is a possibility of rereleasing The People Of… on vinyl because that never happened the first time around. It all depends on what our schedules are like and how much touring we will be able to give to this,” says Passmore.

“Things will evolve how it will but we are all really excited to do this again and I imagine once we are all in the same room and start making some noise the ideas will come.”


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– Featured photo courtesy of Despistado/Chris Graham