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Uptown Magazine - Winnipeg's Online Source for Arts, Entertainment & News
September 9, 2004
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Mike Warkentin

Tin Foil Phoenix
Ever heard of Dan Carlson?

Neither had the five guys who make up Tin Foil Phoenix, the band formerly know as Sonic Bloom.

Dan Carlson is an American plant biologist who invented a way to make ordinary garden plants grow like weeds. By playing a certain frequency of sounds and spraying plants with... well whatever. Suffice it to say Carlson once grew a 1,300-foot purple passion plant indoors.

The name of Carlson’s invention: Sonic Bloom.

And in a puff of fertilizer, production of the Winnipeg band’s debut full-length ground to a halt.

The CD died literally as it was being pressed, which put a stop to the momentum that had been building behind the band since Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger signed it to his 604 Records label in August 2002.

The name crisis occurred in February of this year, and since then Living in the Shadow of the Bat has remained in limbo until band, label and management were able to decide on a name and get things moving again.

“It’s not like anyone came after us over the name, but it was largely our international label affiliate, Roadrunner, advising us that they thought it was going to be too much of a risk,” singer Michael Allen (Maz) Zirk says from the band’s temporary base of operations in Hamilton.

“It was kind of a pre-emptive strike.”

Zirk explains that the band — which includes drummer Steven Kray, guitarists Phil Cholosky and Fish, and bassist Paul Robinson — was caught off guard, and the timing couldn’t have been worse for the disc’s Canadian release.

Nevertheless, the bandmates didn’t dwell on their horticultural troubles, choosing instead to focus on the task of finding a new name. As anyone who has ever tried to pick a Hotmail handle can attest, picking an original name can be a hell of a task.

“We’d send off a list of 15 names and (the label) would come back saying we couldn’t use any of them,” Zirk says, noting in took the band over six weeks to finally decide on a moniker.

“Believe me, we considered Sonic Bloom with a K or Bloom spelled B-l-u-m-e.”

After endless searching and debating, Zirk eventually came across a paper crane/phoenix made of tin foil — and the idea stuck with him.

“I really wanted to have some sort of symbolism involved in the name, and the reference to the phoenix was pretty perfect as we were undergoing a kind of rebirth right then,” the frontman says.

So Tin Foil Phoenix was born and things started moving again, culminating in a Sept. 14 release date for In the Shadow...

The new disc is based on the group’s Hurry EP from a few years back and features the single Neopolitan, which was a staple on Winnipeg rock airwaves in the summer of 2002.

The problem with all this is that the group is forced to try to make an impression with a single that is three years old — an unenviable task in a fickle mainstream rock market anxious for just one more precious Hoobastank single.

“If not some of the market, then a lot of the upper echelons of the radio stations remember the song, and there has been a couple of reactions like, ‘We already spun this song,’” Zirk says.

“In the end, we’re not all about one song. We’ll just send them single No. 2.”

There are several possible choices for a single on the band’s disc, and Zirk mentions Ms. Genova and We’ll Get to Venus as to possibilities.

The disc itself is a rocking effort, but it is also touched with a few slower tracks and a little bit of hip hop, particularly in Zirk’s sometimes-spoken vocals. The overall sense is that of the dreamy sort of rock once played by I Mother Earth.

To celebrate the release of the disc, Tin Foil Phoenix will hit Silverado’s for a CD release party on Sept. 16.

And even if the next few months may bring tough sledding in a Canadian market that has already heard versions of several of these tunes, the band is confident that they can convince fans to pick up In the Shadow...

A domestic tour is planned for the near future (Zirk mentions labelmate Thornley as a possible tour partner), and then the band will probably will head to Europe to support the disc’s October U.K. release.

All giant pumpkins and forbidden names aside, Zirk is happy that the band has finally put the name crisis to bed and can focus on making music.

“We’ve been through so much as independent artists. I think that experience gives you that will to persevere. We’ve been through anything you can think of as an independent artist, so that prepares you for when a setback like this comes.”

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