By Jennie Orton
VANCOUVER – On the Marquee Stage, August 29, 2015, the brothers Kerns and the brothers Dahle plugged in on the stage as Age of Electric for the first time in 17 years and the pop that shot through the stacks was apparently heard across the nation. In pretty short order after the house lights went up that night, interest came from all corners for the band to do more live shows — and as divine luck would have it, they happened to have some new music in the cannon just waiting to go.
“It’s such a fascinating turn of events; every time I go to talk about this it seems more surreal,” says guitarist/vocalist Todd “Dammit” Kerns, who is currently in L.A. enjoying being Slash’s bass guitar beast.
After what Kerns describes as a “passive aggressive” split in 1998, the members of AOE went off and did their own things. Kerns admits, however, that he and guitarist Ryan Dahle remained in close contact, often writing music together on the side. This new music started to really take shape and it wasn’t long before they started to get that old familiar ache for the stage.
“We were just kind of like, ‘Hey, we still do this pretty well together,’” Kerns says. And then, as they say, it just sort of happened.
With the approach of the 20th anniversary of their monster hit and last release before the split, Make a Pest a Pet, the decision was made to not only release the four new tracks they had in the can as an EP (The Pretty EP, released February 17) but also a remastered two-LP vinyl reissue with bonus tracks of Pest a Pet on the same day, and a Canadian tour to support both.
“All that stuff just kind of seemed to fall from the sky at once. In the eleventh hour I kept expecting it to fall apart. It’s like picking out a china pattern with a girlfriend, y’know? You’re thinking, ‘I dunno, are we ready for this?’”
As with any situation where things get revisited after 20 years, there have been some surprises in the shows played live insofar as which songs seem to have blossomed during the hiatus. Kerns has noticed a large following for the set opener, the bratty and relentless bit of perfect ‘90s alternative that is “Motor” from their self-titled 1995 album. Kerns acknowledges that when the album came out, the band had so much to prove that their trajectory prevented them from standing with the release too long.
“That music didn’t really have a chance to…I dunno, ripen? I guess?” he laughs. “Those songs have been planted for 20 years, some for over 20 years, and it’s interesting to see what they have become out there. And the only way to see what they have become is to play them on stage and see the reaction.”
An impressive history for a band with two sets of brothers. Defying the odds of what normally happens when family spends that much time together (cough, Oasis, cough) the amicability of this band keeps the music hooky but authentic, nostalgically ‘90s yet refreshingly new (as evident with the rolling-and-rumbling catchy strummer “Show Me Your Weakness” from The Pretty EP, which sounds like it would fit right in streaming out an open window at Easy Eye Studio). But just in case, Kerns has his own technique for any disagreements:
“The finishing and starting move would be [brother and bassist] John Kerns — I’d be that guy in the corner with a Slurpee saying, “Kick his ass, man!’”
Age Of Electric perform March 24 at the Commodore Ballroom (Vancouver).Age of Electric