By Kennedy Pawluk
EDMONTON – In 1992, University of Albert students Lyle Bell, Steve Derpack, Randy Diachuk and Sean Rivalin formed mollys reach. The band that would later become one of the most successful and important Edmonton bands throughout the ‘90s.
Known for their fuzzed out, power pop grunge sound, mollys reach maintained their characteristically ‘90s sound somewhere between Everclear’s “Sparkle and Fade” and Sloan’s “Twice Removed.”
Although they originally founded with a different drummer, Derpack or “Derpy” as the band affectionately dubbed him, recollects his recruitment into the band.
“Their former, uncommitted drummer asked me if I could do a sound check for them so he could take his girlfriend to the symphony that evening.”
Derpack stepped in and the sound check turned into a full-on jam. This trend continued at several rehearsals and Derpack continued to step in because he was always hanging around. Eventually he got the full-time gig after the old drummer got the boot.
Fed up with school, Rivalin and Derpack coincidentally both quit university on the same day. Later that week Randy followed suit, and they decided to make the band their focus. After several years of performing, mollys reach released their debut album Persephone in 1995.
The subsequent touring and positive reception of the release gained the band some national notoriety. This helped them get signed to a subsidiary of BMG Music Canada for their 1996 release Hi-fi and Stereo. Hi-fi and Stereo saw mollys reach hit their peak, which culminated in regular airplay on commercial radio and MuchMusic, several cross Canada tours, a trip to Texas and an opening slot for Savage Garden (who sound nothing like mollys reach) at the Northlands Coliseum (RIP). In 1999, the band released their final album Vertigogo through their own, and now defunct, Edmonton label Green Pepper Records. Their final show went down at the Rev Cabaret (now the Starlite Room) and mollys reach fizzled out.
“Well, we didn’t ever quit or really play a final show it was more like, ‘yeah we’ll take a break and see what we do,’” recalls Derpack.
“And instead of coming back together we all just did other things.”
Since then Derpack has grown to become a major player within the Edmonton music scene, having promoted at venues like The Power Plant, The Rev Cabaret and Avenue Theatre. He runs a production company called JCL Productions and is the executive director of The Arts Touring Alliance of Alberta. Bell continued playing music and has experienced success as a member of Slow Fresh Oil, Whitey Houston, Shout Out Out Out Out and The Wet Secrets among others, in addition to his successful career as a graphic designer. Meanwhile, Diachuk works in computer tech and Rivalin as a respiratory therapist.
After years of considering getting back together for a reunion show, the guys have finally found time between their busy careers and family life to make it happen. 25 years after the birth of the band, mollys reach will play their first show in nearly 17 years.
“We’ve had a jam already and two things start going through my mind,” says Bell. “One, that inter-band dynamic still exists: Derpack and Sean still bicker and it feels like all that time disappeared and everything is the same. Secondly: there was no rust. I was expecting it to be way worse than it turned out to be!”
Watch mollys November 4 at the Needle Vinyl Tavern (Edmonton) with guests Blasphemedia.Blasphemedia, Mollys Reach, Needle Vinyl Tavern, rock