By Emilie Charette
CALGARY – They’ve been called The Agonizing Worms and The Elegant Worms, but comedic folk trio The Arrogant Worms know exactly who they are and continue to deliver the humour that has garnered them a cult following in Canada and beyond. Originating in 1991 as a campus radio comedy troupe performing songs and sketches in Kingston, Ontario, the group soon began doing live shows. Since then, they’ve released 14 albums and performed all over the world.
“We used to make up stories about the name, but we’ve given up on our lying years,” laughs vocalist Trevor Strong. When the band formed, they drew up a list of adjectives and a list of nouns, since many other bands at the time had names that followed the adjective-noun pattern. Strong adds, “Drinking was definitely involved.”
Their songs cover a broad, eclectic range of topics such as snow removal, vegetable rights, the inner monologues of cows, and Canadian identity. The Arrogant Worms broach each subject with their trademark buoyant sense of humour. Despite writing songs that “make fun of a big dumb world,” the Worms, as they’re often called, don’t write about politics or topical issues. Although they’re fond of satire, they don’t write songs intended to be cutting, since they want to keep things upbeat and accessible. “We want people to have a good time.”
Regardless of subject, their songs are always relentlessly catchy. Listeners may easily find themselves with an earworm (pun intended) because of the quirky, off-the-wall subject matter and witty lyrics. Whether it’s the emotional ballad of a man confessing to a love of jean shorts, the sensual “We’re Gonna Sleep All Night Long,” or the swashbuckling, landlocked adventures of “The Last Saskatchewan Pirate,” The Arrogant Worms have songs that appeal to all ages. They draw inspiration from many sources. “I’m mostly inspired by deadlines,” Strong says laughing again.
While they’re usually described as a comedy folk group, the Worms have always liked to parody genres and explore styles that they haven’t before. Strong reveals, “We’ve always looked at ourselves as more of an act than a band. You know what the act is and work on more stuff for the act.”
Although they haven’t changed much musically since their formation, the band has taken decidedly modern tactics to fund their most recent albums, such as using Patreon donations to support their Song A Month project and making more merchandise available for sale. Despite embarking on what they’re calling the First Farewell tour, The Arrogant Worms have no intentions of retiring any time soon. Perhaps also inspired by an impending deadline, Strong attests that the name come from “pure desperation.” Jokingly he says, “So many groups are making so much money off farewell tours, we wanted to get in on it before it was too late.”
Despite the challenges of keeping a band together for 26 years, Strong would happily continue to tour and make music with his bandmates for another 20 or 30 years. “We’re doing shows and people should come to them.”
See The Arrogant Worms March 15 at Keyano College Theatre (Fort McMurray), March 16 at Festival Place (Sherwood Park), March 17 at Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre (Medicine Hat), and March 19 at Festival Hall (Calgary).Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre, Festival Hall, Festival Place, Keyano College Theatre, The Arrogant Worms