Host Peter McCully chats with Brad Merritt, bassist and one of the founding members of Canadian rock band 54-40 with Neil Osborne. The two met in High School in Tsawwassen.
The band’s first gig December 8th, 1980 was at the Palomino Club in Port Coquitlam, the night that John Lennon was shot in New York.
‘I’m driving out there and I hear that on the radio that John Lennon’s been shot. it was just a gut punch. As anybody that, loved music and loved the Beatles as I did, said Merritt.
‘I don’t think there was any greater context than what happened, but he ended, we started, it was something, I tell you, Peter, he is one of the most influential musicians. And he was an icon and he represented something that was bigger than himself and a true artist.’
With his distinctive basslines and solid rhythm section work, Merritt has been an integral part of the band’s sound for over three decades.
In addition to the music, 54-40 has been active in social and political causes supporting organizations like amnesty International, the Canadian Cancer Society and Every Woman’s Health Clinic in Vancouver.
Merritt says, ‘It’s what we do. I think that art can be separate from that, but on a human level, it’s something that people should involve themselves with. As a band, as an entity that has a chance to influence people or raise money, we like to do that.’
McCully asked Merritt how he feels about the new artificial intelligence writing and chat programs and what possible effect could that have on the music industry, good or bad?
‘I’m sure that artists will use it as well. And there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s going to be the new reality. so I think acceptance is going to be important. And then how it’s actually utilized. I think people yearn for authenticity, And something is, generated by chat GPT. Eventually music’s going to be composed by it as well. And some of it’s going to be catchy and some of it’s going to be commercialized. I have a feeling that humanity will be able to sort this out. My point is that there has to be an essence of the artist in whatever’s created, whether AI is used or isn’t used, it won’t stand the test of time.’
It’s not just their musical range that makes 54-40 special. The band’s lyrics are also a major part of their appeal. Over the years, they have tackled a wide range of topics, from love and relationships to politics and social justice.
The podcast contains the new single to be released in the fall of 2023, the title track from the upcoming album ‘West Coast Band.’ The group will be touring extensively as well.
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(West Coast Band - Osborne / Merritt / Glenn / Johnson)