Interview with Bruce Wheaton of Molly Oliver

Mike Gaudet, Larry Maillet, Dutch Schultz, Bruce Wheaton, Andre Leblanc

Note: Dutch currently lives in Winnipeg and is not a full time member of the band. Doug McKay is current drummer."

Molly Oliver was formed in 1974, after the demise of two other popular bands "Everyday People" and "Pepper Tree". While the original line-up of the band was short lived and members came and went, one person always remained, the band's songwriter, vocalist and guitar player Bruce Wheaton. The group signed a record deal with London Records and released an album in 1979, consisting of mostly Wheaton penned originals. Three singles were culled from the album, but unfortunately London Records folded just as the band was starting to pick up airplay across Canada, leaving them without a record deal. They released an EP independently in 1982 and opened for The Beach Boys in Halifax in 1983, but in 1987 they decided to pack it in. Wheaton reformed the band in 1999 with former members Larry Maillet, Mike Gaudet, Andre Leblanc, and former Oakley drummer Doug MacKay. This interview was done prior to a show in Fredericton in April 2001, where former drummer Dutch Shultz filled in.

GB - Molly Oliver released two albums I believe, any plans to put them on CD?

BW - One was a full blown album and the other one an EP. I'm in the mist of getting my little studio going. Even my son wants to do some things on computer. I'm not sure I may do it myself and put the album through the computer and enhance it. That's how a lot of people do it now.

GB - Did you get the masters from your former label?

BW - London Records don't exist any more in Canada, They exist in the states. I have the big master tapes. Even that is outdated. They don't used those kind of tapes anymore. They use DAT machines and I think eventually it's all going to be hard disks.

GB- Do you have any material from that time period that wasn't released?

BW - We almost had a full album to release but the record company folded. We have demos of some of that stuff. We're not playing that material now, but there are some of them tunes that are pretty good.

GB - Are you the only original member of the band left?

BW - I'm the very original as I'm the guy who started it. Larry was with me for ten years. The bass player was with us for quite a while too. He wasn't on the recording but he came right after. The initial band was two guys from Everyday People, which was me and Carson Richards and two guy from a band called Pepper Tree. That was short lived band that went for maybe a year. Then I formed the recording band. Carson still lives here in Halifax, but he is not playing too much. A couple of the guys live here and a couple live in Moncton.

GB - How do you think things changed for Maritime rock groups since the late 70's when bands would be playing full time?

BW - I don't think the music scene is nearly as good as it was. I think in the new face of music that young kids don't give a shit about music as they used to. When Molly Oliver came to Fredericton in the old days that was a bid deal. They would be lined up to get in. We played The Chestnut, The Hilltop and The Keg. I also think older bands have a certain way of approaching their music that I find that's different, not putting down the younger bands. I just think there is a lot of more detailed.

GB - What do you think of the ECMA's?

BW - I think this year was the best they have ever had for my personal taste. I was getting sick of fiddle music and seeing as Maritimers were represented as that.

GB - You recorded a cover of "Carry On" by Crosby Stills and Nash are you a fan of them?

BW - I was always a fan of theirs. Every band I was in, even The Stitch in Tyme and Everyday People, Every one of the bands had this big Harmony thing going on. It was me that was the driving force behind that. My favorite band out at the time doing that stuff was them and The Hollies way back in the late 60's. Stitch did a bunch of Hollies tunes and The Byrds, Four Seasons and all that stuff. When I decided to throw Everyday People together all my songs has Harmony. When Crosby Stills and Nash came out I though, "Wow" I want to do some of that stuff. We do it quite the same but we also throw quite a lot of our own feel into it too. We do Suite Judy Blue Eyes, Carry On. We did a bunch of them at one time. We were doing Ohio and Woodstock. Our influences vary Toto, The Beatles, Steve Miller, Genesis.

GB - Any Memorable gigs that stand out for you?

BW - We played on the Hill two or three times in Halifax for about 25,000 people. That's a big crowd. We opened for The Beach Boys in 83 in Halifax. That's the year we had our single "Apology" out. That was sold out too. We went across Canada a couple of times but not in the US. We played with Tower of Power as well. When Stitch in Tyme broke up two of our members went with Lighthouse. I was asked to go with them but I didn't. I started Everyday People instead. I knew The Guess Who. Our band had a little coffee house up in Toronto and guy were coming in there all the time like The Guess Who when they were in town. They watched us play. It was just that musical community were everyone knew each other.

GB- Did radio play your records a lot back then?

BW- Out in the western provinces, we got a lot of air play out there. We got some in Toronto. London Records put a lot of money and time promoting that album. "Somebody New In My Eyes" got a lot of air play everywhere. It was a shame, the label rep said the record company is folding and they are not out there working the single, but it's getting added to new radio stations everyday. That's just the way luck goes. It's timing and money and you need tip top management which we didn't have. I was doing everything my self but you can only go so far that way.

GB- Any thought on the other Nova Scotia musicians such as Matt Minglewood or Dutch Mason?

BW - I have more respect for Matt then anyone I know as he hung in there and he's still out there slaving away. I love Dutchie, he is a classic, there is no other Dutchie Mason around. Ritchie and Wayne are fantastic and are all good friends of ours. Frank McKay is probably my favorite singer that I ever heard in my life I think. That guy can sing.

GB - Any plans on a live album or another studio album someday?

BW -I don't know, where just playing right now and no real plans to do anything. Just enjoy it. The scene is not there anymore. We played six or seven nights a week for weeks and weeks. Now there is certain bars they are not big enough to hire you. In Moncton now there is no bar for a band our size to play there. Moncton was a big place for us. There was a club called the Metro Club were a thousand or more people could go in there. We would just pack that place on the weekend. Now if you want to get a gig in Moncton they will hire you on Tuesday or something. It don't make any sense. We draw the older crowd and they are all working. If you played on the weekend you'd get a big crowd. They are trying to get more money getting people out on the week days but those days are gone.

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