Origin: Toronto, Ontario, 🇨🇦
Not to be confused with a group of the same name a decade earlier, the only thing the two Toronto recording acts called The Secrets had in common was their hometown. In the late ’70s, and frustrated with the direction The Viletones was going, guitarists Freddy Pompeii and Chris Haight and drummer Mike Anderson hooked up with ex-Diodes bassist John Hamilton.
With Pompeii handling vocals, they took the ashes of the punk roots, giving rise to rockabilly influences to somewhat less angry tunes, and played the local scene. They got a deal with Toronto indie label Bomb Records in 1979, in time for the label to tape two tracks live in a hurry. “Teenage Rampage” and “Shout” were featured on the compilation album, THE LAST POGO that fall.
The following spring, the band released their debut album SUCCESS WITHOUT COLLEGE. The single “Tattoo City,” b/w a cover of the Roy Orbison classic “Pretty Woman,” got decent airplay around southern Ontario. The record featured Bob Segarini lending a hand on vocals, and other tracks like the tale of Pompeii’s own drug demons in “Strictly From Cough Syrup,” and the studio version of “Teenage Rampage” got relatively favourable critics’ reviews, but wasn’t translating into sales.
To make matters worse, Pompeii was busted following a show, and chose to move to the USA to avoid drug charges. Rather than carry on, the band broke up and everyone went on to normal lives. Pompeii got into the newspaper business for more than a decade, and also formed Immaculate Hearts, recording four 45s. He also returned to his artistic roots in the early ’00s. An art student when he first got into music 30 years earlier, he became a successful freelance artist. Hamilton meanwhile joined a rehashed version of The Ugly Ducklings for a tour, then formed Daily Planet, then got out of the business all together.
The Secrets continued to find its way on to compilation albums throughout the ’80s and ’90s on various labels. In ’97 Other People’s Music released TEENAGE RAMPAGE, which consisted of the entire first album, as well as the live version of “Shout” and six previously unreleased tracks. A sequel DVD to THE LAST POGO is also said to be in the works.
-Freddy Pompeii and Jaimie Vernon