On January 20, 1983, four friends and I were arrested on Highway 99 near Squamish, British Columbia, Canada. We were members of an armed revolutionary group called Direct Action, which had carried out a number of acts of sabotage with the ultimate aim of stopping the destruction of the environment and ending the nuclear arms race. After a lengthy trial, I was sentenced to 10 years in prison and my girlfriend at the time, Julie Belmas, was sentenced to 20 years. I was sent to Matsqui federal prison in Abbotsford BC and Julie was sent to Kingston Prison for Women in Kingston, ON.
Prior to becoming involved in Direct Action, I had been the bass player in a Vancouver punk-rock band called the Subhumans. After leaving the Subhumans in 1981, I began to write songs on acoustic guitar in a decidedly more folk vein. While locked up in Matsqui, I wrote some more songs and recorded a cassette tape on a portable 4–track cassette recorder. The tape, titled Songs From Underground, was eventually released on the outside in 1985.
Due to the limited resources I had while in prison in terms of instrumentation, recording and production capabilities, I had always hoped that I might someday be able to re-record the songs. As a result, 7 of the 14 songs that appear on this new album, Coming Home, originally appeared on Songs From Underground. Of the remaining 7 songs, a few of them were written during the last few years of my imprisonment and the rest were written since my release.
In a way, the songs on this recording represent an emotional history for me: a snapshot of how I was feeling and what I was thinking back then and to a lesser extent, since then as well.
If I were to try to describe the style of the songs on Coming Home, I would say they range from up beat country/folk songs reminiscent of the Waterboys or Bob Dylan, to dark alternative rock dirges vaguely similar to the sound of Joy Division or The Velvet Underground. But don't take my word for it, give it a listen.
released December 2, 2014
Gerry Hannah: vocals, rhythm guitar, percussion (tracks 7, 11), bass (tracks: 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, 14)
Brad Gordon: lead guitar (tracks 2, 5, 8, 13)
Mark Campbell: lead guitar (tracks 1, 3, 4, 6, 10)
Mike Graham: lead guitar (tracks 7, 11, 14)
Dave Glendinning: bass (tracks: 1, 3, 6, 9, 11, 12)
Richard Todd: bass (tracks: 8, 13)
David Macanulty: drums (tracks 1, 3, 6, 9, 11, 12),
Geoff Eyre: drums (tracks 2, 7, 10),
Lorne Campbell: drums (tracks 4, 5, 8, 13, 14)
Geoff Eyre: percussion (tracks 4, 5)
Peggy Lee: cello
Jason Homey: banjo
Scott Fletcher: mandolin
Gary Radysh: piano
Jenny Bice: violin (tracks 2, 13)
Rick Barker: violin (tracks 4, 7)
Produced and arranged by Gerry Hannah
Engineered by Cecil English (tracks: 1,3, 6, 9, 11, 12); and Jeff Bonner (tracks: 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 13, 14)
Recorded at Profile Sound Studios and Tractorgrease Studios
Mastered by Marc L'Esperance
Remixed by Cecil English
Photography by Michelle Tisza and Gerry Hanah
Cover design by Daryl Rose