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About Big Wreck
As the '90s came to a close, Canadian-American neo-prog hard rock outfit Big Wreck climbed the charts with their first single "The Oaf," a post-grunge anthem that became their biggest radio hit. Found on their multi-platinum debut, In Loving Memory Of..., the track was followed by subsequent singles that fared well in Canada. Their sophomore follow-up, 2001's The Pleasure and the Greed, hit the Top 10 in their home country, but failed to gain traction on the singles charts or in the U.S. Soon after, Big Wreck split up. Nearly a decade later, with various side projects and adult careers under their belts, the band was re-formed by founder Ian Thornley and guitarist Brian Doherty, issuing comeback effort Albatross in 2012. A Top Five Canadian hit, it was followed by the equally well-received Ghosts (2014) and Grace Street (2017). By the close of the decade, they'd issued their sixth album, ...but for the sun.
Big Wreck was formed by Thornley (vocals, guitar), Doherty (guitar), Dave Henning (bass), and Forrest Williams (drums). The quartet met in the early '90s when they were studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Eventually, the four spent more time jamming together than attending class, and they soon decided to leave school to form Big Wreck. The group became a fixture around Boston and Cambridge, regularly playing local stages. After spending several years rehearsing and playing concerts, Big Wreck landed a contract with Atlantic Records in 1997. Their debut album, In Loving Memory Of..., was released in the fall of that year. Their best-selling release to date, it climbed the Canadian and U.S. charts, spawning the radio hit "The Oaf." Their sophomore effort, The Pleasure & the Greed, arrived in 2001. Despite a Top 10 debut on the Canadian charts, the set did not sell as well and the band broke up in 2002. Thornley formed a new band, simply called Thornley, and released a pair of albums in the 2010s.
In 2011, Thornley reconnected with Doherty and they returned to the studio to record Big Wreck's comeback effort, 2017's Albatross, with new members Paulo Neta (guitarist), Dave McMillan (bass) and Brad Park (drums). The positive public response to their return propelled the effort to number five on the Canadian charts. Park soon left the band and was replaced by Chuck Keeping, who joined in time for the slightly more prog rock-sounding Ghosts. Issued in 2014, the set was nominated for Rock Album of the Year at the Juno Awards the following year. Ghosts was also their highest-charting effort to date, showing again at number five in Canada and rising to number four on the U.S. Heatseekers chart.
In late 2016 Big Wreck issued the single "One Good Piece of Me," found on their fifth studio long-player, Grace Street, which arrived in February 2017. Around this time, Neta parted ways with the band (later replaced by Chris Caddell). The next year, the quintet celebrated the 20th anniversary of Big Wreck's breakthrough debut, embarking on a tour where they played In Loving Memory Of... in its entirety. Jumping immediately into the studio, they kicked off a new album cycle with the release of "Locomotive," which was included on their sixth LP, 2019's ...but for the sun. Tragically, before the album was released that August, Doherty passed away and the band continued as a quartet. ~ Neil Z. Yeung & Stephen Thomas Erlewine
- Boston, MA
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