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Life and career
His first group, from 1979 to 1981, was a punk band called Crash Kills Five. They released one EP in 1980, What Do You Do At Night?. It was in this four piece band that he first played with two members, Reid Diamond and Brian Connelly, who would later become his bandmates in Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. The Shadowy Men were together for 11 years; during this time they recorded three LPs and thirteen EPs and became widely known when their song, "Having An Average Weekend", became the theme for The Kids in the Hall. In 1992, they won a Juno Award for "Instrumental Artist of the Year". They also recorded with B-52s vocalist Fred Schneider for his solo album Just Fred.
During hiatus from the Shadowy Men, Pyle played with several other bands such as King Cobb Steelie and Fifth Column. He also began producing recordings for other bands, including the debut single and LP by King Cobb Steelie and a record by Phleg Camp. After Shadowy Men broke up in 1994, he and Reid Diamond then formed the band Phono-Comb with Dallas Good for the express purpose of playing and recording with Jad Fair. After releasing one single and an LP, Fair returned to solo performing, and the trio released another single. Beverly Breckenridge of Fifth Column then joined the group to play bass and the quartet recorded the LP Fresh Gasoline for Quarterstick/Touch and Go Records, with Steve Albini producing.
After Phono-Comb came to an end, Don Pyle began a new musical project with Andrew Zealley called Greek Buck. More experimental than his previous outfits, the group are noted for their soundtrack compositions, such as those composed for the films of John Greyson including The Law of Enclosures (1999) and Proteus (2003), Sarah Polley's film I Shout Love, and most famously, the theme song of the series Queer As Folk.
In April 2007, Pyle launched his very successful "Trouble in the Camera Club" photography show at The Beaver cafe/bar in Toronto. The extensive collection of photographs documented the birth of the punk music scene in Toronto clubs during 1976–1980. The photographs had never been seen before and remained in the form of negatives for as much as 30 years, before Pyle restored the images. An on-line version of the show continues to be accessible on his official home page.
Trouble in the Camera Club was published as a photo and essay book by ECW Press in 2011, and included over 300 photographs of Toronto punk bands such as Viletones, The Curse, The Mods, The Ugly and Hamilton's Teenage Head. His photos of international artists include Iggy Pop, Ramones, Dead Boys, The Heartbreakers, Vibrators and The Troggs. Since the publication of Trouble In The Camera Club, a number of his photos have appeared in other publications.
As a producer, music recorder and mixer, his credits include releases by The Sadies, Legato Vipers, Soupcans, The Key Frames, Iggy Pop, Peaches, Tied to the Branches, John Doe, Andre Williams, The Good Family and others. He composed and produced music for films by Ron Mann, Sarah Polley, Wrik Mead, Derek von Essen and John Greyson as well as composing and/or producing music for The Inside Out Film and Video Festival, Mike Roberts, TV Ontario, Dragon's Den, This Week on Movies and others. He created sound design and mixed the feature documentary She Said Boom: The Story of Fifth Column by director Kevin Hegge.
His former band Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet reunited in 2012 with The Sadies' Dallas Good playing bass in place of late member Reid Diamond.
In 2012 and 2013, he released recordings by his two bands. The Filthy Gaze of Europe, his collaboration with Dallas Good, had a 7" released by Ugly Pop records, with vocals by Amanda Schenk, Damian Abraham, Chris Colohan and Mickey Skin. Black Heel Marks released an album called Feel Free in June 2013 that included Pyle in collaboration with Kurt Kendall and Bill Henderson of Tacoma rock band Girl Trouble, Jonny Dovercourt, Alanna Stuart, Dave Evans, Kevin Lynn, Kevan Byrne, Tony Malone and Sandro Perri.
He continues to record and mix for others and occasionally write about music and creative arts.
- Official website
- The Shadowy Site On A Shadowy Web (Unofficial Shadowy Men Home Page)
- Trouble In The Camera Club book (Trouble In The Camera Club book site)
- Black Heel Marks (Official Black Heel Marks site)