The 222s

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The 222s
The222s.jpg
The 222's playing in Montreal in 2010: Cerrato, Barry, Rondeau
Background information
Origin Canada
Genres Punk Rock
Years active 1978–1982, 2010–present
Labels Rebel
Sonik's Chicken Shrimp
Associated acts Acrylic
Nudimension
Bram
The 39 Steps
Pillbox (NYC)
Southern Death Cult
The Throbbing Purple
Website www.the222s.com
Members Chris Barry
Pierre Major
Joe Cerratto
Louie "Louie" Rondeau
Past members
Music sample

The 222s are a Canadian punk band first active from 1977 to 1981. They are among the first original Canadian punk bands and most likely the first glam/punk band to emerge from Montreal. They are most famous for their 1978 single "I Love Suzan".[1] They temporarily reformed in 2010 and still occasionally play [primarily] festivals in their native Canada.

History[edit]

The 222s, who took their name from a Canadian pain killer of the same name,[2] were formed by guitarist Pierre "Al Cleann" Major and singer Jean "Frisson" Brisson in the summer of 1977. A few months later bass player/drummer Angel Calvo and drummer, keyboardist and singer Louie "Louie" Rondeau, joined the group. This early line-up played a small handful of gigs around Montreal, mostly in high schools and regularly in support of Danger, a popular francophone rock and roll band often mislabeled 'punk' by a predominately clueless local media.

Within a few months Calvo was replaced by bassist Christian "Chris O'Bell" Belleau while original singer Jean Frisson relocated to NYC to be closer to that city's comparatively thriving punk scene. Less than a year later, an impoverished Frisson [who noted Quebecois singer/songwriter/poet Lucien Francoeur once wrote a popular album about, Le Retour de Johnny Frisson] temporarily put music aside and started 'hustling' as a gogo boy in Manhattan's meatpacking district.[3] Frisson's abrupt departure from the band coincided with the recording of the 222s first single, I Love Susan b/w The First Studio Bomb, so drummer Rondeau [aka Louie Louie] took on the lead vocals. Released in the fall of 1978 on their manager François Doyon's Rebel Records, I Love Susan b/w The First Studio Bomb was the first DIY punk single ever released in Montreal or the province of Quebec.[4]

Just as their single was coming out, Chris Barry, a charismatic 16 year old high school student, joined [5] the band after being introduced to the other guys by Rational Youth/The Normal's drummer Tracey Howe.[3] after the release of the 7". Not long afterward, Barry brought his friend, Joe Cerrato, a juvenile delinquent from the wrong side of the tracks, into the group to replace Christian Belleau on bass, to complete the classic 222s lineup. Doyon then came into contact with some gangsters from Laval[3] who wanted to try their hands in the music business. The band had been doing a cover of Michel Polnareff's La Poupée qui fait non at their shows for more than a year and the gangsters wanted to turn that song into a provincial hit, like garage band Les Sultans had done in 1966 and market the 222s to the teenybopper public, so they offered to finance the band's second 7".[3][4][5]

They recorded in one of the gangster's house but weren't getting along with them, considering they didn't know anything about music.[3] After a few days of fighting, the mobsters showed the band a gun and told them that there wouldn't be any more fighting. The band finished the record in fear the same day, quit the mobster's house and never got back there.[3][4][5]

The 7", which featured an instrumental version of the song on the B-Side, was released in 1981 on Gamma Records [6] and was a minor regional hit, getting a fair amount of airplay in Quebec but the band was ashamed of it and thought it sounded terrible,[4] among others because the mobster's replaced Barry's voice in the choruses with his sister's voice and his own.[3] This accelerated the demise of the group, which went their separate ways shortly after, in November 1981, because the band members didn't agree about the direction they should take musically.[3][4][5]

Over the course of their career, the 222s toured Canada as extensively as any band could, and even in the USA where they toured with the Nuclear Accidents and ventured off to play at the famous Max's Kansas City in New York City on several occasions.[2][7]

The 222s have kept a legendary status as Quebec's first punk band to release a record and a series of TV appearances they did in the late 70s and early 80s on a local Community television show called The Musi-Video show, which was produced by Doyon's business partner Marc Fontaine,[3] have since resurfaced on YouTube and elsewhere and have sparked a renewed interest in the band,[2] as well as Montreal label Sonik's Chicken Shrimp Records releasing an anthology of the band's demos in 2007 under the name "Montreal Punk '78-'81".[2]

Other Projects[edit]

  • Guitar player Pierre Major joined Montreal band The Dazzlers in 1982 with lead singer Steve Scala, the band broke up in 1984 and Pierre eventually decided to move to Toronto for different musical projects before returning to Montreal after losing everything in a blazing fire.
  • Drummer Louie Rondeau teamed up with the 222s assistant manager Marc Fontaine in 1982 to form the successful synthpop group Nudimension.[8]

Chris Barry was homeless and returned to North America after CBS Records had listened to some Bram demos and decided to pay for his plane ticket. Not getting along with Bramon, Chris kicked him from the band and reformed the 222's in Montreal with former members Pierre Major and Joe Cerrato in 1984.[5] With the addition of drummer André Gagné and guitar player Richard Paul, they became the 39 Steps and released several albums [2] as well as playing themselves in the Woody Allen movie 'Hannah and Her Sisters', playing the 222's hit "Slip into the Crowd" at the CBGB.[4][5][9] After that, Chris moved to New York to join the band Pillbox (NYC).[4][5][7] He was back in Montreal in the 90's, where he started to study at the university as well as writing a weekly column for the Montreal Mirror.[5] He also started the band Acrylic[4][5] with bass player Roger Dawson, drummer Dave Jones and guitar player Klaus Frostell. Acrylic recorded an album that was never released because the record company went bankrupt.[10] He then started The Throbbing Purple[4][5] in the 2000s with Dawson and Unruled guitar player Michel "Wax" Cyr" and ex-Subhumans drummer Dave "Salty" Macanulty. The band released the "Let it Writhe" CD in 2006 on Sonik's Chicken Shrimp Records but Cyr and Macanulty were soon replaced by other musicians a few months after the CD was released.[5]

2010 Reunion[edit]

In 2010 the official lineup of Chris, Joe, Louie and Pierre reformed at the suggestion of John Kastner from the Asexuals[4] and performed several successful shows at the 2010 NXNE Toronto festival. They also played a show in Montreal with the Asexuals.[2][4]

Personnel[edit]

  • Chris Barry (lead vocals)
  • Pier Major (guitar)
  • Joe Cerrato (bass & back vocals)
  • Louis "Louie" Rondeau (drums & vocals)

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • "I Love Suzan"/"The First Studio Bomb" (Rebel Records) (1979)
  • "La poupée qui fait non"/"La poupée qui fait non" (instrumental) (Gamma Records) (1981)

Albums[edit]

  • Montreal Punk '78-'81 (Sonik's Chicken Shrimp Records) (2007)

References[edit]

  1. ^ KALLMANN, HELMUT (1992). "The Impact of the 1980s". Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-2881-5. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Carpentier, Lorraine (September 30, 2010), "A riot of our own", Montreal Mirror 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i The 222s Montreal Punk 78-81 CD booklet (August 2006) Band history by Chris Barry
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k O'Meara, Jamie (September 30, 2010), "The tale of the 222s", Hour Magazine 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Thee Throbbing Purple Interview by Three Dim Star General on Sleazegrinder.com". 
  6. ^ Manley, Frank (1993). Smash the State A Discography of Canadian Punk, 1977-92. No Exit. p. 112. ISBN 0-9696631-0-2. 
  7. ^ a b "Ciao Manhattan : Chris Barry, Snake Appeal, and The Cult of Purple..., Sugarbuzz Magazine, article by Kenney Silvers". 
  8. ^ Psyquebelique 2009
  9. ^ Jam.ca The 39 steps
  10. ^ Cummins, Johnson (January 8, 1998), "The 40th Step", Montreal Mirror 

External links[edit]