Deja Voodoo (Canadian band)
A Déjà Voodoo ticket from 1986
|Origin||Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
|Past members||Gerard van Herk
Déjà Voodoo was formed by Gerard van Herk (guitar and singing) and his friend Tony Dewald (drums). Combining 1950s horror imagery with rockabilly and country musical influences they created a sound which gained them a unique standing amongst Canadian artists. Van Herk's guitar only had the top four strings and he sang in a deep voice, whilst Dewald's drum kit had no cymbals, which resulted in a low-treble rock style they termed "sludgeabilly." The band toured in Canada, the United States and even Europe. Déjà Voodoo even managed to encourage other artists in Canada to form bands along similar musical styles. In Canada, the band was most renowned for live performances its annual "Voodoo BBQ's," the last of which was held on June 23, 2006.
Both born in 1960s, Gerard and Tony both grew up in Montreal. During the 70s both men went to several concerts for local punk groups. In 1981, the two joined together to form Deja Voodoo. Their music generally consisted of short songs influenced by rockabilly and punk artists. Another major influence was the American punk band The Cramps. The Cramps had managed to achieve a degree of success in the late 70s with their own gothic look. As Deja Voodoo was embarking on its first performances, Montreal was receiving an influx of immigrants from Western Canada and independent record labels were starting to spring up. In turn numerous niche bands began to appear across the city. As a result of an over saturated market Déjà Voodoo struggled to find an audience in its first year. While they remained popular locally in Montreal it wasn't until 1982 that the two-man band began to see interest outside of Quebec, particularly in Toronto.
The turning point for Deja Voodoo came with Gerard and Tony launching Og Records in 1982 with a second pressing of their debut single "Monsters in My Garage." Named after a fictional caveman, the independent label allowed for Deja Voodoo to control its own distribution. The first full-length release by Og Records was their cassette Gumbo. The tape sold relatively well in the Montreal independent scene, but failed to penetrate the market in the rest of Canada. This would later be rectified with the release of Deja Voodoo's second album, Cemetery, in 1984. Cemetery was the first Deja Voodoo album to be sold in vinyl form, selling widely across Canada and even to some small in the US and Europe. As well as launching their own careers, Gerard and Tony used Og Records as a venue for like-minded artists to release music that reflected the "sludgeabilly" attitude in different styles. They continuously received tapes from other underground Canadian artists and routinely released compilation LPs in the It Came from Canada series. Five volumes were released between 1985 and 1989. The compilations always included other Montrealers, like Jerry Jerry and the Sons of Rhythm Orchestra, Terminal Sunglasses and The Gruesomes, as well as bands from all across Canada. In its seven-year lifespan, Og Records released 29 albums, the last of which was a recording of a Deja Voodoo performance in Finland.
Tours and career
Once Og Records took off, Déjà Voodoo started touring in across Canada. At first focusing on Ontario and Eastern Canada, however later they branched out to Western Canada going as far as Edmonton. Most interesting though is that Déjà Voodoo was able to embark on several European tours primarily in Greece and Finland. Despite the audience's relatively small exposure to Canadian music, Déjà Voodoo managed to create a strong cult following, especially in Scandinavia, a feat which at that time no other underground Canadian artists had managed to achieve. In Canada, they did manage to get semi-regular airplay on CBC radio's overnight Brave New Waves program. As Déjà Voodoo's popularity grew and other bands continued to sign on with Og records, Gerard and Tony started putting on popular indoor events, each December called "Voodoo BBQ's". Often held in Montreal, these massive public shows put on by Déjà Voodoo and other bands signed on to Og records often drew large crowds and were well received by critics. The last Voodoo BBQ was held in Toronto in 2008 as a kind of reunion show.
Despite their relative success Déjà Voodoo never managed to break into the mainstream markets and by 1990 both Gerard and Tony decided to split up Déjà Voodoo. Both men had reached their thirties and were interested in pursuing other careers. As well both members decided to sell Og records that same year. Since then Gerard has gone to become a university linguistics professor, and for the last 20 years Tony has worked as a brewer on the West Coast and is currently the Head Brewer at a new brewery in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Despite their brief existence, Déjà Voodoo vastly contributed to Canadian music by increasing the Canadian public's exposure to alternative styles of music.
- Cemetery (1984) (Og Music)
- Too Cool to Live, Too Smart to Die (1985) (Midnight Records)
- Swamp of Love (1986) (Og Music)
- The Worst of Deja Voodoo (1987) (Og Music)
- Gotta Have Money (1987) (Gaga goodies)
- Big Pile of Mud (1988) (Og Music)
- Big Pile of Mud (with 2 bonus tracks) (1988) (Didi Music)
- Too Cool to Live, Too Smart to Die (88 re-recordings) (1988) (Og Records)
- Live at The Backstage Club, Helsinki Finland (1990) (Og Music)
- "Monsters in My Garage" (1982) (Og Music)
- "Cemetery" (1984) (Og Music)
- "Hiekkaa Hietarannan" (1988) (Gaga Goodies)
- "Gumbo, 17 Sludgeabilly Greats!" (1983) (Og Music)
Appearances on compilations
- From Montreal (1983)
- It Came from Canada, Vol. 1 (1985) (Og Music)
- It Came from Canada, Vol. 2 (1986) (Og Music)
- It Came from Canada, Vol. 3 (1987) (Og Music)
- It Came from Canada, Vol. 4 (1988) (Og Music)
- It Came from Canada, Vol. 5 (1989) (Og Music)
- On Garde Reargarde Magazine 14 Montreal Bands (1989) (Cargo Records)
- 50th birthday tribute to Buddy Holly (1986) cassette (hipocket records)
- The House of Doctor Stimuli
- White Sugar
- Deja Voodoo on MySpace
- Barry, Chris. “Sludge Report”. Montreal Mirror, Oct 20-26 2005. Vol. 21, No.18. (accessed Oct 10, 2008)
- Deja Voodoo at worldcat
- Déjà Voodoo at worldcat