The 222's playing in Montreal in 2010: Cerrato, Barry, Rondeau
|Years active||1978-1982, 2010|
|"I Love Susan" song|
The 222s was a Canadian punk band active from 1978 to 1982. They are among the first original Canadian punk bands and first to emerge from Montreal. They are best known for their 1979 single "I Love Susan".
The 222s, who took their name from the pain killer of the same name, was formed in 1978, by guitarist Pierre "Al Cleann" Major and singer Jean "Frisson" Brisson. They were joined by bass player/drummer Angel Calvo and drummer, keyboardist and singer Louie "Louie Louie" Rondeau. The band played a handful of gigs around Montreal, mostly in high schools.
Calvo was soon replaced by bassist Christian "Chris O'Bell" Belleau, while Frisson relocated to New York. Frisson's departure coincided with the recording of the 222s first single, I Love Susan b/w The First Studio Bomb, so Rondeau took on lead vocals. Released in the fall of 1978, on manager François Doyon's Rebel Records, I Love Susan b/w The First Studio Bomb was the first DIY punk single ever released in the province of Quebec.
Just as the single was coming out, Chris Barry, a charismatic 16-year-old high school student, joined  the band after being introduced by Rational Youth drummer Tracy Howe. Barry brought his friend, Joe Cerrato into the group to replace Christian Belleau on bass.
Doyon then met with some gangsters from Laval who wanted to get into the music business. The band had been performing a cover of Michel Polnareff's La Poupée qui fait non; the gangsters wanted to turn the song into a hit, and offered to finance the band's second 7".. Recording sessions were held at one gangster's home but arguments broke out, to the point where one of the mobsters produced a gun. The band quickly finished the record.
The 7", which featured an instrumental version of the song on the B-Side, was released in 1981 on Gamma Records and got a fair amount of airplay in Quebec, although the band was ashamed of it and thought it sounded terrible, especially because one of the mobsters replaced Barry's voice in the choruses with his sister's voice and his own. This accelerated the demise of the group; the band members didn't agree about their musical direction and, in November 1981, broke up.
Over the course of their career, the 222s toured Canada as extensively as any band could. They toured in the USA with the Nuclear Accidents and, on several occasions, played New York's Max's Kansas City. There were also appearances on a local Community television show called The Musi-Video show, which was produced by Doyon's business partner Marc Fontaine. These shows have since resurfaced on YouTube and elsewhere and have sparked a renewed interest in the band. In 2007, Montreal label Sonik's Chicken Shrimp Records released an anthology of the band's demos under the name Montreal Punk '78-'81.
Pierre Major joined Montreal band The Dazzlers and Louie Rondeau teamed up with the 222s assistant manager Marc Fontaine in 1982 to form the successful synthpop group Nudimension. Together they composed a top 10 Quebec chart hit Amour Programmé and, with Peerless Records in Mexico, the dance hit Rendez-vous(La Coqueteando)
Chris Barry was briefly in a band named Bram with Michael Bramon; they recorded a few demos but Barry moved to England, where he would join with ex-Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock and ex-Generation X guitar player James Stevenson in a band called Hot Club. It didn't work out, so he joined the Southern Death Cult, trying to become the new singer following Ian Astbury's departure, but that didn't work out either. In the spring of 1983, he was about to start a band with former The Police guitar player Henri Padovani, former Clash drummer Topper Headon and former Pretenders bassist Pete Farndon but the project ended when Farndon drowned in his bathtub after overdosing on heroin. Chris then started a solo project with ex-Generation X drummer Mark Laff. Broke and homeless, Barry returned to Montreal when CBS Records, which had heard the Bram demos, paid for his plane ticket.
In 1984, Barry reformed the 222s with former members Pierre Major and Joe Cerrato. With the addition of drummer André Gagné and guitar player Richard Paul, they became the 39 Steps and released several albums . They also appeared (as themselves) in the Woody Allen movie Hannah and Her Sisters, playing their hit "Slip into the Crowd" at the CBGB. Chris moved to New York to join the band Pillbox (NYC), then back to Montreal to form the band Acrylic 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. He then started The Throbbing Purple with Dawson, Unruled guitar player Michel "Wax" Cyr, and ex-Subhumans drummer David "Salty" Macanulty. In 2006, the band released the "Let it Writhe" CD on Sonik's Chicken Shrimp Records.
In 2010 the original lineup of Chris, Louie and Pierre reformed and performed at festivals in Ontario and Quebec.
- Chris Barry (lead vocals)
- Pier Major (guitar)
- Joe Cerrato (bass & back vocals)
- Louie (Louis) Rondeau (drums & vocals I Love Suzan & First Studio Bomb)
- "I Love Suzan"/"The First Studio Bomb" (Rebel Records) (1979)
- "La poupée qui fait non"/"La poupée qui fait non" (instrumental) (Gamma Records) (1981)
- Montreal Punk '78-'81 (Sonik's Chicken Shrimp Records) (2007)
- KALLMANN, HELMUT (1992). "The Impact of the 1980s". Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-2881-5.
- Carpentier, Lorraine (September 30, 2010), "A riot of our own", Montreal Mirror
- O'Meara, Jamie (September 30, 2010), "The tale of the 222s", Hour Magazine
- "Thee Throbbing Purple Interview by Three Dim Star General on Sleazegrinder.com".
- Manley, Frank (1993). Smash the State A Discography of Canadian Punk, 1977-92. No Exit. pp. 112. ISBN 0-9696631-0-2.
- "Ciao Manhattan : Chris Barry, Snake Appeal, and The Cult of Purple..., Sugarbuzz Magazine, article by Kenney Silvers".
- Psyquebelique 2009
- Cummins, Johnson (January 8, 1998), "The 40th Step", Montreal Mirror, archived from the original on November 20, 2008