|Also known as||Ship of Fools|
|Genres||Rock, punk rock, pop-punk|
|Labels||Hom Wreckerds Music, Cargo Records|
|Associated acts||SNFU, Jr. Gone Wild|
|Past members||Marc Belke
The Wheat Chiefs was a Canadian melodic rock band with punk rock influence formed in 1990 in Edmonton, Alberta, and later relocated to Vancouver, British Columbia. The group featured several members of SNFU and one from Jr. Gone Wild. They released one album, 1996's Redeemer.
Early years (1990–1993)
Several months after the 1989 breakup of their influential skate punk band SNFU, guitarists and twin brothers Marc and Brent Belke formed the new band The Ship of Fools with SNFU bassist Curtis Creager and longtime acquaintance Dave Rees playing drums. With Marc Belke acting as lead vocalist, the band added melodic, alternative rock aesthetics to the punk rock sound of SNFU. After their initial string of performances, they renamed themselves the Wheat Chiefs.
Bassist Trent Buhler, a former member of Rees's group Broken Smiles, replaced Creager in mid-1990, and the group embarked on several Canadian tours. Their track "Redeem" was included on Thrasher Skate Rock Volume 10, issued by Thrasher magazine the following year. SNFU reformed this year as well, but the Belkes kept the Wheat Chiefs active as a side project. Rees and Buhler both departed the Wheat Chiefs early in 1992, and were replaced by drummer Ed Dobek (of Jr. Gone Wild and the pre-SNFU band Live Sex Shows) and bassist Rob Johnson, a future SNFU member. This lineup debuted with a short tour, and recorded several tracks with producers Marek Forysinski and Dave Ogilvie.
Touring, Redeemer, breakup (1993–1998)
The band was active sporadically in the time that followed, with a major run of touring coming in 1993. Later this year, the track "Joe Murphy" (named for the professional ice hockey player of the same name) from the Ogilvie session was included on the Puck Rock Volume 1 compilation, a full disc of hockey-related punk rock songs assembled by John Wright of The Hanson Brothers and NoMeansNo. The Wheat Chiefs received a seven-figure recording contract offer from Mercury Records, but rejected this in anticipation of a better deal, which they never received. Early in 1994, the group recorded two songs with Rees returning as a guest.
After spending two years focusing on SNFU, Johnson and the Belkes returned to full-time Wheat Chiefs rehearsals in early 1996. Culled from three recording sessions held in 1992 and 1994, the Redeemer album was released later this year through BangOn Records, a subsidiary of the Canadian Cargo Records imprint. They promoted the album with a tour of Canada and the United States, the largest in the band's career.
In 1997, drummer Dan Moyse replaced Dobek. The Wheat Chiefs ultimately disbanded following Brent Belke's decision to quit both bands to pursue work in music composition for film and television. They played a final gig on March 28, 1998 at a festival in Edmonton.
- Redeemer (1996, BangOn Records/Hom Wreckerds Music)
- Compilation appearances
- Thrasher Skate Rock Volume 10 (1991)
- Puck Rock Volume 1 (1993, Wrong Records)
- Edmonton Rocks Volume 1 (1997)
- Chris Walter. ...What No One Else Wanted to Say. Vancouver: GFY Press, 2012
- Walter 129
- Walter 138
- Walter 170
- Walter 177