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"Desiderata Survive Nearly Deadly Childhoods To Rock Today"

Just three guys having a good time, having a good time, having a good time. That's the subject line of Edmonton-based Desiderata's latest MySpace blog post, which modestly relates the stacks of press and random bits of success they've already acquired.

Really, if anyone should be screaming "ZOMG press!" it's this young, frisky experimental rock trio. Over the last little while, they've managed to piece together their We Are Convinced There Has Not Been Any Improvement album with the help of Vancouver musical all-star Jesse Gander and use it to reach #17 on the national campus radio chart. Starstruck they're not, and when it comes to talking about their accomplishments, childhood musings from their hometown of Fort McMurray, Alberta seem to be where the conversation leads.

"In a nutshell, I was brought from Fort Mac to Edmonton because they thought I was going to be handicapped when I was born because I had a bunch of fluid in my brain," says bassist Laine Cherkewick with a laugh. "Then when they tested me, they found that I just had a really big head. I had a huge fuckin' noggin."

Drummer Jerome Tovillo pipes in: "Whatever, I was like a bubble boy growing up. I was allergic to everything when I went outside. I couldn't do anything. I had really bad asthma and was allergic to dust particles and pollen. I almost died a few times, but my mom's a nurse so she knew what to do. I'm happy I've grown out of most of my allergies now, though."

"I had a pretty normal childhood, except that I grew up in a trailer park," vocalist/guitarist Blair Drover adds. "I was trailer trash."

Right. So unusual childhood accounts aside, Desiderata also have some present-day luck stories to relate. According to Cherkewick, he lived in a kind of "party house" when he first moved to Edmonton. During this time, there was a girl who would always frequent the abode in order to get into the pants of Champion City Records co-founder Taylor Schaerer, another party house regular. As weird as it sounds, it was through the libidinous girl that Desiderata were introduced to Schaerer and promptly signed.

Although the group were reluctant to join the relatively new label at first, they finally agreed.

"The thing about Champion City Records is that they're really new at it and they're really eager to put out good music," says Tovillo. "We're like one big family."

"Nobody's competing with each other," adds Drover. "We're all playing together instead, and that's what I really like about Edmonton."

While Desiderata are busy adoring Edmonton's communal music scene, the rest of Canada will soon further its love for the trio when the group embarks on a month-and-a-half-long Canadian tour this spring. If you want to catch them before that, though, Desiderata will release their CD on Friday at Edmonton's Riverdale Hall. You can also catch them on Saturday at Fort McMurray's YMCA and on Feb. 24 at The Velvet Underground in Edmonton.

—Amanda Ash - Chart Attack


Desiderata has exquisite taste in home décor, if the Ikea showroom we sat in was any indication. Accented with splashes of black and white, the space was large but cozy, its walls adorned with sepia photographs of tree-lined French canals. In the centre stood two brown leather ottomans—I sat on one these, cross-legged, facing Jerome, Blair and Laine, who had all settled on a white wraparound couch that had been partly decked out in faux-fur throw blankets.

The band—an experimental rock trio with a ska/rage vibe—has a brief but rich history. While their hometown of Fort McMurray isn’t exactly small-town Alberta, it does little to inspire images of a thriving music scene and band success stories. Yet delving deeper into Desiderata’s collection of adventures uncovers exactly that.

The band was born in the summer of 2003 at a show headlining bands like Fractal Pattern, Choke and Change Methodical.

“Blair and I didn’t meet Laine until mid-high school,” begins percussionist Jerome Tovillo. “We were all in a jazz all-star thing at Keyano College. I asked Laine if he wanted to jam and he was a little hesitant about it. Later, Blair and I saw him at a show and we clicked really well.”

Tovillo is interrupted by a loud customer service call. A toddler wanders into the room, followed by its mother. “Look at this lamp,” she says, turning to her husband. They’re obviously unaware of the interview going on beside them. It’s a late Sunday afternoon at Ikea, and the air smells of Swedish meatballs and Dame Torte.

Desiderata got their moniker from a poem of the same title. Translated as “that which is to be desired,” Blair Drover, guitarist and vocalist, describes the choice of moniker as coincidental.

“We had numerous names that were really horrible cliché punk names,” Drover says. “We saw the poem on Jerome’s wall and it stuck.”

With a few Alberta shows under their belt, Desiderata travelled to Vancouver last May in order to record their first full-length album, We Are Not Convinced There Has Been Any Improvement.

Studio time proved to be expensive.

“We picked up thousands of dollars in bottles from different places in Fort Mac,” said Laine Cherkewick, Desiderata’s bassist. “We recorded with Jesse Gander at Hive Studios. All of our idols recorded there. It was a beautiful place.”

“We were intimidated by him at first,” Drover says about working with Gander, whose lengthy list of production credentials includes bands like Hot Hot Heat, The Red Light Sting and his own band, Ghost House. “He turned out to be the nicest guy I’ve ever met in the business.”

Edmonton is quickly becoming ground zero for thrusting new sounds into the spotlight. One might imagine the scene as cutthroat, with bands aggressively scrambling over each other to climb to the top. While this might have been true a few years ago, Cherkewick maintains that everyone has been supportive and open-armed.

“I guess bands were really spiteful before, but now, they’re all collaborating and jamming,” he says.

“We never set out to make money or to turn this into a career,” Drover reflects. “As much as we love music, we also realized that we have to have day jobs too. But we’ve started to get past that garage band mentality.

“Music is an art, definitely, first and foremost. But as a commodity—if you can make a living off what you’re doing, doing what you love then go for it.” - Gateway



Recorded by Vancouver’s Jesse Gander (member of Black Rice, Operation Makeout and dbs) at his Hive Studio, Desiderata’s We Are Not Convinced There Has Been Any Improvement is another solid release from fledgling Champion City Records. Champ City seems to be creating a niche for themselves in the complicated and screamy but wholly sincere music genre, and this recording fits right in.

Starting with a lengthy instrumental intro track (more on that later) this album runs the gamut of youthful feeling, with music that is technically adept and furious enough to start a riot. Some of the lyrical gymnastics give a real window into the thoroughly postmodern MTV mindset that a lot of this generation is living in; lines like “Caps lock for the days I feel too small to hide / 25-hour clock just ran out of all its time” are excellent representations of the world we’re living in where everything is intimately connected via the internet and no one goes home from work at five anymore.

While the album has a tendency to dwell for much too long on single ideas (that opening instrumental track is one riff that goes on for two and a half minutes) and the too-cute-by-half song titles are something I could have lived without, this release certainly stands up. - Vue Weekly



Things are really looking up for Desiderata. What started as a fun way to stave off boredom in the rather dreary city of Fort McMurray has blossomed into a record contract with Edmonton’s newest label Champion City Records, an upcoming CD release show and an impending cross country tour.

Since moving to this fair city, the gentlemen of Desiderata focused on making the most of the increased opportunities and resources that a bigger city like Edmonton has to offer.

“Where we’re from there’s no actual venue,” explains singer and guitarist Blair Drover of the band’s hometown. “We’d have to do it in halls and they’d always get trashed.”

Moving to Edmonton has been a boon for the band, which includes Laine Cherkewick on bass and Jerome Tovillo on drums, but the guys have also found that the city of Vancouver treated them well when they went to record with well-known Canadian producer Jesse Gander last May.
“We started writing the material in February and had most of it finished,” Drover explains. “Jesse really helped us out big time—he had a lot of great ideas.”

Some of these great ideas have already led to some success. The band was surprised to learn that Champion City’s mail out of its album, entitled We Are Not Convinced There Has Been Any Improvement, to university stations had netted the group high spots on the charts of many campus stations, including the top spot in Windsor, and a place in the top 20 nationally.

“It’s weird for us, considering where we’re from there’s not much stuff like [campus radio] happening,” says Drover. “To see it on the charts, I still don’t believe it.” V - Vue Weekly

"We are not convinced there has been any improvement."

Ever wonder what it would be like to play a game of ping-pong on a carousel? Edmonton’s Desiderata inadvertently answer the question with their debut, We are not convinced there has been any improvement. It’s a head-spinning collection of herky, jerky guitar riffs, pulsating organs and Blair Drover’s “get-me-off-this-thing!” shrieks. (Honestly, he sounds a little like Black Francis of The Pixies.) Highlights include the scribbly Girls like guys with armour plating and Why sell it when we can burn it down!, which laments our lack of compassion. “Let’s boo the band that brought us music,” Drover yowls. Elastic … europhic … and exhausting. Sandra Sperounes
- Edmonton Journal


.a man a plan a canal panama. - EP (out of press)
We are not convinced there has been any improvement - LP
Alcohawk - LP (Summer '09)



Formed in the summer of '03, the boys met at a show in Fort McMurray Alberta. Jerome and Blair had been in previous bands together and Laine was new to the whole ordeal. The boys instantly started writing the first day of their first practice. In May of '06 they set out to Vancouver to record their full length album "We Are Not Convinced There Has Been Any Improvement" with producer Jesse Gander at the Hive studios (Hot hot heat, Red light sting, lady hawk, black mountain, Pretty girls make graves and etc.). In the fall of '06 the boys relocated to the city of Edmonton and signed on with a new record label 'Champion City Records'. In early '07 Desiderata released their record that debuted at 17 on the earshot charts in Canada. They have done several Canadian tours and have played with acts such as: Monotonix, You Say Party! We Say Die!, They Shoot Horses Don't They?, Miracle Fortress, Shapes & Sizes, Think About Life and many others. Desiderata has also played a few festivals with acts such as: The Bronx, Andrew WK, Nardwar, Anvil and These Arms Are Snakes, . There are plans of another full North American tour in the spring with the release of their sophomore album "Alcohawk".