Swedish Fish
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Swedish Fish

Band Alternative Pop


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"Swedish Fish Live"


Swedish Fish Live at the Smiling Buddha

By Andrea Ledwell

Simon Bedford James just happened to be checking out eBay one day a couple of years ago, when he
discovered that a single from his old band, the popular Toronto group Swedish Fish, up for sale.
Curious, Bedford-James, also a former member of the Toronto bands Made and Bluebird, contacted the
seller to ask him about it. It had been 20 years since the popular 80s group had disbanded, and he had
no idea that any of their music was available, let alone, collectible. He sent off a note to Tim Osier and
discovered that the single had sold for over $80. Osier, being an avid collector of independent Canadian
music explained the sale price to the surprised guitarist. “He just told me that it’s a good song and people
want to hear it,� says
A simple enough statement - and a pretty good summary of what makes for good music. It has been
suggested that Swedish Fish crafted one of the best (and most underrated) Canadian rock songs with
their 1986 song “Alison� – written after the horrid abduction and murder of an 11 year-old Torontonian, an
event Bedford-James says, marked the loss of innocence for this city.
“We had no idea what we were doing,� says the guitarist of the bands beginnings. “When we had our first
gig at The Cameron House in 1986, I was only 20, yet the only member of the band that was old enough
to be in a bar.�
The band performed in popular 80s venues, like the Beverly Tavern and even the Rivoli, with a steady
following that were keen on the band’s unique minimalist new-wave sound. “We were doing something
different for that time – but we had no idea how or why people were hearing about us. We were just
doing it for fun.�
The praise given to Swedish Fish's song, along with Osier's encouragement that they put together a
compilation, was enough to spur Bedford –James to come out of his self-imposed retirement from the
local music scene and contact the other members of his former band to tell them about their continuing
popularity. Popularity sustained in spite of the fact that the group hadn't played a gig in over two
“I had no idea what any of the band members were up to – we hadn’t kept in touch. I looked some of
them up on the internet to contact them and it became mostly an opportunity to catch up.�
When the band got together, around Christmas a couple of years ago, they realized that, even though
they had all gone their separate ways, were still interested and keen on playing together. They started
Gadzooks! episode one-hundred and thirty one http://www.gogadzooks.com/episodes_2/episode_131/episode1...
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getting together for rehearsals and Bedford-James realized that he was having a good time.
“I had given up playing for three years and wasn’t that interested in getting back into a band�
Though a few of the original members have since dropped out, Swedish Fish has been, with the prolific
writing skills of guitarist Bedford-James and the vocals of original band-mate, Martha Bouchier, along
with Sue McCluskey (guitar and vocals), Martin Cooper (keyboard, vocals), Kevin Croucher (bass), and
Dominic Whelan (drums) replaced by Todd Gemmil, able to produce the latest project, Dark Light, with
the band’s original engineer, Brian Gagnon, and under the original label, Bullseye Records.
“We aren’t really out to make it big – we are just having a good time playing together,� says Bedford-
James, of the regrouping of his first band. “This has been one of the most enjoyable musical experiences
of my life.�
Swedish Fish will be performing on Friday night at the Smiling Buddha on College (west of Dovercourt)
with opening act, Jeanette Lee – doors open at 9PM. - Gadzooks!


Singles (1985, vinyl): Alison, Death of Samantha, Clever Girl
Albums (2007): Dark Light -- available on iTunes Canada, CBC 3, bullseyecanada.com
2nd album in the works.



Descended from the Toronto band of the same name formed in 1986. After twenty years in hibernation, has evolved to cope with modern musical styles and technologies to create a viable species well-adapted to producing powerful melodies and crowd-pleasing live shows.