It’s rare that a musical group lasts on the scene more than five years, let alone 25 years, but that’s the reality for the Arrogant Worms.
The Canadian comedic music pioneers will be visiting Lacombe on Dec. 5th. The group will be bringing their family-friendly show to St. Andrew’s United Church, and due to the time of the year, will also be performing some tunes off their Christmas album.
Another reality for the long-time group is the acceptance of their name, the Arrogant Worms - a supposed puzzler to the passing listener but a well-kept secret to longtime fans.
“Back when we started out we were just a bunch of guys doing some stuff like campus radio,” said lead vocalist Trevor Strong. “We sent a song to CBC and they said, ‘Yeah, we will play this song. What is the group’s name?’ And we didn’t have one.”
It was 1991 and due to the popularity of other Canadian band names at the time, like the Barenaked Ladies, Blue Rodeo and the Tragically Hip, the group decided their name should also have an adjective/noun concept.
“We just sat down with a list of adjectives and a list of nouns and crossed them off,” explained Strong. “Somehow we ended up with Arrogant Worms on the list. We tried to change it once but we never actually took to it.”
Although it’s morphed several times over the past 25 years, the current line up of the worms features Strong, Mike McCormick on guitar and vocals and Chris Patterson on bass and vocals.
Humour is a large part of the Arrogant Worms’ shows and music in general.
“It’s everything,” noted Strong. “We started out as a comedy crew, but we ended up as a musical group.”
The group, to put it lightly, dabbles with political topics, but Strong is quick to note they are not political satirists.
“When we started, before you could make a song and suddenly it was on the Internet, we decided that it was not worthwhile to make fun of current events or current politicians because the songs are funny for sometimes only a week,” he said. “We are too lazy to be writing a song a week. That’s not practical.”
So the group took to working long lasting jokes into their material, leaving political statements and jokes for their on stage banter.
Due to the content of their songs, the Arrogant Worms are often pegged as the ‘comedic relief’ at most festivals, but their music goes deeper than just bringing the laughs. They are true genre benders, not afraid of taking on a country ballad followed by a children’s song and then a tune that gently pokes fun at former Toronto mayor Rob Ford.
“Anytime you do a different genre, you can make kind of different musical jokes about something, so that’s one reason why we play around with it,” said Strong. “Another reason is if you play everything in the same kind of style, it’s kind of boring, so we try to do different genres. We also don’t do direct parodies like Weird Al does, so instead we like to do genre parodies. It gives you a little more to play with and it gets fun if you play in other styles.”
The group recently released a new album title SPACE in 2014. The new album was a long overdue project for the trio, after releasing a greatest hits compilation in 2010.
SPACE was mainly the product of just scheduling a time to get into the studio.
“We came up with that when we were going to release it and then booked a studio, so we all had to have songs ready by the time we got there,” said Strong. “We pitched the songs to each other and then we just recorded it. It was pretty much that we decided that it was time to put something new out.”
Even with a large song catalogue to draw from, the group does not shy away from playing the hits, what the fans want to hear.
“There’s five or six songs we play every single show no matter what - the standards,” said Strong. “We make sure we have time to play the ones people actually want to hear.”
So what keeps the Worms laughing, singing and jesting their way through each decade?
For Strong, it’s a puzzle, but it’s also something he’s very thankful for.
“I really have no idea,” he said of the Worms’ recipe for long lasting success. “But I think part of it is because of our humour. We’ve always been focused on fun and catchy and I think that never goes out of style.
“A lot of kids like our stuff too, which is always good because if a kid likes it, parents will usually do anything to make their kid happy. That means we always have young people coming up who listen to our music, so I think that kind of helps too, that we have a broad appeal.”
As for the future, hopefully in the next quarter century, Strong said the Worms are likely to, “Keep on keeping on.
“We will probably put out another album in about a year or so if we get our act together, which I think we will,” he said.
The Arrogant Worms will be playing at St. Andrew’s United Church (5226-51st Ave.) on Dec. 5th.
Tickets are available at Sunny94 at 403-786-0194 and St. Andrew’s United Church 403-782-3148. For more information contact Tom at 403-341-9348 or Donna at 403-782-2032.
The concert is sponsored by Friends of Guatemala, with funds gathered to help fund humanitarian projects in Guatemala.