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These Saints play 'rock 'n' roll for the third eye'

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The 2010 BP oil spill was good for only one thing: it got the Saints of British Rock back together.

The band reunited after 37 years apart to raise awareness about the environmental disaster -- in particular the plight of the oil-covered sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico -- following the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig.

"No one in the world has done more for helping sea turtles than (the people of) London," one-named bassist Jib says with tongue in cheek during a recent conference call.

"If we know one thing that's the ultimate truth, it's that animals cannot survive in the wild on their own if we don't step in and help," says vocalist-guitarist Rocco Hercules Somershire, whom is also known by his nickname, the Greatest Rock SSRqN' Roll Musician on the Planet.

After so long away from the spotlight, the environmentally conscious duo decided to start fresh with completely new songs, so they tracked down all their albums recorded during their initial 1959-73 run and got rid of them while at the same time giving sea turtles and other marine life forms with turntables something to listen to.

"We went around and collected every single recording and threw it in the ocean where all the rubbish belongs," Somershire says.

With a new album in the bag, the band is currently on tour and is about to make its fringe festival debut when it performs nightly at 8:30 p.m. until from July 28 at the West End Cultural Centre in its own mockumentary-styled show, The Saints of British Rock.

And don't worry ocean huggers: The band plays its own instruments and writes its own material but its back story is as fictional as Spinal Tap's, a group the Saints of British Rock have never met. They really did record at Abbey Road Studios in London, though, and had sword fights at Stonehenge. There are even videos and recordings to prove it.

Their one-hour Fringe show consists of nine original songs performed between interview segments with metaphysicist Peter Tongue who explores the band's wild history, which includes rocking it up at Stonehenge and travelling to the fifth dimension with the wizard Merlyn. It was in the fifth dimension the group was given the neurostimulation lamp known as Merlyn's Lightbox that will be on display for the public to try at Old Market Square daily from noon to 6 p.m.

The Saints of British Rock hope crowd members will have their minds expanded during its show which looks at Somershire's life as a three-year-old cowbell prodigy, explains how Jib joined the band after being punched in the face three times ("It's a tradition of how you make friends in London," Somershire says) and details the band's adventures with King Arthur at Stonehenge and Merlyn in the fifth dimension.

"It's a behind the band thing. You get to see the nitty gritty things what we've done throughout the ages; what London has done throughout the ages," Jib says.

"It's for the children," Somershire adds.

The show features references to drugs and alcohol, so it's not really for children. Admittance is restricted to people 12 and over, although Jib says it's nothing worse than you would see on TV.

"We've got loads and loads of songs about how British people created Egyptian culture and songs about our personal histories. We've got songs about the cocaine -- that's history, man. That happened, man. And sea turtles. That's an environmentally conscious tune," Somershire says.

"It's quite cutting edge," Jib notes. "It's rock SSRqn' roll for the third eye."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 21, 2012 G5

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