Frontman keeps life busy with wide array of projects
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/08/2018 (1612 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Alt-rock has become an alt-career for Moist frontman David Usher.
The group, which formed in Vancouver in 1993, is marking its 25th anniversary in 2018 with shows across the country, including a Centennial Concert Hall date on Aug. 30.
For someone as busy as Usher — he’s also an author, humanitarian and entrepreneur — joining his old bandmates, guitarist Mark Makoway, keyboardist Kevin Young, guitarist Jonathan Gallivan, bassist Louis Lancelette and drummer Francis Filion for “weekend warrior stuff” has become a great way to blow off steam.
“We’ve been through so many different experiences as a band, experienced everything on stage,” Usher said in a telephone interview from Montreal. “But at the same time, I think we have more of an appreciation for the actual show now. In the beginning you’re in a real whirlwind. Now we get to enjoy it.
“We’re doing all sorts of other things as well. Coming to play music is a real fun thing, but it’s not our main thing.”
Moist had its heyday in the 1990s grunge and post-grunge periods, releasing three albums during the decade, Silver, Creature and Mercedes 5 and Dime, which all went platinum in Canada, signifying at least 100,000 units sold. The group disbanded in 2000 but re-formed 13 years later and released Glory Under Dangerous Skies in 2014, which returned Moist to Canada’s top-10.
During the group’s hiatus, Usher launched a solo music career and recorded seven albums, but also focused on life away from the stage. He founded Reimagine AI, a Montreal-based artificial intelligence company and later, in collaboration with Concordia University, the Human Impact Lab, a non-profit.
Through the Human Impact Lab, Usher teamed up with Concordia researcher Damon Matthews to develop the Climate Clock, which provides a countdown to when the Earth’s atmosphere will have warmed to such an extent that it will be impossible to reverse the effects of climate change. It’s similar to how the Doomsday Clock represents the possibility of a man-made global catastrophe.
“It uses the metric of time in a way of measuring climate change,” Usher says. “Conceptually, it’s very hard to look at climate-change numbers and understand what any of it means because we don’t understand the measurements. To put all those elements into time refocuses that in a metric that we understand as humans. We measure our lives in time, we measure our children’s lives in time.”
Usher also used Moist’s hiatus to become one of two bandmembers to have become authors. Makoway published The Indie Band Bible, a reference guide for independent musicians, in 1999, while in 2015, Usher wrote the self-help book Let the Elephants Run: Unlock Your Creativity and Change Everything.
In it, Usher uses his lifetime of creativity — whether it’s within the realms of music, high-technology, entrepreneurship or humanitarianism — to provide tips “to achieve more aha moments,” according to the book’s website.
“If you do a critical analysis on the process that artists and entrepreneurs use, there are so many similarities in the way we roll out ideas,” Usher says. “The book is really about how creativity is much more of a methodology than an idea. The idea is just the starting point of the creative process and the real trick is to be able to deliver on an idea and bring it to fruition.”
The book has led to many speaking engagements with high-tech companies such as Google, Usher says. Spending much of his life singing in front of audiences has taken most of the nervousness away, but that’s where the similarities between show business and keynote speaking end.
“It’s funny. When you’re singing the music really carries everything,” Usher says. “Speaking was a whole new language to learn. Speaking is a different medium and you really have to learn the medium.
“I get the same high out of singing a song, or delivering a great talk or doing something in technology. It’s the same process for me and the lows and the highs tend to be very similar.”
Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.