Second of a two-part series, by request of reader Deke! This part grew so large that I ended up splitting it up between a review and a Record Store Tale. If you missed part one, Sven Gali (1993), click here.
RECORD STORE TALES Part 237: Sven Gali – Inwire (and Peter the Rocker)
When Sven Gali released their anticipated second album Inwire, Peter the Rocker was not impressed. Not in the least. A few weeks after it came out, Peter stopped by the record store. He picked up one of the M.E.A.T Magazines sitting on our front counter and opened it to a page. He pointed.
“Have you heard this Sven Gali?” he asked me in a semi-shouted voice.
“It blows,” he fired back, eyes wide. “Sucks. Shit. Garbage. Piece of fucking shit.” He paused to take a breath. “They fucking sold out man! You know what they did? It’s grunge. It’s pure shit.” He raised his hands on either side, as if to emphasize the weight of the turd that Sven Gali had laid.
“Seriously?” I queried. “The songs I heard were OK…”
“Listen to me man. It’s fucking shit. Garbage.”
Peter the Rocker came in periodically over the months. Sven Gali didn’t come up very often, but having heard it since that conversation, I was inclined to agree with Peter. Maybe not to the same extremes, but we saw eye to eye, more or less .
A year or two after the initial conversation, Peter came in to the store once again to discuss Sven Gali.
“Guess who I fucking saw this weekend.”
Not having a clue, I shrugged my shoulders. “I give up. Who?”
“The fucking bassist from Sven Gali man! Shawn. I told him that second album fucking sucked man.”
I had to laugh at that. “You did? What did he say?”
“He fucking agreed with me man! He said they sold out on that album. He said they fucking sold out and went grunge!”
Take that as you will. It’s an old story heard second hand from Peter the Rocker. I wouldn’t use it as a Wikipedia source, but it does shed some light on the album we’re about to discuss.
SVEN GALI – Inwire (1995 BMG)
Kelly Gray (Tateryche) really helped fuck up this album. Sven Gali went to Seattle, and hired Mr. Gray, who had recently co-produced the 4x Platinum debut album by Candlebox. It’s rarely a good idea for hard rock bands to go grunge, but it’s doubly bad when they work with Kelly Gray. [More on this tomorrow.]
Gray encouraged the band to experiment. I guess part of this experimentation was hiring one of his Seattle buddies on drums. Mike Ferguson was in a band called Dog Daze with Mr. Gray. Additionally, the songwriting on Inwire is credited to Sven Gali and Yard Dog. Who the fuck is Yard Dog? I suspect Gray’s got a writing credit on every song. His buddies from Candlebox show up on guest vocals, and even Christopher Thorn from Blind Melon plays mandolin (one of the best moments on the album during “Tired of Listening”).
In a M.E.A.T Magazine write-up, writer Carl Begai said that the album Inwire would “leave people awestruck and impressed”. Awestruck, yes, but not very impressed. I got this CD for free, which is the only reason I have it. It was simply too alternative for most fans, who ignored it in droves. It also had the unfortunate problem of being very weak on songs. There are a handful of must-haves here, along with a whole bunch of don’t-needs. When things click occasionally, it’s on songs like “Truth”, “What You Give”, and “Make Me”.
When things fall apart, it sounds like bad U2 demos, disjointed parts connected together, boring melodies and underwhelming guitars. I hate the needlessly distorted vocals on Inwire. They dominate the whole album. “Helen” features two David Wanless lead vocals, one distorted and one more distorted, yelling at each other. More singing, less yelling Dave! Kelly Gray, I’m looking at you.
No sir, I don’t like it. Down from the 90’s shit cover art through the 90’s shit distorted vocals to the 90’s shit songs, I don’t like it. Except for a few sparkling moments, Inwire smells like a turd.
EPILOGUE: The band never made a third album. After breaking up, bassist Shawn TT Mahar joined Forgotten Rebels. When guitarist Dee Cernille was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, the band organized two reunion concerts. These concerts were attended by Mif from Slash Puppet, who was quoted as saying, “Went to the Sven Gali show at the Sound Academy the other night to watch Dee rock out. I gotta tell ya, if I didn’t know any better I wouldn’t know that there was anything wrong with the fucking guy. He was shredding all fucking night.” Unfortunately Cernille died on February 25, 2012.