Well isn’t this a pleasant surprise… After a decade-long hiatus, Canadian electronic rockers Econoline Crush are back at it with a new single and a new album on the way. The band, famous for their nationwide hits such as “Sparkle and Shine,” “Surefire,” and “You Don’t Know What It’s Like,” will release their new single “Get Out of The Way,” on July 24th. The song, which originally appeared on their 2008 record Ignite, has been remixed and re-recorded to feature a more modern sound. The band felt that the song, more than ever, suited the times in which we presently live with it providing a positive voice for those trying to build a better world. “Get Out of The Way” will appear on the group’s brand new album, When The Devil Drives, which is currently set for a late 2020 release via Amalien Records. The album will still sound like the Econoline Crush of old, but with a modified sound that embraces a more modern alternative rock feel.
The band, led by the unmistakable voice and swagger of lead singer Trevor Hurst, may not have been active for the last several years, but that doesn’t mean that Hurst wasn’t occupied. While away from music, the talented frontman pursued an education and then a career in nursing and has been working as a registered psychiatric nurse now for a few years. With such a marvellous accomplishment and massive transformation, Hurst has made sure to capture it all on film with a documentary titled Flatlander set for release in 2021. The film will focus on Hurst’s transition to nursing, the motivations there of, and how it has fundamentally changed his life. Nursing has been of huge importance in the singer’s life with it also helping to revitalize the band and offer Hurst a renewed sense of purpose.
With so much to talk about, we caught up with Hurst recently to discuss what Econoline Crush is like in the year 2020, Flatlander, the new record, what the major difference are between being in the band now as compared to the 1990s, and going from rock star to nurse.
Let me just say that it’s outstanding news that Econoline Crush are back together and ready to release new music. What brought you back from your hiatus?
Trevor Hurst: “Thank you, I really appreciate the sentiment. We were never really on hiatus, just a drastically reduced schedule with prolonged breaks. Semantics I suppose, but we really have always had the fire in the belly. There were attempts to be on package tours but they never materialized. We did some fun shows but nothing that built enough momentum to drive the machine. It wasn’t until I met Dave Mansell and we became friends that things started to change. I like to think of Dave as a reformed club owner. We met Dave when we played a club he co-owned, Maxwell’s in Kitchener/Waterloo. Dave got out of the club business and we talked about other projects. Dave mentioned that he also made films. One thing led to another and soon after Dave started filming Flatlander, a documentary about my work as a psychiatric nurse and as a rock singer.
How can this guy do both of these jobs? A singer in a rock band and a psychiatric nurse?! How can he be both of these characters intertwined within one person? I had never really thought about it. I saw psychiatric nursing as a way to be helpful and I was wanting to be an agent of change. I wanted to help those who struggle with mental health issues. At the same time, I still loved writing and performing music. I had come to appreciate the ability of music to heal, to energize and to distract people from their troubles. I think that by analyzing my journey, it changed our approach and it led us to where we are today.”
I heard a snippet of your brand new single “Get Out of The Way” and it was impressive to say the least. The song originally appeared on your 2008 record Ignite but now you’ve re-recorded it. What made you decide to put a fresh spin on the song?
“Putting a fresh spin on ‘Get Out of The Way’ was Amal Wijyayanayaki (Amalien Records founder) and Rod Black’s (AnR) idea. They loved the song and thought it was the perfect song to launch the label. The song also seemed to fit with the current situation in the world. So we made the decision to re-record the song and I am so glad we did! We wanted to give it a fresh look and I love the way it turned out.”
The release of “Get Out of The Way” coincides with the recent deal that you signed with Amalien Records. How did the deal with Amalien come about? What attracted you to signing with them?
“Amal is Amalien Records and he is the reason we are in on Amalien Records. I became friends with him and I connected with him, his vision and his musical taste. He has relentless energy and he truly is passionate about rock music. I knew he believed the same things I believed about taking chances and building a brand. After a lot of discussions, we signed to the label.”
From what I understand, you are finished, or at least close to finishing, a new studio album. What can you tell us about this new record and when can we expect it?
“When The Devil Drives is a rock reclamation, a raw revelation that drifts through old and new territory for the band. We have tried to take a hard look at life, love, justice, and interpersonal/personal struggles. I wanted to expand our sound but still maintain our core musical values. As a band and as individuals, we have been on a hell of journey and it does impact our writing. I am not sure of the release date at this time. I am leaning towards Christmas or early in the new year.”
During the band’s heyday, Econoline Crush was known for its hard, industrial-influenced, electronic sound which differs somewhat from your current sound which is more of an organic, alternative rock sound. Did you intentionally try to go a more traditional route or did the songs just lead you that way?
“Our sound is constantly evolving. It’s always influenced by life experiences and musical interests. As a group, we possess an innate curiosity which seems to ensure we are always growing and changing. I think that of late, our sound combines elements of that early rock aesthetic with our industrial rock vibe. Feel is so important in our process. If it feels good and captures the emotion we are looking for, that is ideal. I think that the songs lead us to where we need to go. It is important that we honour the process and enjoy the journey.”
Despite the breaks in between, Econoline Crush has been a band now since 1992. What would you say is the most notable difference between doing the band now as compared to the mid to late 1990s, around the time The Devil You Know was released?
“The expectations, the sound, and the faith in our process has built us a sturdy platform on which to create. We know generally what we’re building and how. As a band, we all have our roles. Those roles have been defined over time but still, allow for growth and change. It’s easier now because of the bonds we built and the mutual respect that has developed.”
One thing that I’ve always loved about Econoline Crush is your live show because you have a lot of songs that take on a new energy when they’re played in front of an audience such as “Razorblades and Bandaids” or “Surefire.” I’m curious, what song stands out as your very favourite to play live?
“Every song has its own charm. It’s hard to pick just one. I love when I feel the audience and the music connect. It’s in those moments that I find my escape. It’s in those moments when you are carried away by the power of music that you feel the closest to some higher power, some energy greater than ourselves.”
Aside from music, you’ve always been working on a documentary titled Flatlander that sheds light on what you’ve been doing in the past several years when you haven’t been recording or touring. Where did the idea to do a documentary come from?
“Flatlander is a very emotional journey. At the start of the film, I have just lost my mother to cancer and my grief is palpable. It’s only when I truly embrace my inner rocker and reconcile that with my prairie upbringing that I can truly move forward. I hope that people see the film and find a new appreciation for themselves. I hope the audience is able to see that the answers to the age-old questions about life and love are all right here in each and every one of us. We just have to open our hearts and minds to new ideas, new people and new experiences. Life is a journey, not a destination, so make the ride entertaining.”
Flatlander is somewhat of an emotional journey that takes viewers into your personal life and your transition towards being a registered psychiatric nurse. What is the message or the lesson that you would like people to take away from Flatlander after they’ve seen it?
“I was trying to provide for my family hustling gigs and working for a friend’s family business building houses. I wanted to find a way to keep doing music but after a full day at the construction site there wasn’t any energy left for music. Psychiatric nursing was something that interested me. I knew many individuals that struggled with depression and addiction. My best friend was in the military and after a long deployment, he came home with a lot of cash and PTSD. It was not easy watching someone I knew unravel and struggle with addiction and serious mental health issues. I myself had issues with alcohol and quit drinking just after we signed our first record deal. So I guess you could say I was curious and felt that perhaps this education could help those close to me and my community.”
Going from rock star to psychiatric nurse is one of the most amazing and unconventional career changes you will ever see. I’m really curious as to what was your motivation for getting into nursing. What really inspired you to take on such a massive challenge?
“The psychiatric nursing program is four years. One year of prerequisites and then three years in the program. There are hours of clinical training in long-term care and acute mental health settings. I was able to get experience with both child and geriatric psychiatric patients as well as working with adults in an acute mental health facility. Once you complete the program you receive a bachelor’s degree in science in psychiatric nursing. Then you write a licensing exam to become a Registered Psychiatric Nurse or RPN. It was very challenging and there were times I questioned my ability to complete the program. I made the Dean’s List for three of my four years. I did not make the Dean’s List in my final year. My mom was diagnosed with cancer and my focus was on family. When she lost her battle with cancer I was determined to go out and try and be a change agent. I wanted to help people and somehow make a difference.”
Take us a little bit through the process and timeline of you getting into nursing. When did you decide to pursue it and what were some of the steps that were involved?
“I took an incredibly difficult job as my first position as a psychiatric nurse. I was hired to be the Home and Community Care Nurse/Manager at Canupawakpa Dakota Nation. It was like being the caregiver/healthcare provider for a community of 390 people. I had to learn quick and I had to be fast on my feet. It was amazing to face such a difficult challenge and find myself able to rise to the occasion.”
So what’s next for yourself and Econoline Crush? Do you plan on both pursuing the band and nursing at the same time? Or is nursing going on the back burner for now?
“Thanks again for all the wonderful questions. I think that finding a comfortable balance between family and music will be challenging. Nursing is on the back burner for now although I have some projects I’m working on in that area. The band, music and the film are the focus as we move through these uncertain times. It’s when we are most challenged that our greatness shines. We are living in challenging times and music and love will help get us through.”