|The Grapes of Wrath are brothers Chris and Tom Hooper, right and left respectively, and Kevin Kane.|
"Thirty years ago, we were teenagers learning to play our instruments and trying to figure out songwriting as we went along," said Kevin Kane, a 1982 Kelowna Secondary School graduate - and lead singer, songwriter and guitar player for the band. "So we spent a lot of time jamming together."
Riding high on the strength of a hit single, and with their first album in 20-plus years released earlier this year, they're set to celebrate three decades (almost to the day) with a free concert in Waterfront Park on Wednesday.
Back as a cohesive unit again after breaking in the early '90s at the height of their success, Kane and company are making up for lost time.
"This is more of a comeback than most performers," said Kane. "People call it a 'comeback' if someone takes four years between records. We broke up for 18 years and didn't record for 22."
Nowadays, the three founding members of the band, Kane, bassist Tom Hooper and drummer Chris Hooper, are scattered around the country, and may not spend as much time together as they did when they started out.
Tom Hooper has resided on Saltspring Island for years and his brother Chris lives in Vancouver. Kane has lived in Toronto for the past few years.
With the upcoming Kelowna show, Kane reflected back on the band's beginnings.
"I still remember that first show 30 years ago at the French Cultural Centre and never could have imagined then that we would be playing a 30th anniversary show," he said from his home in Toronto, his wry sense of humour in evidence. "I also could never have imagined lots of stuff - I hope that doesn't make me appear unimaginative."
In fact, over the course of their career, since the release of their first recording together, 1985's September Bowl of Green, the Grapes of Wrath have demonstrated that coming from a smaller city distanced from the usual cultural epicentres of Canada was no impediment to musical creativity.
The band released four albums and two compilations, as well as a string of singles, showing an ability to craft intelligent and catchy pop songs. They also drew critical acclaim, drawing comparisons to The Beatles, R.E.M. and other alt-pop luminaries.
While they may have hit what was their high note at the time with the 1989 album Now and Again and the single All the Things I Wasn't, it didn't last forever.
The Grapes suddenly went their separate ways, acrimoniously it had been reported, following the release of 1991's These Days and its two hits, You May Be Right and I Am Here.
While Kane pursued a solo career and played guitar with others, the Hoopers and former Grapes keyboard player Vincent Jones went on to record and play live as Ginger, achieving some success before eventually disbanding in the late '90s.
Putting their differences aside, the musical team of Kane and Tom Hooper got back together in 1999, releasing the album Field Trip the following year. The pair also played some acoustic shows together, but it wasn't until 2010 that all three original members played together again at a festival in Surrey, the first time they had shared a stage since 1992.
They also played live as part of the Western Canadian Music Awards show at Kelowna Community Theatre in that same year.
Kane's attitude may have softened a bit since he wrote and sang Backward Town, a rueful take on small-town mentality off 1987's successful sophomore release, Treehouse. But that doesn't mean he has lost all his vitriol and vigor as a songwriter and singer.
The release of the new album High Road is evidence the band has patched things up.
Of the success of High Road and the single Good To See You, featuring the Grapes signature guitar jangle and catchy melody, Kane said he was "very pleased rather than surprised."
He also spoke about how excited he is to be playing with his old bandmates again and the musical symbiosis they're able to achieve. That, and the fact even though they're not kids anymore, there's still plenty to achieve.
"The biggest part is the fact that we grew up together and learned to play as a band," he said. "There's a way that we mesh as musicians that can't be found playing with anyone else.
"It feels more like back in the early days for me than when we were having our greatest chart successes," he said. "I feel like we play like we have something to prove and I look forward to every single gig."
Who: The reunited Grapes of Wrath free concert. Part of the Parks Alive K 96.3 Wednesday Night Showcase Summer Blowout
Where: Kelowna City Park
When: Wednesday, Aug. 28 at Waterfront Park at 8 p.m. Opening acts, 6 p.m.
Info: grapesofwrath.ca or festivalskelowna.com.