TALES FROM THE ROAD: The Grapes of Wrath

Tom Hooper remembers getting run out of town in Cranbrook

The Grapes of Wrath frontman Tom Hooper recounts being run out of town in Chiliwack

Back before I was in the Grapes of Wrath, my brother Chris and I had a punk rock band called Gentlemen of Horror. We would put on concerts around our hometown of Kelowna and occasionally make the big drive to Vancouver. Since we lived in such a small town and had few friends who were into punk rock, we connected with fellow like-minded teens in other small towns in B.C. who also had bands.

I published a fanzine (a crude photocopied music magazine) called Indecent Exposures in which I wrote about the music scene in Kelowna. I sold it at record stores in Vancouver and through the mail. I met my friend Bruce, who lived in Cranbrook, after he found my zine and wrote me a letter. We would send each other cassettes of our bands and bands we liked and traded stories of how our towns sucked.

One day he phoned me and asked if we wanted to come play some gigs in Cranbrook. After my brother and I asked our mom and she said “yes,” the tour was on! The day finally came and we loaded up mom’s white Camaro and drove to Cranbrook.

Bruce had arranged two gigs. The first was at an old hall. Back in those days the poster would always say “Punk Rock Show“ because you knew you could get a few people out of curiosity. The gig attracted maybe 25 people, mostly bad kids with mullets who smoked. It was your typical disappointing Gentlemen of Horror show. Our dreams of playing in front of a sold-out room of excited punks never happened. But the next gig was gonna be great; the next gig was at the local roller rink.

They had the stage at one end of the rink and all the skaters would skate by the stage as they did their lap. The regulars weren’t too happy with our screaming punk rock noise and as they skated by the stage would yell obscenities at us. We thought this was funny and continued to rage on. By the middle of our set there was a lot of upset roller regulars, so we cut it short and decided to pack up and leave. As we went to our cars, some local kids were waiting for us with hockey sticks and rocks. They were trying to let the air out of our tires, threatening us and throwing rocks. Finally, the police showed up and told us to leave town, and we agreed. The police gave us an escort to the city limits and all was well again in Cranbrook.

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