Victoria musician Rob Nesbitt recently released an album he started in 1995. Mine Would be the Sun is an examination of his first love. (Photo Courtesy of Wendy Nesbitt)

Victoria musician releases 25-year labour of first love

Former Bum singer and guitarist Rob Nesbitt puts out first solo album on first love

It takes time for people to process the aftermath of their first love, but for Victoria musician Rob Nesbitt, it took a little longer than most – more than two decades.

A 25-year labour of love and passion, Nesbitt’s first solo record, Mine Would be the Sun, was released this year. Under the artist title The SuiteSixteen, the record is full of the searing anguish, desperation and desolation of heartbreak at any age.

From a military family, Nesbitt moved around – doing a good portion of his growing up in Maple Ridge and Sidney before moving to Victoria in 1984.

“I actually credit Victoria with saving me in some ways because I was an extremely emotionally troubled kid, I’d been through some drug problems when I was quite young,” he said.

READ ALSO: Family band Cowboy Junkies continue to make meaningful music

Nesbitt started his music career as a co-lead singer and guitarist for Bum, a four-person, Victoria-based pop-rock band which gained an usually heavy and ongoing fan base in Spain. Bum’s first album, Wanna Smash Sensation, came out in 1993, but Nesbitt suddenly felt lost in a money-fueled industry opposite from the anti-establishment punk he craved.

“I found that rock and roll didn’t live up to what I thought it was going to be,” he said. “When you get in the music business it’s all about deals, and who you gotta please and you got to grease this guy.”

After a two-year break from music, Nesbitt came back to songwriting and began working on music about his first girlfriend, who he met growing up in Maple Ridge. Their relationship was on and off and lasted briefly into his time in Victoria.

“She was a person I hung a lot of ideals on that weren’t maybe realistic,” Nesbitt said. “I live very intensely in anything I’m doing, and I put every romantic hope and dream I had ever thought of or heard of in a song or seen in a movie on this girl.”

By now they are both married – to different people – but his wife supports his musical venture into the ghost of a girlfriend past. The album, and the hundreds of hours put into it, is as much an exploration of Nesbitt’s selfhood and wordy, passionate intensity for life and love – as it is into the girl he once loved.

“It started out as almost a clinical examination of myself and why I am the way I am,” he said. “What does this actually mean? Is emotion just a chemical reaction?”

READ ALSO: Teen singer from Vancouver Island passes American Idol audition

Nesbitt spent countless hours in a record-filled second bedroom turned studio, developing the words and chords to perfectly express his message, fine-tuning the songs for his love story.

“I grew up loving these really highly-polished records by Def Leppard and Fleetwood Mac. I dreamed of being able to spend the amount of time it took for me to make exactly what I wanted … and that’s what I did,” he said. “I just kept going at it until it was exactly what I wanted.”

The details of the music, album sleeve and included book are emblematic of lost love – the minute phrases, moments and symbols of a relationship past are framed next to Nesbitt’s wife’s photography of empty spaces from his youth – an empty swing set, dirt road, tree-lined street – brimming with nostalgia and heartache.

A hand-drawn sea turtle by Nesbitt himself represents a desperate attempt to win back his girlfriend through witchcraft. A young Nesbitt borrowed a library book of love spells that advised its reader to put a picture of a sea turtle beneath their pillow in a bid for reciprocated infatuation. 

“There are things about emotion that cannot be explained … I felt those feelings and it was important,” he said. “It was beautiful and I don’t regret a single second of it.”

Mine Would be the Sun is also, in part, a love letter to the intensity of youth.

Nesbitt rejects a common adult notion that teenagers only have “puppy love.” For him, that love – and the lessons it taught him over the following 25 years – was one of the most real things he’s ever experienced.

“I think young people’s lives are way more deep than we give them credit for,” he said. “It’s not puppy love. That’s an easy way to dismiss something that’s really powerful.”

Mine Would be the Sun is available for purchase online only on The SuiteSixteen’s Facebook or Bandcamp page.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Arts and EntertainmentMusic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Lonely singer reaches out and gives back, with online birthday show

Michael Demers sharing a musical chat tonight at 8 p.m. on Facebook

Trio of rock shows rescheduled for Alix Goolden Hall

Bowie tribute show, Martin Barre’s Jethro Tull show and Tommy Emmanuel all booked for late fall

Province announces $3M in funding for arts groups hit by COVID-19 crisis

BC Arts Council to administer support for both organizations and individual artists

Opera from a social distance: Taking it to the web

Pacific Opera Victoria launching two weekly podcasts to educate and stay in touch with listeners

Victoria Quarantunes playlist encourages support for struggling artists

Victoria brewpub creates local playlist after restaurant closes in response to COVID-19

Netflix reducing video quality in Canada to lower Internet bandwidth use

Bell Media is also planning traffic measures affecting the Crave streaming service

Will the show go on? B.C. music festivals consider options for 2020

Summer events running out of time to stay on schedule, in wake of COVID-19 uncertainties

Relief fund for Canadian performing artists gets $100,000 boost from foundation

Facebook started the fund with a first $100,000 donation last week

Henley, Tucker, Cyrus and others mourn the death of Rogers

Country music icon remembered as a crossover pioneer, a supporter of young artists

Self-isolating? National Film Board of Canada has over 4,000 free films online

A wide range of documentaries, animated films and short films are on the NFB website

Music industry feeling the effects of COVID-19 pandemic

Island musicians, promoters and producers alike reeling from cancellations, venue bans

Joseph Blake: 10 amazing CDs to explore in our COVID-19 isolation

Longtime music writer shares his favourite records from his vast collection

Most Read