A guitar brings out the Hyde in this wild
By David Haynes
"I'm not bizarre enough in be locked away,
- Frank Soda of the Imps
Well he could have fooled
a lot of the standing-room-only crowds who came to see the Toronto "heavy-metal"
rock band perform at the Southwood Inn last week.
Through the course of
an evening the man put a television set on his head and then exploded it; wore a
light bulb head-dress and exploded it; beat up his guitar, made it bleed, hung
it by a rope and then ran a sword through it; and also threw in a little
And through all that he leaped, kicked, scowled,
attacked his roadies, chugged audience members' beer and pumped out loud and
very heavy guitar with the two other Imps, Charlie Towers and John Lechesseur,
to the delight of the crowd.
It's been going on to some degree for more
than four years, gaining them noteriety across Canada, a growing audience and a
Onstage, the band's look is very strange, often bordering on
just plain scary (Soda likes to wear a baseball cap with red horns protruding).
They don't seem the sort of guys you'd like to have over for brunch some day.
But offstage, they're radically different, particularly Soda.
26-year-old Soda is a soft-spoken, thoughtful man. "I just change when I put on
Soda says once the show is over he leaves the crazy part of
him with the lights and amplifiers. "I really have two sides, I'm completely
different offstage; it's like night and day." Says Soda.
He explains all
the craziness, the rites, as nothing more than a good time, an outlet for an
imaginative mind and an active body. Plus it sells.
for 10 years I've noticed people always want more than a band doing copies of
the top 40. People want blood. A figment of my imagination comes out onstage."
He says the resulting show is not contrived and the effects were never
calculated as they often appear with such bands as Kiss and the Tubes. "With
them, the show is built around them. They just sort of fit in. But with the Imps
we are the show, the effects have just developed."
Soda says the
old-television-on-the-head-trick was something he came up with himself, as are
all the effects. "They evolved through my imagination…they're all really cheap
things I made."
Surprisingly, Soda says he has never had a problem with
audiences trying to get involved with the lunacy that happens onstage. "The
adverse happens. People tend to just sit back and relate to what is going on in
their minds. People can live their fantasies through me."
attracting strange types to their shows because of the nature of them, Soda says
it doesn't happen but "As far as stranger sorts in the clubs, they're all
strange. Everyone probably seems a little strange to each other. And they all
relate to the stuff happening onstage."
Where it can get weird is with
the groupies and the people who want to be buddies with Soda and the band. Soda
says the groupies tend to want to indulge in some peculiar tastes while others
are attracted to the band because "they're his kind of people," nice and
After seeing Soda onstage it would be easy to assume he would be
an abnormal person. But Soda says he takes it all facetiously. To him the show
is a joke. Fun to do and fun to watch. "If I took all the demonic images and the
violence seriously, my mind and body would be shot."
He's never let his
mother see the Imps perform. "It'd probably bring her down."
TV sets on his head, hanging a guitar - it's all become part of Soda's life. "I
release myself through this." He's studied classical music and is capable on
several instruments but a need in him to perform, throe a shock at audiences,
limits him to loud rock.
Imps music has been labelled by critics as music
"to weld girders by" with "brain-melt intensity" as well as "cheerily mindless
rock." Some would say it's non-music, just loud, trashing guitar backed by the
steady thunder of a bass and drums. It's popularly know as heavy metal and
practised to varying degrees by such bands artists as Ted Nugent, Led Zeppelin
and a host of others. It's considered a little dated, a style which had its
heyday in the early '70s.
Soda says he doesn't think there is such a
thing as dated music. "New wave is just old rock'n'roll and punk is just a
feeling, a rejection. What is dated?"
Besides, it certainly still has its
audiences. Which is why the future for the Imps is an assault on the big money
markets of the United States. Soda doesn't want to be accused of abandoning this
country but "the people, there are so many of them down there who get into this
sort of thing."
The band is already talking to a few companies about the
necessary backing for an album and a bigger production that Soda hopes will
include a huge video screen that could magnify his activities for the
Soda honestly sounds like he just wants to keep entertaining
people, making them smile the best way he knows how. "To me, acting crazy has
always meant a good time. And besides, you gotta be crazy to even be in this