Platinum Blonde is one of those fortunate bands that had a handful of hits in the 80s and can just pick up where they left off over a quarter of a century ago. In fact, just another band from the 80s. Platinum Blonde is one of Canada’s biggest selling artists in the decade that featured bright clothes and big hair. Collectively, its first three albums sold in excess of a million units. Although its amazing success was short lived its music has stood the test of time. The massive hits "It Doesn’t Really Matter" and "Standing in The Dark" still hold up along side the Pop Rock Radio Hits of today. These days the group whose name was inspired by a 1930s Jean Harlow movie, is intact once again with the original members.
The band emerged midway through the new wave era of the early 80s, made a huge impact then went their separate ways after the third album failed to live up to the standards of their first two releases. There’ve been many twists down their career path including: being dropped from their label (CBS), breaking up then reforming as the Blondes in the early 90s and enduring the unfathomable death of former bassist Kenny MacLean in 2008 to list a few. Through it all the guys remain confident that the time is right to re-emerge on the scene once again.
Prior to their headlining set at RFM this past Sunday, I had the opportunity to chat with the group’s front man Mark Holmes. The veteran vocalist was very much at ease with his decision to reform the group after all these years (their last charted single was back in 1990). Many people might wonder "why now"? Why would a bunch of guys in their 50s who are best known, for music they did back in the 80s go at it again all these years later? In a distinctive professional manner backed by his thick Manchester accent, Holmes was quick to answer that obvious question, "we’ve got fans from the far reaches of the earth now and a lot of that is based on bands talking about their influences, based on also Crystal Castles (Canadian Electronic group featuring the vocals of Robert Smith of The Cure) doing "Not In Love" and making that such a huge hit especially in Europe. You know the interest is ripe right now and things are going very well for us."
Sure 22 years is a huge gap between radio singles but Holmes has kept himself busy with other music orientated ventures such as producing and running his own dance club / theatre in the Little Italy district called The Mod Club Theatre. Holmes says there are many things that sets his club apart from most of the others out there, "the sight lines are great, it sounds unbelievable in there, people love it. I mean its just one of those perfect buildings that just works. Its one of the best places to see a show hands down." The venue works so well on so many different levels over the years that it has earned quite an amazing reputation, not only among its patrons but among the many big name acts that have ever played there according to Holmes, "the Killers could play ACC (Air Canada Centre) but they chose to play my club four times because they just love it and not only that, we supported them a lot in the beginning when nobody was showing up to see them. Then Amy (Winehouse) when she first came over she was already doing quite well, she wound up doing two or three shows there and Metric did five shows in a row. So when bands do special type shows here for their fans they generally choose the Mod Club."
When he’s not busy fronting Platinum Blonde, Mark Holmes helps run The Mod Club (Pictured here, empty and packed) The club's relatively small size contributes to the intimacy and clear sound quality of live shows. Some of the walls feature murals of images related to the 1960s mod subculture. Many high profile international artists prefer playing the club when they’re in the GTA
With a new single (the upbeat pop rocker "Beautiful") now available on itunes and a major tour planned to promote their upcoming new CD (set for release this fall) Holmes is optimistic about the future in a world where the music industry is much different from where Platinum Blonde left off back when their hair color naturally resembled the bands name, "we’re mixing a best of video hits DVD in 5.1 and we’re trying to have that ready for Christmas time. Plus our label is growing these days where others are cutting back ours is growing exponentially and hiring new people constantly so it’s a great record label."
Next week in Happenings:
Saga - On The Loose and Ready to Tour With New Disc plus a full listing of upcoming shows in the Westman region.
Frank McGwire is a radio personality and booster of the music scene in Brandon and Westman.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 9, 2012