“It took a lot of prodding and poking and greasing the right wheels by Kevin, our lead singer, ” said Greigg Fraser, lead guitarist for the southern Ontario rock band Howzat.
Persistence leads to the band opening for the heavy 70’s British band, Uriah Heep at London’s Music Hall, which is a part of a monumental North American tour of its 26th studio album. In addition to persistence, Howzat also recently delivered a top-notch performance that blew the doors off Rum Runners, a club, which is housed on the ground floor of the London Music Hall complex. Venue owners took notice.
Upon receiving confirmation Howzat was the opening band, Fraser said he was “pretty impressed,” as a fan of the British psychedelic giants that sold millions of records worldwide with hits like Stealin’, Easy Livin’ and July Morning over the last four decades. Trying to make the most of this latest opportunity, his band immediately, “jumped on the bandwagon,” and contacted 98.1 FM Radio in London, which was willing to support and promote the concert.
Born and bred in Fonthill, Fraser found his passion for playing guitar at an early age. He started playing in garage bands, and was a member of Fat Rabbit before he left the Niagara area for greener, more musical pastures in London, Ontario. He became a music teacher and learned how to repair guitars, which has allowed him to remain in the precarious field of entertainment.
His journey of self-discovery led Fraser to write three solo instrumental compositions, starting in 1992 with Madness of Modern Life. From this CD, the single, Media Mania got a great deal of airplay in Europe and particularly, Belgium. Influenced by famed guitarist, Jeff Beck, most of Fraser’s compositions are captivating soundscapes with edgy, but poignant guitar and rhythmic harmonies. According to Fraser, his second album, Tech Noir also did well in Europe.
CBC Radio purchased Raver, as the song to lighten the “drive time” of listeners. While he admits instrumentals don’t sell albums or make radio playlists, the first two albums were mildly successful abroad and did make radio playlists in Europe. Notwithstanding, Fraser’s writing has chalked up credits as a studio musician.
His last instrumental CD, Under the Radar in 2010 also shared producing and performing credits with Brian Waters, also from Fonthill, and now residing in Toronto. Under the Radar is mastered by Nick Laguna, who is best known for completing musical projects for The Police, Deep Purple, and Perfect Strangers. Laguna is one of many luminaries Fraser has collaborated with over the years.
Four years ago, Fraser joined Howzat, which was primarily an acoustic three-piece band. Three years ago, the group decided to plug-in and began performing cover songs, which fuelled Rudy and Fraser’s creativity. This collaboration also includes percussionist, Dale Penny, and bassist, Dave Boland, which resulted in the debuted EP, “Rough Cuts” containing five original songs. Since its release, Howzat has added the keyboard player, Dan Ransom to compliment the sound. The song, Storm from this EP was purchased for a syndicated golf show titled, Highways to Fairways on The Sports Network (TSN), notes Fraser.
The band recently released the song, Luv Dust and its corresponding video, which has 20,000 hits on YouTube. Describing his lead singer ‘s vocals as “aggressive” and “somewhat dark, ” add a slice of life cut from a razor’s edge, which helps contribute to today’s modern sound. “Alive” is a song that Fraser believes is influenced by bands like, Stone Temple Pilots and Royal Blood.
“House of Love” may sound like a Valentine’s Day offering, but it’s more apt for a show like Divorce Court. “Luv Dust’s” title is also innocuously misconceiving for a song that rants about our current and turbulent political milieu, caused by U.S. President, Donald Trump. Fraser believes Rudy tends to successfully focus on emotion when writing lyrics that draw the listener in.
While he is confident the number of Youtube hits will rise, Fraser says self-promotion is a long and bumpy road, even down the information highway. It’s disconcerting for potential fans, because when Googling Howzat, one surprisingly gets the song by that same moniker performed by Sherbet, the Australian band. To add to the frustration, Howzat is also a common term used in cricket, and videos of recent sports highlights of this game continually pop up. Regardless of any drawbacks Howzat name creates, the band hopes Integra and YouTube will eventually elevate the band’s popularity and status.
In A Perfect World
In spring, Luv Dust will be released with six or seven other originals on a new CD, which will most likely be titled: “Perfect World”. Howzat will continue to spread Luv Dust around London, Niagara, and Toronto, and the band’s website has an itinerary of club dates listed well into the summer. Howzat has opened for Canadian favorites, Rich Emmett, Lawrence Gown, Rush, Sloan, The Killer Dwarfs and other bar bands like quasi-punk artist, Bobnoxious and Kiss clones, The Destroyers. Now adding Uriah Heep to one’s resume may just help the band “reach the next level,” which is one of Fraser’s goals.
He also hopes to return to the heart and soul of the music industry, Nashville, Tennessee, where he recently became the only Canadian endorsed by Warrior Guitars. On a recent trip to Nashville, he also had a chance to Rock and Roll, Hootchie Koo with Rick Derringer for a day, which he described as “funny “and “a really nice guy”. He has also met many recording artists that have influenced him, including: Martin Barre, guitarist for Jethro Tull; Steve Morse of Deep Purple; master guitar designer and currently deceased, Les Paul; and British guitar legend, Jeff Beck.
Meeting inspirational and famous recording artists is the glamorous part of the checkered existence musician’s lead. The world may be far from perfect, but just knowing: “the guitar is my life” puts everything in perspective for Greigg Fraser of Canadian rock band Howzat.
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