Cease & Desist – A Love Story

Cease and Desist Promo Collage

For people who have asked us where and how this band came to be, here it is from my perspective.

Marc LaFrance came into my life on November 1st, 1985. I had been hearing about this monster singer/drummer since I was in Shama. Marc was touring the prairies of Canada in the middle to late 1970’s, at the same time as Shama, and was in a band called Crowcuss.

1985: When my band Paradox had started falling apart (Bernie Aubin left to go back to The Headpins), Jeff Neill and I started playing pickup gigs around Vancouver with various drummers just to keep some money coming in. On November 1st, 1985 we were asked if Paradox would do the closing sets on the last weekend of the ‘Outlaws’ nightclub in Vancouver. Since we didn’t have a drummer, it was suggested we call Marc LaFrance to play with Jeff and I. It went well… and Marc and I have worked together since that night. (I bought him an engraved picture of a gold watch on our personal 25th anniversary which he hangs in his office) Marc has become one of my closest friends and confidants and handles all business matters for Cease and Desist and Atlantic Crossing. He is able to keep a cool head in times of chaos and his organizational skills are second to none.

Brent Howard Knudsen came into my life in about 1982. Ironically the first connection was made on the birth of his first daughter Tammy. Since I was one of the few musicians I knew at that particular time who had kids (or at least kids they acknowledged possibly), I had heard about his daughter being born and brought him a card one night when we were both playing opposing gigs in the same hotel. I was in Trama at the time and was playing the bigger ‘pub side’ of the Caribou Trails Hotel and his band ‘Crisis’ was playing the cabaret side which was called ‘The Backstage Lounge’. In 1984 ‘my Trama’ broke up, supposedly for good at the time. Jeff Neill had just left ‘Streetheart’ and he and I formed Paradox. After a few months, Michael Sicoly and Tommy Stewart were offered a house gig at a place called ‘E.J. Jackson’s’ as ‘Trama’ again. They asked if I wanted to join. We rehearsed once or twice actually and I almost considered it then at the last minute I had to say no and stayed on with Paradox. This caused a bit of dissension (that luckily didn’t last). At that same time, Brent had disassembled his band Crisis so he was asked to be the new guitarist for Trama. He agreed and that version of the band went on to their own successes.

Note: The name Trama still exists as of this writing. Although there have been no original members in it for 20 years, Donnie Underhill (Original Trooper bassist) has been maintaining the franchise for 27 years now.

One day I got a call from Brent while he was playing in Trama with Mike and Tommy to say that he was doing a recording project and he wanted to hire me to sing on one of songs. The song was called “Delta I’ll” and we did it in Little Mountain Studios. It was a painless fun session with Tim Crich as the engineer. I heard a mix of it later and thought it was kind of a quirky different tune but enjoyed it. Brent then called a month or so later to say that it had been added to a compilation album in Europe. Then a while went by and he asked me to appear in a video being shot for it. At that time I kinda got the ‘hint’ that I was now a member of this project band called ‘ETC’ with Brent and John Hannah (keyboardist at the time for Bryan Adams). We went on to record a few more songs all penned by Brent and did a couple of videos. Here’s two of them…
“Delta I’ll” click here
“Melodrama High” click here

Late 1985 to early 1986: Marc, Jeff Neill and myself played around Vancouver for only a few months as Paradox before Jeff got called to play lead guitar for Australian superstar Jimmy Barnes who was about to embark on a North American tour in support of ZZ Top. By that time, Michael Sicoly had left the ‘new’ Trama with Brent in it. We didn’t have much downtime after Jeff’s departure to our next Paradox gig and Michael and I still had a good repertoire from our Trama days so Michael was enlisted immediately.
At that time, Brent went on to keep yet another new Trama band going with Doni Underhill ‘Trooper’ on bass and John Hannah (Bryan Adams) on keyboards (whenever he wasn’t on tour with Bryan).

So this was all kind of happening at the same time: I had continued using the name Paradox with Marc and Michael, Brent now in his own version of Trama with Tommy Stewart, Doni Underhill and John Hannah… and then Brent and I working together on this side project ‘ETC’.

After a couple of years, Michael was getting a bit weary of the club business per se and wanted out of Paradox. At that time, Brent was feeling disillusioned with Trama and had quit that group as well. Marc and I asked Brent if he would join and after some consideration he said yes.

Our initial foray into playing clubs with this new ‘Paradox’ was not an easy fit. At the time, Marc only wanted to sing his own material and didn’t want to sing ‘cover songs’.(At the time, Marc was managed by established manager Ed Leffler out of LA on his own solo side recording project), and Brent wanted this new band to try to steer clear of what Trama and the ‘other Paradox’ did. It came to bite us on the behind because that’s exactly what people wanted when they hired us. They wanted this new ‘supergroup’ to do all of what their favourite bands Trama and Paradox did… and we refused. Dumb move. We, fairly quickly, found ourselves ‘out of favour’ with the local “A” rooms and had to play some of the worst gigs I have ever done in my life just to survive. Brent and I played duo gigs in Legions and Army and Navy clubs and took gigs as a band out of town that up until that time we would have never done. When we did get gigs as a band ‘in town’ some of them were at the seediest places Vancouver has on on the lower east side. The patrons there were as ‘down on their luck’ as I have ever seen. Yes the band was really paying it’s dues. I still can’t believe we stayed together through that. In retrospect, it probably solidified us as a band by giving us a strong constitution and the resolve to make ‘anything’ work no matter what challenged us. That has made us an incredibly adaptable band who have literally gone on to do some of the best and prestigious gigs and shows in the world.

It should be noted that when Brent and I went out of town to play as a band, Marc rarely came with us. Marc had a lucrative and rather prestigious side career in those days as first call session singer. He started out doing mostly commercial jingles then branched out to doing background (BG) vocals on artist’s albums. As the Vancouver recording industry started to emerge as a world class city with world class studios and producers Marc ended up working with almost every major recording act that came through town. For a partial list go here:

**Brent and I used Rick (Spud) Fedyk to play in Marc’s place. Rick has gone on to play drums with Paul Rogers and is a very fine drummer.

In 1989, shortly after we got together with Marc, Brent and myself, an interesting thing happened. We received a letter from a lawyer from Montreal stating that we weren’t allowed to use the name Paradox anymore because he represented a band from Montreal called Paradox who had just recorded an album for a major label. Considering I had the name since April of 1984 we kind of shrugged off the letter and continued playing as Paradox. The letters kept coming with more frequency and urgency. Secretly we were getting a kick out the fact that it was costing this band a lot of money to plead with us to stop using our own name. We weren’t taking it seriously at all. Finally, they sent as an official ‘Cease and Desist’ court order, so we brought it to our lawyer friend Don Jordan. Don looked at it and said, “Well, you could fight it and win the case, but why would you care to do that anyway? Most people know you guys by your first names in Vancouver and you normally just play around town anyway… people would catch on to a band name change pretty fast.”
We rhetorically asked… “Gee what would we call ourselves then?”
Don looked down at the court order with the ‘Cease and Desist’ stamp on it and said, “That looks kinda cool”
There’s where the name came from… Immediately we asked our friend Colin Wiebe (who’s an incredible graphic and airbrush artist as well as a great performer/writer in his own right) to make us up a backdrop that looked like a rubber stamped ‘Cease & Desist’, phoned the local rags to tell them the rather humourous story and ‘voila’, like that ‘Cease & Desist’ was born.

The 90’s were an interesting time for C&D. Especially around 1996. I had become a pretty popular solo musician in the Whistler Ski Mountain market and worked up there quite frequently. I was approached by the Chamber of Commerce in Whistler to do a Christmas album which I pulled together extremely quickly. The entire album from me sitting down writing the three songs I contributed, learning the 7 cover songs I would do, demoing the ideas in my garage, art work courtesy of Colin Wiebe (my Randy Bachman connection who also worked at the Pacific Press Newspapers at the time as their creative head), getting the administration and paperwork done, teaching a grade 6 choir their parts for a song I wrote, recording the album start to finish and then sending off to the pressing plant was 14 days. What makes it more incredible was that I also worked 7 nights a week for those two weeks.
At about the same time, Brent was demoing country music that he wrote. His background was country and it was fairly easy and natural for him to go there with the then current rage that country music had on the pop charts. Brent went on to have quite a solid career as a country artist for a few years in the late 90’s and had a few Top 40 songs in Canada. He was managed by Lou Blair (Loverboy) for most of that career. For more information go here:
Marc did a solo album around the same period of time with Paul Dean of Loverboy producing. That album had some success, but what it really gave Marc was the tools of the trade he learned in the marketing and production of that album. Marc ended up using those new skills developing his company ‘Delinquent Records’ and started going to the MIDEM and POPKOMM music festivals every year representing an entire roster of talents from different genres.
Cease and Desist still gigged throughout all of this, and simply would get ‘fill in’ musicians to ‘sub’ for Marc, Brent and myself when any of us were gone away doing what we did.

Ian Cameron: I met Ian in the 70’s when I played in Shama. Ian played guitar in a band called ‘Banshee‘ and was the first person I ever saw play violin in a rock and roll band live. He was always one of the nicest and most approachable people I have ever met not to mention a great talent and performer.

When Cease and Desist were approached to play Europe back in 2002, they requested that we add a fourth member to the band. We quickly thought of Ian to give the band the versatility it would need. With Ian on guitar and violin, Brent could play bass as well as guitar, and I could play keyboards, bass and guitar. We played Warsaw, Poland a lot in 2002/2003 for a few weeks on each visit. One day we called a meeting with the 4 of us and I proposed that we could possibly move into the ‘tribute market’ by doing something totally unique. We knew we could do a decent set of Beatles music (we had been asked to that for a fishing lodge a few years earlier which was attended by then President Clinton’s advisor who loved us), and I knew I could do a passible Elton John set because of my days playing with The Surreal McCoys at the Roxy Nightclub in Vancouver (that’ll be another story…) and Brent’s Rod Stewart voice was the best anyone has ever heard. The uniqueness would come in the fact that the same four people would be doing all of these acts in succession. The challenge was how to go from The Beatles, to Elton John to Rod Stewart in one continuous 90 minute concert set.

I have a theory about shows. Build it and they will come? Not necessarily. However, do you ever watch those infomercials where they say to allow 4-6 weeks for delivery? Do you know why that is? It’s because they haven’t manufactured the product yet and they want enough orders to come in to make it worthwhile to do so. Using that as a model I suggested to the guys that we might want to put a website together first before we even spend too much time getting the act together. We knew we COULD do it… but why waste energy on something that possibly no one will buy. So essentially we did just that. We built a website but needed some live footage and stage shots to interject into the website. We called an old friend Chris Bradley who was running a dance hall in North Vancouver. In exchange to do a video shoot in his establishment, we would do a concert that same night. I sat down to discuss it with him.

He said, “What are you guys going to be called?
I said, “You know, I never thought about that!?”
After a minute, I said, “You know all the acts we’re doing come from England… so why don’t we call it ‘Atlantic Crossing’?”

He thought it was brilliant and so Atlantic Crossing was born.

NOTE: Ian runs his own production studio as do I and Brent. Ian does string sessions out of his studio for a number of clients and usually all are done on line. In 2013 he was nominated for a Grammy Award. Pretty impressive.

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