Lowest Of The Low Signs To Sonic Envy
The influential indie rock veterans have signed to the imprint headed by Brian Hetherman. The deal covers future releases from the band, as well as the catalogue that includes the gold-certified Shakespeare My Butt.
By Kerry Doole
One of the Canadian indie rock scene's most influential bands, Lowest of the Low, has signed to the Toronto-based independent label Sonic Envy. A record label and worldwide physical and distribution company, Sonic Envy will be the new home for future releases from the band, as well as for the Low’s career-spanning catalogue including the gold-certified album Shakespeare My Butt.
Sonic Envy was founded by industry veteran Brian Hetherman in 2010. He kicked off his career in the music industry at MCA/Universal in the ’90s, working with artists such as The Tragically Hip, Guns N Roses, Aerosmith, Peter Gabriel and Alanis Morissette. Hetherman's impressive cv includes roles as A&R director at MCA/Universal, Head of Universal Publishing, and a FACTOR executive.
He also heads a successful country and roots label Curve Music, with a roster currently including Suitcase Sam, Scott B. Sympathy, Pretty Archie, Garth Hudson, Holly McNarland, Lindsay Broughton, Tom Taylor, Western Swing Authority, and more.
In addition, he is President of Cerberus Management, the sister company to Curve Music and Sonic Envy. Operating since 2002, Cerberus has, over the years, managed the careers of artists such as bluegrass sensations The Dead South ((read an FYI profile on that group's viral success here), Men Without Hats, Holly McNarland, Andy Stochansky, Suzie McNeil, and Derek Miller, among others. Cerberus’ current clients include Mobile, Pretty Archie, The Hello Darlin's, and Western Swing Authority.
Sonic Envy’s focus includes Indie, Alternative, and Rock projects, and it is the current home of Men Without Hats, Mobile, and now Lowest Of The Low. In addition to Lowest Of The Low, the label will also release Ron Hawkins’ solo work as well as The Do Good Assassins.
In a press release, Lowest Of The Low frontman Ron Hawkins says this of his new label: “Cast away on an indie island surrounded by turbulent corporate seas, Lowest of the Low wrote S.O.S. in huge letters in the sand. Brian Hetherman - seeing the plea from a helicopter overhead - mistook the acronym to mean, ‘save our band Sonic Envy’. So that’s just what he did. Lowest of the Low is proud to join the Sonic Envy team for the release of our next album.”
“It’s truly both an honour and somewhat prophetic to have Lowest of the Low signed with Sonic Envy,” says Hetherman. “Not only have I been a fan of the band since day one, but they were one of the springboards for my career in A&R at MCA-Universal after I brought the band’s first indie release to the company. It only took 30 years, but we are finally business partners,” he laughs.
Lowest of the Low is now in John Critchley’s (13 Engines) Toronto space, Green Door Studios. Look for the new album, tentatively titled Welcome To The Plunderdome, in 2023, and the catalogue reissues over the coming months.
Lowest of the Low's origins can be traced back to 1983 when principal songwriter/singer/guitarist Ron Hawkins and drummer David Alexander played together as teenagers in a heavily politicized, straight-edge band called Social Insecurity. In the late 80s, Ron and David were joined by guitarist Stephen Stanley in their second band Popular Front, which later evolved into Lowest of the Low.
The group began jamming at acoustic open-mic nights with a clutch of new songs that were stripped down yet infectious and featured socially conscious lyrical content LOTL built a faithful following on the strength of their live shows.
LOTL’s 1991 landmark debut album, Shakespeare My Butt, was honoured in 1996, 2000 and again in 2005, by Chart Magazine with spots in the top 10 of the Top 100 Canadian Albums of All Time. The debut became the best-selling independent release in Canadian history at the time. In 2008, Lowest of the Low was inducted into the Canadian Indie Rock Hall of Fame and earned Gold certification for that record.
In all, LOTL has released six studio albums (the most recent was 2019's Agitpop) and two live records, Nothing Short Of A Bullet and 2021's Taverns and Palaces. The group has been through multiple lineup changes, with the current iteration of Lowest of the Low featuring Ron Hawkins, Lawrence Nichols, Michael McKenzie, Greg Smith, and David Alexander.
- Brian Hetherman photo credit: Sergio Rodriguez.