Canadian rock band 54-40 performs live at the Cultural Centre on April 12.

Canadian rock band 54-40 performs live at the Cultural Centre on April 12.

West Coasters 54-40 bringing catalogue of hits to Chilliwack

The band 54-40 is coming to Chilliwack Cultural Centre stage on April 12.

Iconic Canadian band 54-40 will grace the Cultural Centre stage next Thursday with an exciting repertoire spanning three decades.

The band’s trajectory can be traced from post-punk beginnings in the 1980s, with tunes like Baby Ran, Ocean Pearl, and I Go Blind, which was later covered by Hootie and the Blowfish, and made it onto the first Friends soundtrack.

They’ve earned a reputation for a great live show, and for managing to reinvent themselves with each new release.

“We’ve always been an eclectic group,” says 54-40 bassist Brad Merritt. “But we have faith in ourselves, in our fans, and the audience to always find some common ground.”

The band is celebrating its 30 anniversary, and more than 2000 performances, touring across Canada in support of last year’s album, Night in the City.

Reinvention is actually “remarkably easy” for the guys.

“You just have to allow yourself to do it,” says Merritt in a phone interview this week. “The only thing stopping you is being scared there won’t be an audience.”

Once they finish a recording project, from the idea of the song, to refining it collaboratively, getting input, to mixing and mastering it, assembling the art work, to going on the tour — they end up playing the songs over and over.

So by the time that happens, they’re ready for a fresh musical idea to kick around.

That said, they still enjoy playing the old favourites from their 16 recordings.

“We’re playing a song right now in our set that’s 29 years old. Everyone is loving it,” says Merritt.

He’s talking about the 1983 tune Set the Fire.

If there’s a specific “city” referenced in the album title Night in the City, by Osborne, it would have to be Vancouver, said Merritt.

Merritt and Neil Osborne are the original members of 54-40, which has gone through a number of lineup changes over the years. They’re joined by drummer Matt Johnson and guitarist Dave Genn.

“Neil wanted to do a modern riff on blues. It has very little to do with the sound of the songs, but more the words and themes, and the tone of the songs.”

The blues can be cathartic, he offers, like an early spring after a hideous winter.

Speaking of spring, they’ll be taking some time off, and coming back home to the West Coast, after the next couple of shows.

“We’ve started the early stages of our next record,” he says.

Asked if they have a Canadian sensibility as a band, the short answer is “yes,” Merritt replies.

“I would also say that Canadian music has moved in our direction.

“I think when we first started out, we certainly identified ourselves as being Canadian, that’s where the whole name comes from.”

The band’s name comes from the slogan “Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!” coined for the unsuccessful expansionist agenda of U.S. President James K. Polk’s, who was trying to control a contested border area in the Oregon boundary dispute.

But they also spent lots of time in the U.S.

“I actually think music has evolved and there is such a wide range of what’s out there and accepted by people.”

When they started out there was more pressure to imitate existing bands.

“We managed to succeed despite that — or maybe because of it.”

54-40, Thursday, April 12, at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, doors at 7, show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $42.50 (+ fees sc) available at the Box Office, 604-391-SHOW (7469) or online at


Just Posted

Rachel is a six month old Labrador retriever cross who was found at large. She is seen here at the Chilliwack SPCA on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Rachel at the Chilliwack SPCA

6-month-old puppy found at large, now at Chilliwack SPCA, needs special home

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Volunteers will gather at South Gate Shopping Centre on Fathers Day before fanning out to help clean up downtown Chilliwack. (Facebook photo)
Kindness Chain Chilliwack Association organizes Fathers Day cleanup

Volunteers will spend 90 minutes fanning out to gather trash in downtown Chilliwack

Folks look through some of the items for sale during the Voice of Hope giant garage sale at 7350 Barrow Rd. in Chilliwack on Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Giant garage sale today in Chilliwack supports Kenyan widows, orphans

Funds go to Chilliwack-based Voice of Hope charity to improve quality of life for impoverished Kenyans

Ben Holwerda of the Chilliwack Spartan Swim Club competes in a swim meet at the Landing Leisure Centre on Feb. 12, 2011. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack Landing Leisure Centre to close temporarily for scheduled maintenance

Pools, steam room, and sauna at Landing Leisure Centre closing for maintenance July 19 to Sep. 4

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Dock has reportedly been unused for a long time

People in Metro Vancouver can expect to experience a short wave of heat just in time for Father’s Day, according to Environment Canada. (Black Press Media files)
Short-lived heatwave headed for Metro Vancouver this weekend

Temperatures are expected to be up to 10 degrees higher than average Sunday and Monday

Most Read