“How come I never heard of you?” is the question Tom Kanach is often asked when approached after a performance. It wasn’t too long ago that the New Jersey born singer/songwriter was accustomed to being asked “Aren’t you the singer from the Well of Souls” or “Didn’t I see you on stage at the Stone Pony last night?” to which Kanach (pronounced Kay-nack) would reply “yes” and then proceed to read the dinner specials before taking the order of the bewildered diners at one of the many Jersey shore restaurants where he waited tables to make ends meet.
In Beyond the Palace, Gary Wien's excellent book about the Asbury Park Music scene, he wrote that "Well of Souls was a band on the verge of success for many years. They won the East Coast Rocker 'Unsigned Band Contest,' had a radio hit with the song 'No More Rain,' and spent countless nights in New York City showcasing in front of music industry people, but never managed to get signed to a record deal."
After Well of Souls came Grimace and then Lustre, each continuing to showcase **"Kanach’s pop sensibilities and songwriting prowess, influenced by everything from early Beatles, to The Dead Boys and David Cassidy." There were managers, production deals, publishing deals, record deals almost signed, more managers, and of course lawyers and legal battles… Disillusioned, eventually Kanach turned his back on the business, but not the music - continuing to write enthralling pop songs, and play the occasional local gigs.
Then in a truly Townshendian-like undertaking, Kanach's epic rock opera Undertow emerged from two years of painstaking craft. A musical mosaic of 30 interwoven songs, that capture an individual's struggle to overcome the undercurrent of a lifetime of damage- the undertow- to rise above it, let it go, and escape his self-made prison. Kanach spent the next two years recording Undertow and in 2017 the album was released to great reviews. "A pop masterpiece," said New Jersey Stage Magazine; and the review in the Aquarian Weekly did not mince words, calling it the "Top release of the year."
Undertow's success, coupled with sweeping changes in the music industry that gave artist the ability to directly reach an audience led Kanach to fully reignite his career. In 2019 he formed a band with kindred musicians, including guitarist Pete Wood, an active member of Dramarama, Undertow bassist Joe Rowley, and drummer Steve Buzbee.
November 2019 then saw the release of the band’s inaugural five-song EP Once, from which came the exhilarating single and video “Who Do You Blame?”.
Soon after much-raved-about performance at Asbury Park's Light of Day Festival in January, however, the coronavirus crisis put an end to the band's live schedule. Not able to perform live, the bands’ attention turned to writing and a recording a new album with a released planned the fall of 2020. Fittingly, Kanach wrote most of the new songs during lockdown, and they keenly, viscerally capture the unique sense of tension and isolation that the pandemic has engendered here and around the world.
The first single “Now (Close Your Eyes),” and an accompanying video have been released in advance of the album and has been called a “perfect song for right ‘Now’”.
"I never lost my passion for music or stopped creating it," Kanach explains. "I did lose my hope in the music business, but that business no longer exists. Musicians, who weren’t willing to compromise to get ahead, now can create their own opportunities. The band is documenting this task on video, and we will be sharing it with our growing numbers of loyal supporters. We hope to show people it’s never too late to pursue and achieve your dreams, and that anything is possible if you are willing to embrace change.”
*Gary Wien, New Jersey Stage Magazine 6/23/2017
** John Pfeiffer, Aquarian Weekly 12/17/2017