by carl wilson

Alex Soria, 1966-2004: "Lets Pretend We Were Joyful, Like Green Fields in Daylight"

nilsband.jpg

And now more from the horrible-news beat: Alex Soria, guitarist and songwriter of The Nils, one of Canada's most crucial post-punk bands, is reported dead at 39 in Montreal, apparently after being hit by a train. Alex and his brother Carlos started playing music together in 1978 - when Alex was 12, began playing live shows in 1980, and put out their first EP Sell Out Young! in 1985. The Nils have been called "the Replacements of Montreal" and "the Big Star of punk rock," both for their influence on other bands and the sheer quality of Alex's hard-pop songwriting, cited by the likes of Bob Mould (Husker Du). There's a tribute record called Scratches and Needles that includes contributions by Down by Law and Punchbuggy. But their biggest impact was on their fellow musicians in Montreal, because Nils were never able to get it quite together enough to reach a larger audience, and the band lasted, in increasingly exhausted form, till the early 1990s, when weariness and drug problems sidelined them.

Alex was off the scene for several years but in the late '90s formed the fine melodic-punk band Chino. The Nils had a brief reunion last year, which led some of us to hope that like other eighties heroes, the Nils would get their due a couple of decades later. It's tragically in line with the Nils' long history of bum luck that now that can never be.

On the Montreal board of 20hz.ca, Rick Trembles (best known as a member of Montreal band American Devices and truly disturbing cartoonist) wrote, "I went to high school with his older bro Carlos & once when I came over (circa late 70ís) he told me Alex was making a punk band. We went to their basement & there he was happily strumming away. I showed him my Electric Vomit riffs & to my surprise he picked them up in seconds (I was still struggling with them). ... I remember after one early scorching gig the pick-guard on his guitar was covered in blood & I wondered what happened. He said itís because he was playing so hard the strings kinda opened up his fingers but he wasnít gonna stop playing just because of that. He just sort of shrugged his shoulders like it was a bit of a badge of honor. I wish I took a picture of that blood encrusted pick-guard."

Respect is due Woody Whelan of Mag Wheel Records for keeping the Nils light burning through the years. Woody coordinated the tribute disc, put out the Green Fields in Daylight collection several years ago as well as Chino's disc, and has been at work on a rarities collection. Heartfelt condolences to him and of course to the Soria family and Alex's other family and friends.

News | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, December 15 at 6:41 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

COMMENTS

Just for posterity's sake, the thread that was at 20hz has been archived at:

http://www.northernhacking.org/~johnnyc/alex/www.montrealshows.com-alex-rip-1.html

Alex Soria, 1965-2004. Rest in Peace, my friend.

Posted by john campbell on February 2, 2005 8:31 PM

 

 

Thanks for the corrections - problems fixed. And my sympathies, Randy, on the loss of your friend.

Posted by zoilus on December 17, 2004 12:40 PM

 

 

To whom this may concern. Although it has been a few years since I last saw, or spoke with Alex I still considered him to be one of my friends. Circumstances that were kinda in my control kept me away from my friends for years. i will miss him and at this time of mourning I look back very fondly on the days we spent together. I worked for the great Nils on a number of ocassions. I travelled with them to Halifax as there "roadie". I recall going to his home on the South Shore and I still remember how I felt as though I had been in the presence of pure rock n' roll when I saw the Nils at The Hotel drummond at one of their first shows. One of those Bambi Production shows. Those were the true independant music days. The days when we all put in and we all got something out of it. I am humbled by his passing and I know that he is in a better place now. God Bless All That Is Alex.
Randy Biro

Posted by Randy Biro on December 17, 2004 1:52 AM

 

 

It's heartwarming to read the kind words people are saying, and have always said, about Alex.

2 things - the pic you've got is of Carlos, not Alex, and Alex turned 39 on December 8, 2004.

Posted by harmonica on December 16, 2004 6:00 PM

 

 

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson