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Bruce Peninsula returns to the limelight with their sophmore album

Bruce Peninsula is made up of five core members plus an additional five choir members.
Bruce Peninsula is made up of five core members plus an additional five choir members.
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On Dec. 21, 2010, Toronto-based band Bruce Peninsula was celebrating after receiving the master copy of their sophomore album Open Flames. Then they stopped. On the morning of Dec. 22, frontman Neil Haverty was diagnosed with Acute promyelocytic leukemia and went into immediate treatment.

Haverty said his bandmates put the album release and tour on hold, waiting for his recovery.

“When something like that happens, everything else goes to the side,” Haverty said. “We had just started to book shows. We had talked about doing a year tour. We were going to be road warriors.”

Doctors gave Haverty a 95 per cent chance of survival. After his diagnosis, Haverty sent an email to friends and family explaining the situation.

“It was easy for me to stay positive. I was so lucky to have hundreds of people show their love and support to me,” he said. “The average person doesn’t get to take stock of the people they know and how they feel about you.” When Haverty went into remission earlier this year, plans for Bruce Peninsula’s album and tour were back on the table.

“When I first got out of the hospital, I wasn’t so interested in playing music. I was disenchanted with it,” Haverty said. “But since we had all these plans I was forced to play and kind of found it again.

“If we hadn’t had this goal in mind for [a September album release], I wouldn’t have ended back in love with music. It’s lucky.”

Bruce Peninsula formed in 2006 with their first album A Mountain is a Mouth, receiving a Polaris Long List nomination in 2009. The band of 10, operating with five core members, has been praised for being genreless.

“We were all surprised when people say things like that, but really if there’s a higher compliment to be paid I can’t think of one better than that,” he said. “You don’t want to be paint by numbers of some other music.” The band’s unique sound is certainly hard to categorize and will be on full display on their upcoming cross-Canada tour. But Haverty is the first to admit this tour will be nothing like previous tours.

“Before touring was drinking every night to get through it and smoking a lot of cigarettes and staying up late,” he said. “Now it’s going to be different.”

Bruce Peninsula plays St. James’ Church on Thursday at 9 p.m.

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