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HOMECOMING 2013: Arrogant Worms return to Queen's

By Michael Onesi, Alumni Communications Officer

When Trevor Strong (Artsci’91, Ed’11, MEd’13) came to Queen’s, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Forming one of Canada’s top musical comedy troupes, the Arrogant Worms, was an unlikely career choice, considering he didn’t sing or play an instrument.

More than 20 years later, the band – also featuring Mike McCormick (Sc’85, MSc’93) and Chris Patterson (Artsci’96) – is still going strong. The Worms have sold more than 150,000 copies of their 12 albums and perform 20 to 30 shows a year. One of those shows is an Oct. 5 concert at Duncan McArthur Hall during Homecoming.

“I always enjoy coming back and playing Queen’s. You feel like you’ve gone somewhere and that you haven’t gone anywhere at the same time,” says Trevor, who spent many years as a student in Duncan McArthur Hall studying for his education degrees.

The Arrogant Worms got their start in 1991 when they met during a Queen’s Players production. Trevor had a friend hosting a CFRC Radio show and invited the group on air to perform skits and sing songs.

The group’s big break was when they sent a demo tape to CBC Radio host Arthur Black for a song called “The Canadian Crisis Song.” It was about cross-border shopping – a hot topic at the time.

“We thought it sounded like the stuff they play on CBC. So we recorded it and sent it off. They said they wanted to play it and asked us what our name was. We didn’t have a name yet – we were just a bunch of guys recording sketches,” says Trevor.

The name came during a brainstorm session at the Clark Hall Pub. The band members wrote a list of nouns and adjectives on a piece of paper and started to match them up.

“Many bands at the time had adjective-noun names, like Blue Rodeo, Barenaked Ladies and Tragically Hip, so we went with that,” says Trevor, noting Wacky Neighbours was another potential band moniker.

The band was touring heavily across North America and recording albums. They had their videos shown on MuchMusic and performed at festivals on three continents, becoming known as one of the Canada’s best musical comedy groups. Eventually, the band members married and started having children, so today the Worms spend much more time at home. Being a Worm is now a part-time job.

“We don’t want to tour too much anymore. Standing in front of a crowd and making people laugh is still great. It’s just that plane travel gets more annoying every year and they haven’t invented a teleporter yet,” jokes Trevor.

Fortunately Trevor doesn’t have to travel far for the Homecoming concert. He still lives in Kingston where he teaches and writes books. His third novel, Edgar Gets Going, comes out mid-October and is about a washed-up rock star who takes a gig playing in a children’s band. Mike lives in Renfrew near Ottawa, and Chris lives in Toronto and recorded a children’s album called Small Potatoes in 2009.

Tickets to the Oct. 5 Arrogant Worms concert are $23 for Queen’s students, staff and alumni and $28 for the general public. Tickets can be purchased at the door, in advance online or by calling 613-533-6000 ext. 75408.