Nepotism is not key to Tal Bachman's career

Andrew Flynn The Canadian Press

TORONTO - In recent years, dozens of children of rock stars have emerged to pursue their own careers in the music business. Tal Bachman, son of Bachman Turner Overdrive founder Randy Bachman, is one of them.

But he says the assumption that most of the second-generation rockers get record deals by virtue of their parentage is ridiculous. Besides, he says, what record company would give someone with no talent such an opportunity to embarrass them?

''If the Randy Bachman thing was a factor in my signing they didn't tell me,'' says the tall, blond, fresh-faced singer.

''I don't know if people would believe me, but in my experience, it doesn't matter. There are literally hundreds of guys floating around whose dads were in big bands.

''You have to imagine yourself as a signing agent at a record company - they don't want to look like a geek. They're petrified to sign anyone, period.''

Bachman's self-titled debut has already attracted interest in the entertainment industry on it's own merits.

Bachman will appear in an upcoming episode of the hit TV show Melrose Place to play the singles She's So High and Beside You. Other songs were chosen for the Dawson's Creek soundtrack and Darker Side Of Blue is being used in ads for NYPD Blue.

''I just knew what I like and these are the kind of songs that I like,'' he says.

''You maybe think of ulterior motives and big ideas or ideals and stuff but when it comes down to it, you're writing stuff that you want to hear.''

Bachman almost chose not to follow in his father's footsteps.

''I wasn't sure that I wanted to pursue music,'' he says. ''The immediate alternative was to go to college and see if I could learn something. ''I was there for a few years until I realized that it wasn't really the way for me to go so I quit and moved back to Vancouver and started writing songs all the time.''

In an interesting reversal from the norm, Bachman's father called him at college to urge him to give up school for rock 'n' roll. ''I'd get a phone call every month from my dad saying, 'Why are you studying? Quit university and start a rock band.' I think he realized that was the only thing I was any good at,'' says the younger Bachman.

''I don't blame him or anything. He was like a concerned parent: 'My son's wasting his life. Get him on the phone!'''

His years of studying political philosophy weren't entirely wasted, however.

Bachman has a keen intellect that surfaces in his songwriting and occasionally surprises those who expect rock musicians to be little more than drooling cretins. ''In an interview I referred to the grunge canon as 'fantastic hymns of a nihilistic, narcissistic death cult,' '' he says somewhat ruefully.

''The reporter looked kind of stunned, but that was the only way I could describe it and why I didn't really get the whole thing,'' Bachman says.

''I mean, I liked Nirvana on a sonic level, but there's more to it that that. Say you like a hymn because it sounds pleasant. But a hymn in the church hymnbook has an intrinsically didactic purpose, to inflame religious passion.

''Grunge had a purpose, and that was to promote depression and emotional selfishness. I just couldn't get along with that. It's not productive.''

Which is why Bachman chooses to explore less morose themes. And it also explains why he waited until now to release his album.

''There had to be a change in the audience's appetite before I could bring this sound to light,'' he says. ''I write songs, strangely enough, about how I feel. I don't do angst particularly well.''

A near classic - among the best of the year