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artist Rational Youth

Montreal, QC, CANADA
YUL Records
Electronic, Pop

biographical info



One of Canada’s first synth-pop groups, Rational Youth was formed in the summer of ’81 by Tracy Howe (The Normals, Men Without Hats, Heaven Seventeen) and Bill Vorn (U, Sacred Noise). Inspired by the influential Kraut-rock band Kraftwerk, they set out to create their own brand of modern electronic music. Tracy & Bill soon added synthesist, Mario Spezza, and recorded and released their first 12” single “I Want To See The Light” b/w “Coboloid Race” on the newly formed YUL Records imprint.


With the help of producer and YUL Records partner Pat Deserio (Kebekelektrik, Bombers), Rational Youth’s 7” release “Cite Phosphore / City Of Night” paved the way in expanding Montreal’s local new wave scene into both the discos and clubs. Encouraged by the local success, Bill and Tracy soon started work on their debut LP “Cold War Night Life”. During the recording sessions of Cold War Night Life, Bill and Tracy were joined by another synthesizer player, Kevin Komoda, who had already played in various local bands and sessions with Pat Deserio.


When Cold War Night Life was issued in early 1982, it was the first all-synth pop release in Canada and became one of the biggest selling Canadian independent LPs. The album was also released in Europe, where songs like “Dancing On The Berlin Wall” and “Saturdays In Silesia” became club favourites and still remain so to this day. By the end of 1982, Bill Vorn had left the band to further pursue his studies in communications and experiments in robotics.


In 1983, Tracy and Kevin decided to move forward, taking the band in a more rock direction and adding bass player Denis Duran and drummer Angel Calvo. A subsequent cross-Canada tour led them to being signed by Capitol Record. Within the three years with the major label, Rational Youth saw several lines changes, and released a slew of acclaimed singles and the LP “Heredity”.


In 1985, Howe put Rational Youth on indefinite hiatus. But, because of the power of the internet, their early vinyl recordings (1981-1982) became much sought after collector items, and had been re-branded as “minimal-synth”. A growing fan base finally led to Cold War Night Life being re-released on CD in 1997. This re-release, in conjunction with EMI Music Canada and October Records in Sweden, led to an official reunion with Bill Vorn with a legendary 1997 concert held in Lund, Sweden.


Although Vorn made the difficult decision to leave the band to work in academics and his interactive robot art, Howe, excited by the renewed public interest in Rational Youth, recruited Jean-Claude Cutz and Dave Rout for tours and recording. At the encouragement of October Records label boss, Dennis Berggren, this new trio recorded and released “To The Goddess Electricity” in 1999, to much critical acclaim.


In 2009, it was a chance meeting between Bill Vorn and YUL Records boss and former Rational Youth manager Marc Demouy, which led to the welcome reconciliation between Tracy Howe and Demouy. Their meeting sparked the idea of re-recording and releasing “Dancing On The Berlin Wall”, since it was never an official single, and would commemorate the 20thanniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. By 2010, the CDEP was released, and YUL Records and Rational Youth were officially reactivated in the 21stcentury.


In early summer of 2011, YUL Records released the second Rational Youth CD EP, “City Of Night / Cite Phosphore”, which was coordinated by Max Julien and his company DeepSound Music. Catering to the trance and dance market, these remixes were created as testament on how Rational Youth and “City Of Night” were a pivotal influence in the evolution of electronic dance music. And also included, was Pat Deserio’s original 12” “danse mix”, which had never seen release on CD until now, and was also an influence on Ital-Disco & House Music DJs.


By the mid-summer of 2011, YUL Records boss Marc Demouy tracked Kevin down and became the catalyst in reuniting the original Cold War Night Life trio. The key word here is “thirty”. Here is why: This new CDEP “Coboloid Race / I Want To See The Light, will mark the first time these three members have worked together in 30 years, and also marks the 30thanniversary of the debut Rational Youth single, and YUL Records release. In an added surprise, they discovered alternate takes of the first 12” sessions, which are included on this EP…and also a bonus Christmas song just in time for the holiday season. So there you have it. The original gang of three is now officially the gang of four.

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Rational Youth

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