This Friday, the band Prozzäk will be playing a show at The Ranch Roadhouse as part of the tour for their newest album, Forever 1999. As a way of helping up-and-coming local artists get their start in music, the band has partnered with the company Tournado to feature Edmonton band We Were Friends as their opening act.
During the late ‘90s and into the early 2000s, Prozzäk was a hugely popular group, with multiple singles like “Sucks to Be You”, “Strange Disease”, and “www.nevergetoveryou” all making it onto RPM’s top 50 Canadian songs chart.
An element that set Prozzäk apart was the unique distinction of its two members, Simon and Milo, being cartoon counterparts of their real-life creators, Jay Levine and James Bryan McCollum. Their music followed the narrative of unlucky-in-love Simon and smoothtalker ladies’ man Milo navigating the messy world of dating in the dawn of internet romance.
Like other bands of the time, such as Smash Mouth and Len, Prozzäk disappeared from the pop music scene not long after reaching mainstream success.
Although the band have spent a decade on hiatus, having no releases since their 2005 album Cruel, Cruel World, Prozzäk is back. After releasing a slew of singles from 2015 to 2017, Forever 1999, their newest album, came out on March 31st, 2017.
According to Jay Levine, this return happened after he and McCollum performed as Prozzäk at Atomic Lollipop, a music/geek convention event held in Ontario back in the summer of 2015. Levine said he was skeptical about how interested attendants at the event would be, given how long it had been since he and McCollum had performed as Prozzäk.
“I thought that my mom and a few high school friends would show up, and I went on stage,” he said. “Literally there (were) 4,000 people shouting the lyrics back, louder than the monitors, people dressed like us, and it was mind-blowing to me, that people still cared and were that passionate about it.”
The positive reception the band received at the show isn’t the only reason they decided to come back and make more music.
“When we were signing autographs and meeting people, (the) overwhelming response from so many people was like, ‘You changed my life when I was fifteen,’ and, ‘This song prevented me from doing something stupid when I was fifteen,’ or ‘This song helped me come out of the closet,’ and all this stuff. And me and James were just super inspired to, like, make new music.”
Speaking about the inspiration for the album name, Jay said it was an easy title to pick. “It just made so much sense from what we were hearing from our fans, and that year was so important to us,” he said. “1999 was the year Prozzäk really broke out, and we found our voice as far as our own project breaking away from the (our previous band) and really realized that we could do something fun and poppy and sort of personal to me.”
This personal aspect arrived in the form of Simon, whose many woes are based on those Levine himself has experienced. “Simon has some serious problems that I probably had more of when I was in my late twenties,” he said.
“I have twenty years’ experience of having horrible relationships and plenty of material to give to Simon that’s super honest about looking back from a bird’s-eye point of view…. So there’s never gonna be a lack of material for Simon’s heartache.”
Ultimately, Levine says that he has even more fun with the band now than he did back when Prozzäk first hit its stride with mainstream success.
“Right now, we’re super grateful that we get to get on stage and meet people that were affected by this,” he says. “And we’re just taking it all in and having fun now. It’s actually a lot more fun now than it was in 1999.”
For those in the mood to take a trip to the past and catch a glimpse into the future Levine and McCollum have planned for Prozzäk (and the future of Edmonton music with We Were Friends), make sure not to miss out on Friday night. Tickets are still on sale, and doors are at 7 p.m. We Were Friends will be kicking things off at 7:15 p.m.
“We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at the show…. It’s gonna be fun!” said Levine.
Cover photo courtesy of Prozzäk’s Facebook.