Almost 30 years after beginning his journey in and out of the rock music industry, Cromer, Man.’s Trevor Hurst is a different person than he was then.
From 1992 until earlier this decade, Econoline Crush reached the peak of the Canadian record charts. He and the group recorded their last full-length album "Ignite" 12 years ago. A remake of their 2008 single "Get Out of the Way" will be released on July 24, marking Hurst's fullest return to music after several years serving a First Nation community as a registered psychiatric nurse while occasionally playing shows.
"It was hard to tell where the music industry was going to go five or seven years ago and that was really unnerving," Hurst said during a conversation with the Empire-Advance on Monday.
"I wanted to make sure I had something to support my kids with, so I went back to school to become a nurse. It's also a job that really interested me because artists, in general, seem to be sensitive people."
Hurst, a graduate of the Virden Collegiate Institute, said the career change suggested he needed to be an advocate for society's marginalized people. After developing relationships with those around him on the reservation and maintaining his music connections, he realized his art could do that too.
"Maybe being an advocate with a bullhorn to shout it from might make me more useful," he said. "That led me back to chase music full time."
"Get Out of the Way" will be one of several tracks on an Econoline Crush's fifth full-length album scheduled for release in the autumn. Despite touring the world in support of four other albums through the 1990s and 2000s, Hurst said the pre-release jitters are still real.
"You just feel exposed. It's like someone asks you to walk through the mall naked," he said. "You wonder, is this any good? Everybody says it is, but are they lying?
"But the process is more important than the charts or the judgement. Yes, we get a little money or prizes and that is important, but what is also important is the process. When you get together to share memories, you don't talk about numbers, you talk about the experiences you have during the process of recording, or making and doing the tours. Once you get to that place, you realize all the great things it took to get there. Building the family or team to put the record out; that's the stuff you'll never forget."
That family still includes long-time collaborator Ziggy Sigmund on guitar and Dayvid Swart of the Todd Kerns Band on drums.
The story behind this year's album touches both sides of Hurst's current professional life. About six years ago, Hurst happened upon a seemingly-desperate social media post from a casual acquaintance. Hurst reached out to him with a personal message about keeping positive and that life on the road is hard, but worth it.
Two years later, the man thanked Hurst for the support and said he was back in the music recording business with a new record label. It was Amal Wijyayanayaki, founder of Vancouver-based Amalien Records. Wijyayanayaki wanted Econoline Crush to work with him.
Considering all that he had learned during his time with First Nations people, Hurst took the opportunity to express himself through music again.
"Some artists can write concept albums, and I'd love to do that and maybe will some day," he said. "But for me, the songs come to me through my lease on life, so everything that happens to me impacts the way I write. Interacting as a nurse and working with marginalized communities naturally flows into my writing because it's part of my make up."
But the album is not all he's working on. A documentary about his experiences with his First Nation community is scheduled for release sometime next year. "Flatlander" will show Hurst as he was working with the likes of Alice Cooper and KISS compared to his life as a registered psychiatric nurse.