A band that started out with one name and morphed into another -- that's the story of Neck, now known as Christiana. Neck began as a trio with guitarist/vocalist Dave Rodgers, bassist/vocalist Alastair Macleod, and drummer Paul Boddum. That lineup released one 7", two LPs, and one single. As Macleod departed, Rodgers' friend Andrew McAllister was brought in. They recorded one EP under the name Neck, before Rodgers' old Development Site bandmate Jonny Dovercourt (aka Jonathan Bunce) entered the fold on second guitar. The quartet was reborn as Christiana and released one full-length record before returning to the studio in the summer of 2001. Rodgers and Dovercourt were both members of the band Development Site, which existed from 1988 until 1992. After the demise of that band, McAllister and Rodgers performed in Snowblind together from 1992 until 1993. At the same time, Dovercourt joined the group A Tuesday Weld. Upon leaving Snowblind, Rodgers had amassed enough original material to fill several albums. He posted a want ad for a guitarist at the Toronto record store Rotate This. Vocalist/bassist Alastair Macleod and drummer Paul Boddum, who both played in the Michael J. Fox Tribute Band in the early '90s, noticed the ad, which listed 37 diverse influences. They answered the ad, and as soon as Rodgers, Boddum, and Macleod convened for their first practice, they found they held common interests in 1960s pop and late-'70s and early-'80s post-punk, art punk, and hardcore. Searching for a name, the group found out that the first word that actor Donald Sutherland uttered as a child was "neck." Thinking it was humorous, the group took the word as their moniker.
After a year of writing and recording material, Theta State Recordings distributed the 7" vinyl EP 45 ar-pee-em in July of 1994. That same year, Theta State included Neck on a compilation called Leisure Terrorists. The band wound up on the disc after word-of-mouth buzz in Toronto. The following year marked the group's debut full-length LP titled Christiana. It was an independent release under the label Halfwits Music. Due to the limited quantities of the album and the demand from audiences to have a copy, Christiana went out of print shortly after its release. The group followed up the popular album with the July 1996 20-song LP All September Long. It was another independent album distributed through Mum 'n Dad Records. During that time, Rodgers was also spending his days performing with side projects Magic Lamp and Mason Hornet. 1997 got off to a rocky start when Macleod decided to leave Neck due to various reasons that weren't explained to the rest of the members. The group was now missing part of their rhythm section just as they were preparing to record their third full-length record. Realizing their predicament, Rodgers called upon the services of his old high school friend Andrew McAllister to fill the bass slot. McAllister had played with the bands Wholesome and the Black Mission Figs in the mid-'90s while attending the Queens University at Kingston, Ontario, Canada. His songwriting style filled the gap perfectly and his playing even helped to smooth out the group's sound. With this new lineup in place, the band worked out a deal with their friend and fellow Toronto scenester Phil Klygo to release a new EP on his label Teenage USA Recordings. The outcome was the September 1998 release of Uncrated Distant Stars. During 1999, as Neck was distributing their CDs to record stores in the United States, they realized that other bands were using the same name. As a result, conflict arose with the stores, as well as online retailers. According to McAllister, the band didn't feel the name represented the group anymore either, so they decided it was time for a change. Neck was a harder and edgier band. Since the sound had shifted into a fierce tone with a smooth approach, the group was reborn under the name Christiana. The moniker was the title of Neck's first LP and also the name of a famous area of Copenhagen, Denmark, that Boddum had visited. Rodgers and Boddum also began a new side project, Folk Festival Massacre, in '99. Christiana started its own label called High School Champion in 2000. The operation acted as a means for the band to release their own material, when other labels weren't interested. It also helped the group gain more control over how they were represented in public. That September, Christiana released its first full-length CD, Hydrofield of Myth. At the end of the year, Rodgers' old friend Dovercourt was brought in as the second guitarist to fill out the sound. In 2001, one of Neck and Christiana's fans from Japan contacted the group after hearing Uncrated Distant Stars. This led to Christiana's inclusion on the Japanese noise rock compilation Seven Winters. The group also played a number of shows in the United States and Canada, where fans were impressed with the focus and desperation of the performances. That summer, the band was completing work on their second full-length album, Fatigue Kills, Take a Break. Three of the four bandmembers were penning the material for the disc, which was scheduled for release that fall. ~ Stephen Howell
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