Where are they now?

In Arts & Life /

By Chris Daniels

Former Platinum Blonde lead singer-songwriter Mark Holmes is winning his fight against the Canadian music industry—-again.

Only five years ago, Holmes won his lawsuit to get out a publishing — management contract with Sony Records. His ‘80s band Platinum Blonde—named for their big, blonde teased hair — was a pop sensation in Canada with top 20 hits like “Crying Over You”(their biggest) and “Situation Critical.”

Indeed, the situation did get critical in 1989 when Holmes felt that the record company had gained too much artistic control and wasn’t about to give it up.

“It was a five year battle to get out of my old record contract. I gave up everything to be free,” he says.

Holmes had won the right to own his own songs again, but had disappeared from the legal scene because he didn’t want to “raise his worth” in the legal battle. Instead, he went broke. Says Holmes: “I felt robbed of a few years of my life.”

Now 31 years old, the Brit from Mansfield, Nottingham is fighting his way back into the Canadian music industry. And he’s doing it without record companies. He sings lead for the three-man independent band group Vertigo which has an edgy, raw rock sound(and glam-rock look complete with black and eyeliner). He also kick-started the Toronto record label Orange Alert.

It offers artists an alternative to the narrow-minded thinking of mainstream record labels.

“Larger labels tend to follow the leader and are not out to start something new, just what’s current and hot like Alanis Morissette. “Let’s find another 100 of them,” Holmes says.

While Holmes admits bands like Vertigo are not mainstream pop, he says there is a real talented independent scene that was being ignored until now.
“OA is a place to go when you’re confused and wondering why record companies aren’t returning your calls,” he says.

Calls may soon start pouring in for the bands. The Orange Alert CD, featuring five different artists from The Spy to Vertigo, has become the fastest seller of its kind. OA also gives its bands artistic control.

Once a band contributes a single, it owns part of that CD, and a full-length CD gives a band part-ownership of Orange Alert.

Though Holmes is still scared to sign his life away with a Canadian record company, he hasn’t ruled it out, but he refuses to give in. “We must retain all power of what we do.”

“We don’t want our tape to be recorded over by Madonna’s greatest hits.”

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