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Combining the talents of veteran musicians/recording
artists Jen Simpson (lead vocals),

guitarist Fred Yurichuk, guitarist/keyboardist
Simon Chow and drummer/keyboardist Chris
Romano, Neon Bloom has already staked a claim
as one of the most innovative and energetic live
bands on the Toronto scene, by invoking their collective
experience as live performers, and a dedicated
sense of professionalism and passion for
their craft.

Formed just two years ago, the story behind their
origin may not seem to be out of the ordinary on
first examination. But dig a little deeper and you
realize that the back story gives great meaning to
so many aspects of the band, from their energetic
stage shows, to their overall look and creative aesthetic,
their dedication to their craft, and especially
Simpson’s powerful lyrical creations. More importantly,
the story behind the story is why each band
member is so committed to one another, and to
their collective musical enterprise, and why they
approach life and music with such joyful abandon.
Simpson and Yurichuk met through a musicians’
‘matchmaking’ website and began jamming together
in 2017. Realizing they had a lot in common
career-wise and in the sort of music they wished
to create, the pair sought out players to round out
the lineup, eventually landing upon Chow and then
Simpson had spent time playing with Torontobased
all-girl punk band Machetes in the first
decade of the new millennium. That band was
managed by Roger O’Donnell, the Cure’s keyboard
player, and toured North America and the U.K. before
breaking up in 2009. She then moved on to a
project with her then husband based out of New
York City.
Yurichuk toured Canada, Asia and South America
with the band Girl + The Machine, one of many
bands that he has toiled with over more than two
decades in the music business. These two experienced
and savvy musicians knew what they were
looking for in bandmates and found them in both
Chow and Romano, who were also experienced
players on the local scene.
“It just felt natural. And we actually wrote a song
that would appear on our first EP pretty quickly
because we connected so well. We had auditioned
other people and considered other people, but Simon
and Chris were the right fit. You just know. It’s
like any sort of relationship, you just know if it’s
going to work,” said Yurichuk.
So far, a pretty normal story of a band coming together.
But there is so much more of a compelling
and inspirational tale to tell. A little over a decade
ago, Simpson was suddenly struck down with epilepsy.
At its worst in the early days, she was bedridden,
needing constant care, enduring six major
seizures a day. It meant giving up everything,
including her modelling and music careers. After
years of searching for help, she was finally able
to have a treatment plan put in place, along with
the correct medications, and by her own reckoning,
has 90 percent fewer seizures than she had at
the worst stages of the illness.
Even though she still struggles and has had seizures
both in rehearsals and onstage during
shows, she is undaunted in her commitment to
Neon Bloom, to creating and performing music
and entertaining audiences. The audience often
knows this back story and Simpson said she often
speaks with people after shows who say they feel
inspired by her bold and badass approach to life
– not letting her chronic condition impinge on her
zest for life or creative spark.
“At the time, when I got sick, it was super strange
to be an adult and be that debilitated and go
through something like that. But, for me, it’s a big
part of how I write lyrics, and why I write lyrics
and how I see the world. And it impacts the performances.
Every show for me is a celebration. There
was a time when I was scared, and sick and penniless.
I lost my husband and had to move back to
Toronto and now I just want to celebrate how far
I have come and how amazing it is to be in this
band with these guys. Every show is the best feeling
ever,” said Simpson, who credits her experience
in modelling for her command of stages and
ability to connect with audiences.
“I think it’s cool for people to be aware of because
I think it can be encouraging for people with an
illness or something extra that they have to deal
with to see me doing all that I do and enjoying life
so much. After 10 years of trying to figure it out, I
now have it pretty much under control, and that’s
why I have been able to have a band again, and
even go back to school in my 30s and have a full
life again.”
Her bandmates have learned how to help her
through her seizures and are continually amazed
at Simpson’s courage, resolve and unwavering
commitment to do what she loves – to sing, to
write and to perform music with pure joy and an
almost reckless abandon.
Neon Bloom’s first official release, and EP called
First Fever, was produced by Rob Sanzo and came
out in late 2018. Both it, and newer material the
band is working on demonstrate an excellence
in composition and a wonderful blending of the
band’s influences.
Lighten Up, the first single from Neon Bloom’s
forthcoming EP (expected in early 2020) highlights
the more alternative, garage-rock feel of the band.
The song itself is indicative of Neon Bloom’s style
of melding upbeat, rockin’ rythyms with lyrics that
have depth of meaning and which are definitely
thought provoking.
“Lyrically, I tend to write songs that are very emotional
or very sarcastic. I range anywhere from
pure emotion about bad experiences in life as a
kind of therapy, to bratty, punky lyrics. Lighten Up
sounds like this almost silly, fun song, but it’s actually
about sexual assault and unwanted advances.
It’s from thinking about the women in my life and
the different situations we’re in and having to be
cognizant of your surroundings and what’s going
on, and the things you have to deal with in interactions
with men and all the creepy things guys
say. And then when you get offended or whatever
you’re told to ‘lighten up,’” Simpson explained.
Footage for the video for Lighten Up was shot
during the band’s tour of Taiwan and meshes live
performance clips, with shots of scenery and the
band members cavorting around for the camera.
“We were travelling on a shoestring budget, and I
brought one of my cameras along” said Yurichuk,
who is a video producer and media arts teacher by
day. “We shot everything: when we were on the
train, when we hired a driver, when we were in our
backpackers’ hostel the camera was rolling all the
time. At shows, we would find someone to hold the
camera or put it on a tripod. When we got home,
we had this whole mountain of footage and just
sifted through it and thought it was a great idea.”
The experience and drive of the members of Neon
Bloom has meant they have taken pretty much every
aspect of their career as a band and brought
it in house. With experience in booking and arranging
the logistics of travel, Neon Bloom has
booked three significant tours on their own: one
of Canada, one in Taiwan last year, where they also
played at the prestigious Spring Scream Festival,
and more recently a tour of the Czech Republic
and neighbouring European Countries.
With Simpson’s fortitude as a shining example of
passion and drive overcoming great obstacles,
Neon Bloom is a band that has a profound and
deep appreciation for the opportunity they have
to write, record, perform, and bring their potently
positive energy to audiences.
The purity of their motivations as artists is as inspiring
as the story. But it’s the output of their effort
and dedication that is most compelling.

Jen Simpson - Vocals
Fred Yurichuk - Bass and Guitar
Simon Chow - Guitar and Keyboard
Chris Romano - Drums and Keyboard


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