Put together three young boys, half a dozen empty KFC buckets on plunger stands, old badminton racquet guitars and you get The Smacker Brothers: elim Hall in its earliest form. Brothers Ross and Glen Teeple and cousin Steve Marsh, from near Arkona in rural southwestern Ontario, made music together for as long as any of them could remember. Through some name changes - ABC Band, The Firm Foundation and Raven - and a few friends as occasional members of the band - Greg Gordon, Todd Seabrook, Janet Field, and Scott Misener - the three guys remained the constant factor and out of the seventies, emerged as an increasingly cohesive unit.
Changes continued in the early eighties with Glen purchasing a synthesizer, Ross expanding the range of his newly changed voice and Steve learning the drums. It was during this time that Raven was formed. Jimmy Fuller was added on guitar and a heavier rock sound emerged. By 1983, Jimmy left the band, Glen took over on guitar and the three guys (now in their mid-teens) began writing a new collection of unique songs. Mixing melodic pop, punk, new wave and gospel influences, the music, primarily written by Ross and Glen, inspired a new lyrical direction. Steve rose to the challenge combining story and elemental metaphor to express a Christian-faith worldview. Along with a fresh sound came a new name -elim Hall. The hometown church attended by the guys had been called Elim Hall in its early history and so this intriguing name was adopted by the band.
The next few years were spent performing around Ontario (in coffee houses, churches, festivals and bars) developing a dynamic stage performance, especially the animated Steve on drums! Demo tapes were recorded on rented four-track recorders and soon Steveís older brother, Tim Marsh, became excited about the music. Tim played these demos for his friend Gary Chapman who loved what he heard and wanted to produce a record. Gary was vital in catching the attention of Nashville-based Christian record company Reunion Records who liked the uniqueness of elim Hall. A period of intense rehearsal and writing followed in a rented farmhouse. In January 1986, elim Hall went with Tim and Gary (as producers) and engineers JB, Spencer Chrislu, and Chris Taylor to Le Studio in Quebec. Things Break was recorded and mixed in ten days, an unusually short time considering the big production philosophy dominating the 1980ís. The goal was to capture some of the musical-machine energy of the band. The album (yes, vinyl!) was released later in the year and quickly became a favourite with critics and alternative music lovers throughout North America. However, it wasnít a commercial blockbuster primarily because the recordís musical and lyrical style was outside of the Christian music industryís mainstream.
The band toured throughout Canada and across the United States, playing at various festivals as well as opening for performers like Michael W. Smith, Stryper and Steve Taylor. They continued to remain a favourite around Ontario.
The late 1980ís were spent not only performing but also writing and recording many new songs. With discussion of a second release, the record companyís vision of a successful project clashed with the bandís causing that partnership to come to a close. The band, wanting to expand musical and lyrical boundaries, began integrating guitar synthesizers, sampling, the Stick and various percussion instruments into their music. A few of these songs were recorded in London and the self produced Let it Thrive was released in 1990.
The guys were never very skilled in business or self-promotion and, without management, elim Hall found itself on the fringe of the Christian music industry, which was already a small facet of the mainstream music industry. In Canada especially, this made it very difficult for the band to reach the people that would be interested in their music.
Early in 1991, the band put to rest the idea of pursuing a career in music together. Glen talks of the rewards of knowing there is a "scattering of people all over the world, especially here in Canada, who have enjoyed elim Hallís music. The glimpse people had of elim Hall was maybe seeing a show or having the record but there was so much good music never released. elim Hall was a very private band and for almost ten years created music and lyrics that challenged and pleased us and hopefully glorified God. Once in a while, others experienced pieces of that and for some it brought an element of joy to their lives."
In the summer of 1990, he married his long-time girlfriend, Julie Henderson. During the years following the bandís breakup, Steve completed both Music (majoring in percussion) and English degrees. He continued to write outstanding lyrics, poetry and prose. In his home, he built up a successful studio teaching drums, guitar and piano. During 1995-6, he recorded and performed with 100 Days. In the summer of 1996, Steve was diagnosed with liver cancer which took his life only a few weeks later.
Glen has periodically played with other bands: Special Division, The Virgins, 100 Days and Phoebe Jean. He has also spent his time producing the music of others, working in pro audio retail and most recently, setting up his own recording studio. In 1993, he married Corrine Schlichter and they now have 2 children.
After completing his diploma in Toronto, Ross began working as a Chiropodist in hospitals throughout southwestern Ontario and has set up a practice of his own. He has remained musically active as a worship leader in his home church. Ross and Marie (married in 1987) have four children.