In the spring of 1991, having played with different hard-rock bands since 1983, Alan Charles joins three musicians (a bass player, a drummer and a guitar player) to put together a project/concept he has just finished writing called Existence. In fact, they wanted him to join their band as a keyboard player but he persuades them to join in on his project!

The venture they’re about to engage in is a new genre of musical drama! Existence is the story of a musician who looks back on his life and relives the different misfortunes his daughter and two of her friends have been through. The subject matters are difficult: Drug use, rape and suicide serve as the backbone for a reflection on Existence itself thus the title.
The musicians rehearse all summer but after one show only, Alan fires the guitar player since the latter’s technical skills are not up to his standards. Unhappy with the situation, the drummer decides to leave the band also. Serge Délisle, the bass player, decides to stay in and both him and Alan look for replacements. After many weeks meeting different musicians, Éric Pilon (guitar) and François Labelle (drums) join the band.

With the new members in, Alan finally accepts Serge’s suggestion to give a proper name to the band – which did not have one up until then. Alan’s first idea was that the band wouldn’t have one, being recognized by the different concept titles only. Luckily, this crazy idea was dumped! They chose Existence, the title of the first concept. 
 
In the fall of 1992, the project is finally ready to be shown on stage. Two new compositions, a real band contribution, are added to the original concept. The show comprised of two separate sets will be played in its entirety more than 80 times. The audience often taken aback by it all receives a brochure in witch the lyrics are printed, helping the general comprehension of the story. A first in a club! 
Alan Charles, Serge Délisle, François Labelle & Éric Pilon (Merlyns, Montreal, 1992)
Fragile Whisperings Of Innocence
In 1993, Alan establishes Black Pearl Productions with an accountant friend to produce the band’s first CD. The musicians decide on recording only half of the original Existence concept for this first release keeping the second part for a future album. The recording starts in the month of August at DNA studio in Montreal. Three weeks have been booked but the work proves to be harder than they had first imagined.

Not only do they face equipment failures (the then less than reliable computers crash and some takes are forever lost) but the recording takes longer due to the inexperienced musicians (only Alan has studio experience). Also Alan does not agree with the producer chosen in regards with the overall sound and direction of things, which creates long discussions slowing down the process. Additional hours are booked in the fall but bad luck strikes again as Alan, the signer (and guitar player and piano player…) suffers first from a bad case of laryngitis then pharyngitis… The project has to be postponed once again… Everything is finally ready in January 1994. At the end, the album’s mix is a compromise between two totally opposed visions and doesn’t please anyone in the band. 
 
Nevertheless, the CD is launched in grand style the 22nd of February 1994 at the Jailhouse Rock Café in Montreal where 220 cheerful fans squeeze in a club that can only sit 150! 
Jailhouse Rock Café, Montreal, February 22, 1994
New musicians
The exhausted musicians have no time to rest, as they have to get back on the road for a stretch of 15 dates already booked. After only 2 gigs Serge Délisle collapses and decides to leave the band. In order to keep their engagements the others look immediately for a replacement. But within a month François Labelle who wasn’t pleased with the drum sound on the album also decides to leave the band. The remainder of the tour is scrapped which gives Éric and Alan time to rest and press on with the auditions.

In the summer of 1994 two new members are finally in: Alain Quesnel on bass and Bruno Tessier on drums. The fresh air brought in by these two experienced musicians pushes the band one step upward on the quality scale, which brings in new followers. This version of Existence is often perceived as the most energetic of all by the fans. The musicianship of the four musicians, the interaction between them and the confidence they have in their ability really show on stage where the guys could improvise for many minutes totally transforming the concept and the songs. One song would come out from these long improvisation, Overtime which could last from 3 to 20 minutes depending on the audience’s response.
Éric Pilon, Bruno Tessier, Alain Quesnel & Alan Charles (Jailhouse Rock Café, 1995)
In order to reach more people, Existence starts opening for other well-known bands leaving the original concept behind. In 1995, Black Pearl Productions organizes the 3 Dimensions tour with the bands Bensalem (bottom of bill) and Outskirts (top of bill) who have 2 hits on the radio. Existence who plays between the two other bands often overshadows the main act! Outskirts will finally break-up shortly after the tour…

At the end of summer 1995, Bruno, who also works as a sound engineer, leaves the band to go on tour with the Backstreet Boys. Despite the larger crowds at Existence’s gigs, the money is still scarce as the interest in clubs for a live band diminishes in favour of DJs and stand-up comics. In this context Alan could only support his drummer in his decision to follow a more lucrative path…

Existence also has to carry another burden. Everyone has labelled Existence as a progressive rock band. Even if Alan has always been more influenced by bands such as The Beatles, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin when he wrote his project, he knows that this term, as pleasant to his ears as it is, has bad press in America. The band is always compared to the 70s “dinosaurs” and doesn’t get much press coverage. Tired of being “rejected” by the media Éric Pilon chooses to leave the band and the music business altogether even if he is a graduate of Vincent d’Indy musical college and teaches guitar! After just a few gigs with André Tellier on drums Existence plays live for the “last time” at the Jailhouse Rock Café on March 23 1996. Sign of the times, the club where Existence played every month since 1994 closes its doors shortly after…
Another Fine Day Of...
In 1997 Alan who has just finished writing a film script based on Existence, call on Alain Fournier, a young film maker who has just graduated from Concordia University, to help him in this new venture. But after a few months the project is shelved for lack of money.

Alan had auditioned many musicians in order to record the soundtrack of the film. Amongst them only drummer Gérard Lévèque decides on helping Alan with a new project: Recording a mini-album of new compositions. The project really gels with the return of Éric Pilon to the fold (for the recording sessions only…) and an old acquaintance of Alan in the name of François Beaugard on violin.

Then a teenager Alan had brought in François to record some hard-rock songs he had written for his band in the 1980s. François also joined the band for a few gigs and was again called-in to record a few tracks for Existence’s first album.

Without a bass player (Alan played bass on the recorded tracks), the four musicians starts recording in the spring of 1998. Things move fast and the 3-tracks CD intended for radio only is released in the following fall. Produced by Alan with the help of Jean-Guy Montpetit, the Creason studio owner, the somehow very different songs sounds great. To the astonishment of the musicians the title piece reaches the 11th position in one of Detroit’s radio station’s hit list!

Galvanized by this news, Alan, François and Gérard don’t waste any time looking for a guitar player and a bass player. They want to record a proper album and go on tour. Gaston Gagnon, guitar player in Quebec’s Garolou and Michel Desbien still a student, join the band.
Small People, Short Story, Little Crime
Instead of recording the still unreleased second half of the original Existence concept, Alan decides to tackle a brand new colossal concept. This one will be a magazine and each article in the said 56 pages booklet/magazine represent one song on the CD! For the show, videos take the place of the articles in which each band member plays a character in the story. The massive work of recording, filming, taking pictures, writing the articles, publicity and marketing starts in February 1999.

The album produced by Alan and Gaston is acclaimed by more than 30 magazines in the world and receives praises from many peers. Never has one seen such a “dense” product! The CD central piece In The Kingdom Of Madness lasts more than 22 minutes on an album of more than 62 minutes in length! Every article in the magazine is translated to French and the lyrics of each song are included in bold face in the said articles!

Besides the fact that the bass player has to be replaced at the very beginning for lack of experience, things move smoothly. His replacement, Richard Lanthier a veteran player on the Quebec scene only needs a few days to record his bass tracks.

Kinoceros, Alain Fournier's recently founded company is commisioned to shoot videos for every song of the album to be used in the live show. Each band members plays the same charcaters as in the CD magazine which gives an added dimension to the whole concept.
Unfortunately this little masterpiece will only be seen on stage by a few hundred privileged fans… After only four gigs Black Pearl Productions has to cancel the tour that should have brought the band from Edmunston, New Brunswick to Windsor, Ontario. What happened?

The tour that was scheduled months in advance began soon after the album’s release, a release that had been postponed. The advertising did not reach the wanted audiences in time. They will really get to know the new Existence album in February 2000, when the first reviews of it are printed, more than four months after the last gig in Montreal. Even if the album is praised throughout Europe, Black Pearl Productions is then broke and cannot send the band in the old countries to promote it.

The musicians still decide to play the last gigs of this first leg of the tour. The last show in Montreal is recorded.
Shooting of the videos for Beauty Teen & No Hero, 1999
(Alain Fournier, Maude Raymond, Stéphane Paradis & François Beaugard)
Focus, Eletria & other projects
In 2002 Alan and Black Pearl Productions produce many projects among them a blues album from Gaston Gagnon and the comeback album of legendary group Focus. Existence then opens for Focus in a short tour and also plays some gigs on its own in a few cities in the province of Quebec.

In one of the cities visited, a young girl tells Alan about her troubled life. She says that many articles in the booklet of the last Existence album helped her with her pain. After she approved, Alan starts writing Eletria, a musical drama based on her story. It tells the life of a young girl forced to prostitution. He calls on François Beaugard, Gérard Léveque and Richard Ranger (Existence’s bass player since 2001) to record the result. The four Existence members joined by signer Catherine Boulanger regroup once again at the Creason studio.

The CD is released in the fall of 2007 and the “play” is shown 15 times until February 2009. Many Existence fans consider this new production of Alan as a genuine Existence album. Needless to say we do recognize the composer’s style…
Alan Charles, François Beaugard, Richard Ranger, Gérard Lévèque & Gaston Gagnon, (Medley, Montreal, 2002)
Origins
In January 2010, Alan starts working on a new Existence album, the second act of Existence’s original concept which first part was released in 1994 as the CD Fragile Whisperings Of Innocence. This second act, entitled Silent Screams In Violence was supposed to be released the following year but never saw the light of day.

At the beginning of 2013 the project finally takes shape but also inflates: it is decided to re-record the first act plus the second’s and release the whole thing on one double album entitled Origins. The monstrous task of revisiting this first concept and rearranging 80-plus minutes of music starts in January of that year. Alan wants to bring up to date the 25 year-old songs so they can be closer to what the Existence’s sound has become over the years.
Three members of the band – Alan, Gérard & François – meet in November 2013 to give a cohesive direction to the project, sound wise but the real work starts in January 2014 when Alan sends all the songs’ basic tracks to the musicians for them to work on the arrangements. In the 6 months that follow, they exchange demo files to fine tune every little detail.

Since they are busy on different projects of their own outside Existence, they work separately which makes the process longer than expected. In August 2014 they decide to push back the release of Origins until the next year in order to satisfy the quality expectation of everyone involved.
Alan Charles & Gérard Lévèque (Montréal, Novembre 2013)
Live In Montreal
Meanwhile as he is in the process of digitalizing every audio, video and other Existence documents from Black Pearl Productions’ archives, Alan discovers a live recording dating from the Live The Experience tour of 1999.

A Sony MiniDisc player/recorder was then always hooked to the sound board at every concert for the band to hear and analyse their performance but the quality of this recording is so amazing that Alan seeks help to find out if it’s good enough to be released as a proper album.

Jean-Guy Montpetit of CreaSon studio assures Alan he can enhance the general sound balance even if each individual instrument track can’t be mixed individually. Work starts in September and the album Live In Montreal is released in November 2014.

This CD with a raw but authentic live sound which was not augmented by any studio overdub represents a true statement of how powerful Existence sounds live and is the sole audio document of the band in concert to this date.
Origins - take 2
During 2015, the work on the songs arrangements for the album Origins progress. Gaston Gagnon agrees to be involved on the project although it took years of persuasion from Alan. Richard Ranger also offers his services on bass. The bricks finaly fall into place and studio time is booked for the spring of 2016. Alan also unveils the official album cover after his first design was hardly bashed by Gérard who said the band’s logo looked like a mass of fish bones!

Gérard Lévèque and Alan Charles team up with Jean-Guy Montpetit at Créason studio to begin the recording of the drums tracks for the album Origins on March 11, 2016. In the following weeks Richard Ranger (bass on The Last Battle and Prisoner of Time), François Beaugard (violin), Gaston Gagnon (guitar on The Last Battle) and Valery Kim Gosselin (voice) will record their own parts but it’s Alan who will play most of the instruments besides his own pre-recorded piano tracks: acoustic, rhythm and lead guitars, bass, keyboards and voice. 
Alan Charles, François Beaugard & Gérard Lévèque (Studio Créason, Montréal, 2016)
Gaston Gagnon, Valery Kim Gosselin & Richard Ranger (Studio Créason, Montréal, 2016)
The reason for this multitasking work is due to artistic differences with Richard and Gaston not being available for the recording although he had accepted to take part. This overload of work pushes Alan close to burn-out… The recording sessions needed to finish the work sky rocket and the album release has to be postponed once more from its original October date to the next year.

And as this burden wasn’t enough, after several mix sessions Alan decides to put an end to his 19-year association with Jean-Guy Montpetit. Differences arose in regards with the production aspects. Alan starts anew at his personal studio named “Upstairs Office Studio.” 
As these words are written, mix is almost completed and the album release date has been announced for the 1st of September 2017. Thish will coincide with the 25th anniversary of the unveiling of this original project in 1992.
 
And Existence still has another complete future album ready to be recorded: Lust & Passion / Lost In Passion, a new concept about a torrid love affair. 

Alan Charles & François Beaugard
(Studio Créason, Montréal, 2016)
Jean-Guy Montpetit, Alan Charles, François Beaugard & Gérard Lévèque (Montréal, 2016)