Eldon Thiele’s bible-thumping, left wing trip [Here Magazine, April 7-14, 2005]
By Eric Lewis

A former Monctonian who headed off to the big city to pursue his acting and music career has just released a new DVD single. To Stand, Kneel is the name of Eldon Thiele’s single, performed and released under his band’s name, Zwerg.

Thiele will tell you all about himself without hesitation, but in a roundabout sort of way; his cryptic lyrics leave you wondering. “I don’t mean for my lyrics to be cryptic,” he says, but he admits to wanting to let the listener figure out what the songs mean to them, and not concentrate on exactly what Thiele means by them. “Having lyrics be obscure allows that to happen. I give the listener the keys to the song to mean whatever they want.”

Thiele, a.k.a. Jason Betts, grew up in Moncton, the son of current MLA for Moncton Crescent John Betts. He went off to Toronto a few years ago to pursue acting, and his burgeoning music career. He took the name Eldon Thiele from each of his grandfathers, and he uses it as a stage name. He formed Zwerg, a band that features several Finland natives. “I moved up here and started making friends with the Finns,” he says with a laugh.

His band mates aren’t his only European connection. Thiele seems preoccupied with other cultures. “I think the Europeans are years ahead of us in terms of acceptance.” Even the band name, Zwerg, a Dutch word meaning “dwarf” is a “metaphor for the underdog.”

He considers himself someone who is a “defender of the misfits.” Thiele, while growing up in Moncton, was agoraphobic; he had an intense fear of open or public places. He was introverted and troubled. Looking back, he says there was no reason for it. He describes having a good family, money, food, and all of life’s necessities, but something was wrong.

It turned out that he had a chemical imbalance that, once corrected, left him feeling fine. “It’s just that classic melancholy temperament. It’s been in my family. I’ve had relatives that were thrown into the loony bin.”

Because of his experience, Thiele is open-minded about people. “What’s important is loving people and sharing what we have in common.”

This belief works its way into his religious beliefs too. “Coming from a Christian family and eventually coming to a point where I was like, ‘okay, am I going to believe this just because I was taught it?’”

He says he is a follower of Jesus, but “I’m pretty darn left-wing.” Thiele doesn’t believe in organized religion, saying he associates it with deception and “misuse of the Gospel.” “When I say that I’m anti-religion, people think it’s paradoxical,” he says, but adds again that he is a follower of Jesus. According to religion, he says, he was at fault for his mental disability as a youngster because he should have been able to control how he felt. “Religion is always pointing the finger.”

Thiele says Jesus did not persecute anyone for their beliefs or their feelings. “He never put labels on people,” he explains. “He was right down there with the hookers, and now that I’m performing on stage, sometimes I’m right down there with the hookers too.”

All of this, and much more, makes Zwerg. The band has released three E.P.s, one of which was done with former Eric’s Trip member Rick White, and which is out of print. Another is called To Myopic Mutts, and the other is Played Wits. A fourth is on its way, and has been in the works for about five years. Thiele hopes to have it out by the end of the year. In the meantime, Zwerg’s DVD single should be available at Frank’s Music, Spin It, Radioland and La Bonne Nouvelle.