BeatRoute Magazine is a monthly arts and entertainment paper with a predominant focus on music – local, independent or otherwise. The paper started in June 2004 and continues to provide a healthy dose of perversity while exercising rock ‘n’ roll ethics.
RAE SPOON armed with a hydrophone, watch out! Spoon’s new songs in the making — no holds barred. JOEY CAPE peeling back the veneer With winter winding down, there’s comfort in spending intimate evenings indoors, especially if it involves being treated to acoustic melodies from our favourite coffee-loving punk, Joey Cape. Although Cape is most recognized for fronting the Californian punk band, Lagwagon, his solo musical career is gaining momentum. The first of Cape’s four solo albums, Bridge, debuted in 2008 and more recently the simply named Covers, featuring unplugged Lagwagon and Bad Astronaut renditions, appeared on his own One Week Record label. “I’m always working on new material and I’m always writing,” says Cape. “I’m just one of those people. I can’t stay idle. I’m recording a new album right now. It’s got a way to go, but I’m really happy about it. I’ve been writing it for a couple years and I think it’s one of the best things I’ve done solo. But you never know, it could suck! So, we’ll see.” Cape’s solitary writing efforts usually result in songs of the somber variety, so it’s only fitting that his new material is sincere, emotional and dark. Pulling heartfelt selections from his considerable back-catalogue, he also diversifies his solo shows with a slowed down, bare bones take on some original punk classics. “I’ll be honest, I love sad songs, I like songs that are melancholy. It’s almost like that’s art to me, when I hear somebody’s heartbreak and struggle. But, that’s what I want out of a painting and that’s what I want out of a novel. It’s the same with music.” True to his word, Cape has steadily refined his style and sound by introducing the unadorned discipline of the acoustic guitar to his naturally restless lyrics. The latter of which is something that the stalwart singer has been perfecting since his early skate-punk days. “A lot of Lagwagon songs just sound really nice when I play them on acoustic, because they’re very emotional. “I Must Be Hateful” is the best example of that. It never became a song that anyone ever asked to hear, until I played it on acoustic. I think it’s because we [Lagwagon] missed the mark on the vibe; it’s too rushed and doesn’t have the right flow. While in the midst of working on writing a new record, Rae Spoon likes to downscale to playing acoustic guitar in the process of carving out fresh songs. For the upcoming performance at NMC, Spoon promises to play some old tunes as well and few ones still in development. “It’s been awhile since I’ve been to Calgary and I’m excited to play the National Music Centre, the King Eddy actually, which was a cool place to go when I was a teenager to watch blues bands.” Spoon, who has lived in Victoria for the past couple years (and jokes about being there way ahead of the retirement curve), is incorporating different aspects of that newish environment to be on the upcoming record. “The record is kind of based on an ocean presence. I live right on James Bay in Victoria just two blocks from the ocean. I’m gathering a lot of sounds, working on some electronics and field recordings which I’m trying to integrate as a landscape into the album.” One aspect of incorporating natural elements into the new songs is using a hydrophone, a device to record sound underwater. “I have a hydrophone I’m playing with, although it’s giving me some trouble. I’m planning on dropping it in some parts around Victoria, but I’ll probably have to be on a boat. Or I might,” laughs Spoon, “be singing backup vocals in my bathtub!” “I kind of like experimenting with that, and bringing in the idea of bodies and that the ocean as the original super connector. I guess now it’s the internet! But bringing in body stuff, and, in general, living as a non-binary person. I have a song that was supposed to be full of the F-word, but I played it at folk festivals and changed BY B. SIMM it to ‘Do Whatever The Heck You Want.’ It’s about letting anyone do what they want, as longs as they’re not hurting anyone.” Spoon adds triumphantly, “And children have fallen in love with it!” Then further explains how writing about the physical environment leads directly into a political context. “The places I’ve lived have always affected my work. I’ve written a lot about the prairies, this time I’m trying to focused on the ocean, its surroundings but also there’s a lot of political things going right now with pipelines and oil tankers, spills and…” Wine embargos! “Yes!” laughs Spoon. “The NDP is throwing it down. And I’m bringing in stuff like that too.” Breaking it down into specifics, Spoon outlines a new song called “You Don’t Do Anything”. “It’s about politicians who say they’re onside and actually care, but don’t do anything. I don’t know if any federal leader might come to mind,” chuckles Spoon. “I’ve been working a lot with Indigenous communities and people with different background than me, and it’s been hitting pretty hard lately how messed up all the policies are towards the land and Indigenous folk. Right now the federal political climate is definitely informing my writing about not doing anything to equalize things like the child welfare system. The federal government is saying whatever think is right, then doing whatever they want.” Rae Spoons performs at the NMC on Thursday, March 15 as part of the Alberta Spotlight Series. BY SARAH MAC Don’t miss Joey Cape on his One Week Records Tour of Alberta. He performs March 9 at The Palomino Smokehouse and Social Club [Calgary], March 10 at the Starlite Room [Edmonton] and March 11 at Wild Bill’s [Banff]. Lagwagon frontman Joey Cape’s solo act trades Woodie for wooden. 22 22 | MARCH | MARCH 2018 2018 • • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
ALVVAYS sea to see East Coast pop stars Alvvays shine on second album, Antisocialites. The monotony of a Canadian winter can be exhausting. Waking up to residual nightfall spilling over into what should be daylight, the world is moving nowhere fast, and it doesn’t exactly inspire productivity: when layering up sufficiently to brave the outdoors takes 20 minutes, why bother? Dreariness lingers seeming-perpetually, interrupted only by brief months of sunlit respite. So, what is there to do? For Molly Rankin, Kerri MacLellan, Alec O’Hanley, Sheridan Riley and Brian Murphy, the answer is simple: make music. The five, many of whom have known each other at least peripherally since childhood, go by Alvvays and are currently touring in the wake of their second album, Antisocialites. BY JORDAN YEAGER “Kerri is a childhood friend,” says Rankin. “I met Alec in Halifax, when he was playing a show with one of his previous bands, and he went to high school with Brian, who plays bass. Sheridan, who plays drums for us, we saw her play at the Mod Club in Toronto with a different band and asked her if she wanted to play with us. That was like a year ago.” Growing up in Nova Scotia surrounded by the ocean, trees, and rolling hills provided inspiration for lyrics that enable listeners to see the scenes set by your words. While not everyone has visited the Canadian east coast, they can certainly envision tree-covered mountains turning red and yellow on a golden September dusk or the vast blue sea sprawling out endlessly, marked by lighthouses along the shore. “I can be a little bit observational with my lyrics,” says Rankin. “I’m inspired by space and weather and distance and being alone. I like to paint imagery, and it’s easier to be descriptive when you’re talking about, you know, the sunset or the trees or the ocean.” Alvvays is decidedly pop-centric, with heavy synths and catchy melodies laced throughout dreamy vocals. If you listen carefully, you might hear “a little bit of fiddle personality” within Rankin’s guitar style, hinting back to her formative years in the industry, but for the most part, Antisocialites doesn’t stray far from the precedent set by their debut album. If anything, it’s heavier-hitting. “With the first record, some of the way that things were recorded, we ended up having to take a lot of treble out of the record,” she explains. “I think the first one may be a little bit softer sounding. When we play live, I think we sound a little bit more – I don’t want to use the word lively, but there’s definitely frequencies that we didn’t have on the record when we play live, and I think people notice that. But this record has a little bit more of a full spectrum. It might be a little bit more lively, but we didn’t really want to alienate our first record, either. I didn’t really have any hopes and dreams of leaving that to the dust. I still feel good about it.” Alvvays perform on March 31 at The Palace Theatre [Calgary]. UPCOMING EVENTS MAR 2 SAVED BY THE BEATS Dirty Pop Edition MAR 8 MAR 14 MAR 18 MAR 20 MAR 31 FEMME FATALE Presented by YYC Girl Gang MARIO KART CLASSIC w/ Video Game Trader LIVE BAND KARAOKE SPRING FLING w/ Peter and the Wolves THE PATH LESS TRAVELED Tickets and full listings TheRecRoom.com The Rec Room is owned by Cineplex Entertainment L. P. ROCKPILE BEATROUTE • MARCH 2018 | 23