Preoccupations • Uriah Heep • Record Store Day • Hey Ocean! • 420 Fest • SXSW Coverage
APRIL 2018 I EVENT LISTINGS 109 7TH AVE SW 403 532 1911 THEPALOMINO.CA
Friday April 6th
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan
Saturday April 7th
Escape-Ism (feat: Ian Svenonius)
Friday April 13th
Saturday April 14th
Hit the Streets and guests
Tuesday April 17th
Steve & Dinky (The Bros. Snarfwell)
Friday April 20th
The Prowlers (Montreal)
Bats Out (Regina)
The Enforcers and Steelhead
Friday April 20th
Record Store Day afterparty presented
by Phillips Brewery and Sloth Records!
Featuring bands downstairs and the
Sloth All Star DJs
Saturday April 21st
Jason Delisle & The Tone Hounds
Friday April 27th
Pink Mexico (Burger Records, LA)
Saturday April 28th
Unwashed and Paint the Damage
COMING SOON IN MAY:
Friday May 4th
Freak Heat Waves
Saturday May 5th
Saturday May 5th upstairs!
Another FREE Pabst Blue Ribbon
event with Johnny 2 Fingers
Buffalo Bud Buster
Tuesday May 15th
The Foul English
Friday May 18th
Red City Radio
Worst Days Down
Bring the Storm
Saturday May 19th
Fat Possum Records presents
Bob Log III
Friday May 25th
Kristian North (Montreal)
GG Love (Montreal)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Badlands, Hip Ballet, YYC Scene, 420 Fest, Record
Uriah Heep, 88 Fingers Louie, Beaver Squadron,
Pink Mexico, Nothing More, Preoccupations,
Born Ruffians, Body Lens, Record Store Day
edmonton extra 35-39
Edmonton Poetry Fest, Eye On Edmonton, Scenic
Route To Alaska, #YEGMAN, Ethno Fashion Gala,
Grizzlar, Re-Form, Sugarwash
Magic Mountain, Let’s Get Jucy, Dr. Space
Hey Ocean!, Veronica Welbs, Slow Leaves, Abigail
Lapell, Donovan Woods
Brant Bjork, Electric Owl, La Chinga, Sasquatch,
Month in Metal, Buffalo Bud Buster
Amen Dunes, The Melvins, Lindi Ortega
savage love 54
Social Media Coordinator
City :: Brad Simm
Film :: Morgan Cairns
Rockpile :: Christine Leonard
Edmonton Extra :: Brittany Rudyck
Jucy :: Paul Rodgers
Roots :: Liam Prost
Shrapnel :: Sarah Kitteringham
Reviews :: Jamie McNamara
Christine Leonard • Arielle Lessard • Sarah
Mac • Amber McLinden • Kennedy Enns •
Jennie Orton • Michael Grondin • Mathew
Silver • Kevin Bailey • Jackie Klapak • Hayley
Pukanski • Nicholas Laugher • Arnaud Sparks •
Brittney Rousten • Jodi Brak •Breanna Whipple
• Alex Meyer • Jay King • Alec Warkentin • Paul
McAleer • Mike Dunn • Shane Sellar • Kaje
Annihilatrix • Dan Savage • Miguel Morales •
Sarah Allen • Kevin Klemp • Glen Erickson •
Elizabeth Eaton • Michael Podgurney •
Found Footage Film Festival
Tel: (403) 607-4948 • e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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SARGE Distribution in Edmonton
Connect with BeatRoute.ca
Stormtrooper CalgaryExpo17 Parade.
photo: Paul Chirka
Copyright © BEATROUTE Magazine 2017
All rights reserved. Reproduction of the contents
is prohibited without permission.
BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 3
DJD and the OLD TROUTS present
An exciting new collaboration with Peter
Balkwill of the Old Trout Puppet Workshop,
MIMIC fuses two highly physical wordless forms,
performed with a percussive score by the Nick
Co-created by Kimberley Cooper and Peter
Performed by the DJD Dancers with live music.
Musical Director – Nick Fraser
APRIL 19 – MAY 5, 2018
EVENING PERFORMANCES 8PM
MATINEE PERFORMANCES 2PM
DJD DANCE CENTRE – 111 12 AVE SE
CALGARY PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
Embark on a passionate journey into the fiery,
exotic world of flamenco with this stunning
display of emotion, sound, and colour. The
raw energy and rhythms of professional
dancers from the acclaimed Campania Azul
are dynamically paired with symphonic
arrangements, creating an exciting union of
movement and orchestra.
Fri., May 4 and Sat. May, 5.
MIMIC GALA PERFORMANCE
APRIL 26 – 6:30PM
The Gala will include Cocktails, Hors d’oeuvres
and many other fun surprises. All Gala ticket
PHOTO: BRETT LOCKE
PROJECT WILD ARTIST
Project WILD just announced that submissions
are now opened for it’s third year. Administered
through Alberta Music and changing the careers
of Albertan artists, I’d love to arrange for you
to speak with an organizer about the program
and the impact its had on the Alberta music
Project WILD is an artist development
program designed to educate, promote, develop
and launch the careers of Alberta’s most up and
coming country and roots artists. The twelve
selected finalists will spend five months completing
challenges, honing their skills at a week
long intensive bootcamp and performing public
showcases to earn a spot in the Top 3. The top
finalist will win a prize of $100,953, with 2nd
place earning $75,000 and third $50,000.
Participants of Project Wild’s 2017 work hard, party harder boot camp located in Princeton, BC.
APPLICATIONS AVAILABLE ONLINE
FROM MARCH 21 – APRIL 20
4 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
HOUSE OF VANS
Big Four Building Hosts Pop-Up Event
The renown skate, snow and surf
retailer Vans has announced
that their world-renowned House
of Vans event will be rolling into
Calgary for April 13-15, at the Big
The pop-up style event will
include live music, an art show, live
mural painting, photography workshops,
food vendors, a community
market and an indoor skate park
available to Calgary’s skateboarders.
The always highly anticipated
House of Vans is truly an epicentre
for creativity and for everything
that makes Vans “Off The Wall”.
With permanent locations
around the world, the House of
Vans events are described as “a
place were imagination lets loose
over concrete bowls, art installations,
workshops and concert
stages, inspiring every person who
runs, rolls, or stomps through its
Guest can expect live performances
from local Calgary artists,
Monolith AB, Port Juvee, Crystal
Eyes and Melted Mirror, with
shows starting at 8:00 p.m. Friday,
Admission for the event is free
and anyone is welcome to skate the
indoor park, although, helmets are
required if patrons are under 18.
Another big focus for this event
will be with Get On Board: A Celebration
of Women’s Skateboarding,
which will feature board building
workshops, film screenings and
a panel session with professional
skaters Lizzie Armanto and Nina
With Calgary’s past skate park
additions and the recent unveiling
of the Ninetimes Skateshop
Calgary location, the House of Vans
Pop-Up event is looking like another
big win for Calgary’s skateboard
Events will kick off at 4:00 p.m.
on Friday, April 13. Visit vans.ca/
houseofvans for more info and
• KYLE WOOLMAN
Get On Board: A Celebration of Women’s Skateboarding
is the highlight event at House of Vans.
Lizzie Amanto, American champion pro-skater.
PHOTO: VANS SKATE
BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 5
August 3, 1961 - March 23, 2018
Kevin Herring unexpectedly passed away
while relaxing at home on a Friday night.
He died from an aortic dissection. In addition
to being a tremendous, highly-respected
musician, he was a wonderful family man,
a gentleman of gentlemen, who didn’t have
a vain or mean bone in his body. He will be
sadly missed by his wife, two daughters and
a multitude of friends throughout Calgary’s
Born in High River, he moved to Calgary at
an early age and developed a deep fascination
for The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and many of the
guitar greats – Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and B.B.
King. Kelly Alliston, who was Kevin’s bandmate
and best friend for 34 years, recalls when
they first crossed paths.
“I met Kev playing on the road in 1984 doing
the cover tune, bar band thing. Sistor Cruz,
Dillinger – cue all the Spinal Tap references.
We were in some small town and needed a
guitar player quick. The singer knew Kev and
he showed up at the next gig with his Telly
and Les Paul, dragging a Marshall stack.”
Kevin and Petra Herring.
6 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
Over the years, Alliston and Herring would
play and record in different rockabilly and blues
bands, which, in turn, influenced other players
and the local scene. Alliston says, “He gave his
unique guitar prowess to so many musicians and
bands, always positive and ready to go.”
That Herring was, absolutley – positive and
ready to go. The short list of bands he played
with include The King Rats, Handsome Devils,
Jane West Band, Loaded Dice which morphed
into Dice Deluxe, Hurricane Felix and the
Southern Twisters, The Ronny Hayward Trio and
The Lovebullies. Well known for his rock-solid
commitment, never-ending support and genuine
enthusiasm, Herring was both a pleasure to
play with and often the most-valuable member
on the team in that he championed everyone
else in the bands he played in. His selfless
nature brought the best out in those who were
fortunate to have shared the stage with him.
Moreover, it’s also what made him a fantastic
husband and father.
For a guy who played in plenty of bands,
was out in plenty of clubs, had plenty of charm
and knew exactly what the playing field was all
about, his heart was completely sown into his relationship
and family. Wife and kids first, guitars
and bands second, while holding down a steady
job laying carpet. In 1986, Herring meet his true
love, Petra, who recalls their first encounter and
early years together.
“I was a waitress at Smitty’s and Kevin would
come in for breakfast with his friends. Then
he started to come in on his own and I would
tell all the girls that I don’t care whose section
he’s sitting in, he’s mine! I got off early one day
and asked if I could join him for a coffee. I was
smitten. I do remember my heart sunk a little
bit when he told me he was a guitar player in a
band. The stereotypical musician came forefront
to my mind, but he soon proved
me wrong just by being himself.
“Just a short three months
later he told me he was moving
to Abbotsford with the band
(Renz Ibarra, they played original
music). I went out for a visit with
his brother, Alan, and ended up
moving out there shortly after.
We lived with the band on a
raspberry farm for a few months
before finding an apartment on
our own. (The band played) the
lower mainland circuit, I went
to most of the gigs, and when I
didn’t, I had total trust in him. He
never gave me reason to think
otherwise. The band was not
together anymore and we ended
up moving back to Calgary and
getting married in 1989.”
Shortly thereafter Herring joined The King
Rats, along with Alliston and Mike Fury. It was
his foray into rockabilly – a new experience that
he embraced and worked hard to be part of. He
stayed with the band for five years releasing two
CDs with Alliston and Fury. Fury, who started
the project, remembers the beginnings of their
“He had shoulder length, fluffy red hair. He
looked all-wrong for the King Rats, but he could
play and was really into it. He was already a gifted
rock guitarist when he started playing rockabilly.
His experience was intimidating, but he was also
eager to learn about ‘50s rock and roll.”
Fury adds that when Herring moved on to The
Ronnie Hayward Trio, which lingered into the early
to mid-2000s, they were responsible for helping
to establish the “veteran jam crowd” at the Ship
and Anchor on Saturday afternoons, which the
pub is now well-known for.
At that time, Herring also developed a musical
relationship with Caroline Connolly who fronted
the roots–based Jane West Band. They would
continue to work with each other up until his
death. As the lead guitarist for The Lovebullies,
Calgary’s swanky, lounge-pop act featuring
Connolly, Joni Brent, Chantal Vitalis and Paul Jahn,
Herring was an integral member of a band that
had a very strong female presence and perspective.
While Herring wasn’t prone to politicize or
lather a philosophical angle about his own feminist
beliefs, it was definitely implied and the proof
in the pudding… he had a feminist heart. Vitalis
“Kevin, to me, was
indeed a feminist, but we
actually never talked about
that. It was just something
I/we felt. He always talked
to us Lovebully gals as
equals and treated us
with the utmost respect.
I see that same respect in
his relationships with the
other women in his life,
as well. I think he valued
hard work and common
decency. He got us to try
new things, to put in the
work, to play as hard as
anyone else he shared the
stage with. He saw us as
Connolly adds, “I think
that his mother was a
powerful feminine force in
his life early on. His father
was a small town doctor,
likely making house calls all
hours of the day and night.
Eileen raised four boys and
Herring rippin’ it up with Dice Deluxe.
BY B. SIMM
a daughter. She raised Kevin to be a fine man who
respected everyone he encountered.”
Along with Herring’s passion playing and
recording music, he was an avid collector and
connoisseur of guitars and amplifiers searching
for that perfect tone to suit the style and sound
of the band he was playing with. Herring was
meticulous at documenting his findings in
detail, ranging from the amps and guitars he
experimented with, right down to the picks, pick
angles and string gauges he used. A thorough and
And yet, he had another talent, which he kept
close to home. Going back to his school days, Herring
started drawing cartoons which he collected
and archived. “He was a true artist,’ says Petra. “His
cartoons are great. In fact, I always told him he
should put the carpet tools away and get back to
drawing. The girls and I would always get handdrawn
cards for Valentine’s Day. Best present ever.”
In addition to Petra, Herring is survived by two
daughters. Alyssa (22) is finishing a BA with a major
in Liberal studies at St. Mary’s University , while
Caitlin (19) is following her father’s footsteps performing
on stage acting, dancing and singing. She
has worked with the Young Canadians, Theatre
Calgary and now has her own band that played
at her father’s Celebration of Life, which drew
hundreds of musicians and friends to the Royal
Canadian Legion No. 1. Caitlin took the stage
and sang The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down”…
something Kevin Herring would never do.
BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 7
Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo
501st LEGION OF VADER’S FIST BADLANDS GARRISON
game of clones
Originally assembled in 2004, southern Alberta’s contingent
of the 501st Legion of Vader’s Fist, a battalion of Star
Wars Stormtroopers who perform charitable acts, started
out as a Troop, grew to a Squad (10+ members) within the
greater Canadian Garrison, and eventually became their own
Badlands Garrison (25+ members) in 2005. Since that time,
the union of hobbyists and humanitarians has expanded to
include groups throughout western Canada. According to
Badlands Garrison Alberta Public Relations Officer, Teresa
Nuthall (a.k.a. TK-41307 SoulArt), the Badlands Garrison
continues its mission to mentor those members in their aspirations
of achieving Squad and Garrison status.
From granting special visits to hospitals to providing
back-up dancers for Weird Al Yankovic concerts, Alberta is
fortunate to have such a devoted division of Star Wars fans
standing by to save the day. Or, at least make it a lot more
BeatRoute: How many people do you estimate are involved
with the 501st on an ongoing basis?
501st Badlands Garrison: The Legion has a presence in 61
countries and currently claims almost 20,000 members, of
which 12,428 are actively out Trooping worldwide, while here
in Alberta our own Garrison has 126 members.
BR: What makes the 501st a great organization to be a part of?
501st BG: The ability to make people smile and help people
forget their pain, if even just for a second. There’s something
magical, unique and recognizable about being able to see and
interact with characters from Star Wars. It touches the inner-child
of adults, because it’s been around for decades. It’s volunteerism
done in an extremely cool way, as it combines hobbies, creativity,
superb costuming and giving of oneself.
BR: How are you coordinated and governed as an organization?
501st BG: We have a Legion Charter and Operations Protocol
that governs our activity. Commanding and Executive Officers
from Outposts and Garrisons all over the world make up the
governing Legion Council. We hold annual elections where
members vote for our Commanding Officers at the Legion level,
Detachment level, as well as leaders within our own Garrisons,
Outposts and Squads.
BR: How did you arrive at your Legion identity?
501st BG: As a new member, you select a series of numbers that
mean something to you and this becomes your Legion ID for
eternity. You also choose a forum name/call sign, which is a name
that others know you by. I’m TK 41307/ SoulArt (TK is prefix for a
Stormtrooper). I’m an original Stormtrooper, Captain Phasma, from
The Force Awakens and Director of Intelligence, Ysanne Isard.
BR: How do people decide what kind of costume they are
going to wear?
501st BG: It’s a personal choice, really. Try searching the official
Costume Reference Library (CRL) and seeing which costume
resonates with you. Often, an interested member has an idea
of what they’d like though, sometimes, they have several. There
really is very minimal customization involved, as each costume is
created to be as seen in each of the Star Wars universe. We try to
honour the original costumes by following its set guidelines and
replicating them as closely as we can. Generally speaking, each
costume has different levels of approval: 1 through 3. A member
can join at the basic approval, then decide if they wish to carry it
further to the higher echelons of costume accuracy.
BR: What are the basic building blocks required to begin
constructing a costume?
501st BG: That depends on how hands-on you want to be.
There’s more accessible product available these days, one can
purchase a pretty much ready-made costume. Of course, there
are steps people can take to find a builder, or costumer, to create
a custom outfit for them. Or, they can buy kits and construct
on their own. Although, a lot of the scratch stuff is hard to get
approved. Again, it’s entirely dependent on the costume you
choose to create.
BR: How do you come together to work on costumes and
share your knowledge?
501st BG: Each costume has a designated Detachment that is
responsible for overseeing those specific costumes. They have all
of the ‘How To’ information, and CRL specifications, anyone
BY CHRISTINE LEONARD
would need for that particular costume. Our forums are
another wonderful resource, as they support and encourage
members to log ‘build threads’ of their costumes online for
all members, or their respective Detachments, to read. These
threads allow members to share their expertise, ask questions
and conduct research. Wherever you may be in the world,
there’s someone to help you. We also host ‘Armour Parties,’
where members in each Garrison get together and physically
build their projects and exchange tips and advice.
BR: What are some of the charitable activities the 501st
Badlands Garrison has been involved in over the years?
501st BG: We enjoy, and are extremely proud of, any and all
contact with the Make a Wish Foundation. As well as, helping
Jedi Addison within his own fundraising success. Other highlights
include, Alberta Children’s and Stollery Hospital visits,
Kids with Cancer visits, inducting our younglings Declan
and Lucas into the Garrison as honourary members, Ronald
McDonald House in-house visits and block parties. And,
don’t forget the Canada Day 150 parade. Looking at dollars
donated, this past year alone, we have directly raised $23,341
and indirectly raised $258,983. I’m very proud of our Garrison
and all the good these ‘bad guys’ do.
BR: Speaking of parades. How does the 501st Badlands
Garrison prepare for their tour de Force at the Calgary
Comic and Entertainment Expo’s annual Parade of Wonders?
501st BG: We’ve been a part of the POW right from the very
start. It’s SO exciting getting ready! Emotions are already high,
and we’re full of energy, when we begin meeting up. All of
us change into costumes at once, usually at the Expo, and
then make our way together to the parade site. I’ve gotta say,
walking to and riding the C-Train as a Garrison, with our sister
groups (Rebels, Mercs), is a sight to behold. Once lined-up in
our groups by order, the excitement builds as we wait for the
POW to start. You’d better believe that we are grinning from
ear-to-ear inside our helmets as we strut our stuff for the
spectators. Then we make our way back to Expo to prepare
for the rest of our weekend and shifts at our booth.
BR: That does sound amazing. But can anyone do it? What
about that old height restriction?
501st BG: Bahahaha! You mean, “Aren’t you a little short for
a Stormtrooper?” It’s a great joke that surfaces always. Along
with remarks on our ability to miss everything we shoot at…
Anyone over the age of 18 can be a member, regardless of
gender, race, religion, shape, size... the Legion has no room
for discrimination. Upon joining, you very soon discover that
you have a huge, loving, accepting, new family.
See the 501st Badlands Garrison on the march at the Calgary
Comic and Entertainment Expo’s annual Parade of Wonders at
10:30am on April 27 (downtown Calgary). Calgary Expo runs
April 26-29 at Stampede Park (Calgary)
8 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
ALL OF US
AB Ballet’s tribute to the Hip
Insights, reviews and interviews about collecting, collectors and collections
Even if they don’t know it, everyone collects something.
Whether it’s records, oil paintings, racy paperbacks
or funky kitchenware, everybody’s got a thing. Or, more
often than not, things. I’ve been on the mean streets of
the collectibles world for a long time, buddy. I’ve seen
a lot, things that would give a faint wagon driver the
shakes, and I don’t shock easily. Stick with me and you’ll
get the low-down on what’s happening in the world of
cool collectible stuff, the seedy underbelly of the resale
world and the hole-y trinity of thrift store, flea market
and antique shop. I’ll help you find Cracker Jack deals and
avoid getting jiggered like a rube.
The biannual First Canadian Collectors Club Antique and
Collectibles show at the Thorncliffe-Greenview Community
Hall is one of Calgary’s largest gatherings of its kind. There
was a wide variety of wares on hand including plenty of vinyl
awaiting the discerning eyes and ears of the record collectors
in attendance. They say the early bird gets the worm but
even though I rolled in late, I came away with some worthy
keepers. It often takes time and legwork to find what you’re
after, but there’s always some silver in the silt at this shindig
and the keen hunter is often rewarded by rolling up their
sleeves and getting down and dirty.
10 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
This particular sale always hosts three collection displays
competing for popular approval and prize money. The 1970s
racetrack collection was popular, but the most interesting
of the tryptic had to be the colourful, and undeniably
well-cared-for, 40th anniversary display by the Calgary Doll
Club. Exhibiting everything from a talking Chatty Cathy
to a mid-Victorian porcelain doll in period clothing, the
collection surveyed the history of the beloved children’s
companion toy and keepsake. The display also drew attention
to the Doll Club’s 40th upcoming Anniversary Show and
Sale featuring dolls, toys, miniatures and more, which is just
around the corner on April 14.
Putting aside the cutsie kewpies, yours truly scored big
with two 14 x 22-inch slasher-horror movie window cards,
that I simply couldn’t resist. Window cards were pre-release
promo material distributed to the cinemas and posted
before the reels rolled out. Now mind you, these particular
examples of relics from the silver screen don’t have a National
Screen Service Number in the bottom corner, or a space
at the top where the local theatres could add show time
information, so they’re likely either a rare variety or 1970s
black market reproductions. But don’t worry, I’ve gotta pal of
mine (who knows movie posters) checking with his contacts
to help solve this case for me. Next month I’ll tell ya more
about this groovy and highly-collectible screen art, which
any mug can get into collecting.
Another highlight of the show was a Victorian glass-plate
ambrotype photograph in a metal frame priced at a mere
five clams. Back in the day some maroon covered one of the
people in the photo up with tape. Terrible, right? Whoa –
not so fast! Photo collectors actually go ape for images where
someone’s face has been removed, folded back or scratchedout.
I call ‘em “I hate you” photos. Sometimes you can tell, by
the oval hole left over a face, that it was cut out to go into a
locket, a sure sign of love, which can be easily confused with
pictures wrecked in vengeance. Sometimes you just can’t tell
if it was love or hate- this kind of memorabilia keeps their
secrets and asks more questions than they offer up.
Calgary Doll Club Show and Sale takes place April 14 at the
Acadia Recreation Complex (Calgary) https://www.facebook.
First Canadian Collectors Club one-day show runs October 13
from at the Thorncliffe-Greenview Community Hall (Calgary)
The Calgary Music Collector’s show happens May 6 at the
Acadia Recreation Complex (Calgary) https://www.facebook.
Using music as a canvas, the Alberta Ballet has emerged with a new performance
designed after the musical legacy of The Tragically Hip. Since
2006, Artistic Director Jean Grand-Maître has worked with prominent artists
such as Elton John (Love Lies Bleeding), Gordon Lightfoot (Our Canada), and
Sarah McLachlan (Fumbling Towards Ecstasy) to create a unique portrait
ballet series. This year, All of Us combines the energetic and creative music of
The Tragically Hip with a contemporary ballet styled after the themes that
encompass the band’s discography. All of Us is a pairing between musician
and choreographer, and as Grand-Maître notes, it features “the humanistic
aspects of what they were about”.
All of Us is presented just seven months after Gord Downie’s untimely
passing from brain cancer, and comes at a timely moment for fans mourning
the loss of the prominent singer and songwriter. Yet, the ballet is crafted as a
tribute to the entire band and their body of work. Grand-Maître embarked
on the creative process by immersing himself in the history of the songs,
every recording, then interviews – all before Downie’s terminal diagnosis. The
ballet was conceived in “two different worlds…as far away from what was
going on as could be”. While The Tragically Hip announced the final tour and
performed their final show in Kingston, ON, Alberta Ballet prepared for All of
Us and chose to focus on the music, rather than the unfortunate circumstances.
As Grand-Maître describes, All of Us is about hope – a fitting theme
for fans still grieving the loss of the Canadian icon.
The ballet features a post-apocalyptic tale where descendants of mankind
fight to inherit the earth. The story explores the dichotomy between two
clans: one good, compassionate, and connected to nature, and the other an
embodiment of greed and intolerance. Otherworldly set design reflects a
future desolate world mirrored in recent films such as Blade Runner 2049,
and dancers are styled in doomsday inspired costumes. Designers sought to
create strong characters, comparable to Rey, played by actress Daisy Ridley
in the recent Star Wars series. Alberta Ballet’s unique approach displays two
versions of the theme, with “one [clan] as more decrepit, the other pure spirit”.
Songs from every Tragically Hip album are featured, from acoustic melodies
to electric guitar emphasizing the “dread and evil” of the piece. Grand-
Maître and the team of designers envisioned the style using rock music as a
medium, creating a unique and original theatrical dance performance.
Over the last three decades The Tragically Hip has inspired generations of
music lovers, a passion that permeates the essence of All of Us. The band’s
vision lives on through the ballet created by the renowned choreographer
Grand-Maître, who describes the late Gord Downie as “a courageous hero”.
He credits the band collectively for their influence in writing the imaginative
story about humanity. Expressed through dance, All of Us is about a dangerous,
uncertain future – with hope and compassion at the center.
• MADYSON HUCK
All of Us plays May 2-6 in Calgary, and May 10-12 in Edmonton.
420 MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL
4.20 questions with the heads of Calgary’s annual green party
BY MR. SLATE
fter we caught wind of the 420 Music
and Arts Festival’s immanent return,
we were compelled to track down organizers
of the annual psych-rock smoke
show, CC Getty and Celestia Scarlett. The
Metalheads United promoters gave us
the 411 on Calgary’s three-day long and
two-dozen band strong celebration of
BeatRoute: What are you most looking forward
to about this year’s three-day event?
420Fest: Dopethrone, for sure! It took
having one festival under our belt to show
them we knew what we were doing. Having
desert rock legend Brant Bjork in to disc
jockey live on 4/20 will be rad! He’ll be
bringing up a crate of wicked ‘vinyls’ that
he’s picked out specifically for that night.
We’re also stoked to welcome Californian’s
Sasquatch (Los Angeles) and The
Great Electric Quest (San Diego), who will
be performing Canada for the first time.
We’ve had so many requests to bring back,
highlight of the 2017 installment, La Chinga
(Vancouver, BC), that we simply had to
invite them to return and play an even
longer set. And, be sure to check out the
great Derek Mendozza and his influential
[British Columbia]-based bands Mendozza
BR: What homegrown selections will you
420Fest: Local (Calgary, AB) bands Buffalo
Bud Buster, The Electric Revival, Bazaraba
and Set & Stoned will be returning to our
stage. Meanwhile, the likes of Electric Owl,
Haaze, Solid Brown, Raw, & Pelican Death
Squad will all be making their 420 Festival
debuts this year. And, we are thrilled to be
introducing Gin Lahey, a potent-but-sweet
hybrid featuring members from Chron
Goblin and Witchstone, who will be making
their first appearance (anywhere) at our
Festival. Calgary’s original hemp store the
Hemporium will be there again this year
and handsome Mammoth Beard Co. will be
sponsoring the 420 Beard Contest. Last but
not least, The Perogy Boyz and Waffles &
Chix food trucks will be onsite to satiate of
any munchies that may arise.
BR: Words of wisdom on how to best
approach and enjoy the Fest?
420Fest: Get your passes or tickets in
advance from Distortion, Sloth Records or
Deadly Tattoos to save on service fees and
get through the line a little faster. Be sure
to arrive early to see all the bands. There
are always special rewards for those that
do show up in advance. And don’t forget,
to hit the bank machine before you come
as Distortion is a cash only bar (and so are
most of our vendors). Take advantage of
the Festival’s convenient location and get a
room at the Days Inn, so you can party all
BR: Lessons learned and new improvements?
420Fest: We decided to have our ‘420
Expo’ with all kinds of artists and craftspeople
set up during the Festival evenings, instead
of separately, to give attendees even
more to enjoy during the musical performances.
The biggest lesson we’ve learned is
that we can’t take any time off. We’ve come
to realize that, in order to build something
bigger and better, we’ve got to approach
this Festival as a full-time job and a yearround
operation. In fact, we’ve already
begun booking acts for 2019!
420 Music and Arts Festival runs from April 19
until April 21 at Distortion (Calgary). For more
information on the line-up and to purchase
YYSCENE’s quick scan go-to-guide for April
And here we are into April – there’s a
lot going on, so let’s dive right into it
because, well, we can.
Start the month off on April 5
taking in some great vintage film at
Lougheed House with Charlie Chaplin’s
Modern Times. On April 8 you can
catch HOLY HUM with Hermitess and
Deep Covers at Nite Owl, and for the
poetry slam lovers out there, you’re in
luck! Can You Hear Me Now? All Ages
Poetry Slam will take place at Shelf
Life Books on April 10. Also on April
10 you can take in The Maine with
The Wrecks & The Technicolors at The
Den, U of C. Then on April 11 head
over to Studio Bell again for Passport:
Music Export Summit Showcase with
Ahi, Nuela Charles, Samurai Champs,
JEFF GOLDBLUM at the Comic Expo.
Sate & Port Cities.
Danger! Danger! Yes it’s true, Electric Six will be at the Gateway on April 12 (see
what I did there?) and then on April 14 head over to Ironwood for Petunia & the
Vipers. All fun, all the time.
The Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) will take place in our fair city
from April 16-21, specifically at the Globe Theatre. Great films, the Found Footage
Festival, Saturday morning cartoons complete with cereal ... check out their online
schedule for all of the goodness.
Literary types! Wordfest presents Sane Takes on an Insane World Festival April
16 - 23 at various venues around town, and then on April 18 you’ll be wanting
to hit the Ship & Anchor Pub to see Night Committee with Des Arcs and Less
More into dance? Sure you are! DJD presents Mimic April 19-May 5 at their
amazing theatre, and over at Studio Bell (they clearly have a truckload of stuff
going on down there) their Alberta Spotlight features nêhiyawak with FOON-
YAP on April 19. On April 21 head to the Gateway for Fever Feel with The Ashley
Hundred, and then on April 25 The Commons will host Aimee-Jo Benoit and Trio
Velocity in their Parlour Room.
Wait for it! The 13th Annual Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo will take
place at the BMO Centre April 26-29, featuring the POW! Parade of Wonders
downtown on April 27. The cast of Back to the Future, Lou Ferrigno, JEFF GOLD-
BLUM? Come ON!
You can catch the PVRIS North American Tour with guests at The Palace April
26 and then what better way to end the month than over at Distortion on April 30
taking in 2 Shadows-Feed the Obscure Tour? I have no counter to that one.
Kari Watson is a writer and former Listings Editor of FFWD Weekly, and has
continued to bring event listings to Calgary through theYYSCENE and her event
listings page, The Culture Cycle. Contact her at email@example.com.
12 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
FUNNYMEN OF FOUND FOOTAGE
Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher bring their hilarious show to CUFF
BY CHAD SAUNDERS
Nick Prueher: There’s something very endearing to us about these
sort of analog weirdos. In the YouTube era, everyone knows that
they are broadcasting to the world and goes into it with far more
media savvy than even the most sophisticated media professionals
had in the 80s and 90s. There sort of a wide-eyed innocence about
their endeavors that’s really appealing. I mean, Jack Rebney was
having a bad few days shooting an RV commercial, Frank Pacholski
made two episodes of little-seen public access show, and Larry
Pierce was recording dirty country songs in a garage and sending
them to a truck stop comedy label. They weren’t doing it to get
famous or anything. YouTube is great but everyone on there is self
aware and that takes the fun out of it for us.
Chop and Steele doing their fake strongmen early morning TV routine that garnered a lot of laughs and lousy lawsuit.
THE FOUND FOOTAGE FESTIVAL is a one-of-a-kind event that
showcases footage from videos that were found at garage sales
and thrift stores and in warehouses and dumpsters across the
country. Curators Nick and Joe take audiences on a guided tour
of their latest and greatest VHS finds, providing live commentary
and where-are-they-now updates on the people in these
You have been doing the Found Footage Festival since 2004,
close to 15 years. Did you ever think it would go this long?
Joe Pickett: No. Not at all. After the first few years of touring, we
thought we’d run out of video tapes or people would lose interest.
But we’re continually surprised (and grateful) that so many weird
videos have been produced on this planet. And based on the stacks
of videos in our office, we’ll be doing this until the day we die (or go
What makes a good find? What is the criteria for making the cut
for your FFF tours and DVDs?
Joe Pickett: We have a few rules: 1. Nothing off the internet. The
videos we show must be an actual, physical copy. 2. The video must
be unintentionally funny. In other words, whatever the producer set
out to do, whether it’s a training video about flipping burgers or an
instructional tape about singing like Elvis, they had to be earnest in
their intentions. And 3. Puppets, corporate rapping and ridiculous
exercise videos always have a home in our show.
members encouraged to bring tapes and if so, what are you
currently looking for?
Joe Pickett: It’s a needle in a haystack to find a video that’s good in
the right way, but when you find it, it’s an absolute rush. Thrift stores
don’t carry VHS like they used to, so we always ask people to bring
us their tapes. In fact, last year, after David Letterman retired from
the Late Show, a writer gave us the show’s entire VHS collection,
which turned out to be pure gold. As for a tape we want to track
down, we’d love to find the Donald Trump piss video, but we currently
don’t have any leads.
VHS is a media that is disappearing. What makes a clip captured
“today” (on VHS or not) special? Does the Internet “water
down” or mask the real/honest people genuinely trying to
present an idea?
Joe Pickett: People were much more sincere back in the ‘80s/’90s
and you really don’t see that level of sincerity these days. Everyone
is extremely self-aware now, but back then people would express
themselves on video no matter how terrible the idea. Maybe it’s
because comment sections hadn’t been invented yet. Whatever the
reason is, we find it refreshing to watch earnestness on screen even if
it is a little cringe-inducing.
Tell us about Chop and Steele. What triggered Gray TV to begin
legal proceedings? What will the new show incorporate from
this episode of your lives?
Nick Prueher: While on tour with the Found Footage Festival, Joe
and I found ourselves going on these local morning news shows
across the U.S. and Canada to promote the show and very early on
we realized no one was paying attention. They’d get the name of
our show wrong, they had no idea what we did, and they made us
come in at like 5:30 am. We hated doing them, so as an experiment
with our friend Mark [Proksch] we sent out an obviously bogus
press release about an “environmental yo-yo expert” around Earth
Day to some of these same stations. They totally ate it up, so Mark
came along on tour with us and played the yo-yo expert on TV,
despite the fact that he couldn’t yo-yo at all. It was so ridiculous
that tried it again a few years later with me playing a dumb celebrity
chef who taught you how to spruce up your holiday leftovers,
essentially by blending them all together and pouring them on corn.
It was so dumb but it didn’t matter. Chef Keith got on a half dozen
news shows, no questions asked. So last year, we decided to see
just how stupid we could be and pitched ourselves as a strongman
duo called Chop & Steele, unifying a divided country by chopping
cinder blocks. Again, we got booked a ton of these shows. They just
never learn their lesson. And I guess Gray TV, which owns about 90
stations in the U.S., got embarrassed and sued us! Instead of training
their reporters to be better, they paid tens of thousands of dollars
to hire a law firm and make our lives a living hell for a year. We’ll be
showing the hotly contested footage and telling the full story at the
show at CUFF. Don’t tell Gray TV.
How hard is it to be media pranksters? What is next with the
Chop and Steele lawsuit behind you?
Nick Prueher: Please don’t call us media pranksters. To me, that
phrase conjures up snickering YouTube morons like Logan Paul who
think it’s funny to mess with the poor lady in the drive-thru. We’re
more like comedy writers with too much time on our hands. That
said, we’ve got some other ideas to see if news stations are finally doing
their homework. Could two incompetent cat trainers be touring
through Alberta later this year for Cat Awareness Month? We’ll see.
Tips to get on TV? How does one become the next GG Allin of
Cookingon morning television?
Nick Prueher: Send literally any press release to a news station on a
letterhead. You’ll get on.
You have introduced the world to Jack Rembey aka Winnebago
Man, Frank Pacholski (US flag speedo wearing public access
“star”), Larry Pierce (Dirty Country singer) and more. What
makes these folk heroes stand out in a instant-celebrity world
What makes the hunt for the next best VHS tape still exciting? of the Internet? What is different about being a VHS star over
Found Footage Film Festival: Vol. 8 takes place April 21, 9:15 pm at the Globe
Is there a tape that you still need to track down? Are audience being a YouTube sensation?
FILM BEATROUTE • MARCH 2018 | 13
CUFF LOVES DOCS
some prime picks
CUFF loves docs. They love them so
much, in fact, that they put on a
second festival every November devoted
exclusively to documentaires. And while
there will be more on the menu than just
docs for this years full-fledged fest, we all
know that CUFF’s affinity for documentaries
is ever present, and you can expect
some real gems on this year’s program.
KUSAMA-INFINITY You may recognize Yayoi
Kusama’s work as the polka-dot infused infinity
rooms all over your instagram feed, but this
world-renowned artist has been making waves
since the 1960’s. The feature length debut from
documentarian Heather Lenz, Infinity delves into
world of Kusama as she faces industry sexism, a
rivalry with Andy Warhol, and lifelong battle with
mental health, all while creating some of the most
recognizable and jubilant art of her time.
FREAKS AND GEEKS: THE DOCUMENTARY
While the show may have only lasted one
season, it’s impact has lasted a lifetime in
souls of former (and current) angsty teenagers
everywhere. Comprised of interviews from the
beloved show’s cast and crew, whether you
identified as a freak or a geek, get ready for that
familiar flood of early 80’s nostalgia (whether
you lived it or not.)
JACK OF ALL TRADES If you ever think ‘Why
don’t we collect baseball cards anymore?’
(hey, it could happen) then this is the doc for
you. Exploring the rise and fall of America’s
(former) favorite past-time, Jack of all Trades
follows former child actor Stu Stone as he tries
and figures out where it all went wrong-with
baseball cards, that is-and discovers that maybe
the card’s true value lies in the memories, not
SLAVE TO THE GRIND What is grindcore? I’m
not sure, but this documentary is going to tell
you. “Harder than hardcore, faster than thrash,
and heavier than just about anything you can
imagine,” self-describes the films synopsis, this
gritty doc mixes live footage, band interviews,
BY MORGAN CAIRNS
and even a little animation thrown in for good
measure to probe one of music’s most extreme
genres. Gearing up for its world premiere at
CUFF, Slave to the Grind even features Calgary’s
own grindcore heavyweights, Wake.
TO HELL AND BACK:
THE KANE HODDER STORY You may not
recognize his name, or even his face, but stick a
hockey mask on him and you know him as Friday
the 13th’s infamous machete wielding madman,
Jason Voorhees. Getting to know the man
behind the mask, this doc touches on Hodder’s
tumultuous past, and how he overcame the
odds to become America’s favourite murderer
ROLLER DREAMS Roller skating is synonymous
with Venice Beach circa 1984, and you can expect
to see a lot of neon spandex, big hair, and slick
moves. But Roller Dreams goes beyond the tricks
and the tans, and touches on the racism and
gentrification that encapsulates the film’s tagline:
The dream didn’t fade, it was taken.
The Calgary Underground Film Festival runs April
16-22 at The Globe Cinema. Visit calgaryunder-
14 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
shoot local, thrill global
Mike Peterson (the grown-up) provides direction on the set of Knuckleball.
Calgarian filmmaker Mike Peterson grew doesn’t know that well. The grandfather
up without a television, in a home with a passes away suddenly in the night, and
family of five kids. But the absence of something
some of us can’t live without meant there’s dangerous forces from outside that
Henry’s left to his own. He’s alone, and
Peterson went to the movies with his family are trying to harm him while his parents are
at least once a week, and those family memories
turned into a life-long passion for film. on. There’s no communication between
racing home to try to find out what’s going
Fast forward to 2018 – Peterson has directed them – his phone is dead, he doesn’t have
TV commercials, music videos, short films, a charger, and there’s no service. He’s got to
documentaries and feature films.
fend for himself over the twelve or eighteen
“Cinema in the late ‘60s, on through the hours that his parents are racing back to find
‘70s, and then a little bit into the ‘80s is probably
where I’d naturally draw the most in-
like Home Alone meets the Shining, with no
out what the heck has happened. It’s kinda
spiration from,” muses Peterson. “But, in the comedy for adults.”
same breath, every project will have its own During the Calgary Underground Film
voice, and its own demands. Knuckleball (his Festival, Knuckleball will see its Canadian
second feature film as a director, writer, and premiere in Peterson’s home town.
producer) to me felt like it required a lot of “It first premiered in a film festival called
formalism. Recently at a Q&A, someone was Cinequest in the States (San Jose, California)
like: ‘Oh, were you inspired by Hitchcock?’ on March 3, which was great,” notes Peterson.
“You could see people kinda shrink away
And I: ‘Not specifically. No I wasn’t. But I
think I can see why you say that’. Knuckleball from some of the more violent moments,
has a very controlled, a formal sort of visual and people were really concerned for the kid,
approach. But I think I drew more so from which is, you know, emotionally what you’re
films like Let The Right One In, the original hoping for. We got a lot of compliments on
Swedish one, and the Shining.”
the acting, the story, and the score.”
Shot around Fort Saskatchewan and
The film also has a bone-chilling, dronedrenched
score composed by Toronto-based
Edmonton during the winter months with
snow, nippy air, and hoarfrost bitten earth musicians Michelle Osis and David Arcus.
establish a chilly setting for the thriller. In his “Musically, we talked about trying to keep
own words, Peterson describes what Knuckleball
is all about:
all organic, and it was a small selection of in-
everything organic. The instrumentation was
“Twelve year old Henry gets dropped off struments. I didn’t want it to be a busy score.
at his grandfather’s country home, who he We ended up using a lot of home-made
BY HANNAH MANY GUNS
sounds like drum-sticks on pieces of tin for
the rhythm sections, and we made this circular
boat instrument thing. They killed it on
the score, and it was a real pleasure to work
with those guys.”
Peterson met Osis and Arcus through his
connection with the Canadian Film Centre
in Toronto, where Peterson took a six month
intensive film program called The Director’s
Lab in 2013.
“I learnt a lot in that program, and it positioned
me in the industry because not many
people have done it, and it’s got a decent
amount of credibility.”
Besides the program, Peterson hasn’t
taken any other forms of film school, most of
his studies were actually in other academic
fi e l d s .
“I went to York University and did a double
major in Humanities and Communication
Studies. Then I went to graduate school
at the University of North Carolina, and did
Communication Studies there, and I consider
that a big part of my ‘film education’. In grad
school, I started making documentaries,
and then also I’d watch two three movies
a day because I had access to the libraries
and stuff. I could follow these crazy strings,
and just watch Polish cinema for a month or
two, then find, you know, one of those guys
that worked in France with some other guys,
and then I’d start following these different
threads, different lines, and just found an
amazing amount of cool, interesting, sometimes
bad, films from all over the world. And
I did that for six years, probably.”
This self-taught process has shaped the
filmmaking philosophies that drive Peterson.
As a film enthusiast who enjoys films from
all corners of the world, he is determined to
create films that international audiences will
“Canada doesn’t watch a lot of its own
movies, right? So if you’re making films to
only be seen here, you’re probably wasting
your time. I mean, you can still be talking
about local, personal things, but I would
imagine your hope would be that it’s got
international appeal. Having a film be pretty
good for a local project is a fine way to look
at something, but at some point I’d assume
you’re making it for world-wide fans of whatever
kind of movie you made. It’s an international
art-form, it’s an international language.
I hope Knuckleball lives up to that.”
Knuckleball has sold in the Middle East,
China, the U.K., and the U.S., and will be
screened internationally come September.
Knuckleball plays April 17, 6:30 pm at The Globe
Cinema during CUFF.
DARTS & GAMES
$5 PINTS OF OAK TREE LAGER
ALL YOU CAN EAT
$6 PINTS OF BANDED PEAK
$6 PINTS OF VILLAGE WIT
$6 PINTS OF
GRIZZLY PAW RASPBERRY
$6 ROTATIONAL PINTS
124 10 STREET NW • CALGARY ALBERTA
FILM BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 15
THE SECRET POPPO
a wild ride mind transporter
Nick Luzietti is the Secret Poppo, an eccentric
artist who uncovers a mysterious
conspiracy while trying to find his missing
granddaughter. Through twists and turns,
introspection and detection, this quirky
and colourful production showcases the wild
mind of Jonald Byron (Luzietti) as he picks up
clues and goes on a quest in a bizarre mystery.
The Secret Poppo was co-directed by Sean
16 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
Pierce, Zach Harris and Nevi Cline and produced
by Karen Schmitz of Chicago’s Punctuation
Productions. It’s second film produced by
this crew of friends following Meathead Goes
Hog Wild, which also showcased Luzietti and
screened at CUFF 2015.
“It’s a film we made because we love
Nick Luzietti, and basically we wanted a movie
that celebrated how awesome he is and showcases
who he is,” explains Sean Pierce during a
phone call from Chicago.
The Secret Poppo is versatile and dynamic,
with rich colours and quick camera movements
that take you inside Jonald’s mind with
interludes on green screen reminiscent of old
“Nick is larger than life, and we wanted
the colours to pop off the screen and follow
his thoughts. He improvised almost all of his
lines and he brought tons of energy to the
project,” says Pierce. “It’s a starring vehicle for
Nick Luzietti the person.”
Luzietti, an architect and designer from
Chicago, says he had a blast transporting himself
into a new reality within his own spaces.
“These guys are pirates. They just know
how to steal… you, and who you are. They
had a cool story,” he says. “But who am I going
to play? ‘Me,’ they said. I’m picking out my
clothes in the closet, I’m walking around my
house, looking at my art, my accordion. But,
we really went to new places because we were
Luzietti says the initial ideas of the film
went through a lot of evolution, given the free
interpretation he was given to the story.
BLOOD & DONUTS
delightful Can-Con horror
You’ve likely heard of Joel Schumacher’s
The Lost Boys (1987), and digging a little
deeper in the same vein you’re sure to strike
its cinematic sibling, Near Dark (1987). Setting
this duo apart from their vampiric predecessors
is the avid use of realism — the portrayal
of simple human-beings enslaved to a parsitic
disease. Existing within a sub-genre formerly
lavished with gothic romanticism and classical
flair since Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula (1897),
fresh blood was due to modernize the world
of blood sucking hellions a century after their
As well-versed as one may be within the
universe of independent horror, an unfortunate
reality is that Canada’s own contribution
to the aforementioned sub-genre has
seemingly fallen under the radar – a blissfully
crimson fringe horror/comedy, cheekily entitled
Blood and Donuts (1995).
The film follows a shaggy-hair bloodsucker
with the unique name of Boya, who has been
accidentally awoken by a golf ball since his
initial slumber in 1969, 25 years prior. As he
traipses the gritty landscapes of mid-90s Toronto,
he becomes involved with a couple of
mortals, in turn involuntarily accepting their
issues with shady criminals as his own. Deeply
hammering down the Canadiana roots of the
BY MICHAEL GRONDIN
“This film changed and grew and flipped
over and did a couple somersaults, and
tripped over itself and turned into a few
different things before it got to the end,” he
explains. “What’s beautiful about this movie:
it’s layered. Some movies are very chronological,
and that’s not what this is. There’s
one story, the one where the Secret Poppo is
searching for his granddaughter, and then
there’s the other story of what he’s thinking,
what’s happening in his head.”
Luzietti, who will be in attendance at this
year’s CUFF along with some crew and cast,
says small independent films such as The
Secret Poppo give way to ideas you can’t find
“It’s kinda like a jazz band in which each
one of these instruments talk to each other,
and the story in Poppo, and the images, and
the voiceover, and the crew and the cast are
like all of these different instruments playing
the same song, but the horn never sounds like
the piano, you know.”
The Secret Popo will screen as part of CUFF April
20, 9:45 pm at The Globe Cinema
BY BREANNA WHIPPLE
film, world-renowned Canadian director and
body horror icon, David Cronenberg, cameos
as the primary antagonist throughout the
duration of the film.
Though comparable in tone to genre films
of the same decade, for example Leprechaun
(1993), Blood and Donuts offers a unique
viewing experience as it juxtaposes uncomfortable,
grim visuals alongside a soundtrack
chock-full of feel-good ‘50s rock ‘n’ rool. Aside
from appearing in the festival circuit in the
mid-90s and a video release in 1996, the film
is criminally under-seen. For those of you that
maintain a penchant for cool, fun, vampire-horror,
you’re in for a delectable treat.
Blood and Donuts screens during CUFF on April
18, 9:45 pm at the Globe Cinema.
FREAKS AND GEEKS:
insecurity in adolescence
BY MATTY HUME
claymation horror and humour
Sôichi Umezawa has made himself a career
in special makeup effects, and his directorial
debut is a chance for him to showcase that
skill with a unique premise: a blood-thirsty clay
Set at a small, rural Japanese art school, the
story is centered on a handful of students who
are eagerly learning how to sculpt. When their
instructor uncovers a mysterious box of clay
that had been buried in the yard, she brings it
into the classroom for the students. The clay
soon proves to be quite abnormal as it begins
to move by itself when no one is looking, and
it seems to have a malicious intent to harm the
students. Once it is able to absorb a few drops
of blood, its hunger and power grows, and it
becomes strong enough to murder.
Seeing this clay monster in action is quite
a spectacle. Just by touching its victims it can
mutate and absorb their flesh into its own
muddy, blob-like body. Once a student gets
devoured into its gaping mouth, the monster
can then mold itself into the shape of a human,
acting as a disguise to get closer to the other
students. The special effects are all done with
practical methods of makeup, prosthetics and
some claymation. Watching this artistry bring
the monster to life is really the movie’s biggest
SLAVE TO THE GRIND
BY MATTHEW NYGREN
Although there is a creepy atmosphere to
appreciate, Vampire Clay focuses on violent
body-horror instead of psychological horror,
and luckily, a carnivorous clay monster is as
absurd as it sounds, and that generates memorable
scenes of ridiculous carnage. While Umezawa
may not have overtly tried to make a
horror-comedy, because of the serious tone
he establishes, there’s no denying the inherent
dark humour of anthropomorphic shape-shifting
clay trying to strangle people with its tentacles.
A fitting addition for CUFF’s late night screenings,
fans of gore will be rewarded with some
outrageous entertainment as copious amounts of
blood, slime and clay splatter across the screen.
Vampire Clay will screen as part of CUFF on April 20,
11:59 pm and April 22, 11:00 am at The Globe Cinema
“Did you ever go to high school? Yeah? Okay, then it’s about you.”
bout 20 years ago, Paul Feig and of Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation,” the song
Judd Apatow poured their hearts that opened the every episode of the
into the birth of TV’s anti-hero dramady
classic single-camera sitcom. Over the
spotlight on a dark movement
BY CHRISTINE LEONARD
— a coming-of-age opus that next 70 minutes, the doc outlines the life
necessarily been kind to, pause to reflect on the fac-
foreshadowed the stardom of James of Freaks and Geeks, from Feig’s initial
tors that unite and divide the volatile musical scene.
Franco, Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, pitch to Apatow at a comedian party
It’s not inconceivable that the next great grind
Jason Segel, Samm Levine, Martin house to the cast and crew’s sentimental
lyric might come from the list of hard-to-swallow
Starr, John Francis Daley and on and prom-themed, wrap-up party following
band names that grace this chronological survey:
on. Freaks and Geeks made its awkward,
the show’s cancellation.
Repulsion, Cretin, Discordance Axis, Fuck The Facts,
dorky and candid debut on NBC Even if you have no intention to con-
Anal Cunt, Vermin Wound, Warsore, Rotten Sound,
on September 25, 1999. Now, in 2018, sume Freaks and Geeks in all its glory (although
Morbid Angel and so on.
you should), make this documen-
Witness as metal nerds around the globe flock to
the story of that program is chronicled
in the long overdue Freaks and Geeks: tary a priority. What allows Freaks and Documenting the rise, crest and eventual this caustic chapter of outsider art at its loudest. Behold
the fervorous fans of machine gun percussion
The Documentary. If you cheered on Geeks to remain iconic is it’s authentic
denouement of the heavy metal genre
your favourite losers during the year it portrayal of many a high school student commonly referred to as ‘grindcore,’ Slave to the and demonic vocals, best-achieved through gargling
was on air or crunched through the 18 in mid-western North America. The documentary
Grind dutifully retraces the elemental progression Drano and Fireball, and, as the multi-biographical
episodes on Netflix this side of 2012,
allows viewers to see a room of of the offshoot from guerrilla rock to gore grind film details, the infamous grindcore “cheat beat,”
you’ll be a puddle of emotions within writers throw their most embarrassing, and all of the nasty, guttural, chainsaw-revving which involves hitting the high-hat every second
two minutes of this doc.
heart wrenching and formative moments cacophony in between. Somewhat akin to Anvil:
beat, as rapidly as possible. Thus, delivering that bru-
The Documentary exists as an
at a wall and seeing it all stick.
The Story of Anvil in its music historian’s tal and blistering “blast beat” by which drummers
accessible one-hour distillation of the Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary, approach and enduring affection for an underdog came to define the core of the grind. The musicians
success, insecurity, failures and survival
like the original show, will connect with subject matter, director Doug Robert Brown’s film themselves hold little back, spilling the goods on
of failures through the support of any audience that walked in a high school relies heavily on first-hand accounts to build his personal rivalries, grave robbing and mid-show
others in adolescence that the original foyer. Don’t sleep through your alarm for case for the fastest, most aggressive music of its fisticuffs with skinheads. As a bonus, some of these
show put forward — but for a brand this one.
time, and, possibly of any time.
exploits are cleverly animated to better convey their
new audience. It opens with a genuine
Proof that an English accent elevates the timber often hilarious absurdity.
reflection of high school experiences Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary will of any story, no matter how debauched, members
from the familiar voices of Freaks and screen during CUFF on Sunday April 22, 6:30 of Napalm Death weigh-in on what went right with Patch up your denim vests, Slave to the Grind screens
Geeks stars, followed by a title sequence pm at The Globe Cinema
their career arc. Meanwhile, other grindcore influencers,
as part of CUFF on April 21, 6:30 pm at The Globe
backed by a washed-out, adagio cover
the majority of whom years have not Cinema.
FILM BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 17
rewind to the future
BY SHANE SELLAR
The Disaster Artist
18 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
The Disaster Artist
If making movies were easy the Hollywood
elite would have no one to sexually assault.
Fortunately, the filmmaker in this dramedy
is able to finance his feature sans studio.
Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) has a hard time
coming out of his shell in acting class until
he partners with nonconformist classmate,
Tommy Wiseau (James Franco). The independently
wealthy Wiseau invites Greg to LA
to peruse their acting dreams. When neither is
successful, Wiseau writes a script for Greg, that
he produces and directs. What Wiseau creates
is considered to be one of the worst movies
Based on Greg’s book about the making of
The Room, director James Franco takes a stellar
treatment and turns it into a touching and
comical recreation of the unbelievable events.
Franco also does an uncanny job of portraying
Wiseau. Fortunately, nowadays when a
movie is bad they just release it in 3-D.
Watching girls perform vertical splits in their
panties is only allowed during Olympic figure
skating. Sadly, the skater in this dramedy has
been banned from ever flashing audiences
From an early age, Tonya Harding (Margot
Robbie) had been pushed by her abusive
mother (Allison Janney) to be the best on
the ice. Despite the cruelty, she grew into
a talented skater. Her abusive boyfriend
Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) sees that Olympic
potential, but also a threat in her main rival, so
he hires Tonya’s bungling bodyguard and his
dimwitted crew to assault Nancy Kerrigan at
the ice rink.
A bizarre true story made even stranger by
turning the violent event and its participants
into a comical situation executed by white
trash caricatures. While the cast is impeccable,
the directing, especially the green-screen work,
is terrible. And while the Winter Olympics
frowns on clubbing competitor’s kneecaps,
Disney On Ice doesn’t.
The best thing about Catholic school is that it
accepts pregnant virgins as students. However,
it’ll be awhile before the pupil in this dramedy
even gets a miraculous kiss.
Quirky Catholic high school senior Lady
Bird (Saoirse Ronan) struggles to find her place
amongst her straight-laced peers as she waits
to live out her Ivy League College fantasy far
away from her overbearing mother (Laurie
Metcalf). It’s not until she joins the school
play that she finds her calling, and her new
boyfriend. But her affluent new friends begin
to affect how Ladybird perceives her status,
her family and her old friends.
Although it comes with all the angst, awkwardness
and senseless rebellion you’d expect,
it’s the hilarious and touching mother-daughter
dynamic that elevates writer/director Greta
Gerwig’s vision, and sets it apart from your
standard coming-of-age account. Moreover,
teenage girls hate their mothers up until they
need them to babysit.
Pitch Perfect 3
Sadly, if you want to sabotage an a cappella
group you have to slit a member’s throat. Or,
you can do what the rivals in this musical
comedy do and play instruments.
Three years after their last performance,
the dismantled Bellas (Brittany Snow, Anna
Camp, Hailee Steinfeld) are reunified for a
chance to perform in a USO show alongside
DJ Khaled. But when he only wants Beca (Anna
Kendrick) for his opening act, it divides the
Meanwhile, Fat Amy’s (Rebel Wilson) excon
father (John Lithgow) lands the girls in hot
With its reunion plotline dependent yet
again on a singing competition, this third
entry in the pointless musical pageant is the
absolute worst in the series, and unwatchable.
This claim is exemplified by the inclusion
of organized crime, military adverts and
DJ Khaled’s acting to the mix.
Moreover, singing without a guitar is like
fighting without an M16.
The Shape of Water
The upside to a having a fish-man on your
superhero squad is they can unclog any toilet.
Surprisingly, the hybrid in this fantasy isn’t
affiliated with any sequential art.
When a military colonel (Michael Shannon)
arrives at a top-secret aquarium with a
mysterious sea-creature in tow, mute cleaning
lady Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is inexplicably drawn
to the cryptic convict.
While she and her co-worker (Octavia
Spencer) are warned not to interact with the
army’s asset (Doug Jones), Elisa lunches with
it anyways. When she learns of its imminent
dissection, she enlists her neighbor (Richard
Jenkins) and a scientist (Michael Stuhlbarg) to
help free her new friend.
Steeped in classic monster movie ethos,
writer/director Guillermo del Toro crafts beautifully
shot fan-fiction of the Creature from the
Black Lagoon and, in the process, manages to
make his crossover masterpiece. The downside
to dating a fish-man, however, is permanent
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The upside to being the last Jedi is that you
longer have to use the brown lightsaber. Sadly,
the final hope found in this sci-fi film doesn’t
even know how to wield her weapon…yet.
While her friends in the Resistance (Carrie
Fisher, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Laura Dern)
attempt to deactivate a First Order device
that can track their diminutive fleet through
hyperspace, neophyte Rey (Daisy Ridley)
seeks out exiled Jedi master Luke Skywalker
(Mark Hamill) for training. Her path eventually
leads to her rival Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and
his master (Andy Serkis).
Although it comes embedded with embarrassing
one-liners, questionable character arcs
and a number of absurd scenes, this divisive
– yet action-packed and expansive – installment
in the space opera franchise is still far
superior to its predecessor, The Force Awakens.
Incidentally, like all endangered species, the
last Jedi should be in a space zoo.
Norse gods only answer prays containing key
words, like, mead, wench or beheading. But if
this action movie is to be believed, there may
not be many deities left to worship.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his adopted
brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) must prevent
their newly freed sister Hela (Cate Blanchett)
from destroying the Nine Realms. In the process
Thor is captured by an intergalactic slave
trader (Tessa Thompson) and sold to the ruler
(Jeff Goldblum) of a battle planet for gladiatorial
games. Powerless without his hammer, the
god of thunder must learn to rely on others,
including Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), if he hopes to
Better than both of its predecessors by
leaps and bounds, especially in terms of action,
acting and humour, director Taika Waititi
manages to bring levity to what is essentially
Thor’s darkest saga yet. Incidentally, the only
people who’d mourn Asgard’s ruin are white
He’s Amorally Superior.
He’s the… Vidiot
runway to the screen
BY MADYSON HUCK
Fashion Film is a medium exploring the fashion industry in
innovative and experimental ways, and the Canadian International
Fashion Film Festival (CANIFFF) is showcasing the latest in
the genre. Aimed at featuring fresh, creative, and unique content,
the festival is presenting a new and exciting lineup of short films
this year. “The vision has stayed pretty true since the beginning”,
comments Katrina Olson-Mottahed, Director and Co-Founder.
“Three years later, we are receiving more Canadian films and can
see the fruits of our labor. It’s so rewarding.” One featured Canadian
submission is Radical Nature from She Said Films, in which three
diverse women move through the city streets of Toronto, embracing
their natural beauty and strength.
Twelve judges are set to crown a series of awards, from categories
such as best score, best content, and best styling. The best
score nominees include Sweet Aubergine, a Romanian film pairing
strong and confident women with a spaghetti western soundtrack,
Blow, about a daredevil driver driving blindfolded with an Indian
composer, and Not(e) for a Dreamer, that uses only natural light
from Greve, Italy. The festival highlights a diverse range of filmmakers,
and as Olson-Mottahed notes, “there are several of these
filmmakers flying to Calgary to attend the festival. We love that we
can host them in our city and show them how strongly we believe
and support what they are doing.”
In addition to the film screenings are presentations by celebrated
artists, including a talk about inspiration from Italian filmmaker
Luca Finotti, who won Best Fashion Film in 2017 at CANIFFF
for We Believe in the Power of Love. Olson-Mottahed describes
Finotti as “an incredibly fascinating individual and very talented
filmmaker”, who has worked with brands such as Giorgio Armani
and Versace, and with stars such as singer Lady Gaga and actress
S o fi aVerg a r a .
The festival launches on May 5 in Calgary, with tickets available
on CANIFFF’s official website. The event includes screenings of
selected and nominated films, a pink carpet reception at the
Glenbow Theatre before the awards ceremony, and an after party
on the second floor of Le Germain Hotel.
APRIL 19 – MAY 5, 2018
GALA: APRIL 26
AT THE DJD DANCE CENTRE 111 – 12 AVE. S.E. CALGARY
A collusion of dance, puppets and live music
By Kimberley Cooper, Peter Balkwill and the Nick Fraser Ensemble
For tickets visit decidedlyjazz.com
THE GENEROUS SUPPORT
For more info visit canifff.com
FILM BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 23
rock titans celebrate five decades of livin’ the dream
They’d go in and put a bomb in the light switch. BANG!
In their five decades as an active band, Uriah Heep has left a
colossal mark on rock ‘n’ roll. Infused with a Tolkien leaning
mysticism at their onset, and musically marked by wah-wah
pedal suffused guitar, soaring quasi-operatic vocals, jaunty
keyboards and an unmistakably positive vibe, the band’s survival
was hard earned and is cherished by both its members and fans.
After numerous studio albums, over 40 million album sales
and the cycling through of over 20 members, band leader and
guitarist Mick Box is still going strong with a stable line-up
that is currently on a world tour celebrating those fruitful early
years. Subsequently, this current tour is primarily focused on
the 1970-1973 period when the band produced six full-length
records and a cache of timeless hits. This whirlwind was kicked
off when Box formed the band that would become Uriah Heep
as a 19-year-old in Brentwood, Essex. He was eventually joined
by keyboardist, synth player, guitarist and vocalist Ken Hensley
(writer or co-writer of many of the bands hits) and lead vocalist
“It was a really interesting time because in those days, you
signed an album deal for four, five, six albums. And you grew
with the label; the label grew with you, which is very much unlike
today!” begins Box, an affable Brit with a charming accent.
“Because of that, it nurtured the music and allowed the music
to speak its own voice,” he says. “I think that’s why we were able
to make good songs that stood the test of time and people love
hearing them in a live arena.”
Indeed, the Toronto show where the interview was
conducted was packed with a devoted cross-generational
crowd that included one middle-aged American mother and
20-year-old son; the rabid fan had named her child Uriah.
They were only two amidst a raucous audience that collectively
belted out every word to classic hits like “July Morning,”
“Easy Livin,’” “Look At Yourself,” “The Magician’s Birthday,”
“Rainbow Demon,” and more.
These early discography songs are notably marked by their
infusion of J.R.R Tolkien [of Lord of the Rings fame] themes, a
24 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
focus that quickly evaporated as more bands took up the same
mantle. This changed coincided with the tumultuous ‘Heep
being concerned about their own relevancy.
“I think because The Magician’s Birthday (1972) was recorded
very quickly and we almost exhausted ourselves doing it within one
year. We felt going to our next album, we should probably leave it
behind, simply because of that: we were exhausted by it,” explains
Box. This occurred after the prolific period that saw five albums
released in three years, including their 1970 debut …Very ‘Eavy
… Very ‘Umble, 1971 albums Salisbury and Look at Yourself, then
1972’s Demons and Wizards, which was followed by The Magician’s
Birthday. The shift came with 1973’s Sweet Freedom.
“If you continue with it, you can end up being quite cliché as
well, because the inspiration for those things was from Lord of the
Rings… and we didn’t want to fall into that trap.”
He continues, “Many bands went on and copied us. [Power
metal band] Blind Guardian in Germany, and they’re quite honest
and heart on their sleeve about that, but we kind of kickstarted
them in that way of thinking… We found a mystical way of doing it
that captured the imagination.”
It’s hardly surprising that Heep’s experience in the ‘70s was
marked by struggle: critical reception buoyed and plunged as the
band released a total of 12 studio albums that shifted with musical
trends. Coupled with high turnover and tumultuousness as the
members dealt with infighting over royalties, car crashes, and a
heroin overdose, it’s a miracle that they emerged from the decade
in any form. Sadly, vocalist Byron was fired from the band in 1976
due to alcoholism; he passed away in 1985. Hensley left the band in
1980 due to their differing musical direction; the relationship was a
business one that never quite fit, according to Box.
“In terms of writing, Ken would bring along the barest bones
things on acoustic guitar, and the band would make it epic. It was a
lot of debt to the band to make those songs big classic songs everyone
loves and shouts for,” says Box during a serious moment.
Uriah Heep’s songwriting credits have long been a subject of
discussion given their turnover rate.
BY SARAH KITTERINGHAM
“As a person, he was never a team player. He was always out for
Ken. It’s the only way I can explain it to be honest.”
Box continues, “Ken almost created his own situations… There
would be a dressing room just for him. But then he’d come into our
dressing room and be one of the boys, but imagine how that went
down. So there was many stories where you get into a bit of fun
The remainder of the members would end up playing pranks on
“We had sewn up the bottom of his trousers. So he’s hopping
around the room trying to pull up his trousers. So he set himself up.
Even the crew. Two of the members would come in and ‘where’s
“‘It’s over there!’”
“And then they’d go in and put a bomb in the light switch.
Despite the trauma (and the hijinks), Uriah Heep endured
throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s and continues well on to current day
with a prolific release schedule. It begs the question of whether
they’ve grown bored of those early hits that define them.
“It’s easy to get bored with any of those songs, but the short term
answer is that the audience keeps you alive every time,” counters
“The minute you start the intro, and the fists go in the air, you’re
energized, and you’re in that moment again. And the great thing is
you get people saying that about “Gypsy” [the band’s debut single
from 1970] and the song is twice as old as the guy yelling it!”
The most striking element of “Gypsy” is its variance: funky guitar
rhythms, pounding synchronization, jazzy drums, and jarring
keyboards transition effortlessly alongside striking vocals. It’s
representative of a band that seamlessly integrates rock, progressive,
psychedelic and classical elements.
“In school, that’s what you’re taught,” recalls Box.
“You weren’t taught pop or rock songs, you were taught classical
so you tend to get an appreciation for it. I think the most things I get
out of classical music is the dynamics of it all. One moment you’ve
got your headphones on and you’re drifting off this beautiful bit and
then the timpani and cymbal comes in and makes you jump.”
He shouts the word, laughing.
“Oh yeah, yeah. That’s what we try and do with our music.”
The band has maintained that style in recent releases; live, they
sound strikingly energetic and utterly fantastic. Now composed of
Box and longtime band members Bernie Shaw on vocals and Phil
Lanzon of keyboards, the old-timers are joined by Russell Gilbrook
on drums and bassist Davey Rimmer. Their last studio offering was
2014’s Outsider; it will be followed up this year with the band’s 25th
full-length offering that is appropriately titled Living the Dream.
“We recorded the whole thing in 19 days…. It’ll be released in
September. It’s very rock, and very up-tempo, with some ballads,”
“We just got the trademarks right way back in 1970 and we apply
them to every song we write. Sometimes we have an alright song
and when Heep get hold of it and apply the trademarks, it becomes
Heep in two seconds!”
Uriah Heep perform on April 30 at Union Hall (Edmonton) and on
May 1 at the Palace Theatre (Calgary).
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88 FINGERS LOUIE
26 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
BY SARAH MAC
PHOTO: LISA KOVACS
Back on the streets of Western Canada.
Spring is just around the corner; sprouting
new life and new beginnings. Here in Western
Canada, we can’t help but think of the rejuvenation
and the inevitable return of perennial punk rock
favourite 88 Fingers Louie.
Hailing from Chicago, 88 Fingers Louie (a.k.a. the
88s) came together in 1993, during the confused
daze of skate-punk. From the onset, the band’s
hard-hitting bass lines, up-tempo riffs, catchy
drums and melodic vocals made them a stand-out
amongst their mumble-core peers. Two and half decades
later, the 88s are still defined by their earliest
releases, Behind Bars (1995) and a spate of 7-inch
singles with Fat Wreck Chords. Those formative
works cemented the band’s sound into the brains of
an impressionable decade of fans. They still resonate
after all of the inner turmoil of fragmentations and
“In the early days, breakups weren’t always necessarily
because of tempers flaring, it was because
of a lot of things. We were young, and I guess we
eventually had to grow up though,” explains lead
vocalist Denis Buckley. He’s found a winning formula
in the company of guitarist Dan Wlekinski (formerly
of Rise Against), drummer John Carroll (Paper Mice)
and bassist Nat Wright (Shot Baker).
“We were together, ’93 to ‘96, ’98 to ’99 and 2009
to 2010. I look at it very fondly, but it was starting
to become clear, the same stuff that sorta split us
up in years past, it was starting to show those same
cracks. So, I felt that we should just walk away from
the band and have no one pissed-off at each other.”
There’s nothing more pop-punk than a good
make-up session, so in 2013 88 Fingers Louie celebrated
their 20th anniversary with a commemorative
boogie call so scorching it sparked the rebirth of
the band we have today.
“It was only supposed to be a 20-year reunion and
we were just going to play one show. Then, I don’t
think a month went by and we were asked to play a
festival. Things picked up rather quickly after that, to
the surprise of everyone. So, we decided to keep doing
it until we hate each other again. And really, for
the first time in our band’s history, we’re all on the
same page. We all know what this band is capable
of, but now, we know when too much is too much.
And here we are, we’re entering our fifth year back
together. It’s the longest this band has been together
in one sitting.”
Buckley says, laughing,
“So, I guess it’s better late than never.”
Hard proof they’ve patched things over, the group
released their long awaited follow-up Thank You for
Being a Friend in 2017 and seamlessly closed a 19-
year gap in their discography.
“I think Thank You is a good blueprint for what
we’re going to do in the future. We didn’t want to
sound like the exact same band, but we didn’t want
to be nothing like we used to be. I don’t know if
we’ll release new music at the same pace as we did
back then, but we want to continue doing it. It was
such a cathartic release for us to put out this new
album and I think it was necessary to write these
88 Fingers Louie’s Canadian Catastrophe Tour arrives
April 12 at the Venue Nightclub (Vancouver), April 13
at the Starlite Room (Edmonton), April 14 at Dicken’s
Pub (Calgary) and April 15 at the Handsome Daughter
in pursuit of the perfect noise
The cover art for Beaver Squadron’s new
release is a tell-tale story when the band
prefers to have their kids front and center
while they take a back seat and do what parents
do, let the youngins have the spotlight.
More specifically, the members of Beaver
Squadron are veterans of Calgary’s music
scene dating way back to the ‘80s, which
also means they’ve been around the block
at least once. But don’t think for a moment
this is typical, complacent mom and dad
rock designed to keep playing in a band for
the sake of playing in a band. No, Beaver
Squadron have a purpose... they make some
damn, good rock ‘n’ roll.
Drawing on both their experience and
different musical background and tastes,
their self-titled eight-track record packs a
solid punch whether the songs are racing
full-tilt, or they veer off into more of an
introspective territory (which isn’t that
often... there’s six rockers compared to a
couple of ballad-like tracks).
Style-wise it’s definitely rooted in psychedelic
desert-twang and West Coast cowpunk,
which is largely the genre lead vocalist
Brent Crosson comes from. But Graham
Evan’s guitar riffs, rhythm and soloing crank
up the energy and volume making sure the
primordial rush of American rock ‘n’ roll that
came out of Detroit, New York and Texas in
the ‘70s is not forgotten. Kenna Burima, who
also sings lead vocals, just not as many songs,
adds a variety of keyboard sounds and styles
ranging from psychedelic and ‘60s garage
to soulful blasts straight from church while
BY B. SIMM
maintaining the interplay in-between the
song’s arrangements. Bass and drums lock in
with both vigor and finesse, making this one
Crosson is a clever songwriter, witty but
cynical. “Oblivion” is a rowdy little number
that Crosson says was inspired by the irreverent
Lester Bangs who sneered at a music
biz person for sipping wine while at a dinner
party... certainly there’s more to life than that.
Reaching for oblivion was Bang’s sincere but
A track called “ Perfect Noise” builds into
a brooding mix with swirling reverb and
feedback that erupts into a apocalyptic fire
storm. But it’s not about nuclear proliferation.
Rather, when Crosson was at a Black
Mountain show absorbing the experience
it’s “when you’re just the right amount of
messed up and the sound does the rest.”
Similarly, “Co-op Gold”, a breakneck raveup,
is also about indulging... this time cheap
beer from the grocery store and waking up
wondering WTF then do it all over again.
With a remarkable resemblance to Lou
Reed and Nick Cave, Crosson’s vocals carry
an authority that commands your attention
throughout. One of the band’s compelling
Just as convincing is Burima’s voice.
Persuasive and always in the right mood
whether she’s warm and heartfelt or belting
it, (and that she can do!), her singing rounds
out the band in fine fashion. And her version
of the Mekon’s “Millionaire”, a triumph, as is
the whole record. Perfect noise indeed.
darkness is their sherbert
Grunge fashionistas crush it at Costco.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would
sound like to toss Ty Segall, Mudhoney
and Wavves in a deep fryer and plug an
PHOTO: AVELISSE RUBY BONILLA RAMOS
amp into whatever came out, the result
would be Pink Mexico. The Robert Preston
solo-project-gone-trio is making a stop in
Calgary on their ‘Buck Weiland’ tour, named
after the late Stone Temple Pilots frontman
Scott Weiland. Why?
“Because we’re gonna go buck-Weiland
on this tour, man!” Preston says.
“Scott Weiland’s my hero. He went
buck-Weiland to the grave.”
Bassist Ian Everall and drummer Grady
Walker now join Preston, who handles
anthemic vocals and garage rock guitar
duties. According to Everall, joining the Pink
Mexico project was a no-brainer.
“Because we were already best buds and
we all dress the same.”
Legend has it the coordinated trio met
quite by accident while all standing in front
of the same mirror at Costco. Noticing they
were all rocking the same style, they took
turns yelling ‘YOU PLAY THE SKINS?’ at
one another. Forming a tight friendship and
a touring garage-punk band was the only
logical step forward.
The resultant Brooklyn trio, who
bounced back to New York after a sojourn
in sunny Los Angeles, California, now
have two albums under their belts, with
their most recent full-length cassette Fool
(2016) being passed around on Burger Re-
BY MATTY HUME
cords. It’s easy to list their menu of sounds
as falling somewhere between modern
garage-rock and surf-influenced grunge,
but Pink Mexico prefers to use their own
“I would describe it as grunge Kenny
Loggins,” Preston says.
“We played in San Diego and there was
a dude there and he was like, ‘Maaaan, you
know what you sound like? Grunge Kenny
Loggins, bro.’ I was like ‘That’s pretty fuckin’
amazing! I don’t really know what that
means, but I’m gonna roll with that!’”
Rolling with the punches and finding a
home within the beefy arms of Burger Records
came naturally to the band, especially
Everall, who originally hails from Edmonton,
Alberta. Never one to miss an opportunity
to showcase Pink Mexico’s flare for riding
dirty down Sunset Boulevard, Walker vows
to deliver a real whopper of a show when
they hit his bandmate’s hometown.
“We crush-out. We’re a three-piece
Pink Mexico perform April 26 at 99ten (Edmonton)
and on April 27 at The Palomino
Smokehouse and Social Club (Calgary).
The Order of Chaos release ‘Night Demon’ in February.
ROCKPILE BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 27
heavy-hitters tell furious stories
Texas has a long history of producing
ear-splitting, heavy hitting
rock acts. From Pantera to At the
Drive In, the hot, sweaty nights seem
to bring out sickest riffs and deepest
basslines from the depths of the desert
sand and San Antonio’s Nothing
More is no exception.
Last year, Nothing More broke
through in a big way with The Stories
We Tell Ourselves (2017), a modern
prog-rock classic that not only
earned the band critical acclaim,
but also landed them three Grammy
nominations including Best Rock
Album, Best Rock Performance, and
Best Rock Song for the single “Go to
“That one’s definitely personal,”
reflects singer Jonny Hawkins on the
hit song, which acted as the album’s
“It was written at the end of an
eight year relationship where the
end of that relationship got real fiery,
and very confusing, and just kind of
devolved, even though six to seven
years of it was pretty peaceful.”
Moving through the opening
blasts of the unification anthem “Do
You Really Want It?” and eventually
arriving at the final melodic phrases
of “Fadein/Fadeout,” Stories is a conceptually
and lyrically rich affair filled
with deafening drums, razor-sharp
guitar riffs and passionate vocals.
By Hawkins’ account, his bandmates,
guitarist Mark Vollelunga,
bassist Daniel Oliver and drummer
28 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
BY TREVOR MORELLI
Ben Anderson are just as eager as
he is to bring Stories to Canada for
a chain of springtime engagements
with Papa Roach and Escape the
“I’m always pumped to go out with
some friends,” he proclaims about
Papa Roach, whose lead singer Jacoby
Shaddix appeared in the video for
Nothing More’s track “Don’t Stop.”
“I usually don’t get very excited
until the day of the first show. I’m
usually a little bummed-out to leave
home, because I start getting used
to it. Then I get that adrenaline kick
the first time and I’m like, ‘Alright.
Always a spectacle to behold,
Nothing More has been known to
incorporate epic theatrics like a metal
scorpion tail and sound machines
made from scrap car parts into their
live shows. Hawkins says many of
those elements will be present at the
outfit’s upcoming Calgary stop and
that his band will bring their all to
“If you come out and see us,
we’ll be swinging for the fences,” he
declares. “We always give it 110 per
cent every night.”
Nothing More perform with Papa
Roach and Escape the Fate on May 2 at
Grey Eagle Resort & Casino (Calgary),
April 29 at Burton Cummings Theatre
(Winnipeg), and on May 1 at Conexus
Arts Centre (Regina).
110 per cent and nothing less. PHOTO: ALYSSE GAFKJEN
sonically entangled in fear, guilt, and anxiety
New Material is released via Flemish Eye on March 23.
Preoccupations’ latest offering New Material is
thematically and sonically entangled in fear, guilt,
Opening track “Espionage” sets the post-punk
tone with isolating drum rhythms determined to
trap the listener in a cavern of sound. Just as the
discomfort of the echoing percussion reaches its
breaking point, a Joy Division-esque synth blasts
through to the foreground, quickly followed by
vocalist and bassist Matt Flegel’s drawling, spoken-style
From that jumping-off point, the album showcases
an array of textures and moods, changing
rapidly from get-up-and-dance tunes that’ll shake ya
bones, to raw and exhausting trips. It’s a challenging,
emotional recording inspired by the tulmutlousness
that has long followed the band, who has spent
the last several years touring the world and gaining
“We started [recording] February 2017, we
were still touring around until September 2017, so
we recorded this album in maybe seven or eight
different sessions over that year, and our studio
was pretty much whichever room we had our
stuff in. We were recording vocal tapes in hotel
rooms and shit on the road. So, it was totally all
over the place,” begins Flegel.
“The songs are physically different, because the
rooms that we recorded them in were physically different.
We’d borrow equipment that we don’t own
from our friends, so we would tinker around with as
much of that as we possibly could. It’s a very good
kind of representation of a studio record. We didn’t
have a shape of a record in mind when we went into
At its core, New Material is a collection of
jam-sessions; the approach to recording was radically
different than what Preoccupations did on their
BY KEEGHAN ROULEAU
PHOTO: POONEH GHANA
2016 self-titled release, which was planned out from
“I’d say if anything, this record is a product of
studio experimentation. We didn’t have songs going
into the studio. For the first two albums we went
into a studio, and set our shit up, and played our
songs live off the floor, and that’s how you hear
them. We couldn’t do very much of that with this
The band’s history is complicated. After releasing
a tape and critically acclaimed full-length as part
of the band Women, the original quartet went on
hiatus and then experienced tragedy when guitarist
Chris Reimer passed away. Two members of Women
then went on to form Viet Cong, who released a Polaris
prize nominated self-titled album that evoked
Talking Heads and Birthday Party with its cold reverberating
drums and poppy inclinations. Following
the controversy that came with that bellicose name,
Viet Cong were finally rechristened in 2016 as Preoccupations,
nearly a year after their announcement.
Determined to turn their continuous strife into a
source of inspiration, the band released a self-titled
record rich with tense adrenaline and mind-meltingly
thick with grimy riffs that recalled new wave
greats like Echo & the Bunnymen.
Following that record’s success, Flegel, drummer
Mike Wallace, synth player and guitarist Scott
Munro, and second guitarist Daniel Christiansen
immediately put themselves to work on their next
compulsively addictive record. New Material, a
headphone-worthy album that demands close
listening and repeated spins to catch all the tiny
details, scratches that sonic itch.
Get up close and personal with Preoccupations when
they perform on May 4 and 5 at The Palomino Smokehouse
and Social Club (Calgary).
new album marks a return to form
Like falling off a bike. PHOTO: MATT BARNES
After tearing a chunk out of 2015 with
their last album Ruff, Born Ruffians are
back to it on their latest foot-stomping indie
rock record, Uncle, Duke & The Chief. A sunny
collection of folk rock shakers, the album
brings the outfit closer to their roots with the
return of drummer Steve Hamelin. The band
recently hit the road to promote the record,
embarking on a global tour that will start in
North America before reaching the United
Kingdom this summer.
A definitively Canadian band, the international
success Born Ruffians have enjoyed
BY EMILIE MEDLAND-MARCHEN
is taken with a large slice of humble pie by
vocalist Luke Lalonde.
“It’s not something you can do for a lot of
Canadian bands -- that you can actually tour
for so long. And we’re lucky to be able to do it,”
It’s also safe to say that, all of their extensive
touring hasn’t diminished Born Ruffians love
of small-town Ontario. The band now calls Toronto
their home, but they still frequently look
for inspiration outside of the big city. In fact,
Lalonde started conceptualizing the new album
in 2016, writing some parts in a converted
chapel in Kincardine, Ontario.
“There’s a lot of lines in the sand that you can
draw with rock bands and how you record your
sound,” Lalonde says. “You can break it down in
two ways — you can record live off the floor, or
take things one step at a time and build tracks.
We just realized that our band sounds best
when we do things live.”
Uncle, Duke & The Chief was released on February
16. The Born Ruffians will perform on April
29 at the Park Theatre (Winnipeg), on May 1 at
the Starlite Room (Edmonton), and on May 2 at
the Gateway (Calgary).
new EP as grey as springtime in Alberta
new chapter in the history of southern
A Alberta post punk is written with the
release of Body Lens’ new self-titled EP. Upon
first listen, the Lethbridge band’s love of ‘80s
new wave is palpable. The signature groovy
rhythms of drummer Rebecca McHugh and
bassist Brittney Ruston are synonymous to
the original new wave era. These rhythms
shine through while guitarists Benny Roy
and Quinn Lee’s textural jangles harken
more closely to their Canadian post punk
contemporaries. Their sound comes full circle
with singer Brandon Wynnychuk’s inimitable
The EP opens with “Value,” arguably the
album’s most upbeat number. The EP grows
BY KENNEDY PAWLUK
more cold and dissonant with track two,
“Fixing,” but comes to a head at the end of
side one with “Empty Space;” a lethargic slow
whirr resembling stoned days where all you
seek is a melancholy waste of time. Despite
the track’s slow pace and drag, the track
bears a tension reminding us of the bleak
nature of the vast prairies.
Ruston describes the degree of influence
the starkness of the prairies has on their
“The prairies have a totally different way of
making you feel small. It gives you this feeling
of emptiness,” says Ruston.
“I think it comes from this place of trying
to be a beacon in this vast plain of nothingness.
Trying to get these feelings out. I
think there’s such an expanse to the prairies
and there’s all this space. You can pretty
much always here everything, even way off
in the distance; you often hear the crashing
of trains. I feel like that’s where a lot of this
music comes from.”
Body Lens’ self-titled EP is streaming now on
Bandcamp and is out on cassette via Terrific
Kids on May 5 at The Slice (Lethbridge).
ROCKPILE BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 29
Count Down To RSD
Record Shop Talk: All Things Record Store Day
It’s true that the world of music is forever changing in this rapidly, advancing digital era, but
while digital formats are becoming more popular one thing thankfully remains constant:
privately owned record stores. Since the ‘50s vinyl records have refused to die out and in recent
years they have even made a comeback with labels, big and small, pressing new records. In
light of this year’s annual Record Store Day, on April 21, 2018, BeatRoute sought out Calgary’s
independent record stores to talk business, music and of course, records.
STORY: KYLE WOOLMAN
PHOTOS: ARON DIAZ
HOT WAX RECORDS
Chris Dadge (33) Store Manager for 15 years.
What does it take for a record shop to survive
I guess it’s just trying to keep the stuff that people are
looking for in the stores. We’ve shifted from being
a store that dealt mainly with used CDs, then we
did vinyl and new release vinyl, but mostly it’s just
keeping a well-priced selection of used LPs, catering
to what people are looking for and trying to bring it
in as much as possible.
The majority of what we sell is rock and pop from
the “60s to ‘80s. When we get other stuff like metal
and hip-hop it does tend to sell really well, but it’s
not something that comes into the store often. We
are a bit of a meat and potatoes store in terms of the
overall scope of what we’re selling.”
What is your favourite record you’re listening to
My favourite record at the moment, let’s say R.E.M-
Life’s Rich Pageant. I’ve been listening to that a lot
lately, so we’ll call that the favourite for right now.
What is your favourite record coming out on
My favourite RSD release this year is Richard Young’s
30 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
LP that’s being recorded for Glass Records Redux.
I don’t know if we’ll be getting it in here, but I’ll be
trying to track it down any way possible.
What do you think is unique about your store’s
Well we’ve been here for quite a long time, so there’s
a lot of stuff that dates back well into the early ‘90s
and late ‘80s. There’s quite a bit of history and there’s
some decent local stuff that’s been here for a really
long time. It is one of the only record stores on the
north side of the river and we’ve been in this location
for 40 years this year.
Why is Record Store Day important?
Well for any store having a day centered around
the very thing you’re selling is a positive thing to get
involved with, If there was a shoe day for shoe stores
I’m sure that they would be stoked too. The idea
behind RSD is that labels are specifically supporting
independent stores. Any event meant to support
your area of commerce is a good thing.
Top 3-5 recommendations on what to buy
I don’t know, I haven’t studied the list closely enough
yet and we don’t know what well be ordering. So I
can’t really answer that question.
Jeff Kynoch (27) spent the past five years as
store manager of the Blackbyrd Edmonton
location, but transferred to the Calgary
location in Nov. 2017.
What does it take for a record shop to
It definitely takes getting to know your
customers and knowing what people are
looking for. You can order all kinds of stuff
if you want, but if the people coming in
looking for things aren’t into what you’ve
got, you’re not going to sell anything. So
you kind of have to gauge your customers
and your market.
It’s a lot easier these days because there
are so many more reissues coming out,
people would come in looking for Led
Zeppelin albums and we used to have to
turn them away and tell them to go look
at a used shop, but now we can sell them
because they’re coming in brand new.
What is one of your favourite records?
Anything from Jeff Parker records to old
Beach Boys records
What is your most anticipated record
This year I’m pretty excited about Pink
Floyd – The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
What do you think is unique about your
I guess just the variety of what we have, we
try to have a little bit of everything whether
it be interesting world music or avant-garde
jazz or classic rock, to bluegrass and folk,
just trying to keep a wide selection. We also
stock lots of audio file reissues.
Why is Record Store Day important?
Well it definitely brings people in, especially
the collectors, let’s say there hasn’t been
a whole lot coming out that they’re
interested in lately, or they already have an
original copy at home. With a lot of reissues
releasing there will be some rarities that
bring people out who might not normally
Top 3-5 recommendations on what to
buy on RSD?
Definitely Pink Floyd- The Piper at the
Gates of Dawn, there’s also a Mac Demarco
Demos record that’s probably going to be
really big, and Sufjan Stevens is always big.
Mac Demarco will be releasing “This Old
Dog” Demo with a “Beat Happening” cover
for RSD 2018.
We are also going to be doing giveaways,
like concert giveaways, coffee, donuts,
hopefully some beer tastings with a couple
different craft breweries here in town and
we are having a sale as well, all regular stock
is 20% off including gear, turntables, speakers
Jerry Keogh (63) has been in the business
for 50 years, owner of Heritage for
What does it take for a record shop to
Well for me, I cater to a lot of the roots
and classic rock crowds as well as jazz,
folk and stuff I grew up with in the ‘60s
really. We are really proud of our jazz and
blues vinyl collections and we are unique
because we also track down stuff for
What is your favourite record right
What I’ve been listening to just recently
is a blues guy out of San Francisco by
the name of Tommy Castro his newest
album Stomping Ground.”
What is your favourite record coming
out on RSD?
There’s a compilation that’s coming out
and I think it’s a two-album set from
the Monterey Pop festival in 1967. It’s
never been out on vinyl and they’re
only printing 1,000 copies. Also, there’s
a four-album box set of the Allman
Brothers I’m interested in.”
What do you think is unique about
your store’s selections?
Definitely our store’s knowledge,
between all of our staff we have over
125 years of experience and it’s all about
finding your niche genre, which for us is
jazz and blues. Also, we sell posters, we
have all the concert tour posters and
other stuff you don’t tend to see.”
Why is Record Store Day important?
I like to say that Record Store Day is bigger
than Christmas. It’s a good flag-waving
day for sure. You know people are
out to support the record stores, but the
bad part about it is that there are some
people out there who just try to buy out
RSD releases and then they sell them on
eBay or Amazon or whatever because
they are limited runs.
Top 3-5 recommendations on what to
buy on RSD?
Reissues of Bob Dylan and the Grateful
Dead are cool also, they’re doing The
National- Boxer Live album. We also get
Record Store Day stuff shipped in from
England that you usually won’t find here.
ROCKPILE BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 31
“Not your average drug store”
Daniel Tatterton (31) pas three years as
What does it take for a record shop to
Well I think we are in a bit of a unique
situation because we also get sales from
the pharmacy and grocery section of
the store. We do have people coming
into buy just records, but it’s nice to
have that extra leverage.
What is your favourite record right
I’ve been pretty excited about a new
Thunder Cat release, their new album
What is your favourite record coming
out on RSD?
For RSD I’m excited to see Wu-tang
back on cassette and the Sheep Dogs
What do you think is unique about
your store’s selections?
We keep it pretty current with a lot
of top sellers. But we try our best just
to keep a good selection of back titles
and reissues and sort of all the popular
and sought after records, as well as box
sets. It’s important to cover all the bases
between pop, jazz and R&B.
Why is Record Store Day important?
I think that people are still talking about
the death of vinyl and just physical
formats in general. So I think that RSD
kind of throws a wrench into the theory
that record stores are dying. It’s kind of
showing people why we should still care
about collecting vinyl and its just one
day a year we can celebrate vinyl.
Top 3-5 recommendations on what
to buy on RSD?
Ty Segal - Freedom Goblin. There’s some
soul jazz records coming this RSD that
are pretty cool, and the new MGMT
album Little Dark Age”
Eddie Dalrymple (29) Store Manager since 2010.
What does it take for a record shop to survive today?
It requires keeping a loyal customer base and being sensitive to
changing prices. Right now for us it’s kind of just trying to find
quality cheaper items or used stuff to balance out or pair with
crazy expensive items or big box stuff. Just making sure there’s
something for everyone really, a variety.
What is your favourite record right now?
I mostly listen to a lot of Afrobeat stuff, Fela Kuti – Confusion.
What is your favourite record coming out on RSD?
CzarFace meets Metal Face – is an upcoming collaborative album
by American hip-hop super-group Czarface and MF Doom and
set to be released on March 30 through Get On Down, a Boston-based
record label. The album will feature guest appearances
by Vinnie Paz, Open Mike Eagle and Kendra Morris.
What do you think is unique about your store’s selections?
We have a lot of the “stranger” reissues that we get in, but really I
just want to have something for everyone. Also, we have one of
the best metal selections in the city.
Why is Record Store Day important?
It’s become the biggest day of the year for us, it’s bigger than Boxing
Day and it’s important for getting people out. Often times the
RSD crowds aren’t your regular customers, it’s important because
it’s now essential for our yearly revenue.
Top 3-5 recommendations on what to buy on RSD?
I always just say buy something you truly want, don’t try to
choose something you think will be worth money down the road
just buy something you want and go out and support the stores.
Most of the stores will have sales so if you’ve seen something
expensive that you’ve had your eye on and it’s on sale, get it.
32 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
Dave Muir (50), 19 years as store manager.
What does it take for a record shop to survive today?
It takes sales. That’s the easy answer. The deeper answer is that
you need to find your focus, your niche, and you need to do it
well. For us, that means metal, punk and hip-hop music. Find
what you’re good at and set yourself apart from other stores.
What is your favourite record right now, and what is your
favourite record coming out on RSD?
I’ll give you three favourites all different genres, Childish Gambino
– Awaken my Love, The Jesus and Merry Chain – Damage and
Joy, and Nightmare Logic – Power Trip, which I think was the best
thrash album of 2017.
What do you think is unique about your store’s selections?
A lot of things. The one thing that we constantly hear from out
of town record buyers is that we have the best metal selection in
Western Canada if not Canada. It’s a testament to our buyer who
is also a punk rock and hard-core specialist.
Why is Record Store Day important?
RSD crowds are split down the middle. Certain people will come
just to check out what we have, and then you have the die-hard
collectors who are after a specific item. It’s important because
it get’s people in the store and it’s one of the biggest days of the
year for us.
Top 3-5 recommendations on what to buy on RSD?
There’s a David Bowie triple LP live album that’s never been
released and extremely sought after, a Mac Demarco LP that’s
very limited, and there’s also a Led Zeppelin 7 inch that people
are talking about.
NOTE: Led Zeppelin is set to release a limited edition 7” single
featuring two previously unheard mixes produced by Jimmy
Page: the Sunset Sound Mix of “Rock And Roll” and the Olympic
Studios Mix of Friends.”
Al Cohen (43) a.ka. “Big Al” has
been collecting since since 1978.
Long-time store manager.
What does it take for a record
shop to survive today?
Just knowing what people want. I
mean records are so popular nowadays
that they sell themselves, so
if you are a record store going out
of business you’re doing something
extremely wrong. Records have
always been our top priority, we
have so many records that there are
some albums in the back that we’ll
never run out of.
What is your favourite record
you’re listening to right now?
The Upsetters – Black Board Jungle
What do you think is unique
about your store’s selections?
Biggest selection in Canada, without
a doubt. We have every single
genre and just sheer numbers really.
We have over one million records
in the back and 300,000,000 up
front. I like to have the cheapest
prices in town, and I like to keep
Why is Record Store Day
RSD is important because for years
and decades, really the last century,
record stores have been trying to
bleed customers dry by taking as
much as they can from them. And
now I feel that RSD is an actual give
back to the customer where the
record companies don’t seem as
greedy and they release things just
for independent record stores.
Top 3-5 recommendations on
what to buy on RSD?
Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of
Dawn, Creation Rebel – From a
Creation, Def Leppard – Live from
Abbey Road, and Prince – 1999 is
for sure going to be good.
ROCKPILE BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 33
DISPATCHES FROM SXSW 2018
BY JAMIE MCNAMARA AND COLIN GALLANT
MONDAY - TUESDAY
Monday started off with a perfect introduction to
SXSW, for both good and bad reasons.
Max Richter’s stunning Sleep was a truly oncein-a-lifetime
opportunity that only a fest like SXSW
could provide, even if it felt like a branded experience.
Spending the night on one of 150 mattresses
inside of University of Texas’ Bass Concert Hall
while Richter and six musicians played through the
night was a treat. Yet, when 8 AM rolled around,
the CEO of BeautyRestTM (the sponsor of the
event) was there, eager to greet all the sleepers
with a premiere of a new 30-second ad for their
mattresses. It was a cynical wake up to say the
least. You’ve got to love capitalism.
Tuesday found us heading out to East Austin
for an unofficial She Shreds showcase that was
prematurely shut down by the cops, it was time
to head back to Rainey Street for more branded
goodness. #TwitterHouse was promoting Australia
and feminism in tandem with a mostly-women
lineup of up-and-comers from down under.
18-year-old rapper Mallrat, singer-songwriter Stella
Donnelly, and sudden synth-pop star to be G Flip
(playing her first ever show) all managed to show
of their immense talent, even when the “heaps”
annoying Australian emcees tested the limits of the
That night, the melting pot nature of SXSW
shined brightest, with a showcase featuring
everyone from Montreal’s post-punk posterboys
Ought, to the New York synth pop of Porches.
The highlight of the night (and really of the week)
was South London standout Shame, who blew the
lid off Barracuda’s outside stage with one of their
marathon nine sets in three days. The five-piece
fronted by Charlie Steen is fully ready to play
massive stages, even if they work so much better
on small ones.
WEDNESDAY - THURSDAY
Some of the best things about Wednesday and
Thursday were the moments that made you forget
you were at SXSW in the first place. There were
transformative highlights that obfuscated the
omnipresent corporate activations and buzz band
hysteria. On Wednesday at Hotel Vegas, both Thor
& Friends and Yonatan Gat & the Eastern Medicine
Singers offered just such an escape. Thor Harris’
(Swans, Ben Frost, etc) seven-piece marimba-centred
ensemble performed interlocked percussion
that traced techno, contemporary classical and
drone. Outside on the dusty ground floor, Yonatan
Gat’s improvisational fusion of tropical and
rock-reverent guitar stylings made for a jaw-dropping
combination when mixed with the traditional
rhythms and chants of the Eastern Medicine Singer,
an Algonquin drum group from Providence. Both
sets sucked the audience right out of the heat and
34 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
hustle and into exploratory performance techniques
that rewarded the patient and curious.
As for Thursday, Shopping provided a different
kind of antidote from SX’s overstimulation. The
dance-punk power-trio took the stage at Cheer
Up Charlie’s just after having opened for forebears
ESG. They played loud, tight and with the kind of
abandon that implies they’re having even more
than you are on the dancefloor. Shopping wouldn’t
seem out of place either at CBGB’s in 1982 or on
the cover of NME in 2005, but everything about
their energy locks you firmly into the present—not
something you could say about every era-worshipping
band at the festival.
Elsewhere on Thursday night, Louisville, KY rock
revivalists White Reaper were probably the only
band of the week to get Platinum badge holders
crowd surfing. The band were an ideal opener for
the pseudo-surprise headliner of the night Jeff Rosenstock.
The New Jersian pop-punk hero was the
perfect act to take the piss out of SXSW’s corporate
activations, eschewing his usual witty stage banter
to blow through the entirety of POST-, his fantastic
new album from January. On songs like “USA,” the
crowd dynamic worked brilliantly, with baked-in
sing-a-longs like “we’re tired and poor, we’re tired
and poor” acting as perfect communal catharsis as
mist started to fall on the crowd.
FRIDAY - SATURDAY
The most noticeable feeling at SXSW is just how
daunting it can be to navigate. Unending FOMO
and the search for the next hype band worth
seeing can take its toll quickly. By the end of the
week, it was easy to justify skipping the search for
the next big things for some musical comfort food.
Luckily, the amount of Canadians at the festival
made it easy for us to find something that felt just
When Montreal’s Common Holly played last
year’s Sled Island, it was an understated solo set,
but with a cellist and drummer in tow, Brigitte
Naggar’s folk project became even more captivating
than before. Fellow Montrealer’s Corridor
brought a francophone charm that won over even
the staunchest anglos. Armed with tracks from last
years amazing Supermercado, the four-piece got
heads bobbing to their serpentine guitar work and
XTC-indebted pop. Even the overcast day couldn’t
stop the sunny melodies of “Coup d’épée” from
Overall, it quickly became clear how much
amazing “rock” music is coming out of Canada
right now, with Faith Healer, FRIGS and Partner all
bringing a different, equally endearing brand of
guitar music to the fest.
Canadian electronic music also made itself
known as Montreal’s minimal wave icons Essaie
Pas destroyed a dank, sweltering room of riled up
goths, with an obliterating rendition of their new
record, New Path, on the eve of its release.
EDM ONTON EXTR A
EDMONTON POETRY FESTIVAL
12 years celebrating poetry in all forms BY ELIZABETH EATON
According to poet, spoken word artist, and
teacher of poetic writing Brandon Wint, the
Edmonton Poetry Festival (EPF) is an uplifting
experience for performers and audiences
alike. During a lengthy conversation, the EFP
board member stunningly described the magic
invoked by Edmonton’s poetry community and
conveyed the reality that poetry is for everyone.
“In 2018, if you want to create world-class poetic
events, it naturally entails raising the public
consciousness around how life-changing and
life-affirming poetry can be,” he explains.
“It feels like poetry in its living, breathing, contemporary
form, is understood to be mostly a
niche thing, something tucked away or reserved
for a special sort of person… Poetry is for the
people. Poetry is so, so sublimely human. However,
people have been educated around poetry
in such a way as to feel alienated from it.”
EPF’s numerous projects and initiatives
emphasize poetry’s universality, including
the “Poetry Moves on Transit” project. Three
times a year, four short poems are selected
to appear on 800 Edmonton Transit Service
buses, showing that poetry can materialize
and colour one’s world, in what are typically
the most ordinary places.
Festivalgoers can expect that and more when
attending the festival. For example, the opening
evening event “Drone & Words” sees spoken
word artists collaborate with experimental
musicians to create mind-blowing soundscapes.
At “nêhiyawêtân,” four of Canada’s leading
indigenous poets gather to share voices and
stories alongside students from the Poetry
Moves Indigenous Youth Poetry Program and
Métis artist Amy Malbeuf. At “French Twist,”
host Pierrette Requier (who is Edmonton’s sixth
Poet Laureate) invites audiences into a unique
bilingual experience of poetry. These are just
three of the 30-plus events that are offered
during the festival. There is an abundance of
imaginative and engaging performances; the
festival also offers workshops, master classes,
cinema showcases and meet-ups.
“This year’s festival seems really hopeful to
me because it feels like the festival is diverse in a
genuine way,” shares Wint.
“I think the sensibilities of the board members
have grown in that there is a recognition of the
deep need to imagine the festival in a way that
embraces the multiplicity of poetic perspectives
that exists. That means inviting poets who are
able to speak from different subjectivities and
political positions in a way that deepens Edmonton’s
understanding of what being alive, being
present, being salient and poetic means right
now. I can say that I am excited about the fact
that this year’s festival seems able to welcome
Genuine diversity through raw, accessible art.
poets who represent a lovely diversity of race,
age, sexuality and gender expression. Of course,
that balance could always be improved and the
humanity of each poet could be met with more
intellectual and political rigour, always. Generally,
though, I am excited about the fact that
Edmonton’s creative and public consciousness
has reached a point where a festival this diverse
It would seem, Edmonton is unique in this
regard. The city’s residents have known, for a
long time, that Edmonton breathes and delivers
a spirit that cannot be found anywhere else. And
when it comes to the Edmonton Poetry Festival,
this is a most apparent truth.
Originally from Ontario, Brandon arrived on
the Edmonton scene less than three years ago.
However, having discovered the city with fresh
eyes, he can attest to the curious and remarkable
ethos embedded in Edmonton’s veins.
“I think I joined the board in 2016, though
I don’t remember when. I wanted to join the
board because, at the time I was invited to do so,
I was so new to Edmonton and it felt like a marvelous
opportunity to learn about Edmonton’s
arts culture and the way the city views itself. It
has been a journey, yes, but one I still feel very,
very much at the beginning of,” says Wint.
“What I appreciate about being on the board
and what I feel I bring to the table is an outsider’s
perspective. I relish, in some ways, the fact that
I am not from Edmonton and haven’t grown
up with a particularly Albertan way of understanding
what is possible. It’s not that I think
my Ontario-bred perspectives make me wiser
than others, it’s that I have almost no sense of
‘the way things have been’…I find artists and
organizers here are very willing to work together.
People are quite willing to help you build the
dream, so long as you have a dream that you can
articulate in a cogent way. I think I am very much
a dreamer, and so helping to build and augment
poetic dreams in the context of this festival is
something that feels mostly natural.”
Wint’s DIY attitude, willingness to embrace
risk and collaborative energy has certainly been
embraced by Edmonton Poetry Festival culture.
As such, he is performing at two events during
PHOTO: ANNA KOUSTAS
the festival: “Drone & Words” and “Alchemy: Our
Annual Poetry Party.”
It seems that the communal effect of poetry
– of language itself – is universally visible. EPF is
no different; in fact, this communality stands out
in a distinct and meaningful way. Whether you
are a seasoned beat poetry veteran or a newbie
to the scene, there is room for you. You are
welcome at the festival and you’ll feel it.
“The difference between Edmonton and
other places can be boiled down to this: if you
have a creative dream in Edmonton, people are
very likely to gather around it,” concludes Wint.
“Friends and strangers are likely to tell you who
can help build the dream with you. That sort of
support doesn’t exist as readily in other places.
It’s a hard thing to describe but having grown up
between the suburbs of Toronto and the heart
of Ottawa, I can feel the difference in my bones.”
The Edmonton Poetry Festival runs from April 22
to 29 at various venues (Edmonton). Learn more
ROCKPILE BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 35
EYE ON EDMONTON
the finger on the pulse of dirt city
Preparing this column at the end of March
doesn’t make one feel any closer to April
or spring. It’s snowing right now and while
that comes as a shock to no one, the hardy
folks of Edmonton are ready to splash in
some puddles and soak in some damn sunshine.
Until then, head indoors for these fun,
predominantly 420 oriented events.
Tallest to Shortest are releasing an EP and
music video April 7 at the Aviary (Edmonton)
with Boosh, Street League and Machines
Like These. Prairie Pirates Music is releasing
the EP and it looks like it’ll be a killer show
with humour, ruckus and good people. $10
advance tickets; 9 p.m. start, and it’s 18+.
Rockin’ 4 Dollars happens every Monday
night at the Buckingham (Edmonton) for a
cool three dollars. April 9 is a special treat for
those of us who remember seeing Avril Lavigne’s
music video for “Complicated” debut
on MuchMusic. It’s Avril Lavigne appreciation
day featuring songs from Let Go.
Clean Up Your Act Productions has an all
ages show on April 20 at the Aviary (Edmonton)
if you’re into grunge and heavy drone.
Siksika Nation stoner rock crew Iron Tusk,
Calgary’s Pill Crusher, Edmonton’s Dead
Fibres, Faith Crisis and ambient post rockers
Tyle from Regina will share the stage and
make you feel things. $12 at the door!
Quickly becoming the spot for out of this
world electronic events, 9910 (Edmonton) is
hosting Residents with Neighbor, Essette
and Phatcat on Friday, April 20. Residents is
a unique, somewhat regular event that live
streams each performance to shout out the
36 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
BY BRITTANY RUDYCK
incredible talent in the Canadian dance scene.
Starts at 9 p.m., goes late.
The Sewing Machine Factory is also hosting
a great 420 show with Boosh, The Faps,
Milhouse and Pot Cop. Lovers of weird noise,
bright lights (epilepsy warning for this show),
buckle up. This is 18+ and $10 at the door.
What else would you be doing on Sunday,
April 22 other than saying “wow” like Owen
Wilson in Churchill Square? It is Earth Day, so
maybe pick up some garbage to and from this
spectacle. Please and thanks.
Head to Temple in Edmonton (which
shares the same entrance to the Starlite
Room) on April 27 for the Aepoch (Ontario)
album release supported by Bloodshot Dawn
(UK) and Edmonton’s Valyria. This is for fans
of death metal but with a little bit of groove.
Fashion Revolution Week runs from April
23 through till April 29 with a Change of
Clothes Swap & panel on April 29 at Ritchie
Hall from 12 – 4 p.m. The aim is to bring
awareness to the fast fashion industry and
be a champion for ethical, sustainable and
responsible fashion. Volunteers will repair
gently warn items at the swap and panelists
will discuss what transparent fashion looks
like. Suggested donation of $10 please!
The Edmonton Music Collectors Spring
show takes place on April 29 at the Central
Lions Recreation Hall. It’s one of the best
places to buy and trade vinyl and the cost is
$10 at the door between 10 and 11 a.m. for
the super serious collectors and $5 for the
rest of the day. This is a family friendly event,
so bring the kids.
SCENIC ROUTE TO ALASKA
prairie indie trio take on fifth album
Thanks to the birth of the MP3, iPod, and
Napster, the success of an independent
band has hinged on distinction. Where the
Internet gave us access to an entire ocean
of new bands, it also made them small fish
among millions. If you are Scenic Route To
Alaska, a three-piece indie rock band, what
sets you apart from the other thousand
three-piece rock bands on Bandcamp? It’s
clearly the distinction they’ve established
since the start of their career.
With the release of Tough Luck, their fifth
self-released album and second with producer
Howard Redekopp (Tegan and Sara, The New
Pornographers) the band has delivered distinction
in spades. At the core, it is guitar, drums, bass and
vocals – a.k.a a rock band. Yet, with all distinctly
important rock bands it is the sum of the influences,
lingering without prejudice, which create their
sound. Scenic Route To Alaska (SRTA) has taken
their genre-mash to the next level.
SRTA is made up of Trevor Mann (guitars,
vocals), Murray Wood (bass) and Shea Connor
(drums). No songwriter loves the ‘what genre?’ line
of questions but Mann handles it like a pro. “Shea
studied jazz, Murray and I grew up jamming more
blues and R&B, but essentially we’re a rock band.
Rock is more about attitude than anything these
days. Considering where we are from, and all the
influences of country, folk, and roots, I like to think
we are more ‘prairie indie.’”
And a new sub-genre is born.
Influences are themselves a double-edged
sword. These days you could show up to The
Voice and nail your audition, but get left behind
for having no definable identity.
Indie fan favourites play their first dates in the states.
BY GLEN ERICKSON
“There is a large mix of things always creeping
in, but we don’t write trying to emulate anything,”
elaborates Mann. “I grew up listening to a lot of
Beatles, and even during this last album cycle, so
maybe I hear it sometimes. We listen to a bit of
everything in the van together while on the roa,
but when we write we just play what we want,
what feels right to us.”
These three guys have grown up together as a
“Boys to men,” Mann chirps.
So what changes with getting older?
“We can’t pull off the late nights and early
mornings as easily,” he says, chuckling.
“I guess the experience and time together is
the biggest evolution. The only consistent thing is
the songs we play on stage each night. That does
something to you.”
Embracing adulthood within the band life has
a taste of its own as shown in the transparency on
tracks such as “Find My Footing” and “Ghost of
Love,” tongue-in-cheek narratives on “first-world
problems” of trying to build relationships while
being on the road for months at a time.
With the new album release, SRTA are
embarking on a three month, 38 date tour which
concludes in Europe, but includes first-ever dates
in the US and showcases at the iconic SXSW
festival in Austin, TX. Mann is excited to see new
places, reach new fans, and spread some distinct
“prairie indie” to more of the world.
Scenic Route To Alaska play April 6 at The Den
(Calgary), a sold-out show on April 7 at the
Starlite Room (Edmonton) and on April 12 at
Bo’s Bar & Grill (Red Deer).
PHOTO: MICHAEL KUBY
vigilante justice propels new fantasy crime novel
Edmonton’s night life has its fair share of cops
and thugs. There was a time when a typical
night out would almost certainly involve an encounter
with either one. Boom and bust Edmonton
produced some of our most rambunctious
citizens and Konn Lavery’s new novel #Yegman
captures the zeitgeist of this era with clarity.
Lavery has been writing novels with a fantastically
criminal twist since his youth, but began his
professional pursuit once he completed college.
He is also the author of the Mental Damnation
series, the second book of which, Dream, made
the Edmonton Journal’s top five selling fictional
#Yegman is a novel that plays out in the streets,
alleyways and nightclubs of Edmonton’s downtown.
The theme plays on vigilante justice and
distrust of the establishment through the experience
of a disenfranchised cop, a keen journalism
student, and a gang of lowlifes. Structured like a
detective novel, it’s filled with tension and a narrative
not unlike Mickey Spillane’s post WWII pulp
crime fiction. Resultingly, #Yegman excites like a
mouthful of whiskey at the end of a long day.
Lavery was inspired to write the novel in 2014
while working on an industrial music project
that has become an integral part of the narrative.
Throughout the plot, electronic and industrial
music play a big part in setting the atmosphere
and building character and as a result, an album
of industrial music will be released alongside the
novel as a companion piece.
“The companion album’s purpose is to cross
bridges with the music and literary worlds,”
“By expanding on the novel through audio, the
goal is to create a more immersive experience.”
In addition to the album, Lavery has also included
movie poster illustrations of the characters,
which are shown at the end of each chapter.
They provide the reader with a direct visual representation
of the characters and rely on archetypes
to lend a familiarity to the heroes and villains.
Pairing the novel with illustrations and music
might perhaps create a stronger incentive to
live the fictitious dream that the author tries to
create, but the avid reader might prefer to find
their own way into the plot. Either method works
for the author.
“These extra pieces of media are there for those
that want more beyond the novel,” he concludes.
BY MICHAEL PODGURNEY
Catch Lavery on April 18 at Audrey’s Books (Edmonton)
for a reading and book signing. Edmonton is a seductively seedy in a new novel. PHOTO: NATASSJA BRINKER
ROCKPILE BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 37
supporting sustainable, ethical fashion
Local fashion designers given a chance to shine
Edmonton may not be the first place that and fashion designer Daniel Muthui.
springs to mind when it comes to high “I wanted to do a show that was diverse
fashion. The small pockets of designers, models,
make-up and hair stylists who contribute ferent parts of the world in terms of culture,
and reflected the talents and skillsets from dif-
to the scene want to change that perception. ethnicity, styles and ideas. The overall theme
The Ethno Fashion Gala not only prides itself of this show is the celebration of culture,
on celebrating diversity within Edmonton’s beauty and diversity through fashion, music
fashion community, but promoting an environmentally
sustainable approach to style. Muthui began his career in fashion design
and the arts.”
“I felt a bit of a gap with some of the shows in Nairobi, Kenya after going through a few
that do exist around town,” explains founder challenges in his pursuit of education.
THE GRIZZLAR COFFEE & RECORDS
bridging the non-existent gap
“I never planned on getting into fashion,”
“It sort of happened by default. I became a
designer in Nairobi for several years and when
I moved to Canada in 2009 I went to school to
study politics, history and economics, which is
the exact opposite of fashion and creativity. I
got back into it in 2015 when I made my wife
a dress from some fabric I had from Kenya.
She sent a picture to her friends and I began
building a client base from there.”
After a successful first year, the gala has
expanded to the Boyle Street Plaza to accommodate
a growing team and interest in what
the event has to offer. The two day event
boasts 20 local designers including hair and
make up artists contributing hair pieces and
more to each clothing designer’s interpretation
of the overall theme. Muthui’s vision
for the show is to go beyond simply profiling
clothing. At the time of our interview, there
was still work to be done in deciding which
musicians would be performing at the show,
but he wants hip-hop, Bollywood dance,
traditional African drumming and more to be
represented. His passion for supporting local
art is the biggest centrepiece of the gala.
BY BRITTANY RUDYCK
“I want this show to encourage the public
to consume locally,” he says.
“To buy clothing from local designers as
a form of resistance against fast fashion and
fashion being made elsewhere in the world.
We want to change the view of fashion. Localize
it and make it more of a celebration of art.”
With the support of local MC College,
Muthui seems optimistic about where this
event could potentially grow in coming years.
As long as the designers are happy, he feels
this could become a staple in Edmonton.
“We have tremendous talent in this city,”
Muthui says, beaming.
“Really gifted people. But many are hidden.
It seems a lot of existing platforms are out
of reach for the marginalized performers or
designers. I want this to work for them; I want
them to have a platform so people know their
The Ethno Fashion Gala takes place May
4 and 5 at Boyle Street Plaza (Edmonton).
Tickets are available via Eventbrite. (https://
Quality coffee and record distro though a punk lens.
PHOTO: ANDREW LENNOX
After years of travelling to Mexico City, and trained as a coffee roaster in Florence for
Guadalajara, Cuba, Italy and more, Drew a little while. I learned coffee has a lot to do
McIntosh is preparing to open the Grizzlar with philosophy and culture. It reflects how
Coffee and Records, a café and record label. we show up in the process.”
“I’ve had coffee in a lot of different places Drinking coffee at one of the oldest coffee
and I think you can learn a lot about people shops in Europe, Caffe Quadri overlooking St.
by doing that,” says McIntosh. “I went to Italy Mark’s Square in Venice, was a pivotal experi-
38 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
ence for McIntosh when it came to deciding
the feel of Grizzlar. He wanted to keep the
tradition alive but infuse it with an element he
knows extremely well.
“There’s a lot of ways to do coffee with a
punk rock ethos,” explains McIntosh.
“Especially when you consider sourcing
and how everyone is being treated as you go
through the entire process. I’ve seen cafes that
speak to me and feel inviting to me. I want to
put all of it together and become a place that
values the quality of the coffee but also art
The idea behind the Grizzlar (aside from a
deep love of coffee, of course) is based on the
evolution of the polar bear and grizzly bear
as their territories blend in Northern Canada.
This new bear is evolving, much like the way
we consume culture and music.
McIntosh has been heavily involved in the
international punk rock community for some
time, working with the Solidarity Rock Project
in Cuba for eight years and travelling there
24 times during that stint. As a result, he has
evolved like his beloved namesake.
The Grizzlar Coffee & Records is a way to
use that experience to publish quality art on
an international scale. At press time, McIntosh
was in Guadalajara, Mexico facilitating a re-
BY BRITTANY RUDYCK
cording by Ontario noise rock group Whoop-
Szo at Rockweiler Studio.
“There’s room for a lot of other experiences
in the punk scene in Western
Canada,” he says. “In places like Montreal
or Toronto there’s a much more international
element to the punk scenes. One
of the things I can do with this business
is promote artists from around the world.
It would be easy to fall into the trap of
putting out my buddy’s records, but if what
we’re releasing is sort of a rarity, we’ll more
easily establish ourselves as unique distributors
in Western Canada.”
Once the shop storefront is open, it will
serve as a base for whatever McIntosh dreams
“I wanna sell the punks in Canada coffee,”
he says with a grin. “I wanna make a bunch
of records and do something that isn’t being
done: highlighting the quality of this coffee
with DIY art and music. There’s room for
something like this and I want to be the one
who does it well.”
Keep your eyes on @thegrizzlar (Facebook &
Instagram) for official opening date, location and
the medium is the message
BY KEVIN KLEMP
Edmonton needs more riot grrrl
Sugarwash is the epitome of riot grrrl.
Bloody period. Four women struggling
with personal demons have formed a band
that sticks together through anything and
everything. Although their music details their
personal, often gendered struggles, the upbeat
high energy songs explore universally relatable
themes. Reminiscent of L7, Bikini Kill and
Babes in Toyland, the band provides a fresh
outlook on ‘90s era feminist punk music.
“You can be whoever the fuck you want,”
states vocalist and co-founder Alyssa Kasha.
“While being respectful of course!” adds
guitarist Rina Keichinger (also known as ‘Ribs’).
“Whenever anyone’s going through shit it’s
like ‘hey, how can we help?’ What can we be
doing together to fix this?”
Keichinger’s reference to the band’s cohesion
within non-conformity exemplifies the
spirit of Sugarwash and the ethos of punk
Their first EP Daddy Issues boldly showcases
their empowering message in tracks like “Wild
Girl,” encouraging everyone to stand up for
their rights. The raucous, aggressive song was
written about surviving an abusive relationship.
“Always stand up for what you believe in and
don’t be molded by society into something
you’re not,” asserts Kasha.
“I’ve been there a couple times and I just
remember how alone I felt…when you’re in
it, you can’t really see the picture for what it
is, so I wrote that song because I want to help
other men and women get through that, and
let them know that they’re not alone in that
The response to their unknowingly anticipated
arrival in the Edmonton scene provided
BY ELIZABETH EATON
everything they needed to be able to create
“Everyone knows someone,” says Keichinger.
“If you go to a couple shows and support other
bands you’re going to make connections. I need
someone to record us: I know this person. I
need someone to make us merch: I know this
Through the support of punk bands from
Edmonton and Calgary such as 5¢ Freakshow,
the band has bolstered their visibility enormously
in the past year. It’s not hard to see
why – Sugarwash’s stage presence is powerful,
passionate, and charismatic – and the Edmonton
punk scene is eating it up.
“It kind of took me by surprise,” says
Sugarwash’s newest member and drummer,
Karlie Kray. “Each show they go a little bit more
nuts and I’m like, taken aback by it. People are
responding well and we respond well to that.”
The release of the debut EP coincides
with the start of their first tour taking them
through Alberta, Saskatchewan and British
Columbia. Perhaps their most notable date is
the Metalocalypstick Fest, which is a festival
dedicated to supporting heavy genre bands
with female-identifying members.
“I play these songs proud,” explains Kray,
“It’s just, I was an outsider and all these songs
speak to me in a different way. That’s heavy because
I know they’ll speak to other people too.”
Rooted in punk ethics, Re-form release first album.
PHOTO: KITRINA BRODHECKER
Over the past five years, Graham Strach, Re-form’s current line-up includes Strach
along with a handful of others, have been on rhythm guitar and vocals, Reddy on lead,
honing their writing and performing skills Brett Coles on drums and Marr Guiton on
under the guise Reform-Punk. Now simply bass. Strach and Coles are the longest standing
known as Re-form, the Leduc based political
members, witnessing members come and
punk group are finally ready to release their go for a number of reasons: people moving,
first album Can We All Really Be Happy. people being unavailable and differences of
Strach began the band long before he could creative vision.
legally play in a lot of recognized venues
Their politically driven punk rock music
around Edmonton, but it seems as though it and attitude also became the root of some
was worth the wait.
“The night that I turned 18 we played a “We changed the name to ‘Re-form’ to
Rage with Sugarwash on April 13 at Vern’s Tavern
(Calgary), April 14 at The Vat Pub (Red Deer)
show and like three more the next week. We shorten it up but keeping the root word
really wanted to hit the ground running,” ‘Re-form’ was important to us. We believe in
and April 15 at The Forge (Edmonton). They’ll
reforming societal norms and society itself;
also perform at Metalocalypstick Fest, which
Strach and lead guitarist Ash Reddy sat fighting for a better world.”
runs from June 30 until July 1 (Lone Butte, B.C.)
down for an interview at Rockin’ 4 Dollars, This vision and political views manifest
where the group often hangs out to show themselves in the form of a series of questions
their support for the local music community. Strach asks every possible new member of
Not only do they show up to support the the band.
community that quickly embraced them, but “We explain that Re-form is an anti-sexist,
they play, ravenously seeking improvement anti-racist, anti-Islamophobic, anti-fascist
and further connections.
band, and then we ask the possible candidate
“Rockin’ 4 Dollars works really well for if they have any problem with that.”
us and other new bands,” says Strach. “It’s a Unsurprisingly, there had been a few who
great chance for people and promoters to weren’t on board with that direction.
see a new act before doing a full set at a show “We had one guy during an audition who
just said he wasn’t interested because of
Their first album Can We All Really Be that. There was another person who said
Happy is an analysis of cultural expectations he was on board with it, but as we played
of happiness and contentment coupled with together his actions and some of the things
a personal look at introversion and depression.
he said kind of showed to us he wasn’t, so he
It’s told through the lens of emotionally had to leave.”
charged songwriting and the actions to back Kudos to these punk rockers for practicing
up everything they’re saying. Instrumentally what they preach and building a better world.
and thematically based on some of their
favourite bands growing up (think Rise See Re-form at their album release show on April
Against, Anti-Flag), the album is a promising 14 at Bohemia (Edmonton) with fellow political
glimpse of what’s to come for the young but punks A New Rhetoric, Rebuild/Repair and Me
Empowering everyone on debut EP.
PHOTO: STEPHANIE RIVET
ROCKPILE BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 39
JUSTIN MARTIN and SMALLTOWN DJS
Mountain Magic artists share tales from the road
BY PAUL RODGERS
The annual Mountain Magic Tour
is presently meandering its way
through various mountain, and even
some prairie towns across Western
Canada. Spearheaded by Smalltown DJs
and supported this year by other festival
favourites like Neon Steve, Skiitour
and then a few Dirtybirds Justin and
Christian Martin and Ardalan, the tour
brings serious multi-headliner raves to
“It’s been amazing so far,” says Pete
Emes of Smalltown DJs in a conference
call with Be-atRoute and Justin Martin.
“The way we’ve done it in the past, like
Justin hasn’t been on any of the shows
yet, but he al-ways kind of comes in like a
hurricane, or like a mountain snowstorm
after a few shows …”
“Like a wild yeti,” Martin suggests.
“Like a wild yeti,” agrees Emes, “and
he turns it on its head. So we’re looking
forward to getting Justin on his shows.
But so far we’ve had some great ones.”
Some of their highlights include gigs in
Vancouver, Saskatoon, and Edmonton.
The guys try and sneak in some skiing
amongst their hectic touring schedule,
which seems fit-ting as they stop in places
like Revelstoke and Fernie, but as they
add more dates to the tour each year it
“It’s sometimes difficult because we’re
travelling in-between but we always get
a couple great days on the hill during the
tour. And that’s part of the reason why we
put the whole thing togeth-er was for us
and our friends to be able to go to these
towns,” Emes says, adding that some of
the smaller venues may not be able to afford
triple-headliner bills, so it’s cool that
they are able to make that happen.
“For me, my favourite part is always
the journey of the whole thing and
spending time with the Smalltown guys
and my brother, cruising from town to
town,” Martin says.
“Last year we had a pretty hectic drive
schedule, so we just thought of creative
ways to pass the time and we made this
silly movie one of the days.”
The video Martin speaks of, is indeed
quite silly — silly, awesome, hilarious —
the product of four friends with a lot of
time on their hands, musical talent, and
the stunningly adept video shooting and
editing skills of Martin.
“We were like, ‘is this even going to
work?’” says Emes.
“And Justin was like, ‘Yeah, give me a
few days and I’ll see what I can do’ and
then he sends it back and it’s like this
hilarious, creative construction and I was
like right away ‘oh it’s a master-piece.’”
In fact, Emes laughingly added that he
was so excited about it he felt like they
should, “instead of everything else we do,
DJing and all this other bullshit …” the
four of them should just start a company
where they sit around in a room making
“Totally,” responds Martin, laughing. He
adds that he always says that this tour is
“such a great thing for our souls to spend
time together, it’s like a yearly tradition
that we just get to hang out and catch up
and just have a really, really good time.
And I couldn’t imagine being stuck in a car
with a better group of guys.”
Both artists in this interview have
played to countless enormous festival
crowds throughout their lengthy careers,
and indeed their summers are already
stacking up with numerous such bookings,
but they both agreed that they love
the energy the crowds in these smaller
towns have to offer.
“You have a whole new energy and
vibe and people are stoked because I
feel like ski town win-ters is like people’s
summer,” Martin says.
“People are there just looking for
something fun to do at nighttime and we
get to come to town and kind of enjoy
“I feel like the cool thing that is in
Western Canada because the festivals
like Bass Coast and Shambhala have
such a big influence that you can get a
really awesome crowd in some of the-se
smaller towns that you wouldn’t normally
get in other parts of the world where
they don’t have that kind of like festival
culture as established,” Emes adds.
This tour culminates with performances
from Smalltown DJs and both Martin
brothers alongside numerous other international
headliners including Odesza,
Gorgon City, Billy Kenny at Snow-bombing
Canada, which takes place during the
first weekend of April in Sun Peaks B.C.
“Last year was a blast and this year also
looks like it’s going to be fun too so hats
off to Snow-bombing,” says Emes, with
“Toques off to Snowbombing!”
Justin Martin and Smalltown DJs perform
at Snowbombing Canada on April 5 to 9 in
JUCY BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 41
LET’S GET JUCY!
Sam Binga performs April 5 at the HiFi (Calgary)
PHOTO: TOM HAM
Spring has sprung and April is looking crafting hybrid sounds with hints of jungle,
real fine with a heap of international D’N’B and footwork, his sets are extremely
talent and multi-headliner raves to get your enjoyable as well as technically astounding.
dancing muscles primed and ready for the 20/20 LDN is a music label at the forefront
summer months ahead.
of bass music today and on April 6 at Distortion
(Calgary), its creators and two other
New Wave, the HiFi based residency
started by local producer OAKK has a couple label artists will demonstrate what they
great shows in April. Sam Binga, of lofty are all about. Alongside Ivy Lab, the music
drum and bass imprint Critical Recordings collective behind the label, you can also see
performs on April 5 (Calgary). An expert in Paint, the mind-melting collaboration of
brings the funk back to Calgary
“I realized it was necessary to play out just by seeing people’s reactions to it.”’
fter a brief sabbatical in Vancouver, Dr. house and techno and gravitating towards
Space, a.k.a. Ben Pearson has returned downtempo, hip-hop, soul, boogie and
to Calgary, and brought with him the return ultimately funk. As he was exploring the
of his other-worldly residency Galactic roots of his favourite genres he noticed
there were was some sounds that were not
Pearson began his foray into DJing
widely represented in Calgary, namely funk
playing a variety of sounds starting with and groove-based music.
42 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
Tsuruda and Huxley Anne and Deft, another
harbinger of the future sounds of bass. With
local support from two of Calgary’s finest
Metafloor and KR Dub, I am confident in saying
this will be one of the high water marks
of the year.
A.Skillz really needs no introduction;
he’s by no means a stranger to Calgary or
West Coast festival circuits. An alumni of
Shambhala and general festival-favourite, his
lighthearted, party-rocking sets are always a
good time. Catch this turntable scientist on
April 12 at The HiFi (Calgary).
Catch rising Canadian rap and R&B artist
Roy Woods plays at Commonwealth on April
The second installment of New Wave
takes place on April 19 and features two of
Portland’s hottest producers Barisone and
PRSN. Expect a huge variety of dancehall,
hip-hop and plenty of bass.
Hannah Wants of Birmingham plays at
Commonwealth on April 19 (Calgary). In
2016 she came under scrutiny for allegedly
plagiarizing Boddika’s track “Mercy (VIP)”
with her tune “Found the Ground.” That
has since blown over, and at the end of the
day, she is an extremely prolific artist with
an impressive track record and impeccable
DJ skills and her performance in Calgary will
“I think I kind of took it as a sign that
maybe it was an opportunity to step forward
and have that as my contribution to
the city,” Pearson says.
Formerly referring to his DJ persona as Archivist,
Pearson adapted a live quote from Kool
Keith: ’They call me Mr. Space’ into his new alias,
and through a network of mutual friends, landed
on Cafe Koi as a venue for Galactic Funk.
“I think for a lot of people that come to
the night for the first time, they generally
feel a very welcoming atmosphere. And
because the focus is so much on the music,
the groove, being light and not taking yourself
to seriously, it helps allow people to be
themselves and be comfortable in a public
space, which isn’t always the case.”
Since then there has been around 15
installations of Galactic Funk, beginning in
March 2016, and featuring numerous other
selectors from around town who are given
the opportunity to delve into sounds that
they may not be known for. For example,
footwork and drum and bass artist Sinistarr
performed as Funk Nasty.
Upon returning to Calgary, Pearson
felt that the night was ready to grow and
BY PAUL RODGERS
aptly demonstrate that.
New Zealand’s new talent Montell2099
plays at the HiFi on April 21 (Calgary),
providing us an opportunity to witness this
budding artist in his infancy. Having only
really been around for the past year, he has
been making waves with his eclectic tastes
and ability to weave them together into an
exciting take on trap music.
With a massive back catalog of releases
and over 20 years experience, Montreal born,
San Francisco-based Fred Everything plays
at Habitat on April 21 (Calgary), and will
undoubtedly be equipped with an extensive
arsenal of deep house and techno.
On April 28 the Bass Coast 10 year anniversary
North American tour rolls through
the HiFi (Calgary) and features the versatile
Doctor Jeep, whose set was a highlight of
last year’s festival, and Max Elis, who has
long been behind the scenes and behind
the decks of the festival. Start feeling those
sweet, sweet festival feels early!
This is but a mere smattering of events,
and there are countless more that I had to
leave out but I blame that on the tsunami
of incredible bookings this month. It’s
outrageous and wonderful. Thoughts and
prayers for prosperous a prosperous April
BY PAUL RODGERS
expand, and to potentially become a more
city-wide installation and so he landed on
Nite Owl as a new base of operations.
“With maintaining balance in any endeavour
you need direction and momentum,”
“I feel like there’s more direction now
with Galactic Funk than there’s ever been
and more momentum than there’s ever
been. So I feel like the balance will be maintained
as long as the groove is going.”
Pearson says Galactic Funk has allowed him
to focus his passion on certain aspects of music
that were driving him the most, old groovebased
music and new adaptations of them.
“I think the more that I was getting hooked
by that stuff the more I wanted to play it out
and the more I realized it was necessary to
play out just by seeing people’s reactions to it.”
He hopes to continue with this momentum
and continue to build up the Galactic
family, creating a solid foundation in the
city, and then use that platform to step out
and expand into other areas.
Dr. Space performs on CJSW on April 6 at 10:00
p.m. and on April 14 at Nite Owl (Calgary).
young management assistant chronicles her career
BY CATALINA BRICENO
“There’s not a day that I’m like ‘I don’t want to go to work today.’”
At just 25-years-old, Veronica Weibsstück says Weibsstück.
of admin stuff,” recalls Weibsstück.
has turned her dreams into a reality, “Some people say being female is really At Shambhala Music Festival, Jeff Abel,
courtesy of her industrious nature.
hard in the industry, I haven’t had that issue who goes by the moniker Excision expressed
At the early age of 18, her love for music to be quite honest. My biggest thing was my serious interest to work alongside her for
propelled her to new heights, eventually age, I was worried that nobody would take his festival Lost Lands, held in Ohio, as management
resulting in her becoming Excision and Dion me seriously because I was 18.”
Timmer’s management assistant.
After her brief hiatus, Weibsstück dove This past year, Weibsstück left Blueprint
According to Weibsstück, it was attending
right into work again in 2015 after her when to become a full-time tour assistant for the
shows and seeing her friends become her boss at the time, Dan Wurtele offered Paradox Tour and as management assistant
involved in the community as promoters her a role as production manager running for Abel and Dion Timmer.
for Connected Entertainment, a promotion event logistics and bookings at Blueprint, “There’s not a day that I’m like ‘I don’t
company for electronic music in Edmonton, after the company bought Connected. want to go to work today.’ I’ve never felt
that incited her to participate.
Moments of synchronicity and winks so in place and accepted and confident in
“I just saw how stoked people would get from the universe indicated that Weibsstück what I’m doing than I have with this,’” she
from the events that they were doing, and was on the right path. A defining moment enthuses.
wanted to bring that excitement to other for her at Blueprint was Northern Lights “Working with someone like Jeff, you
2013, the event was hit quickly selling out. learn so much. It’s insane, [he’s on the go],
Weibsstück says it was because of her The standout roster consisted of a wide and he’s always working on something. His
enthusiasm at meetings that made Seelo selection of impressive talent from Calvin work ethic is unmatched, it shows by where
Mondo, Nestor Delano, Mikey Wong, Dusty Harris, Nicky Romero, R3hab to Krewella, he is and how far he’s gotten.”
Wright, head honchos at Connected bring Flux Pavillion, and Bassnectar catering to Hard work produces results. Weibsstück
different tastes - ranging from electro house is set to dominate the festival circuit
Weibsstück went from promoter to to dubstep.
working behind the scenes working artist
helping make executive decisions for bookings,
Her time at Blueprint allowed her to blos-
relations for Valhalla Sound Circus in
as an assistant manager, and later as a som professionally and fulfill her dream of Montreal July 19 to 13 and Bass Cannon, a
becoming part of the dubstep heavyweight festival held at the Gorge Amphitheatre in
“I loved [making suggestions] and bringing
Excision and young gun protégé, Dion Tim-
Washington that runs from August 24 to 26
in talent that nobody else was [thinkmer’s
where headliners, Excision and Nightmare
ing of] and always putting myself in the
“Right before Northern Lights 2017, Brett will go back-to-back. You can also catch
position to do more work. I wanted to do [Excision’s] brother who is also his tour Dion Timmer at the Marquee Beer Market
the admin stuff, I wanted to help with the manager [asked me]: “Hey do you want to & Stage on April 21 (Calgary).
contracts, I wanted to do the advancing,” work on some stuff for Dion we have a lot
JUCY BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 43
drop anchor with comeback record
BY EMILIE MEDLAND-MARCHEN
You’ve probably heard Hey Ocean!’s 2011
single “Big Blue Wave”, a quintessentially
west-coast pop hit featured on rotation with
CBC Radio 3 and 102.7 The Peak. The band is
one part of the collection that make up some
of Vancouver’s biggest indie starlets — Mother
Mother, Said the Whale and The Zolas. But
until this year, they’ve been on hiatus, stepping
away from the studio after the height of
their success with 2012’s IS to replenish their
Between now and then, each of Hey
Ocean!’s diversely talented members have
released albums of their own. In 2017 frontwoman
Ashleigh Ball’s Gold in You was a dynamic
collective of electronic-influenced pop
tracks, a well-received foray from her indie
roots. Vocalist/guitarist David Beckingham released
Just When the Light in 2016, a moving
record that navigates his tumultuous time as
a solo musician following Hey Ocean!’s hiatus.
And bassist David Vertesi threw his hat in the
ring with 2016’s Sad Dad Cruise Ship, while
also founding and directing Vancouver Mural
Festival, set to celebrate its third anniversary
To say Hey Ocean!’s members have been
busy since their hiatus would be an understatement.
But it took the band three years to
coordinate their individual moving parts and
focus back in on their studio dynamic— something
that Ashleigh Ball explains was necessary
to replenish the band’s passion for performing.
“We’ve always been this quintessential West
Coast pop band from Vancouver with happy
music,” Ball said. “[In 2011] it got to the point
where we were kind of miserable, and we were
really struggling interpersonally and in the
music industry. We were feeling really worn
down and we needed a break, but we kind
of had to put on our happy face and keep on
pumping out the music.”
The struggle to perform while facing creative
and emotional difficulties was where the
inspiration for the band’s upcoming release,
The Hurt of Happiness, came from.
“That period was kind of painful in itself,
and that was what ‘the hurt of happiness’
meant to us — how you have to fake it
through your job and keep smiling. I think all
of us went through some pretty bad depression
and anxiety and it means different things
for each one of us, but we all related to the
title in some way.”
Although the record’s title track reflects
upon some melancholy tones, long-time
fans of the indie pop collective will be
pleased to discover that the new album is
top-heavy with boppy surf hits. The album
begins with Amsterdam, a light-hearted
tribute to the colour of the European city
and what it feels like to fall in love with a
new place. The record brings on the nautical-inspired
tones fast and furious, heading
into “Can’t Let Go”, a fast-paced radio-ready
jam that echoes the carefree attitude of
2011’s Big Blue Wave.
But dive a little deeper into the album
and you’ll find that the surface-level pop
tone doesn’t match the intensity of the
songwriting. On “Can’t Let Go”, Ashleigh
Ball’s saccharine voice coos, “You can cut
me with a thousand knives / Just the way
you’ve done a thousand times / If it keeps
you close then I will gladly let you take my
life”. Hey Ocean! may have settled into their
indie pop sound, but that veneer conceals
a deeper struggle to establish themselves as
“We’re a lot more solid in ourselves and stylistically
being on a bit more of a cohesive path,”
Ball said. “The three of us are obviously very
different, but we’ve found the magic ‘thing’ that
makes our songs distinctly Hey Ocean!”
That ‘thing’ is especially apparent on the
album’s sixth track, ‘Mama Said’, a hand-clapping
Canadian pop hit that picks up where
Hey Ocean! left off. The album then meanders
into more unfamiliar territory, with
the titular track “The Heart of Happiness”
providing a synth-dominant transition into
the more melodic “Soul of My Heart” and
“To the Sea”.
More than anything, the band has had
to learn how to love the music again. Ball
describes the time spent in the studio putting
the album together as a “joyful experience”.
After parting way with their record labels and
getting more hands-on with producing and
editing, Hey Ocean! have returned to their
roots and rediscovered how they work together
as a cohesive unit.
“We wanted to take away all of those label
pressures,” she said. “We wanted to do it
ourselves and go back to square one, back to
our roots, because that’s where we were most
comfortable working from.”
As for finding inspiration, Ball only has to
look beyond her front door.
“I’m sitting on my couch looking at the
ocean right now,” she said. “It’s very much a
part of our life here. You kind of just write
what you know, and it’s hard to avoid. I feel
crazy if I’m not on the coast.”
The Hurt of Happiness will be released independently
on April 6. Hey Ocean! will kick off their
summer tour on April 5 at Wild Bill’s in Banff.
44 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
not afraid of the tough stuff
just love good lyrics,” says Grant Davidson,
the man behind the musical venture
known as Slow Leaves.
Sung against a pleasant backdrop of
nostalgic country-folk, Davidson’s words are
sincere and honest. But if you are looking
for a happy tune, the Winnipeg Native is not
going to give it to you. Though sprinkled
with optimistic undertones, Davidson’s song
writing leans into ideas of impermanence
and imperfection. Listeners are lead into the
depths of vulnerability, stripping humanity to
its bare bones.
“I’m getting older and time’s passing by and
someday I’m going to die. Hate to be blunt, but
that’s a thought that has really dominated my
writing process. And so with almost every song,
I’m sort of trying to put a context around what
it’s like to be alive and in my body – that’s what
I’m after. I’m just trying to write something that
makes sense about what I’m feeling, and distilling
those thoughts into something that I can
look at and be like ‘yeah that’s honest’. I don’t
write a lot of happy songs.”
Even though we are speaking over the phone,
it isn’t difficult to imagine Davidson smirking as
he states the obvious about his music. Known
for his dry sense of humour and banter on stage,
Davidson will have you laughing moments after
he had you reaching for the tissue box. It is not
entirely uncommon to leave one of his shows
confused as to whether you had a great time or
if you need to go straight home and question
the intricacies of life. He will be the first to admit
that not everyone will connect with his music.
“I think in very broad terms there are two
different types of art and entertainment seekers.
A lot of people want distraction, and I think
that’s totally fine, but then there are people who
want to look at things face on. The books I read,
46 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
BY ALIX BRUCH
the movies I watch, the music I listen to, and the
stuff I’m interested in is that kind of stuff – the
people who take it head on. And I understand
that lots of people don’t want to think about
that stuff. Anybody that thinks about their own
mortality, like actively thinks about it, will get
something out of my music. If they don’t want
to think about it, then they might not like it.”
Davidson’s latest record, Enough About
Me, marks his fifth studio album and second
under the moniker Slow Leaves. It was also
the first album he produced himself, offering a
glimpse into what comes out when no one else
is around. Davidson emphasizes he is proud of
his work, but remains self-conscious and hyper-aware
of every detail in the music he creates.
The soft-spoken wordsmith confesses it never
really gets easier.
“Every album I make has a certain compromise,
and I think that’s just the nature of taking
an idea which has infinite possibilities and constricting
it into a finished product. I definitely
notice a pattern. With each album, I naively feel
like I’ve finally got it…and then of course the
nature of life is that you get older and you realize
no, I didn’t get it. I think I can hopefully just
pretend to be wise enough to know that you
can’t always trust that feeling.”
Although profusely insisting he is not a poet,
it is difficult to find another noun for someone
who loves words as much as Davidson does.
But perhaps it is his reluctance to be identified
as anything but himself that contributes to the
candor of his music.
“I don’t think I’d still be writing songs if I
wasn’t confident that I was writing good lyrics,”
says Davidson. “I wouldn’t be able to sing them.”
Slow Leaves will be performing at the Ironwood
Stage and Grill on April 26.
moved by the melody
Abigail Lapell is no stranger to the open
road, having lived semi-nomadically
for much of her adult life. “I didn’t really
have a fixed address” Lapell said in a phone
interview from her home in Toronto.
Currently working on her third studio
album in between a whirlwind touring
schedule which brings her across Canada,
Lapell describes herself as ‘folk noir Canadiana’.
“I think my music has a darkness
to it, but in a playful way and that is
something that really appeals to me as a
listener. So that is something I am always
conscious of, having a little bit of an edge
but still trying to keep it pretty earnest
Much of her 2017 album Hide Nor Hair
was inspired by her travels, which brought
the young folk singer to Israel and Jordan.
“There are some obtuse references to that
trip on the album” confirms Lapell.
She also brings a quiet intensity with her
lyrics and a warmth with her haunting delivery.
Having won the 2017 Canadian Folk
Music Award for Contemporary Album
BY ANDREW BARDSLEY
of the Year, Lapell’s music transcends her
age – her voice has a timeless quality that
entrances fans and new comers alike with
smooth and smoky lyrics while often dark.
Hoping to release new music in late
2018, Lapell hopes that her yet to be
named album will be a welcome sound
for fans. “Much of the production was the
same and it has a lot of the same sounds,”
Different from traditional singer
songwriters with her writing style, she
chases the melody first then writes lyrics
afterwards. “I am just more focused on the
melody and most of my songs are not narrative
driven so it is more like, ‘This syllable
sounds good in this part, or this mood
would be good here.’ It is not like I write
the A,B,C of what happened. It is much
more than that.”
Abigail Lapell will be performing at the Cornerstone
Music Cafe (14919 Deer Ridge Dr. SE,
Calgary) on April 27.
on moving forward
On his upcoming fifth release, Both
Ways, singer-songwriter Donovan
Woods has expanded his sound to include
some more atmospheric elements in the
instrumentation, a move he admits comes
from trying to fill larger venues with
sound, while still getting the songs across.
“I’m always trying to move forward.
When you make an intimate folk record
and you end up in a larger theatre, there
are songs that you can’t really play, because
they don’t fill up the space. You end
up changing the arrangements, and you’re
not playing the stuff that’s on the record,
so I wanted to have songs that’d fill the
spaces I’m playing in.”
Woods has developed a more distinct
voice over the course of his career, moving
from an abstract lyrical approach in his
younger years to a more refined, straightforward
course more recently.
“I was a kid, I didn’t know what the I was
doing. People still tell me they like those
songs, but it’s like looking at a picture of
yourself and going, ‘Is that what I look like?’
and everyone else who knew you just goes,
‘Yeah, that’s what you look like.’ I think I’m
more clear now. When I was a kid I didn’t
think it was cool to make sense, like, ever. I
was so resistant to anything that sounded
like a straightforward lyric that I would just
erase anything that made sense.”
Along the way though, Woods found a
bit more of himself in the traditions of the
style. “I didn’t think it was cool to be a folk
storyteller, you know? I just wanted to be
misunderstood and mysterious, which at
the time feels like the cool thing to do, but
as you get older it just feels like a cop out,
because writing songs that are specifically
about something is really fucking hard.”
Woods has spent the last few years living
BY MIKE DUNN
between his Ontario and Nashville, where
he spent some time in the Music Row
writing rooms, with other writers bouncing
ideas back and forth and trying, as he puts
it, “to just write good songs.”
“I’m mostly working as an artist now, but
in the beginning, I was mostly with other
writers,” explains Woods.
“When I started out, you listen to the
other writer, and get a sense as an artist
of what they do, but then you just get in
there and just try to write the best song
possible, because what they do is them,
and it’ll come out. I thought it’d be two
separate jobs, that I would write for other
people, and then I’d have my own thing
that I’d protect, but as I’ve gone along it’s
become the same thing. I don’t approach
it any differently now. Any time I go into
a session with someone else, we’ll just
write a song, and maybe they’ll want it,
or maybe I’ll keep it. In any style, a good
melody is a good melody, a good song is a
Donovan Woods plays the Starlite (Edmonton)
on April 26, and the Gateway at SAIT
(Calgary) on April 28.
ROOTS BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 47
stoner-rock legend plays rare solo DJ set
Try telling any greasy, weed-stinking stoner rocker that the
one and only Brant Bjork will be spinning records on day
two of the upcoming 420 Music and Arts Festival at Calgary’s
Distortion Nightclub, well... they might just flip out of their
sleeveless denim jacket. Brant Bjork... A goddamn DJ???
high-wattage bird of prey
Electric Owl fly at night ‘til they’re satisfied.
nocturnal animal taken as totem by Calgary’s
sons, Electric Owl will be spreading
its mighty desert rock wings and joining a
sultan’s parade of bands performing at the 420
Music and Arts Festival.
“I don’t often perform DJ sets,” says Bjork. “I
used to do it quite a bit back in the late ‘90s,
and then various times over the years. I’ve
always enjoyed it, and wanted to do more of.
So the offer to play the 420 Festival was very
easy to get excited about!”
As one of the most towering giants striding
forth from SoCal’s Palm Desert Scene, Brant
Bjork’s name would forever be nailed in the
pages of stoner rock history just for manhandling
the drums of the legendary Kyuss.
Brant’s post-Kyuss rock ‘n’roll odyssey shows
him refusing to rest on his early laurels; a
formidable multi-instrumentalist, he served
with brethren stoner-rock titans Fu Manchu
(drums), hardcore punkers LAB (guitar), fellow
ex-Kyuss alumnus Nick Olivieri’s Mondo
Generator (drums), desert-rockers Fatso
Jetson (guitar), stoner-rock one-shot Che
(guitar, vocals), and the Kyuss reunion band
Vista Chino (drums).
If that wasn’t an impressive-enough CV,
Brant’s dedicated solo career (either as Brant
Bjork, Brant Bjork and the Operators, Brant
Bjork and the Bros, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk
Band, and Christ knows what else) now spans 20 years and
shows no signs of slowing down... Except perhaps in terms
of distorted riff tempos. And in spite of ALL that, the guy
PHOTO: TREVOR HATTER
Flirting with the eyeliner rock era of Sunset
Blvd., Electric Owl’s groovy sound channels
the flare of glam metal while still serving the
murky spirits of the psychedelic forest. A welcome
addition to a traditionally heavy card,
the velvet winged trio’s melodic harmonies,
prodding percussion and noodling guitar
leads soar above the battlefield and make for
the clouds in perfect unison.
“There’s no star on vocals,” says drummer
and vocalist Shibby, describing the Owl’s
method of “ganging-up on the chorus” while
each singing their own bridges and verses.
“We might be the only three-piece in the city
where we all sing, all the time. I think that is
something that sets us apart.”
“We are heavily influenced by bands with
multiple vocalists,” bassist and vocalist Keegan
Costella notes, listing Mastodon as a significant
Guitarist and vocalist Cam Thomas is
quick to comment that a sense of fluidity is
a major factor when it comes to modulating
the band’s often-vitriolic chemistry. Thus, they
encourage each other to sing at any point,
effectively giving over to the persuasions of
the muse and the heat of the moment.
“It gives us creative license to do whatever
we want,” he acknowledges.
“It’s a great project.”
Not exactly newcomers to Calgary’s 420
BY FERDY BELLAND
stands tall behind the Wheels of Steel, time and again. Go
As for his DJ equipment, Bjork doesn’t possess dizzying
stacks of digital equipment with thousands of blinking
“I’ve only ever used turntables. Vinyl’s the only way I’ve
ever spun. I’m assuming that’s the system waiting for me
in Calgary! That’s the only way I know how to do it, so
here’s hoping! When I’m loading up cases of records before
heading out to DJ, I’ll decide beforehand if I want to build
a specific theme or if I want to keep the music really
general...and I haven’t made that decision yet for Calgary.
It’s more me being a ‘Selector.’ I believe that’s the proper
As for the actual music Brant chooses to spin? You eager
stoner-rockers shouldn’t expect a long string of Budgie
or Leafhound or Captain Beyond or Cactus.
“The obscure stuff is fun for me,” Brant explains, “but I
like to spin a lot of classics that might be kinda neglected,
or not super-celebrated at the moment. I like to throw
curveballs like that. B-sides from popular bands and such.
I don’t wanna go so deep that people don’t know what it
is. I like to spin stuff they might hear for the first time, but
also stuff they know that keeps the party fun.”
Brant Bjork will be DJing in-between bands at day two of the 420
Music and Arts Festival, which takes place April 20 at Distortion
BY TREVOR HATTER
Music and Art Festival, the band attended
the 2017 installment. This year they cross the
invisible threshold and take to the stageboards
as part of the official line-up. It’s the realization
of a goal that drove the hard-rocking
threesome to produce a self-titled EP, which
was unleashed a year ago.
“We were a little apprehensive about the
whole do-it-yourself thing. But, we have some
recording knowledge, so we got Brad Taylor
(Taylor Sound Recording & Mix Studios) to
help us out,” Thomas recalls.
“We recorded the songs and he mixed
and mastered everything for us. We are really
happy with the end product.”
Motivated by the positive feedback, Electric
Owl is already crafting their next album.
This time they’ll be flying west to the pacific,
taking residence in a cabin, blocking out all
distractions and getting down to the work.
Electric Owl performs with Sasquatch, Great
Electric Quest, Solid Brown, Gin Lahey, Haaze
and Set & Stoned on day one of the 420 Music
and Arts Festival, which takes place April 19 at
SHRAPNEL BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 49
the lowrider is a little higher
La Chinga... Get Some!!!
It’s been a respectable reign for Vancouver’s
La Chinga since the trio was originally
crowned Georgia Straight’s ‘Band of the Year’
back in 2013. The five year interim has seen
‘the champagne of rock bands’ celebrate
the release of their arm-out-the-window
soundtrack LP, Free Wheelin’ (2016) and the
arrival of lead vocalist/guitarist Ben Yardley’s
firstborn son. Both events were critical turning
points for Yardley, bassist Carl Spackler and
drummer Jason “Jay” Solyom, who style their
low-riding and high-flying sounds after Thin
Lizzy and Plymouth Dusters with personalized
license plates that read “GET SOME.”
Prized for their forest-flattening power and
inherently groovy melodies, it was La Chinga’s
pursuit of heavy, but unhindered, riffs that
brought them to the attention of the organizers
of Calgary’s 420 Music and Arts Festival.
Thrust into the glowing green limelight of
the burgeoning annual event, La Chinga laid
down their signature spellbinding cuts with
an effortless grace that left festivalgoers craving
more of that magical mojo.
“It was a great gig and the highlight of the
whole year for us; it’s really flattering that
we’ve been invited again. We’re absolutely
floored and happy to come out a play,”
“In fact, my son, Townes (like Townes Van
Zandt), just turned one. So, it’s easier to make
the trip. Incidentally, our plane touches down
Making up for the time they lost over the
course of tumultuous year, La Chinga is in
the process of mastering the tracks for their
next great opus. Titled Beyond the Sky, their
forthcoming album on the Small Stone record
label may have taken longer than anticipated
to complete, but the results, Yardley assures,
50 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
BY CHRISTINE LEONARD
PHOTO: EDKO FUZZ
are well worth waiting for.
“Jay left the band for a while, so we were
working with a drummer named Jonas,”
“But, then Jay came back on the scene right
before we went back into the studio, so we
just wrote the majority of it on the spot in
the studio which was really awesome. We just
fuckin went for it and it turned out great! We
were just going for it everyday there and just
feeling it. We tried to capture the creative
spirit and it suits the band to do it that way,
because our style of music is more open-ended
and isn’t rigidly arranged. We want that
sound of freedom, ‘cuz that’s what it’s like to
play in the band. It’s freeing, power trio music;
where we are all doing our own things, but
still playing together.”
Anticipating a May release for Beyond
the Sky, La Chinga is keen to share fresh
material and insights with their audiences
while still holding true to the other worldly
psychedelic themes that have long been
their calling a card.
“The new album is still La Chinga, but the
songwriting is better, in my opinion. Every
song is really strong and the production value
is totally killer. We haven’t suddenly turned
into an emo band. We don’t feel the need to
change what we’re doing. We’re just making
a better song, making a better record, making
the best music we can at the time. It always
has to be fun. If it’s not fun why bother? At
this point, if we don’t’ get that rush we don’t
want to do it. But luckily we get that.”
La Chinga performs with Buffalo Bud Buster,
Mendozza, Bazaraba and more on day two of
the 420 Music and Arts Festival, which takes
place April 20 at Distortion (Calgary).
walk softly and carry a big stick
There’s no need to trek into the mountains
for your cryptozoology getaway this
year because Sasquatch will be delivering its
heavy, fuzzy and beer-soaked rock rampage
right to Calgary’s doorstep.
This rare sighting comes hot off the
release of the stealthy sludge metal outfit’s
fifth studio album, Maneuvers. Formed in
2001, Sasquatch’s first grainy appearance
was back recorded in 2004. Since that debut
on the Small Stone record label, Sasquatch’s
lineup has settled into Keith Gibbs on guitar
and vocals, Jason “Cas” Casanova on the
bass and Craig Riggs behind the drum kit.
Between hearty laughs and banter, the band
says their fifth studio album, Maneuvers,
benefits from the effortless cohesion of the
“It’s just really fun to be in the band right
now,” Gibbs says. “When Riggs joined the
band (in 2017), it just made everything so
much easier. Everything’s just fallen into place
when we write songs.”
“When I first joined the band I heard they
followed the Zeppelin style,” adds Cas.
Shy but cheeky, Sasquatch describes Maneuvers
as a meat and potatoes effort that
required trimming any unnecessary jamming
L.A.’s Sasquatch put the hairy back in metal.
BY MATTY HUME
to make room for clean riffs. The hirsute
threesome’s aim? To keep those giant feet
moving with a steady forward momentum
and to waste no time in putting together the
beast’s next omnivorous opus.
“We recorded six songs last night in like,
three hours,” says an enthusiastic Riggs. He
goes on to explain that Sasquatch’s recording
goes down in Riggs’ own Mad Oak Studios,
which shares its moniker with Riggs’ coffee
brewing company. According to Gibbs, Riggs
keeps a damn good cold brew on tap at all
times when recording.
That jolt of hair-raising energy will come in
handy as Sasquatch prepares to headline the
Thursday, April 19 line-up of the 420 Music
and Arts Festival at Distortion in Calgary.
“We’re gonna lay it all on the line that night,”
promises a well-caffeinated Gibbs. “Especially,
because it’s just one gig, so we can just
exhaust ourselves and not worry about the
Sasquatch performs with Electric Owl, Great
Electric Quest, Solid Brown, Gin Lahey, Haaze
and Set & Stoned on day one of the 420 Music
and Arts Festival, which takes place April 19 at
BUFFALO BUD BUSTER
louder than the herd
Just east of the Rocky Mountains, a fourstrong
herd of sage shreddin’ bison are
turning the rolling Foothills of Alberta into
a desert rock wonderland. Roger “Captain
Red Beard” Reuser, Deano Robertson, Jake
Rogers and Danny Freeze are Buffalo Bud
Buster -- a distortion-heavy quartet that’s
every bit as loud and hazy as the name
“Just get a buffalo, an Orange stack and
a guitar and just let ‘em rip! That’s what we
sound like,” laughs Robertson, who lends the
band his bass skills when he’s not hammering
out award-winning tattoos.
Bashing away at the hides and cymbals
is Shirtless Jake, whose late arrival offers a
unique perspective to Buffalo Bud Buster’s,
solid yet molten, sludge metal effusions.
“I got to see Buffalo Bud Buster play a
couple of times before I joined,” the concussive
percussionist vividly recalls. “I remember
being blown away, because they were so loud
and so fuzzy! They had this larger-than-life
kind of vibe.”
Butting into Calgary’s local scene, Buffalo
Bud Buster first ran wild a decade and a half
ago on their rock crushing 2003 debut, The
BY MATTY HUME
Fur And The Fuzz. Despite a few long winters
since that cathartic release, the band is far
“We’re probably looking at recording real
soon, but like buffalo we move at our own
pace,” gruffs Reuser.
“And, we don’t play any of the old songs.”
So, don’t even bother asking. Truth be told,
the foursome maintains some pretty high
standards, including having a brand new song
ready for every live show. Reuser promises at
least a few freshly inked tunes, the product
of weekly head-smashing jam sessions, will
emerge before Buffalo Bud Buster return
appearance at the upcoming 420 Music and
With shows planned well-into the summer
including stops at the Okanagan Tattoo Show
and Brewfest, Buffalo Bud Buster’s journey is
just getting started. Armed with a fistful of
riffs and spliffs, BBB are ready to reclaim their
natural habitat – the stage.
Buffalo Bud Buster performs with La Chinga,
Mendozza, Bazaraba and more on day two of
the 420 Music and Arts Festival, which takes
place April 20 at Distortion (Calgary).
Stabmonton DIY Fest Round 4, the
best show offering of the month,
goes down on April 6 and April
7 at Bohemia (Edmonton). The grind/
powerviolence/hardcore oriented fest
will feature performances from Houston
based grindcore icons P.L.F., along with
Falsehood, Grimace, Sulfuric Cautery,
Sixbrew Bantha, and numerous others.
After being rescheduled from their initial
venue that shut down, the event is now
18+. The first evening is $10; tickets for
the second evening are $20.
The excellent dark hardcore/death
metal hybrid act band Feeding will perform
on April 8 at Bohemia (Edmonton).
The band released their new EP In Hell
on February 2; the four-track release is
available at https://feeding.bandcamp.
com/. The band will be performing with
Endless Chaos and Demise.
Head over to Dickens (Calgary) on
Friday, April 20 for epic symphonic
Norwegian act Sirenia, who channel
in gothic themes and juxtapose growls
against soaring wails. Columbia’s Valinor
Excelsior, alongside Threat Signal and
Dire Peril, will join them. Tickets are
$18 in advance. Sirenia will also perform
on April 22 at the Handsome Daughter
Calgary death metal band Widow’s
Peak will release their new EP Graceless
on April 27 at Distortion (Calgary). The
band is playing alongside Path to Extinction,
Protosequence, Meggido and
Anti-Pattern. Tickets are $10 in advance
and $15 at the door.
Now for a band who’s not metal, but
helped shape the face of it: the almighty
prog/psych/rock icons Uriah Heep are
performing on April 30 at the Vogue
Theatre (Edmonton) and on May 1 at
the Palace Theater (Calgary). Head to the
RockPile section to read our feature on
the band, and revel in their ‘70s oriented
set list full of classic tracks.
Finally, head to Dickens (Calgary) on
May 2 to check out psychedelic technical
metallers GIGAN. They’ll be performing
with Minneapolis based progressive
death metallers Sunless, alongside local
acts Train Bigger Monkeys and Dethgod.
GIGAN will also perform on May 4 at the
Handsome Daughter (Winnipeg).
• Sarah Kitteringham
Sirenia perform at Dickens (Calgary) on April 20.
52 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
AT 8 VENUES (MOST ALL-AGES) WITHIN 6 BLOCKS ON
TH AVENUE SE
THE DUDES RAE SPOON TRANSIT22 WAKE COUNTERFEIT JEANS
MIESHA & THE SPANKS YOLANDA SARGEANT FORBIDDEN DIMENSION
WINDIGO SAMANTHA SAVAGE SMITH DRAGON FLI EMPIRE
EYA-HEY NAKODA ANDREW’S PALE HORSES THE RIVER JACKS
IRON TUSK AYE & THE EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMAN THE ATIVANS
JULIUS SUMNER MILLER LYRIQUE & THE HONORROLL SAWLUNG
CARTEL MADRAS MONOLITH AB JASON FAMOUS & LE FAMÉ
THE GALACTICAS THE TORCHETTES KLUSTERFUNK TIME BOY
SCRATCH BUFFALO THE PATH LESS TRAVELLED AMY NELSON
THE FOUL ENGLISH THE COREY HOTLINE THE BORDERGUARDS
SHARK WEAK BAZARABA SITSTILL CROOKED SPIES
THE MIDNIGHT ECHO BEBE BUCKSKIN MARCUS TRUMMER
PAGANS OF NORTHUMBERLAND CHIEF N’ COUNCIL KATE STEVENS
SHILOH BELLA WHITE HEART’S CONTENT ANTI-PATTERN
CLASS OF ‘93 HOLLY CLARK WALKALONE MADEMOISELLE
DABDORIANS FLASHBACK BRETTYN ROSE RIDE THE SKY
DANNY ZAPATA ACT NATURAL
EMILY RIPLEY WEBSITES
HARSH CLASS ACTION
Boarding House Reach
Jack White has been called a lot of things
– minimalist, revivalist, madman, genius,
protagonist, antagonist, lover, fighter –
probably all true, or true enough. One thing’s
for sure, Jack’s a creator who loves making art.
Now suppose for a moment we suspend
our belief that pop music, any and all of that
stuff made to be marketed for immediate
consumption, did not have a hit factor
assigned to it. In other words, we didn’t rate
or predict how much radio play, units moved
or YouTube views a song or album got or was
worthy of. Rather we assessed music only
for its art value, not for its potential to chart
It’s still hard for those familiar with Jack to
remove his association with the White Stripes.
He’s constantly compared to the success of his
musical debut. Such is the nature of the biz:
you’re only as good as your last record. And
in Jack’s case, for many it’s still those records
he made with Meg. But Jack doesn’t roam in
that world anymore. He lives in the land of art
for art’s sake, which is the starting point for
Boarding House Reach.
As the pulsating vibe of the album’s opener
“Connected By Love” continues to build, the
mid-section of the song suddenly bursts into a
frenzy of weird guitar loops and crazy keyboard
soloing. Then, just as suddenly, it drops down
to near silence with only a soft piano and warm
bassline playing while Jack pleads and cries
out, “Forgive me, and save me from myself!”
Sisters Ann and Regina McCrary soon follow
and lend their powerful voices pushing the
chorus into a climatic spin of strange, vibrating
electronics and full gospel sounds. When it
finally settles, it’s easy to image Jack the madscientist
running around his lab tweaking dials
and fiddling with gadgets moreso than Jack
the musician headphones on bellowing into a
Jack the scientist is not such a peculiar
analogy given his first career he flourished as
a tradesman in his upholstery shop. Boarding
House Reach has that sound and feel all over
it – the studio is Jack’s laboratory, his new shop,
and his trade is mixing weird science with rock
‘n’ roll producing strange musical concoctions.
Jack also loves gospel. On “Why Walk A
Dog” a church organ forcefully pumps out
two chords swaying back and forth as if
someone was standing on the keys instead
pressing down on them with their hands.
It’s a big churchy blast that gives away to
a brooding guitar solo that’s more akin to
motorized output signal that grinds up
and down as it’s put through an electronic
oscillator. Weird, yes. Wonderful as well.
The marriage of soul and sci-fi sonics works
Moving into funk and R&B, “Ice Station
Zebra” is chopped and sliced with jazzy
breaks and machine-gun breakdowns with
some fine multi-layered rappin’ by Jack that’s
right up there with the Beasties. Taking a
sharp turn and heading into very different
territory, “Abulia and Akrasia” showcases
the talents of Australian blues singer C.W.
Stoneking, who does a spoken-word sermon
over a sad, spiritualized Middle Eastern
violin and tinkering piano. While the manic
pace of “Over and Over and Over” with its
fuzzed-out electro-romp and haunting, alien
chants, parallels the eerie universe of Bowie’s
“Black Star”. Staying in a strangeland, Hal’s
omnipresent mechanical voice from 2001: A
Space Odyssey is filtered through a cheesy TV
commercial that leads off “Everything You’ve
Ever Learned”. The track then proceeds to ramp
up into a harrowing garage-jazz-psychedelic
freakout that cuts right into a late ’60s B-movie,
There’s A LOT going on in Jack’s lab. His
experiments dabble in 10cc’s quirky pop and
Roxy Music’s avant-garde art rock, then travel
through the Beatles’ playground on the White
Album before pulling into the carnival factoryworks
of latter-day Tom Waits. Boarding House
Reach is an endless experimentation, fused
with sci-fi creations that are, yes, wonderfully
weird. Will any of these tracks chart? Who
cares. It may not be commercial, but it’s
art. Good art where Jack takes on a new
classification by transforming himself into a
• B. Simm
Illustration: Danielle Jette
BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 55
Amen Dunes, a.k.a. sound-shifting rock artist Damon
McMahon, has dedicated a lifetime to exploring selfdom
through sound. If the past ten years have been a dark
wood of introspective, sometimes alienating incantations,
then the project’s newest release is the long-awaited
clearing. Freedom, rough and rhythmic, will revive
listeners with fresh air and sweet sun.
Freedom took three years to make, with help from
band mainstays Jordi Wheeler and Parker Kindred,
newcomers Delicate Steve, electronic musician Panoram,
and producer Chris Coady (Beach House, TV on the
Despite these decorative changes, Freedom remains
a continuation of McMahon’s personal examinations of
the self. Each track is a character vignette that represents
McMahon, his turbulent past, and masculine identity;
from the fallen surf hero of psych-pop “Miki Dora” to
the rock bent “Blue Rose” about his father. McMahon
tackles his mother’s recent death on “Believe,” a song
of propulsive percussion upon which he warbles lyrics
like “You said you lived out on the wrong side/You said
that’s half the fun.”
Although each song charts new sonic territory,
McMahon houses them under his distinct style and
unwavering quest to answer the life-long question: Why
am I? With Freedom, McMahon delivers an answer of
the musical proportions we dreamed, and now know, he
is capable of.
• Maggie McPhee
56 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
Pinkus Abortion Technician
Human cannonballs The Melvins are back, less than a year after
taking a contemplative Walk With Love & Death, King Buzzo
Osborne and company are ready to present their latest album,
Pinkus Abortion Technician.
Dueling dual bassists are the backbone of this eight-track
lysergic flashback, thanks to the twinned talents of The Melvins’
current bass player, Steven McDonald (Redd Kross, OFF!), and
part-time Melvin, Jeff Pinkus, who is best known for his work
with experimental psych-punks Butthole Surfers.
Indeed, a languid hat-tip to the Butthole Surfers’ 1987 album
Locust Abortion Technician is built into the title and fabric of
this new work which comes some 30 dirty years after its namesake
appeared on the Touch and Go label. A much smoother,
more capable and sophisticated vision of the guerrilla recording
sessions that landed Locust on Kurt Cobain’s Top 50 Albums of
All Time, Pinkus Abortion Technician is an immaculate conception
of the rock and roll mind.
The band’s affection for big red ‘70s rock amperage shines
through on “Break Bread,” which commands a stadium-worth
of power cords and ballsy lyrics. Add to this a jubilant, and
nearly over-the-top, cover of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (by
some unknowns), which continues the party even as it dissolves
into a glorious silly string, backbeat freakout. Dipping below
the waterline the quartet enjoys a good wallow in the slippery
passages of “Prenup Butter,” an oily track that lopes along at a
heavy but woosy stride, constantly shoulder-checking for the
impending sucker punch.
Capping things off, a spirited, delinquent rehearsal of
Butthole Surfers’ lugubrious face-melter “Graveyard” flicks
the switch to maximum underdrive. Spasmodic riffs, battered
percussion, flagrant basslines and most-welcome Melvins’
group-shout choruses rekindle the energy that emerged from
that rented Austin, TX home-studio three decades ago. Loud,
glamourous and chock-fulla listenable tunes, Pinkus Abortion
Technician is the ideal foundation for The Melvins’ upcoming
chain of live engagements.
• Christine Leonard
Lindi Ortega finds some new inspiration on her fifth release,
Liberty, drawing from the film scores of spaghetti maestro Ennio
Morricone, as well as the compilation soundtracks from Quentin
Tarantino films. Indeed, on that second note, you can imagine
much of Liberty’s sound running through the background of
some deep monologue between Thurman and Buscemi on the
nature of filmmaking interspersed with all the “fucks”, “fuckins”,
and “motherfuckers” that a Tarantino dialogue would entail.
Leading off with a motif that comes back around a few times
through the record, the desert pasta of “Through The Dust”,
Ortega and producer Skylar Wilson deftly handle Morricone’s
sound of horns and reverb-soaked guitars, along with the
signature harmonica from his masterpiece, “Once Upon A Time
In The West,” while adding an eerie, haunted house feel that
floats its way through the record as well. “You Ain’t Foolin’ Me”
does a nice job of mixing Americana instrumentation with a
melodramatic mid-80s arena vibe, bookended by “Afraid Of The
Dark” and “Till My Dyin’ Day,” on which the instrumental feel
of both Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),”
and the classic TexMex jazz of Santo & Johnny turn up in equal
measure, though the influence of the former is most present on
“Pablo” is a churchy lament for a bullet-riddled outlaw on
horseback, the chorus sung as a Spanish torch ballad, loosely
translated to “Pablo, he’s my love, he’s my fire, he’s my heart”,
and whether it’s the melody, or the passion with which Ortega
delivers the lines, it’s the biggest, most affecting chorus
on the record.
Ortega’s had some some struggles in the past few years, but
Liberty’s an excellent start at returning to form. Her voice is a
signature, smouldering with the kind of pathos and heartache
that’s essential to the genre. If Ortega matches arrangement
and production as tight as Liberty to a set of tunes with the
personal gravity and weight of 2017’s ’Til The Goin’ Gets Gone,
the comeback will be complete, and she’ll likely have a classic
on her hands.
• Mike Dunn
Taylor Ackerman’s Global Acid Reset
Having relocated to Halifax a few years ago,
former Lethbridge guitar player Taylor Ackerman
(Treeline, Shaela Miller) has kept himself
busy working up a set of energetic tunes. The
resulting EP, Ruin Lust, has a bit of a late ‘60s,
early ‘70s sound, with boogie rock elements
coming up head-to-head with Detroit fuzz.
The opener, “Sideman,” kicks off a bit like a
Creedence tape, before Ackerman starts laying
down the boogie, at which point his tone
and feel get a little closer to Winnipeg’s The
Perpetrators – in essence it’s like a stream of
consciousness J.J. Cale groove with muscular
guitars. There’s an outdoor vibe up next on “Bangladeshi
T-Shirt,” the kind of dust kicker that’s
dialed to the shiny, happy vibe of the summer
fests. It features Ackerman laying some greasy
Billy F. Gibbons electric bottleneck riffs over
the acoustic jam. “Half A Man” is a standout, a
Motor City monster with a hypnotic pogoing
riff and a massive wall of fuzz guitar feeding back
and forth. Ackerman’s voice on “Half A Man”
cuts through a little more; he shows off a bit of
a baritone similar to Jim Morrison, or “Lust For
Life”-era Iggy Pop.
Ackerman has plans on moving back to Lethbridge
this spring, and with his knockout guitar
playing, Global Acid Reset should have a cool
sound to kickoff with, which will certainly make
for a nice homecoming.
• Mike Dunn
A Place To Bury Strangers
Adversity has long been the driving force
inspiring sonic chemists to one up themselves.
On this fifth full-length by the decade old
noise-rock trio, the struggles of life are real but
they also come with a big pay off. The opener,
“Never Coming Back,” brims with anxiety
whether it’s brought on by the changes all
around or a consistent streak of personal
bad luck matters less and less as the trance
inducing back beat helps give the sensation
of exiting this world for clouds of noise up
Otherworldly guitar sounds and copious
amounts of forlorn blasts of sonic chaos have always
been the rule but this release has a notable
addition with the inclusion of he/she vocals. The
hellish buzz-saw guitar riffs on “Frustrated Operator”
benefit greatly from a female presence
widening the dynamic with soft Nico-inspired
singing which is truly shiver inducing.
Weary voices give searing meditations on
personal truth revealing a side to the band that
usually hides beneath layers and layers of postrock
• Dan Potter
Adding to the grand tradition of DIY basement
recordings (if London had any basements),
Goat Girl’s sprawling 19-track, self-titled
debut marks a significant achievement
in grimy, lo-fi storytelling. Emerging from the
fragmented South London indie scene, the
album serves as a collection of fast-paced
urban observations with lead singer Clottie
Cream’s morose drawl as the centerpiece.
Elements of punk, psychedelia, and even experimental
country spiral and twist their way
around Cream’s sharp cultural criticism. Never
far removed from the volatile socio-political
context of their city, album highlights “Scum,”
BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 57
“Cracker Drool,” and “Country Sleaze’’ serve
up tongue-in-cheek critiques of masculinity,
humanity, and greater society as a whole.
“Creep on the train/I really want to smash
your head in” groans Cream on “Creep.” Goat
Girl’s self-titled debut is a fast-paced slap in
the face, clocking in around 40 minutes they
waste no time making a lasting impression.
• Jarrett Edmund
Guided by Voices
The ludicrously prolific Robert Pollard keeps it
100 with a record that maintains the warmth
and eclectic energy of his back catalogue as it
enters three figures. Tirelessly inventive, the
band blazes through a track-list which takes
the best of their lo-fi early years and fuses it
with Pollard’s arena-sized ambitions and ear
for catchy choruses.
The opening riffs of the title track sound as
clean as anything the band has produced, the
DIY grunge of their early years replaced by slick
sharpness in instrumentation and singing alike.
Warmer cuts such as “Ark Technician” let Pollard
slip into nostalgic reverie, a marked contrast
from the tight production of the album’s opener.
“Blink Blank” has the ragged charm of Zevon
later in his life; grizzled vocals and growling
guitars coalescing into an energetic cut, its lyrics
and tone funny, frank and foreboding all at once.
Shades of Earthquake Glue’s glossy, Townsendscale
catchiness show up in the album’s penultimate
track “Flight Advantage,” with its bizarre,
irresistibly memorable refrain of “Spiders will
The echoing “Got to keep moving” of “Evolution
Circus,” along with its scratchy faraway
chorus vocals, is indicative of the album’s mood,
a largely successful attempt to cut and paste the
scale of classics like Alien Lanes with the banter
and inimitable character of GBV’s many underrated,
inconsistent obscurities. With over 2,000
58 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
recordings, Pollard shows no signs of slowing
down, but rather doubles down with an album
which is both a reminder of his extensive years of
practice and his zeal for lovable spontaneity.
• Cathal Gunning
The Reverberation Appreciation Society
Following up on the heels of Holy Wave’s
Freaks Of Nurture, their 2016 release, Adult
Fear is the Austin band’s fifth official release
and third full-length album. Sticking with
their signature, hazy psych-garage sound, Holy
Wave has managed to release yet another
captivating collection of tracks.
With each new album, they seem to mature
towards new levels of experimentation and layering
lush instrumentation, amid tracks gliding
effortlessly between different grooves and tempos.
This does not so much startle, but rather
takes one on a trip reminiscent of groups such as
The Zombies, Pink Floyd (a la Syd Barrett), and
more recently, Ariel Pink. Layered in abundant
organ/synth tones and track lengths reaching
above eight minutes, Holy Wave drenches classic
psych sounds on a blotter of fresh composition.
• Tory Rosso
Until I Go Blind
J Blissette is the creative moniker and artistic
love child of Jackson Tiefenbach. Based out
of Lethbridge, Until I Go Blind is the bands
debut, full-length release. The album explores
a plethora of sounds ranging from jangly
post punk, ‘60s garage, power pop, and even
touches on a soulful palette. One example of
these merging tones is on the track “Nellcote,”
where it’s as if Al Green and Twin Peaks got
together to co-write a song.
Carefully crafted, mid-fi production accurately
surfaces on the lead single, “A Series Of Observations.”
This particular piece is accompanied by
saxophone solos, which serves to complement
and enhance the joyful energy already present in
the track. Listening to the 12-track LP evokes a
myriad of altering emotions: angst, elation, and
In the company of all of these sonic shades
and mental sensations, Until I Go Blind fashions
itself as a cohesive unit, manufactured by J
• Tory Rosso
Dine Alone Records
LA psych rock band JJUUJJUU’s debut album,
Zionic Mud, opens strong with “Camo,” firing
you into a hypnotic trance of funky basslines,
accented by raucously squawking lo-fi guitars.
This album conjures images of bohemian
Californians dancing barefoot. Drawing you in
with its siren song before sending your mind’s
eye skyward, beyond Earthship.
Zionic Mud maintains high energy through
the title track with fantastic build-ups transitioning
into wild crescendos. Bookended by “Bleck,”
a straight ahead psych track, the first third of
the album is funky, spaced out, and danceable.
A tempo switch, leading to a gentle outro
dove-tailing the short interlude of atmospheric
space travel in “Level.” This first instrumental has
a softness that only lasts a moment before your
consciousness is transported to witness storms
on a outlier planet, amping you up and passing
you down the line of tales to come.
JJUUJJUU maintains this build up, fade away
presence loyally throughout Zionic Mud. The
variation of tempo and structure build an excellent
album. The layered, airy psych, paired with
thunderous drums, moody, post-punk guitars
and vocals that don’t take center stage creates
• Trevor Hatter
In the current rock n’ roll landscape, it’s becoming
a bit facile to slap the description “psych”
on nearly anything that features any spacey
atmospherics, repetitive chord progressions
designed to induce a trance-like state, and
affected vocals. Yet it’s even more rare to hear
those elements used to such solid effect as they
are on MIEN’s self-titled debut, along with classic
flavours that reflect the early development
of the style (most notably the use of sitar),
which caused many a baby boomer to fall into
the abyss of their black lights looking for “the
bigger meaning of it all, man.”
Featuring members of The Black Angels, The
Horror, Elephant Stone, and The Earlies, MIEN is
a twisting constellation of electronic and organic
tones that feel like being backlit, staring into the
woods in 8-bit.
That presence brings MIEN to life immediately
on “Earth Moon” which runs on a steady
Rhodes piano groove with sitar flourishes over
the top, driven by an uptempo hi-hat groove
that stays consistent through the refrains,
where a synth drops in with a flute-over-string
section sound that easily conjures the instrumental
sections in Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” The
vocals are pleasantly languid and subtle, bathed
in echo, and the cascading build of “Hocus
Pocus” rises over an overdriven bass riff under
the beat drops in taking the chords in a more
minor-key-than-expected direction. The payoff
in the cut comes a minute in when spazzing
synths hit fever pitches and blast in all different
directions, making the simplicity in the song’s
constant refrain, “I feel so high,” more an actual
feeling than a statement. Elements of industrial
rock are noticeable in some of the choices for
drum and synth sounds, especially on “(I’m Tired
Of) Western Shouting,” that hangs on a droning
overdriven bassline with the chord changes
implied by the instruments around it. It’s a cool
move, and with the rounds of vocals coming in
and out of it, before an acoustic break that drops
back into the original feel.
MIEN has succeeded where so many bands
are merely trying lately: crafting a record that
requires being heard from beginning to end,
full of wild freakouts. It’s the kind of music that
ought to accompany the big, weird party where
everyone’s maybe pretty sure they know where
they are, swaying with the treetops in a zapping
telescope of exploding stars.
• Mike Dunn
The Penske File
The Penske File’s new album, Salvation, is a
power-poppy blend of various punk rock
styles. The opening track “Kamikaze Kids,”
explodes from the picking pattern of a brightly-toned
guitar to a folk-infused, chorus-y
punk song reminiscent of new-era Green Day
meeting old-school Against Me!
Salvation’s fourth track “Spin My History,” is
an emotionally driven rock-song with enough
catchiness to fit on radio airwaves, and enough
grit to catch your attention. “Last Chance” is a
smack-your-face tune that mixes elements of
‘50s rock n’ roll with heavy, melodic skate-punk.
Overall, Salvation feels like a well-executed
power-pop tribute to punk music of the early
2000s. Sounds on Salvation are comparable to
the likes of Blink-182, Sum41, NOFX, Yellowcard,
and other similar artists from that era. The record’s
diversity touches on punk’s many niches,
leaving something catchy and enjoyable for fans
from all walks of the genre.
• Johnny Papan
The Switching Yard
Cardinal Fuzz/Pre Rock Records
Teeming with fuzzed out, buzzsaw guitars,
Yet Again, the debut LP from Saskatoon’s The
Switching Yard, wears the gritty influence of
the earliest punk rock like patches on a worn,
cracked leather jacket. However, not content
to merely ride the style of Funhouse-era
Stooges through the LP’s 35-odd-minute
runtime, Yet Again is shot through with nods
to a number of other classic rock n’ roll acts,
while its lo-fi aesthetic keeps it current with
DIY energy and charm.
“Champagne Action” bangs off the get go
with a mid-tempo snarl, not quite the pace of
the MC5 or Funhouse, but the Iggy Pop sneer
will be immediately noticeable, as will the Fred
Smith rhythm guitars, or the wound up Scott
Asheton wah pedal freakouts in the lead guitars.
“Hard Luck” has a vibe that mashes up the early
‘90s alternative/punk explosions of Sonic Youth
and Mudhoney, leading into the nine-minute,
drifting galaxy brain stew of “Behind The Gates.”
The MC5/Sabbath burner “Hank It’s Midnight,”
is a ripping, revved-up, muscle car tear-assing
through the woods in the dark, with doomy
guitars pushing along on a repetitive riff while
other riffs circle the waters underneath like
sharks around a flesh wound.
If some of the tone of Yet Again sounds familiar,
it should. Formed by Brennan Barclay and
Steve Novakowski, along with Peter Henderson,
The Switching Yard also features Chris Laramee
and Jay Loos of Shooting Guns (Barclay also
plays with Shooting Guns). There’s some of that
local familiarity at work on Yet Again, but the
presence of dual vocals, especially the caustic
Iggy Pop sass, gives The Switching Yard a slightly
different aesthetic from their Saskatoon pals.
• Mike Dunn
Paper Bag Records
After a five year wait, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan
are back with a vengeance. Toronto’s distinctively
pan-cultural experimental music and
performance collective have released their
most ambitious, yet also their most cohesive,
record yet with Dirt, an album conceived as the
soundtrack to an unreleased 1987 anime with
Buddhist and Iroquois influences. “Someplace”
and “Dark Waters” set the stage in suitably
dramatic fashion with charging, prog-rock
rhythms and sweeping, melodic passages. “The
Decay” unfolds as the album’s true centerpiece,
an operatic dreamscape lead by deliberate
doom metal riffage and uplifting, airy vocals.
Dirt is a phantasmagorical journey.
• James Olson
After a hellishly long wait, Zeke are back
with their first album in 14 years. The punk
legends known for mixing the gritty might
of Motorhead with the cartoon fun of The
Ramones sound in great form right off the top
of the album as “On the Road” kicks out some
seriously caffeinated guitar solos. Thankfully,
each song continues to snuff out boredom
with an all-killer-no-filler approach.
“Burn” literally sounds like the band is
about to spontaneously combust as the
snarling vocals spat out over the whip-crack
of the one-hundred-mile-an-hour snare
drum will leave any punk extremist dizzy.
The fun continues on “AR-15,” with the refrain
“Blow it away/Blow it away” whilst the
misanthropic anthem is taken even higher
with New York Dolls-like guitar leads sped up
to an un-godly tempo.
The inhuman speed that these short but
damaging blitzkriegs are belted out is truly
frightening and definitely makes this Zeke’s
fastest recording to date.
• Dan Potter
BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 59
Rhythm of Cruelty
Rhythm of Cruelty, Sunglaciers, Paradise and
The Palomino Smokehouse and Social Club
Friday, March 16
From pop to punk to shoegaze and post-punky darkwave,
Alberta’s really got great musical talent. Freshly
debuted weirdo-pop, two tape releases and young
veterans from Edmonton; Friday night at The Palomino
showcased such ripping skills that you should go buy
their tapes now!
Calgary’s Local Singles, a brand new five-piece (with
members from Dri Hiev, Postnamers and more), showed us
what happens when you infuse ambient pop with heavy
synths and catchy melodies, the results are somewhat hard
to describe, but sonically so much fun to groove to.
PHOTO: MICHAEL GRONDIN
Paradise, which also has a membership loaded with
hometown main-stays, issued their tape release blasting
ears with a grungy, lo-fi, three-guitar sound that possesses
all the gravity you need out of quintessential punk rock.
Sunglaciers, another shining example of a band that still
believes in shoegazey goodness, unveiled their new tape
and secured a solid seating within the Calgary music scene
with an explosion of psychedelia that displayed impressive
Edmonton’s Rhythm of Cruelty, a duo that pumps out
monstrous post-punk, should instantly be considered
Albertan punk rock royalty. Drenched in the filthiest, yet
smoothest of verb and delay and brain splitting synthetic
drums, their masterful and melancholic sludge kept had
the crowd’s hearts racing in time.
• Michael Grondin
John Garcia, Chron Goblin and Hypnopilot
Saturday, March 10
Who better to introduce a desert rock legend John Garcia on his midlife
tour-de-force than one of Calgary’s original fuzz bands, Hypnopilot?
The somnambulistic power-chord trippin’ three-piece certainly warmed
things up, but there’s no amount of hot yoga that can prepare one for the
knee-buckling acid rock of Chron Goblin. Unfurling the red rolling papers
for the King of Kyuss, the hair-ruffling quartet marched out a procession
of foundational favs that showed off some healthy winter weight gain. The
swelling crowd gratefully gobbled up the few tasty appetizers the local guitar
heroes teased from their yet to be released new album. Chum in the water
for an audience that was well primed from Saturday of day drinking and listening
to John Garcia’s back catalogue pulled from gritty glove compartment
treasure chests. The revered showman, solo artist and former vocalist of Kyuss,
Vista Chino, Slo Burn, Unida, and Hermano - John Garcia looked pretty
damn good for a 47-year-old Arizonan. Palming his microphone like a tango
partner, the pompadoured maestro and his backing band of studio ringers
immediately kicked into gear with a luscious rendering of “Gardenia.” That
backseat, make-out anthem set the map for a slick detour through deep and
mysterious psych-rock canyons. Warping time and space, Garcia covered 25
years over the course of two solid hours of sweat, smoke and sweet Blues for
the Red Sun breakdowns that left faces aglow and ears abuzz.
• Christine Leonard
OUGHT with Flasher and
Monday, March 26
Ought, the post-punk powerhouses from
Montreal, ripped up the Palomino, calling all
the rock and roll kids out from the Monday
Let’s all give a special mention to Slut
Prophet, the night’s first act, and a shining
example of Calgary’s very own ripping feminist
punk rock. These young talents deliver a
witchy fix with their jangly, disjointed guitar,
60 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE
blasts of gritty synth, and freaky shrieks,
cutting deep to everyone’s primal angsty punk
Shoegazey jangle-punks Flasher are a must
see. This D.C. trio were relentless in their musical
attack, a Venn diagram where precision,
haziness, and melodic simplicity meet.
Now, Ought is a band that comes with a little
bit of mystery in their own right. Their melange
of avant-rock styles have truly developed
throughout the course of their three album
career, starting off as angular experimentalists
and now showing a refined expertise in melodic,
baroque-esque new wave sounds.
And when showcasing such talent on-stage,
Ought are truly no joke. They’ve got great
synths, a crunchy bassline that never ceases,
and of course, Tim Darcy’s idiosyncratic,
nervous singing. The combination of those
three things had the fully packed Palomino
basement bopping along.
And other than that one uncomfortable
moment when Mr. Darcy complained about
audience chatter, they killed it. Having seen
them for the third time, each show brings with
it a new energy and a new approach to their
sound and ideas.
• Michael Grondin
photo: Keeghan Rouleau
Martini time with the Rev.
Reverend Horton Heat, Igor & The Red
Elvises and Unknown Hinson
Friday, March 16
Reverend Horton Heat returned to Dickens
Pub for two nights of psychobilly freakouts.
Friday’s show was crisper than the Reverend’s
collar – a testament to his swagger
after 30 years of teachin’ us how to eat.
Igor & The Red Elvises brought Serbian
surf rock with oversized instruments,
democracy-defying drum solos, and a
kaleidoscope of fantastically fun, danceable
Freshly-gelled slicks of dudes and dames
kicked-up their heels as Reverend Horton
Heat fired things up with “Big Sky”, “Baddest
of the Bad”, and “Psychobilly Freakout.” The
Rev regaled his whiskey-tinged congregation
with songs and stories of tour life, adventures
in a cowboy gay bar and a memorable
fistfight behind a fancier-than-thou restaurant
with stand-up bass player Jimbo.
Unknown Hinson served the rockabilicious
“Silver Platter” and a cover of The
PHOTO: LEE REED
Cricket’s, “I Fought the Law.” The Rev returned
with hard-hitters “Let Me Teach You
How to Eat” and “400 bucks”, swinging into
Lemmy’s philosophy of audience interaction:
“You don’t give them what they want,
you give them what they need!”
Reverend Horton Heat then epically
executed a rendition of “Ace of Spades,”
rounding out the night with a four-song
encore and a jaw-dropping drum solo.
Snow-dusted Calgary got the heat it needed
to kick-start spring.
• Amber J. Hedges
The Real McKenzies, The Pagans of Northumberland
and Raygun Cowboys
March 17 St. Patrick’s Day Show
The Real McKenzies brought kilts and green to the punk rock scene
on Saturday night at Dickens Pub. Calgarians lucky enough to snag
tickets to this sold-out annual event came in their greenest divebar
couture to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and 26 years of rock ‘n roll
The Pagans of Northumberland rustled up the crowd with Oi!-infused
power chords and sing-alongable songs of suburban dissent.
Edmonton’s Raygun Cowboys followed in a blaze of giddy-up, hold
onto your horns (section) ska-poke cowpunk.
The Real McKenzies possed up in full Gaelic-regalia, loch’d and loaded
with an impressive seven-piece line-up. Front-man Paul McKenzie
pushed off with new(ish) tracks “Fool’s Road”, “Weyburn” and One
Day”, brewing an emerald hurricane that culminated into crowd-surfing
mayhem, complete with beer-soaked debris and lost shoes. Papa
McKenzie lamented those lost to the fentanyl crisis and urged us to
“choose a safe legal drug,” recommending his favourite: alcohol.
Old favourites “Pour Decisions,” “Drink Some More,” and “Droppin’
Like Flies” balanced the 90-minute set, tied up in a tartan bow with
“Scots Wha’ Ha’e” a reminder to eat our haggis and “Fuck the Real
• Amber J. Hedges
Raygun Cowboys’ red hot, rockin’ horn section.
PHOTO: LEE REED
BEATROUTE • APRIL 2018 | 61
what is love?
I’m a 33-year-old woman from Melbourne, Australia, dating a 24-yearold
man. We’ve been dating for about eight months; it is exclusive and
official. He’s kind and sweet, caring and giving, and his penis is divine.
The thing is, he confessed to me recently that he doesn’t really “feel.”
The way he explained it is, the only emotions he feels are fear and
anxiousness that he’ll disappoint the people he cares about. He says
he’s never been in love. He said his dad is the same way. The only time
I see him really “feel” are when he’s high, which he is semi-frequently.
He uses MDMA and he comes alive. He seems the way a “normal”
person does when they’re in love, but when he’s sober, it’s like he’s
trying to mimic the things a person in love would say or do. I confessed
I am falling in love with him recently and told him I wasn’t saying this
with any expectation of him feeling the same; I just wanted him to
know. He responded that he cares for me a lot—but that’s it. I’m now
worried that he’ll never love me. I don’t want kids, so time isn’t critical
for me, but I don’t want to be with someone who won’t ever love me.
–Lacking One Vaunted Emotion
You didn’t use the P-word (psychopath) or the S-word (sociopath),
LOVE, but both came to mind as I was reading your letter. Someone
who isn’t capable of feeling? Isn’t that textbook P-word/S-word stuff?
“The fear with someone who doesn’t ‘feel’ is that they may be a
psychopath or a sociopath, terms that are used interchangeably,”
said Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through
the Madness Industry. “And lots of the items on the psychopath
checklist relate to an inability to experience deep emotions—like
Shallow Affect, Lack of Empathy and Lack of Remorse. However, I
have good news for LOVE! This line: ‘The only emotions he really
feels are fear and anxiousness that he’ll disappoint the people he
cares about’ is the critical one. Psychopaths do not feel anxiety. In
fact, my favorite thing a psychologist said to me about this was:
‘If you’re worried you may be psychopath, that means you aren’t
one.’ Also, psychopaths don’t care about disappointing loved-ones!
All those emotions that relate to an overactive amygdala—fear,
remorse, guilt, regret, empathy—psychopaths don’t feel them.”
So your boyfriend’s not a psychopath. Not that you asked. But,
you know, just in case you were worried. Anyway…
My hunch is that your boyfriend’s problem isn’t an inability to
feel love, LOVE, but an inability to recognize the feelings he’s having
as love. (Or potentially love, as it’s only been eight months.) What
is romantic love but a strong desire to be with someone? The urge
to be sweet to them, to take care of them, to do for them? Maybe
he’s just going through the motions with you—a conscious mimicit-till-you-make
it strategy—or maybe the double whammy of a
damaged dad and that toxic masculinity stuff sloshing around out
there left him blocked, LOVE, or emotionally constipated. And while
MDMA can definitely be abused—moderation in all things, kids,
including moderation—the effect it has on him is a hopeful sign.
MDMA is not an emotional hallucinogen; the drug has been used
in couples counseling and to treat PTSD, not because it makes us
feel things that aren’t there (in the way a hallucinogen makes us see
things that aren’t there), but because it allows genuine feelings to
surface and, for a few hours, to be felt intensely. So he can feel love—
he just has to learn how to tap into those feelings and/or recognize
them without an assist from MDMA Jon Ronson had one last bit of
advice for you, LOVE: “Marry him and his divine penis!
I agree with Jon, of course, but a long, leisurely engagement is
definitely in order. You’ve only been seeing this guy and his divinity
dick for eight months—don’t propose to him for at least another
year, LOVE, and make marriage conditional upon him seeing a
shrink four times as often as he sees his MDMA dealer.
Follow Jon Ronson on Twitter @jonronson, read all of his books
(So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed? is urgently required reading
for anyone who spends time online), and check out his amazing
podcast, The Butterfly Effect. To access all things Jon Ronson, go to
My boyfriend of 1.5 years shared (several months into dating) that
he has a fantasy of having a threesome. I shared that I had also
fantasized about this but I never took my fantasies seriously. Right
away, he started sending me Craigslist posts from women and couples
looking for casual sex partners. I told him I wasn’t interested in doing
anything for real. A few months later, we went on vacation and I said I
wanted to get a massage. He found a place that did “sensual” couples
massage. I wanted nothing to do with this. During sex, he talks about
the idea of someone else being around. This does turn me on and I
like thinking about it when we are messing around. But I don’t want
to have any other partners. I’m like a mashup of Jessica Day, Leslie
Knope, and Liz Lemon if that gives you an idea of how not-for-me
this all is. When I say no to one idea, he comes up with another one. I
would truly appreciate some advice.
–Boyfriend Into Group Sex I’m Not
Short answer: Sexual compatibility is important. It’s particularly
important in a sexually-exclusive relationship. You want a sexually-exclusive
relationship; your boyfriend doesn’t want a sexually-exclusive
relationship—so you two aren’t sexually compatible, BIGSIN,
and you should break up.
BY DAN SAVAGE
Slightly longer answer: Your boyfriend did the right thing by
laying his kink cards on the table early in the relationship—he’s into
threesomes, group sex, and public sex—and you copped to having
fantasies about threesomes, BIGSIN, but not a desire to experience
one. He took that as an opening: maybe if he could find the
right person/couple/scenario/club, you would change your mind.
Further fueling his false hopes: you get turned on when he talks
about having “someone else around” when you two have sex. Now
lots of people who very much enjoy threesomes and/or group sex
were unsure or hesitant at first, but gave in to please (or shut up)
a partner, and wound up being glad they did. If you’re certain you
could never be one of those people—reluctant at first but happy
your partner pressed the issue—you need to shut this shit down, Liz
Lemon style. Tell him no more dirty talking about this shit during
sex, no more entertaining the idea at all. Being with you means giving
up this fantasy, BIGSIN, and if he’s not willing to give it up—and
to shut up about it—then you’ll have to break up.
I’m an 18-year-old woman who has been with my current
boyfriend for a year, but this has been an issue across all of my
sexual relationships. In order to reach climax, I have to fantasize
about kinky role-play-type situations. I don’t think I want to
actually act out the situations/roles because of the degrading/
shameful feelings they dredge up, but the idea of other people
doing them is so hot. This frustrates me because it takes me out
of the moment with my partner. I’m literally thinking about other
people during sex when I should be thinking about him! What
can I do to be more in the moment?
–Distracted Earnest Girlfriend Requires A Different Excitement
Actually, doing the kinky role-play-type things you “have to” fantasize
about in order to come would help you feel more connected
to your boyfriend—but to do that, DEGRADE, you need to stop
kink-shaming yourself. So instead of thinking of those kinky roleplay-type
things as degrading or shameful, think of them as exciting
and playful. Exciting because they excite you (duh), and playful
because that’s literally what kinky role-play-type things are: play.
It’s cops and robbers for grownups with your pants off, DEGRADE,
but this game doesn’t end when mom calls you in for dinner, it
ends when you come. So long as you suppress your kinks—so
long as you’re in flight from the stuff that really arouses you—your
boyfriend will never truly know you and you’ll never feel truly
connected to him.
62 | APRIL 2018 • BEATROUTE