Â Interview with Pinball Sessions and Class of 2015 Showcase
Daniel Cooper is the head of Pinball Sessions, a Guelph music blog that defies the traditional definition and moves toward being a live project with video production. Daniel has been working with Toronto promoter Dan Burke to bring a winter showcase of acts to look for in 2015. The first Class of 2015 showcase is January 3rd at The Silver Dollar.
I had a phone interview with Daniel Cooper to discuss his involvement in the Class of 2015 showcase, Pinball Sessions and his new company Home Base Publicity. Â
… finger on the pulse of local music. Â
You are involved in the Class of 2015 showcase series this month at Silver Dollar. How did it come about? Â
Dan Burke has done showcases before at the Silver Dollar. The bands that are playing are mostly Toronto bands, withÂ a few from Montreal, eastern Canada, and beyond.
Dan teamed up with 5 promoters, Jonny Dovercourt ofÂ Wavelength Music Series,Â Dan Seligman of Pop Montreal, James Mejia ofÂ Hand Drawn Dracula, Aaron Miller ofÂ Arts & Crafts, and Scott Waring ofÂ Sleepless Records. He looked at people who have their finger on the pulse of local, regional and Canadian music in general.
There are 29 bands in total fit into showsÂ spanning 27 days. There are some new projects from established bands such as Etiquette, a new-ish project from Julie Fader and Graham Walsh of Holy Fuck. There’s a ton of great talent including pinball alumni Bile Sister, Pet Sun, I Smell Blood and Crosss.
Is this the first showcase in Toronto you’ve been involved in? How about Guelph? Â
We’ve promoted a lot of shows independently since our inception. We launched Pinball Sessions with shows across Canada in Winnipeg, Guelph, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax. For our first year anniversary, we had shows in Toronto, Guelph and Ottawa. We’ve done a lot of local show promotion in Guelph, which was an extension of what I had been doing independently before. We’ve sponsored showcases in Toronto with 3030 and Kensington Brewery as well. With this round of showcases we’re more involved in getting the artists into our studio and releasing sessions to coincide with the shows. We did something similar with Wavelength’s festival in 2014 where we recorded Hooded Fang, Lido Pimienta, Phedre and OdonisOdonis and released the sessions around the festival.
How did you get involved? Â
My business partner, Tyler Belluz at Home Base Publicity, played a show at Silver Dollar and ended up driving Dan Burke home that night. The two started talking about the series and how we could be involved. He told Dan about Home Base Publicity and Pinball Sessions and they got the idea of having including Pinball as a sponsor wherein some of the participating bands would get a Pinball Session. We’re recording some sessions on Saturday with Hush Pup and Most People. They’ll both be released on the Monday and Thursday before their show January 10th with Calvin Love. Â ï¿¼
What isÂ Pinball Sessions and what makes it different from a music blog or a label?
All of our content is created in house, literally in our house. We record music and shoot videos liveÂ off the floor. We have pinball machines and the studio situated below our bedrooms. Dan Beeson, my roommate, records, mixes and masters all of the sessions and we share filming duties. Music blogs can sometimes be a little impersonal. We like to get bands in, get them comfortable and have some fun with the recordings. We like to have bands come in and do things a little differently or closer to what their live shows might look and sound like.
How do you choose the bands you record? Â
I pay lotÂ of attention to festivals, music blogs, live shows and other promoters and music series. I’m mostly the primary curator for Pinball Sessions, which means I have to search out new talent constantly as well as getting established artists in. I like to look at the indie labels coming up as well, Buzz, Telephone Explosion, Hosehead, Pleasance and Mammoth Cave all have some of the best upcoming garage/punk/noise around. I find music I’m passionate about and that the whole crew can get behind. Sometimes we don’t all agree butÂ that’s OK.
How many Pinball machines are atÂ the studio? Â
[Dan walks around house]Â 3 in one room, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. 11 in the house, 3 in the workshop. Dan Beeson refurbishes Pinball machines constantly and we rotate out machines with some pinball aficionados in Guelph and have some at bars in Toronto. Handle Bar and 3030 both have some of our machines. There’s a really cool resurgence in pinball right now and we have some of the best players in Southern Ontario come by to hang outÂ and play regularly.
People are very passionate about pinball.
Does the pinball ever get in the way of the recordings?
Haha no, but B.A. Johnson went straight to the Pinball machines after recording. People are very passionate about pinball, even people who haven’t played before. It’s a physical game and it’s easy to get lost in the lights even if you lose constantly. All our machines areÂ onÂ free play, of course, so it’s cool to see some people come in and get lost in it who wouldn’t have otherwise.
Do you ever have issues of the sounds of pinball coming through on the recordings?
No we’ve never had that problem. The studio is in an old convenience store, maybe it’s the layout of the rooms, butÂ it’s pretty sound proof, there’s no bleed. Â
Have you ever seen the movie Tommy?
Yeah haha not since I was a kid. I remember the scene, uh, what’s it called. There was an iron man with spikes that you put people inside? Â Â
An Iron Maiden.
Yeah and Tina Turner put Roger Daltrey inside. That was a freaky psychedelic acid scene from what I remember. But I guess the whole movie kind of was.Â ï¿¼Â
How did you get started in the music industry? Â
Well my mom Shawna Cooper runs Dollartone Records but I moved to Toronto at 16, finished high school then went to Ryerson for photography. I realized pretty soon that I didn’t want to do that. My friend’s band The Creaking Tree String Quartet was looking for an Intern so I worked for them for a while. They were a Bluegrass, Jazz, Classical instrumental string band. At the time I worked in a lot of bars and I worked on promoting some shows as well as interning around. Â I started going to Folk Alliance Conference around that time and working on the Beaver Suite,Â whose mandate was to bring more Canadian talent to the American conference. We would plan it like a festival and schedule bands from 10pm – 4 am Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. That’s when I got a taste for curating. It was fun, you get to see and listen to so many bands, there are about 2000 musicians there over a weekend.
That’s my favorite part of the job. I get to be passionate about music and find people who share that passion.
I read that you received a large grant from the government of Canada to help start Pinball Sessions.Â In your opinion where would the Canadian music industry be without government grants? Â
The funding element is absolutely essential for many smaller bands. In a country as large as Canada it would be impossible for bands to make the, sometimes, 8 hrÂ drivesÂ between shows without the help of the funders. We’ve gotten FACTOR grants, which help get bands and labels to make moves to further Canadian music and allows a lot of people to garner more international attention. In a country of 30 million people it’s hard to get anywhere confined to this huge country with so little pople in it.
You recently launched Home Base Publicity. Â
I started it with Tyler Belluz of Missed Connection Records. He’s been doing publicity for his bands and label while I’ve been doing publicity for Pinball Sessions and independent artists so it just fit. Publicity is one part of the music industry that hasn’t really been affected by the downward spiral of the last few years.
Who do you represent? Â
We are working on filling out our roster for 2015 right now, we’ve got some things in the works that we’re really excited about. We’ll have more information coming out soon.
Someone overseas can listen to your tracks and if they have any clout and are excited about your stuff that’s important to gain fans internationally.Â
What do you see for the future of music on the internet and live? Â
Posters, print, and physical things will always be important locally. Digital is international and is super important. Someone overseas can listen to your tracks and if they have any clout and are excited about your stuff that’s important to gain fans internationally. Independent musicians make most of their money touring now so it’s important to leverage your online presence to engage more people and excite them about your tours. Album sales are fine and good, the vinyl resurgence is great but it’s expensive to press, so if you can push this mostly free online presence that’s a huge boon to your career and can be great for your tours.
You have anything else you wanted to mention? Â
We are starting a new video series partnered with different craft breweries. We interview artists, starting with a beer tasting, sometimes we have a few too many, and then we launch into the interview part. We are currently getting more breweries lined up. We have Amsterdam (Toronto), Wellington (Guelph) and Publican House (Peterborough), on board so far. The first up is EamonÂ McGrath drinking some Wellington beer, which will be premiering around January 15th.
Class of 2015 Concert Series
The Silver Dollar Room, 486 Spadina Ave, Toronto
Jan 3rdÂ – Wax Atlantic (members of Major Grange, Zeus) / Only Yours (Lowell of Great Bloomers’ new act) /Â Fever City /Â Holy Gasp
Jan 9thÂ -Â Edgewater Hotel / Pistol GeorgeÂ Warren / The Dead Projectionists / The Nursery / CHOBO
Jan 10thÂ – Calvin Love / Most People / Mimico / Etiquette (Julie Fader + Graham Walsh of Holy Fuck) / Hush Pup
Jan 16th – Â CrosssÂ / WHIMM / I Smell Blood / Dories / Stuka January 17thÂ – Brave Shores / Votiiv (feat. Kontravoid)Â / Country / Peers / Vallens
Jan 24thÂ – New Fries/Â Nancy Pants / BB Guns / Bile Sister
Jan 30th – Pet Sun, Nobro, Champion Lover, Several Futures, Canyun
By: Tyler Brown
Interview with Stefan Babcock of PUP
“I’ve never been as happy with my life as I am right now. And I think that’s true for the other guys. We’re doing what we love every day, and it’s exciting, and it’s cool. I know it’s not going to last forever, so I’m trying to appreciate every day of my life.”
That was the sentiment that began my conversation with noisy rocking PUP’s guitarist/vocalist, Stefan Babcock. It seems as though the band has completely taken off in the past year. They’ve been to Europe three times and were referred to as one of 2014’s “breakout rock acts” by Rolling Stone. The band has been at home in Toronto for two weeks, which Babcock says is the longest they’ve been home for well over a year.
PUP’s first European tour was interesting, to say the least. The headlining band had to drop out of the beginning of the tour due to illness, and PUP was left headlining alone with only their hit, Reservoir out in the UK. The band remained optimistic, though. Babcock said it was a cool experience, having only thirty people per show so far away from home. He said although the small audiences generally aren’t a great thing, for PUP it was because they knew the people were there for them.Â
“Playing this shitty little town in the UK and having 30 people who know your band before you even have a record out was kind of a cool feeling,” he said.Â
During the tour, they stopped at a small town called Southampton. This town has a very tight-knit music scene and the people who run it are big fans of PUP, and got everyone fired up for their show. Babcock said that in Southampton, when there aren’t many people out for a show but everyone is worked up and wants to show their appreciation for a band, they do not explode into mosh pits. When PUP began their set, everyone formed a huge human pyramid in front of the stage and the girl on top was high-fiving them while they played.
“It was a super cool and interesting way for people to show appreciation in situations where a crazy mosh pit wouldn’t work out. That was a moment where I thought, ‘holy shit. What is my life right now?’” Babcock muses.Â
From there, the bands progress began to escalate. On their most recent European tour, although they were not headlining, they were playing shows to thousands of people.
“We never expected our band to get to a level like that, especially off of one record,” Babcock said.
PUP has had the opportunity to play with a wide variety of bands, including Tokyo Police Club, and Toronto sweethearts, Alvvays. Most memorably, they opened for The Hives this past August, which Babcock still seemed excited about.
“That was pretty insane for us. This is a band we all grew up listening to and still love. PUP has covered Hives songs so many times in the past. To open for them was a mind-blowing experience,” he said.
Looking back at past shows, Babcock reminisced on a sold out San Francisco show where he drank a little too heavily before their set.Â
“Before we went on, the other band ‘iced’ me with a huge bottle of Smirnoff Ice. I was already pretty drunk and there were two minutes before we had to go on, so I figured I had to do it. Two songs into the set, I went behind the amp and threw up. A good fifty people in the front rows saw it and cheered for me,” Babcock laughs. The next time they played San Francisco, everybody who came out told them that was the most memorable show.Â
Talking about where PUP fits nestled into the Canadian music scene, Babcock stated, “We’re loud and aggressive. We try to push boundaries with our music, mostly our own boundaries.”
He went on to tell me that they like to try less traditional stuff, different time signatures and different, unorthodox arrangements. Although it does not always necessarily turn out better, PUP is not a band that wants to fall into a trap of doing the same thing with every song.Â
These guys have always stuck to doing what they love and they are not sure how to feel about being nominated for so many music awards. Babcock stressed that although they are always honoured to be nominated, he thinks it is a difficult idea to compare completely different bands for categories, such as “best album of the year.”Â
“I understand why having awards are necessary for music, because you want to give recognition to artists who created something special. But ranking music that way isn’t necessarily how you build a community, or how you encourage art,” Babcock said.Â
Aside from music, PUP does a bunch of things together, like bowling and laser tag. When on tour in America, they went to a shooting range. Babcock said it is fun for them to hang out and do something unrelated to music because it feels like they are just buddies again, as opposed to doing the same thing they do every day, which is hanging out in a van then playing a show.Â
No one has to worry about this band slowing down anytime soon, though. Babcock mentioned that they are hoping to release new music sometime in the New Year, and are planning an Australian tour. They’re also hoping to land a tour in Japan by the end of 2015.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Japan, so it’s a reason to go with my best friends and play music there,” Babcock said.
By: Brianna Harris
Converse Rubber Tracks Studio and Live Tour
The second Converse Rubber Tracks Live Tour was recently completed with headliner Deafheaven. The openers for each show featured five indie artists who have all recorded at a Converse Rubber Tracks “pop-up” studio in each city, selected by Deafheaven to perform as the supporting act. The next tour will begin early 2015, and registration is now open. See under ‘Registration’ for link.
See photo gallery of Converse Rubber Tracks studio and live at The Opera House here: FB
On Nov 21st, the last date of this five-city tour in Toronto, I visited Noble Street Studios to speak with recording band Familiars and the staff at the studio. These are not direct quotes, but what I learned.
What are Converse pop-up studios?
They are fine audio recording facilities established in the touring city, which Converse uses in the week it is back in the city. A week leading up to the show, five artists record over the span of five days in this studio. The program hires a local experienced sound engineer to work with the artists.
What are the kinds of things artists in this program have done here?
A producer stopped in the other day and recorded a bunch of instrumental sounds for him to go home and mix. A solo hiphop artist came in to record vocals. A stoner metal band came in to record individually, but altogether in a room that mimics that of a live stage experience.
Why the Converse Rubber Tracks program?
Born out of the desire to give back to the music community and provide professional recording and performing opportunities for emerging artists. Since the flagship studio opened in Brooklyn in July 2011, over 800 emerging artists have recorded original music along the Converse Rubber Tracks team of experienced engineers at no cost. Converse has been collaborating with artists for decades and this is one initiative amongst many.
What happened on the last North American tour?
Starting in Deafheaven’s hometown of San Francisco, it kicked off on Nov 5, followed by visits to Los Angeles (Nov. 6), Brooklyn (Nov. 19), Boston (Nov. 20) and Toronto (Nov. 21). Five indie artists in total – one per city – headlined for Deafheaven. In Toronto, shoegazers Programm headlined, and on Dec 4th officially signed to Sleepless Records.
Sitting down with Familiars:Â How did you discover this program?
It was after the last Converse Rubber Tracks tour. My buddy told me about the show at Adelaide Hall with High On Fire, which is a metal band we really like. After seeing our friends open for them, we wanted to do it too. So we found the program online and applied.
About the Program
In the past two years, the program has expanded beyond the studio in Brooklyn with Converse Rubber Tracks Live and Converse Rubber Tracks “pop-up” studios. Converse Rubber Tracks Live is a free tour, tickets normally go out within the first day of its release. Both music platforms are established in cities such as: Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Montreal, SÃ£o Paulo, Beijing, Amsterdam, Mexico City, to name a few.
Local artists of all genres can apply for free studio time to record original music in a state-of-the-art studio setting. If selected, the artists will spend a full day recording, and at the end of the process, retain all rights to their work. For more info and instruction: www.converse.com/rubbertracks
Video interview with Deafheaven, before the show at The Opera House.
Interview with Jordan Viaene of Kandy Face
Kandy Face is John Pegg on lead guitar and vocals, Brandon Morgado shredding rhythm guitar, Jordan Viane slapping bass and singing backup and Jesse Rose banging the drums. The small town four-piece is kicking down doors and stealing stereos with a big city sound. With one album in the bank and another in the making Kandy Face is proving that they are not capable of slowing down. The debut album Farewell Flamboro, released in July 2013, was produced by bassist Viaene and released through his DIY label Lost Rockstar Records. The next record Stupid Famous is scheduled for release in spring of next year.
In this candid interview Viaene talks about the recording processes and methodology behind the Kandy Face tunes.
How has rock music changed in recent years and how does Kandy Face fit into the genre?
Rock music hasn’t only changed with the recent years but ever since the ‘90s music has become more and more processed and plastic. A band with true talent nowadays sounds just as skilled as a band with poor instrumentality due to the tools used in recording music digitally. There is no set genre for rock music now; all you ever hear is reiterations of music that has already been popular.
Our main focus is to give people true rock music that comes straight from our insides, music that we feel in our gut, music that will hit you in a way that the old bands once did. We do this and we incorporate a new age sound, that helps us fit in, but much more than just fitting in we want to stand out and bring back that true rock sound that all rock music lovers can say they miss.
Your debut full-length “Farewell Flamboro” touches on themes of nostalgia and angst, how has growing up in Flamborough influenced the band?
Flamborough has been like a pit of despair for all of us, and we still live here. Growing up in Flamborough with friends and the community definitely had an effect on us. The parties we used to have, the people we used to know, and the shenanigans we were once encompassed by all had an effect on the music. “Used to” is a key phraseÂ there because we all want out of this small little spinning circle we call our home. The music will allow us to reach our goals and move on, not to say we won’t ever return, but we need to expand our horizons. Flamborough has affected us as people and our passions which has turned us into who we are and in turn what reflects upon our music. I guess you can say we portray the sound of our upbringing of a true hardcore Flamboroughian.
How did the band start and where did the name come from?
The music started over a decade ago, Jesse, Johnny and I met at a New Years’ party when I was 18, so going on six years now from when I first joined these crazy people I call my partners and best friends. Kandy Face however, started when we decided to move on from our party days and become truly serious as a band. I was going to school at Metalworks Institute when I first started recording bed tracks for drums on Farewell Flamboro. I recorded Farewell Flamboro completely by myself over the course of two years, and I gotta say for a first ever complete project, it turned out pretty damn good. As for the name we didn’t have a name for the longest time, until the album was nearly finished and around the time our second guitarist Brandon joined us. Johnny’s 10-year-old daughter actually came up with the name strangely enough. She suggested we call the band “Candy Face” because it was a cartoon character in a show, we figured Kandy Face was a very memorable name first off, and that it’s meaning could be taken different ways. I like to tie it to the way we used to be; we we’re party animals shoving whatever “candy” into our faces as we could, whether it be alcohol, drugs, or women. You know that whole “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” mentality. I like to assure you we aren’t so much partyers anymore; we drove that liveliness into the creation of our music. Also the name just sounds and looks cool, especially with a K; we think it can be very strongly marketed.
What is the most important part of writing an album?
The most important part I’d say is to have the songs as entirely planned out as possible. Knowing as closely as we can exactly what part to play, what tracks need to be recorded and overdubbed, how the songs will be arranged, how I will go about engineering the sessions to get the sounds I am looking for, etc. The more prepared you are, the easier recording sessions are, and it makes everything go a whole lot smoother instead of guessing and finding out things through trial and error before hitting the studio. Some things are done on the fly but the more you have prepared, the easier the recording process becomes.
What are some of the benefits of being on your own label, Lost Rockstar Records? Disadvantages?
Being on our own label ultimately lets us be in full creative control of our writing and recording/production. We don’t want outsiders to influence our music. Because we have been playing for so long together and we don’t do things that are traditionally done with a rock band, we know better than anyone else how we want our songs to be. We are always open to ideas but when it comes down to it we have complete creative control. Now disadvantages? Well we don’t have proper marketing, distribution, promotion, merchandise, or support because for one we aren’t wealthy people… we’re musicians, and two we need to connect with the right people. That is one of the main things I am working on is the networking aspect and filling in our missing gaps. It’s a lot for one person to handle and we are definitely in search for any assistance we can get. Getting our music to the masses is the toughest part, and that is ultimately our biggest goal.
A difficulty of starting a new label is that there are so many people trying to do it! I meet people everywhere who claim they are some “producer” or “engineer” and they have this “sick studio” and they have these “connections.” Whatever, that’s one thing. The hard part is getting all the divisions to function equally. I focus mainly on the recording aspect for now because we need to continually produce music but everything else seems to take a hit. I wish I could clone four or five of me to send out and finish the tasks I don’t have time to do. It is impossible to successfully start a label by your lonesome, but one thing I can say is that having a solid plan together, knowing your goals, where you want to be, and devoting yourself to slowly getting closer to those goals bit by bit without trying to let anything sit idle is the key. You can’t wait for others to do work for you. Sure if help comes along then take it, but I already realized long ago that in order for anything to happen, I myself must take the action.
If you could play a show with any musician/artist/band dead or alive, who would it be?
Nirvana, Soundgarden, Zeppelin, Queens of the Stone Age would be high up on the list. Any good grunge band from the ‘90s I believe we’d fit in great with. Just thinking about it now, I think a back-to-back show with us and Nirvana would be pretty kickass if Kurt was alive. Although playing a show with Zeppelin would be cool, they would put us to shame. As of today, I think QOTSA would be the number one for us.
What was the first band that really made you fall in love with music?
When I was younger I never really had a set band to listen to. I remember listening to, if anyone knows still, the Big Shiny Tunes compilations? I used to rock out to those hard! First full album I was addicted to was Dookie by Green Day. From there my dad would show me stuff he’d listen to. As I picked up the bass guitar and learned to play for the first time I was getting really into Zeppelin, Sabbath, Deep Purple, Rush, and The Chili Peppers. Those bands had a massive influence on my playing style. What helps with us too is that we all have a very similar music tastes.
How is Kandy Face different from other contemporary bands?
We are different from other bands because, well this is supposed to be a secret but I don’t think people will start copying us because other guitarists look at us like were speaking Chinese, but we write and play in Open D Major tuning, on everything! It gives us this sound that you just can’t get in standard tuning. And speaking of the word standard, we refuse to become the standardized rock band that is expected nowadays, we want to bring back that true edgy sound that rock music had in the ‘90s. We like to think we aren’t at all the same as other bands because we more so influence ourselves and try not to allow other new music to influence us. Another thing to that makes us unique is that we are all 100 percent self-taught musicians and none of us use any theory at all during the writing process. In fact, I am the only one in the band who really knows the laws of music.
What’s next? What do you want to have accomplished by the end of 2014?
By the end of this year we will have finished the physical recording process for our second album, Stupid Famous, which is by far the highest point we have reached as a band. The songs are undeniably good, and we all can’t wait to see the reactions people have. This next album is like Nirvana’s Nevermind. We are aiming to have a master version of our album ready to release for Spring 2015.
That’s a tough question. The best shows we’ve played are our local shows; the ones we promote long ahead of time and when our true fans show up for us to melt their faces off. One in particular would be our first CD release show at The Casbah in Hamilton last July 2013. The place was packed and the energy was incredible. The most entertaining show this year was a local show in Waterdown at Bo’s bar where we had all local acts playing. This too was one of those packed nights with tons of energy. Playing at the Boston Manor in Burlington and Stonewalls in Hamilton were two very enjoyable shows with nice stage setups and acoustics. It’s nice to play at a venue where we don’t sound mash-y, because we are so loud we usually need a bigger space with a nice PA system to really put out our sound in a clear fashion.
Anything else you want to say?
Umm… well, get ready! What we have coming up is definitely something to be excited about. This next album is truly incredible and I can’t wait for everyone to hear the finished product. We have it embedded in our minds that we will make it to the top, and if this album doesn’t do it for us, then well, there is literally no hope left for modern age rock music. Aaand ya, support us, like us on Facebook, listen to our debut album at www.kandyface.bandcamp.com, and watch our newly released music video for our song “Grave Place” on YouTube. Other than that, I want to thank you very much for this opportunity and for those who will read this. Kandy Face is happy give you our music to enjoy. Cheers!
Interview by Griffin Elliot
Art Bergmann Live and Alive – Review and Interview
Who: Art Bergmann
From: Vancouver, BC
Where: This Ain’t Hollywood, Hamilton ON
When: Thursday, October 23, 2014
We all have a musical bucket list – except I terrorize myself with artists that the probability of seeing are slim to nothing. But, every now and then, I get a treat and this week it came in the form of one of the most prolific songwriters in Canadian history, Art Bergmann. I traveled down to Hamilton to see him play an intimate performance at Hamilton’s hub of underground music – This Ain’t Hollywood. TAH are known throughout the world for bringing in some really rare acts like Roky Erickson, Johnny Winter and members of the New York Dolls just to name a few past performers. I know that owner (and long time punk supporter) Lou Molinario was happy to be able to add Art to that list, and the city of Hamilton was lucky to have such an artist in their city.
The night began with a special performance from Canadian punk legend Gordon Lewis of Teenage Head and his new band, The Gordon Lewis Band. They took the stage and the hometown crowd was instantly supportive, though it took a few songs for them to really warm up and let lose. I immediatly from the beginning stood directly in front of the stage – right in front of Gordon Lewis’ amp because I grew up seeing punk shows in Toronto and “that’s how we do”. There was serious nostalgia and energy runnig through me. Gordon and Teenage Head were HUGE influences on me, and the way the guy plays is instantly recognizable. They rocked through some of their new songs to warm everyone up and when they had the crowd where they wanted them they started into the Teenage Head repertoire. Classics like “teenage Beer Drinking Party”, “Some Kinda Fun” and of course, “Let’s Shake”. It was a short but sweet set, and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. Gordon was even nice enough to sign a vintage Teenage Head poster I had and take a picture.
The scene was set, and it was time for the legend Art Bergmann. The was his first time back on the road for many years, so I knew this was going to be a great performance. He played a set of classics ranging his entire career – from his early punk days with the Young Canadians with songs like “Automan” and a lounge version of “Hawaii” to his current release “Songs for the Underclass” and songs like “The Company Store“ and “Drones of Democracy“. He also played a variety of cuts from his numerous past solo efforts saying “I want to play them all for you tonight” several times throughout the evening. Classics like “My Empty House”, “Contract”, “My Baby Needs Oil” and my personal favorite “Dirge #1” sounded great thanks to his fantastic band which included producer/guitarist Chris Wardman and Blue Rodeo skin man Glenn Milchem. You could tell that there were many die hard fans there (including myself), who stuck with the show for the duration of a 2 hour set even though it was a “school night”.Â The show was awesome in many ways. Musically, it was great. There was so much feeling and emotion in the performance. And it was just great to see Art back up on stage where he belongs, playing his rock and roll music. It was really inspiring.
If there’s one thing you can say about Art Bergmann, he is a survivor. He survived punk rock, addiciton, the music industry and just about everything else that could be thrown at him. He took a well deserved break, but I think it’s safe to say that he is back and this time, he’s going to do it right. I got to talk to Art in depth about his new record, his musical influences, and his views on a bunch of topics.
Check out an exclusive interview with Art Bergmann HERE:
By: Matt Groopie