Recorded with Brett Humber at Sound Foundry Studios in Kingsville, drummer Justin Tessier and guitarist/vocalist Tarek Jafar are trying to send a message to radio stations. After the release of their first self-titled EP they mailed copies to every college radio station in the country, and did not exactly love the responses.
“We don’t really try to focus on genre specifics when we’re making music,” says Tessier, “we submitted [the first] CD to a lot of college stations, and we got a lot of response back saying that they didn’t necessarily want to have such poppy music.”
This was not a problem, apparently, for submission shows like NXNE and CMW, as these guys earned themselves slots in both festivals. Doing so may not have been everything they dreamed, though.
“If you are gonna play CMW or NXNE because you wanna start exploding in Toronto or on the Canadian music scene, I don’t think that’s the proper way to go about it,” said Tessier, “It’s a good, what Tarek and I like to call a resume show. It’s good to be able to tell people in the industry, like booking agents or record labels, if you’re into that sort of thing, that you’ve played these shows. And that means a lot to them because it’s a submission show. It’s like, we were good enough to get in.”
Tessier and Jafar will admit that there are merits to doing these sorts of shows, but they will put a caveat on that. To other bands hoping to play festivals like this, look at it as a networking opportunity, rather than the chance to make your career.
But even with the success of being chosen for submission shows, The Blue Stones were still looking to improve. The replies to their music from college stations had stuck with them.
“We understand that we’re not in any way an out-there radical band,” Tessier continued, “But we didn’t like the pop responses. Some stations that are playing some of our favourite bands weren’t playing us, and that was kind of bugging us.”
So back into the studio they went, this time to Sound Foundry out in Kingsville.
“It was an awesome process. Oh my god, it was so much fun going out there,” gushes Tessier, “It’s just so cool that he’s got this studio out in the county where you can just relax, you know. You do a couple takes and then you get a little worn out, you go outside, and it’s just beautiful. Summer in the county, and there’s birds everywhere, and just, you know, green as far as you can see.”
This was a huge difference from the back of an off-hours metal shop in Toronto, where the first album was recorded. The tracking environment can be considered a big influence on this new disc, one that could possibly help Jafar and Tessier get the response they are after.
“So this next album, it’s called How’s That Sound,” explains Tessier, “It’s almost a response to these stations that said ‘you guys are too poppy’. So we went and we made an edgier sound. We used a lot of analogue stuff, we didn’t do any digital processing with the guitars or anything, which we did on the first album, and now it’s going to be a response. We’re gonna send it back and say how’s that sound?”
Check out The Blue Stones when they release How’s That Sound along with Menos Mal and The Tyres on Saturday, Novemeber 3rd at FM Lounge (156 Chatham St. W, main level). The show begins at 10 pm, 19+ are welcome, and admission is $5 at the door.
Name: Andrew Jordan
Band: Seven Thrones
Featured musician for the month of September is up and coming metal guitarist Andrew Jordan. Andrew is a young, amazing talent and shreds like no one his age should. He has just finalized the line up for his band Seven Thrones after a few line up changes and it is going to be very exciting to see where this band goes from here. This is the future of the Windsor metal scene. Please take the time to support Andrew and Seven Thrones by clicking on the link below.
Thank you for supporting local music and local musicians. This is the fourth installment of TWZ Musician Of The Month and we will feature a different musician each month. If you would like to nominate anyone for this honor please contact us with all the necessary information. Above all the candidate must contribute to the originality of the music scene and promote and support others in the scene. Let’s give credit to the people who make our scene stronger!
Names: Chris Wilbur and Dean George
Instruments: C.W.- Guitar/Vocals (A.T.A.D.), Bass (E.V.L.), Bass/Guitar/Keyboards (Descending Affirmation), Bass (Final Stage).
D.G.- Guitar/Vocals (A.T.A.D.), Guitar/Vocals (E.V.L.), Everything (Laughing Casket)
Bands: Awake To A Dream, E.V.L. (Chris & Dean), Descending Affirmation (Chris), Laughing Casket (Dean)
Featured musicians for the months of July and August are team mates Chris Wilbur and Dean George. This dynamic duo not only rock out together in one band but two, Awake To A Dream (Prog Rock) and E.V.L. (Strong Rock). These guys are two of the most laid back guys on the scene except of course when it comes time to rock! Very entertaining and supportive of fellow artists. Please take the time to support Chris and Dean‘s projects by clicking on the links below.
Thank you for supporting local music and local musicians. This is the third installment of TWZ Musician Of The Month and we will feature a different musician each month. If you would like to nominate anyone for this honor please contact us with all the necessary information. Above all the candidate must contribute to the originality of the music scene and promote and support others in the scene. Let’s give credit to the people who make our scene stronger!
Name: Paul Jacobs
Instruments: Drums, Guitar, Vocals.
Bands: Get Bent, Raised By Weeds
Featured musician for the month of June is multi-instrumentalist and artist Paul Jacobs. Paul is a true DIYer and very passionate artist. He not only shows his skills as drummer of the hardcore punk outfit Get Bent but also shows his calmer side as guitarist and lead vocalist for surf rockers (for lack of a better term) Raised By Weeds. On top of all that he also has a very unique style for his original artwork which is featured on merch for both bands. Please take the time to show your support of Paul’s projects by clicking on the links below.
Thank you for supporting local music and local musicians. This is the second installment of TWZ Musician Of The Month and we will feature a different musician each month. If you would like to nominate anyone for this honor please contact us with all the necessary information. Above all the candidate must contribute to the originality of the music scene and promote and support others in the scene. Let’s give credit to the people who make our scene stronger!
Being as curious about these things as I am, I used TWZ as a front to get some answers regarding the project, and figured I might as well share them with all you lovely folks as well. If you aren’t interested already, perhaps you will be after this.
Adam Craig is a name not unknown to Windsor music aficionados, after time spent in a number of popular acts. Now, he’s started up a new solo endeavour to let out his “feelings” in a way that doesn’t fit into any of his other projects.
Every so often you’ll find a link to a new song posted on Soundcloud, and very shortly there will be another one up there.
This Song is Called Anderson Lunau Even Though It Has Nothing To Do With Him is an aptly titled, brooding track that is what I imagine Trent Reznor on a terrible terrible shroom trip might come up with. Equal parts Massive Attack, Ministry, and Dysleksick this is a song that entices feelings of boreboding, constantly making me look over my shoulder for the serial killer surely lurking behind the curtains.
Now, not all GUN tracks are quite so…Frightening… But they are all most definitely strange, so be prepared for that going into it.
So with that, let’s get right into Adam’s own words on the project.
-Let’s start off with your musical background, as an introduction.
The two things that people might remember are the band Measured in Angles where I was playing drums and Poughboy where I sang. Measured has been done for a long time, and Poughboy exists in limbo at the moment since we haven’t really played since we released our last album.
More recently I was involved in the This is War album and live show, and that was the first time I had played drums on stage in something like four or five years. That led to me playing drums and writing with a band we’re calling ‘ends.’ We’ve been looking for a singer for many months now and we may have found someone. It should be cool when it’s ready. Sex rock. Groovy.
The other thing that’s going on right now is BALLS, which is an AC/DC cover band that I’ve been doing with the guys from FiftyWatt Head. I can not overstate the amount of fun that doing this has been. Of course, two years ago I would have laughed at the idea of playing in a cover band, but this is great.
I’m incredibly lucky right now. Being able to play music three or four nights a week has been a real treat. Being in bands with great guys and playing great music, whether that is music that I was a part of writing or AC/DC covers… It doesn’t matter, it’s been an amazing couple of months.
And on top of all this, having the time to make stuff on my own too…Which I’ll wager is why you contacted me in the first place.
GUN was actually supposed to be the name for a band that i was going to put together with a couple of other guys from around Windsor. Those guys are too busy for me to want to push them into doing something else and frankly, I don’t believe the interest level was all that high in the first place. I just thought that the name GUN was too good to let go.
I started recording things on my not long ago and thought it would be stupid to call it “The Adam Craig project” or some such thing, and I think that hearing that word has certain connotations. Whether the music matches what you would expect to hear from something called GUN I suppose is up to you. I just like the sound of the word. Go ahead, say it to yourself: “GUN”. Now say it slowly and with a deep voice: “GUN”.
- From reading your Facebook posts, I gather that time is of the essence with this project, everything done as fast as possible. Why is this?
I don’t see the point in wasting too much time on one thing. The whole reason I make any music at all is because I’m a ravenous consumer of music, and the handful of groups that I actually enjoy don’t put things out fast enough. So I have to make things for myself to listen to.
I don’t expect anyone to enjoy a single thing I’ve been a part of. It would be nice, but I don’t expect it. The only thing that really matters is that I’m happy. And thus far I haven’t needed to spend any more than a night or two on any one GUN track to be pleased with the results.
And besides all that if I fall in the tub and break my neck tomorrow an album’s worth of unfinished tracks won’t be any good for anyone.
-You’ve collaborated with Scott Warren on a few tracks, including the one posted above, why him, will this continue, and do you plan on bringing in anyone else?
I’ve known Scott for a long time and really enjoyed playing on his This Is War album. He and I couldn’t be more opposite in terms of the way we write music. For instance, he is a musician who knows about things like notes and keys and things, and I more or less slap a bunch of sounds together and call it music. I thought it would be kind of neat to throw some things at him that might have been outside of what he is used to doing, and the results were very cool. I’d like to make more music with Scott, maybe more of a ‘collaboration’ thing I guess, instead of just him singing over something I cooked up at home.
There is a list longer than my arm of people who I would like to make music with. Most of those people are too busy and quite honestly, I wouldn’t expect anyone to actually want to be a part of making this kind of music. I’d love to try locking a bunch of guys in a room for an evening to write and record as much of this as possible, but I realize that this is unlikely.
-Where do you take inspiration from for these songs?
If you’re asking where the music is ‘coming from’ it’s more or less dumb luck. I might be playing around with a synthesizer or drum loop and hear something that has appeals to me and then try to create a song around that. I’ve really enjoyed trying to push the machinery a little harder than it’s supposed to go. The equipment that I’m using is meant to create goofy dance music not generate the kind of noise that I’d like to hear. I haven’t gotten to what I have in mind just yet, but it’ll get there.
Like I alluded to earlier, I’m really not much of a musician, so it all really just sort of happens by chance. And then I try to slap something that resembles singing on top of it. I guess in a roundabout way the inspiration comes from recognizing my own limitations and trying to work inside of those.
And most of the words come from my utter contempt for everything and everyone around me.
(that’s a joke (mostly))
Oddly enough, and despite the haphazard way that this music is put together, there seems to be a pleasant consistency to it. It’s definitely the noisiest, most atonal and possibly the darkest music I’ve been a part of making. My wife would only describe the last track as ‘depressing’. Which I guess is a fitting term for this stuff.
-Currently, you’re releasing tracks one at a time via Youtube and Soundcloud, do you plan on a compilation at some point?
No. I’d rather just keep putting out a song or two at a time and leave it at that. Everything is and will be available for free through soundcloud, so I encourage you to download stuff as I write and record it and then make your own playlists. If there was to be an album or a compilation, that would be a little too close to me taking this seriously.
Hey kids, music is a hobby at best and the more you take it seriously in the ‘career’ sense, the more you’re going to look like a pathetic sucker when you get old like me.
Like I mentioned earlier, I started doing this to have something to listen to in my car on the way to work. I decided to start posting things online because I thought there may be a handful of people in my Facebook friends list who might enjoy it. It won’t go any further than that, and for those handful of people this is my gift to them. Above and beyond that is the realm of the stupid man, and the realm of the naive man.
The idea of doing an album, trying to get financial support from somewhere for touring, trying to build a fan base and all that is laughable to me. What people seem to fail to realize is that living comfortably and supporting yourself making original and interesting music is done; the market is dead. And you’re a shortsighted fool if you think otherwise.
Once you give up on the dream of doing something musically interesting for a living, the process becomes exponentially more rewarding. When you’re doing this for the sake of doing this and not ‘trying’ anymore, it feels better, more relaxed and somehow more honest. Basically, I recommend giving up. Not quitting, but giving up on the ‘dream’
-Is this a project that is meant to go live, eventually?
No. To do this live and be faithful would be me with a laptop and a microphone. And that’s called karaoke.
That being said, it would be kind of neat to take some of these ideas and translate them from synthesizer to extremely loud guitar. I’ve wanted to put together a big band for some time to play material like this but again, people are busy and I’m done with asking for or expecting anything from anyone. I’ve learned that playing in bands with people can be extremely rewarding, but also extremely disappointing. Finding people who are on the same page can be difficult, but finding people who want to get the same sort of experience, or who have the same kind of desire to make music for music’s sake can be even more difficult. The higher you set your expectations of people (and I’m not just talking about music here), the more likely you are to be disappointed. This can be particularly problematic when you play with friends.
That’s the beauty of writing and recording at home, without the band environment; I have no one to be disappointed in but myself. I don’t have to schedule practices, or worry about having to cancel practices for things. Don’t get me wrong, I would take a bullet for any of the guys I play with now, and luckily the group situations that I’m involved in are extremely low maintenance, but that’s not always the way it works out with bands.
I recommend listening to these tracks either on headphones or on a decent sound system. I’ve tried hard during the mixing to play around with creating a ‘sonic environment’, i.e. your tiny computer speakers are not going to cut it if you want the full effect. In fact, without the right equipment, this is going to sound like garbage.
Thanks for being interested. And thanks to the twenty or so people who have been listening to GUN.
After a record-breaking-warm winter it’s pretty hard to tell where the winter is ending and the spring is beginning. Salt of the Chief Cornerstone has recently returned to Rose City from the City of Angels and they seem to have brought the golden Californian Sun back home with them. This season starts now. This spring warmly welcomes the band Salt of the Chief Cornerstone back to Windsor.
Salt of the Chief Cornerstone is a well-balanced experimental two-man progressive rock powerhouse band, with no vocals and no bass guitar, but more sound than a band of ten men, five times the size of the two of them. Hearing the technical guitar riffs and intricate drumbeats is like listening to your favorite song on your iPod at full volume, while experiencing turbulence during a flight landing at LAX, in a seat between a crying baby-holding mother and a man who’s cell phone won’t stop ringing, and the pilot has decided to air every radio station between Detroit and L.A. at the same time over the intercom. Only somehow they orchestrate this cacophony into a fine-tuned symphonic composition. If I had to describe the sound in one word: Loud.
The bands two members, Brandon (guitar) and Iven (drums), met in New York City, at Times Square on New Years Eve, 2002-2003, although coincidentally they both had their roots planted in Windsor, Ontario. And little did they know it at the time but this little happenstance at such a memorable time and place was to mark the start of a hard and sobering journey together to the center of all young aspiring musicians dreams.
Rewind back to my first year of high school when I initially met Iven in ninth grade music class. Although it might as well have been math class because even at that time this thirteen-year-old Middle Eastern percussionist prodigy was already timing beats to his music mathematically. Music was his language; his mother tongue. He spoke in beats. His rhythms were carefully calculated equations that none of the other kids could add up, and it would be a matter of time before he would meet any other musicians that could. People with such talent are almost as rare as cowardly lions, and for that reason, I imagine, Salt Chief has chosen to remain a duo. This pair is so tight with each other that it’s easy to forget, or fail to notice, that there are no bass or vocals. When Brandon straps on his guitar and Iven sits down behind his drum kit the sheer volume of the sonic boom alone is enough to blast the skin off of the back of any unsuspecting lion, coward or not. It might as well be rifles these guys are holding, and anything within earshot had better best beware.
I last saw them locally in December 2008 at the Coach & Horses, a going away bash so to speak, a bon voyage, and the dream was so vivid you could feel it. I remember sitting with Iven at the bar getting drunk on cheap beer and bad air while he described all my own hopes and dreams right back to me from a barstool. I had heard it all before. Hollywood. The Big Show. As a musician it was what I always wanted; what I thought everybody always wanted, only Iven was actually making this dream his reality. Freshly graduated from the University of Windsor, this young man was finally ready to set off in the direction of his life aspirations; to put his best foot forward over the line of the unknown, and cross over into the land of uncertainty. Brandon had already established contacts in the City of Angels in the past and those connections alone were all that they needed to drop everything and follow their dreams to sunny Southern California – the entertainment capital of the world.
They had followed their dreams all the way to what seemed like the end of the yellow brick road but turned out to be just another milestone. After all, now that they were where they wanted to be they still had an awfully high ladder to climb to the top of the mainstream music industry food chain. One after another they conquered club after club on the sunset strip, starting with Key Club and Cat Club before moving on to headline shows at the Viper Room, where River Phoenix passed on, and the Whisky a Go-Go, where such bands as Led Zeppelin and the Doors were discovered. Keep in mind that these two ordinary fellows I’m talking about are from Windsor. Two guys who have had such people as Glenn Danzig, Billy Corgan and Dave Lombardo in the audience… watching them! From little old, lonely old Windsor. The city of broken hopes and shattered dreams.
Now fast forward to September 2011, when Salt of the Chief Cornerstone returned back to Canada after their two year stint in Tinsel Town, and played their first homecoming show at FM Lounge, making them the only band that I have ever seen on all three levels of the old Fish Market Complex. Two years had gone by since I had last seen them, but this show felt as if it were the very next day. You would imagine that after returning from the Emerald City these men would be changed, perhaps unrecognizable even, but I was relieved to see these two comfortable guys, average men, unchanged. Salt Chief is not about image or gimmicks. No major theatrics or pyrotechnics. Aside from the illuminated drum kit Iven must have picked up in California, visually speaking, there’s not much worth mentioning. They are the kind of band that is just as good to watch with your eyes closed. They are about the music, about the sound. They don’t have to look like a typical rock band. They’re beyond that. They don’t dress-up, they have no tricks up their sleeves. They don’t have long hair or tattoos and are definitely more likely to be found shopping at Old Navy than hot topic. They still have no singer, and it’s still almost unnoticeable. Lyrics are unnecessary when the music speaks for itself. And these two boys, who claim to be influenced by silence, happen to have a hell of a lot to say. A single song alone speaks thousands more words than an average picture, and if measured in decibels than these guys are easily the wonderful wizards of Windsor.
I don’t know too many Windsorites, or any at all, who can say that they’ve ever stepped foot inside such legendary venues as the Viper Room or Whisky’s, or even been to Hollywood for that matter, let alone to actually have been the headlining act on stage at any one of these places. These are two of the most ambition driven musicians I’ve ever been lucky enough to come in contact with. They’ve worked hard. They’ve put in their time and their dues have been paid. But no matter how far we go to chase our dreams we can’t escape the grim truth: there’s no place like home. And so after two years of living by the ocean, Salt of the Chief Cornerstone set their minds on a new mission: clicking their heels together and returning back to Canada with newfound courage, passion and wisdom to “…redevelop the face of [their] business and write a new and exciting chapter in [their] legacy. Taking the time to restructure and engineer a whole new stage performance, as well as, develop new sounds while having [their] team of experts customize new and improved signature series instruments.”
The Chief Cornerstone has come back home and just in time for spring. ‘Tis the season to salt your senses. So if your plan is to go see Salt of the Chief Cornerstone in their hometown then you’ll have to catch them before 2013, when they plan to kick off a European tour. And if you do end up catching them remember to pack yourself a pair of earplugs and a bulletproof vest, and best to leave the elderly, pregnant, hearing sensitive, and those with heart conditions at home.
Spring is here,
The sun is out,
The time is right,
Just add salt.
Originally published in Salt by the U of W EUSA’s, ISSN: 1911-6446
In Memory of David Gold
By Al “Yeti Bones” Petrovich
When I woke up this morning, I did my usual routine, like all of us. When I looked at my phone and saw texts upon texts I just ignored them. I checked my facebook and saw the most devastating news ever. A dear friend of mine had passed on to the other side. It feels like a sick and horrible joke, but I knew it had to be real.
Dave Gold was the single hardest working musician in Canada bar none. I couldn’t even begin to compete with this guy. Right before Woods of Ypres officially began, Dave was our drummer in Mister Bones. This is going back to 2001. He left Mister Bones to begin a black metal band called Woods Of Ypres. At the time, none of us had any idea how big it would be. Dave did.
I remember being on tour and Dave saying to me in a little diner in London Ontario, at 3am, “I think we should take Bones into another direction. Not kill off the stoner rock aspect but bring in a new aspect! We could be the first band to do stoner music with blast beats and a bit of black metal here and there, in bursts!” Now I thought he was crazy, and I just couldn’t understand what he was saying to me. It sounded crazy right? His ideas were not being met in Bones, and we parted ways when we got home to Windsor. Within that year, Dave began Woods Of Ypres.
Fast forward 7 years later, I had this idea to do a heavy metal outfit that included all of my influences and inspirations throughout the years which included many bands that had been doing what Dave had been talking about previously with Bones. I knew that it would take some time to develop this band, and find the right members to do this. So I called Dave, and asked him to meet me in a rehearsal space back down in Windsor. He drove from Toronto that weekend, and we ripped through a 45 minute cassette of riffs and ideas. We traded riffs back and forth and just looked at each other and said, “Holy fuck, this is going to be pure evil!” That band I was forming, was The Georgian Skull.
We used to sit on the phone at night once in awhile, and I mean, like once every 8 months to a year and get drunk and talk about music for hours, talked about a certain side project we were planning on putting together with Morgan Lander from Kittie included in there. It was going to be an amazingly super heavy album simply called WINTERBEARD. Now it breaks my heart that I will never see my friend again, and be able to get closure with him musically. He did an interview with someone from Germany a few years ago, and they asked him, “What was it like to work with Al the Yeti Bones?” And he replied, “Al is like me, and two people that are that similar shouldn’t work together.” The interviewer went on to say, “People have been quoted as calling The Yeti a Nazi or a dictator in his bands.” Dave agreed with him and simply said, “It takes one to know one.” Of course they both meant it in jest. The same magazine interviewed me again, later the following year (and previously to this encounter I had spoken to Dave and he told me all about his interview with the guy and that he had an idea.) He said we should openly bash each other in interviews so that when we release WINTERBEARD the world can fall on their ass and say, “What the fuck? I thought these guys hated each other?” If anyone knows my history in the music scene and if they knew how much I loved controversy and stirring up shit, they would know that I thought this was just brilliant.
He used to always say, “Why don’t you just go back to being Mister Bones? You’ve branded yourself as that for so many years that people will get confused if you keep changing band names.” I would tell him, “Dave, I’m the Yeti, I’m not Mister Bones. Like Woods, Bones had a million band members and I felt as though with each wave of Mister Bones, I was losing a bit of myself.” I needed to do it my way, as Frank Sinatra said. But with Dave, as members came and then went, it was like Woods Of Ypres was shedding skin, and becoming new all over again. It was just another chapter in the life and times of David Gold.
I remember Dave saying that he bought the Georgian Skull album when it came out on Entertainment ONE, and wanted to congratulate me on how “awesomely crushing it was!” He said it reminded him of a raw underground Pantera, and he loved it. I didn’t have the balls to tell him how honored I was to hear him say that, because of all the successes he had been receiving worldwide with Woods at the time.
Dave had a vision that he polarized through his music, and slowly I became aware of the deep and emotional connection he had to this earth, to the people on it, and his ideas of penning them down on paper, and eventually on an album.
I understood Dave pretty well, I think. If anyone knows the stories behind him and I working together in music, they know we were extremely similar. Deep down, we both knew it too. We couldn’t be in the same band, because we were both visionaries and had two very different visions in mind. We’ve known each other for a long time, and I’ve gone through a lot of the same shit he has. What I can say is this, Dave had a clear-cut vision of what he wanted. Most people have no idea what they want, but he did. And he knew how to get it. Always had. When the vision starts to shift or differ slightly it was up to Dave to bring it back on track. No one else. This onus had always been on him. I related to that very much. It was Dave’s vision being seen through, as it should be. (Please forgive me, as I’m writing this, I’m finding it terribly hard to write my opinions and thoughts in past tense.) Afterall, it was the vision that had been seen from the beginning, and it was OBVIOUSLY working.
Dave had a lot of success backing him, and no doubt in my mind Woods Of Ypres was going to blow up soon. Just this past year he had been signed to Earache Records, and on January 31st they will release his latest masterpiece, and ultimately the final installment of Woods Of Ypres.
The thing that many people don’t understand about touring is that to be out there for us was normal. It is normal to me, and it was normal to Dave. What wasn’t normal was being back at home, waking up at 6am, going to work at a job you hated, and living the same life everyone else was. Why? Because to a musician, everyday life was standing between us and our goals and that’s not living. It’s dying, slowly. Most bands don’t get to do what we do, because they have locked themselves inside the death chamber of life, which unravels a very slow death. Dave was living his life. He was taken too soon, and this was a brother, not just of mine, but of every musician and person he came in contact with. I owe Dave a lot. Like, I owe the guy so much. Big time.
No words could ever describe how sorry I am for his family and how sorry I am for anyone that had the pleasure of knowing him. I am deeply sorry to his past and present band mates, including one of my dearest friends Aaron Palmer who was the bassist for Woods of Ypres during its conception. This is very surreal for me, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in tears as I write this. The world has lost an extremely talented individual that was wise beyond his years. The man may have been living in a 31-year-old body, but I believe he has died of old age. He was far more wise than his age portrayed him. Life will be different without him. As the year of the “apocalypse” approaches I suppose it’s fitting that God takes away one of the greats. Too sudden. Man, way too fucking sudden. All life really is, is a chance for us to do amazing things while we’re here. Dave Gold can honestly without a doubt stand at the gates of Heaven and say to St. Peter, “I fucking did amazing things in life, now let me in.” Life is just a portal from birth to death, and Dave was taken before he got to see what his labour of love achieved in this life. He will be missed, and his music, I’m PROUD to say, will live on forever.
Cheers. This drink is on me my friend. I love you, and will miss you.
AL THE YETI BONES
(a.k.a Alex Petrovich)
Heidi is still remembered by many in the local music scene as one of the Loop’s best bartenders from “back in the day” but today she is known for just about anything but.
Always a music fan, a year long sabbatical to England back in 1997 exposed her to a whole new electronic underground, expanding the love created by so many of her friends back home in Windsor. A permanent relocation in 2000 only cemented her new musical passion and started a ride that is still going on to this day.
In 2003, she was part of the team that opened the critically acclaimed vinyl music shop Phonica Records in London, England and soon she would not only be selling vinyl to some of the world’s greatest DJs but would be spinning alongside them. A meeting with German duo M.A.N.D.Y. (Patrick Bodmer and Phillip Jung) lead to some gigs in Berlin and since then, she hasn’t looked back.
A residency at perhaps the world’s most well known DJ hotspot, Ibiza, not to mention countless regular gigs in Berlin (The Panorama Bar and The Watergate Club), Frankfurt (The Monza Club) and London (Fabric), as well as countless more shows across the United States, France, Spain, Italy, Australia and even here in Windsor at The Boom Boom Room. If there’s a club that needs a groove in this world, Heidi’s probably been there or is booked to do so. A member of the German-based electronic stable Get Physical, she released her first single, “Vejer” with partner Riton, in 2006, as well as the DJ Mix CD, Monza Club Ibiza Vol. 1, also on the Get Physical label. She re-teamed with Riton for another single in 2009 for Get Physical’s Five Year Anniversary compilation, a track entitled “To The Gum”.
Another feather in her cap and indeed one we can all be proud of – in 2009 she joined the hosting team for BBC Radio 1′s electronic DJ show, In New DJs We Trust, heard each Friday in the UK and on-line around the world. The show has a rotating cast of hosts, with Heidi doing the fourth Friday of each month. The entire show is overseen by legendary DJ Pete Tong. In October of 2010, she helped launch the trans-European Jackathon parties, that linked simultaneous dance parties occurring in London, Manchester, Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam, that have proven to be a hit with the European club goers, some of the world’s most fickle electronic fans. She also recently moved back to the UK after a stint living in Berlin. Coinciding with the success of the Jackathon parties, she’ll recently released a compilation mix CD entitled Heidi presents the Jackathon, that also featured new or unreleased tracks from such heavyweights as Soul Clap, Juan MacLean, Deetron, Derrick Carter, Jamie Jones and more.
On Tuesday September 6, Heidi returns home as part of the Coming Home Music Festival, a massive homecoming dance party in downtown Windsor set up by the University of Windsor and St. Clair College, joining a line-up headlined by internationally revered Windsor electronic icon Richie Hawtin (aka Plastikman) and Grammy-award winning DJ Benny Benassi, as well as opening sets by Italy’s Rivaz and Toronto’s Manzone & Strong. It all takes place down by the river at the new Riverfront Plaza Amphitheatre, running from 4pm until 11pm. The event is free for students from the University of Windsor or St. Clair College with a valid Student Card, or just $5 for the general public.
This once again shows the diversity of Windsor’s reach into the world of music – we’re not just limited to indie rock or heavy metal or folk music. Music is a universal language with many shapes and sizes (or chords and beeps) and Windsor is making an impact everywhere.
Coming Home Festival featuring Benny Benassi, Richie Hawtin, Heidi, Rivaz and Manzone & Strong, Riverfront Plaza Amphitheatre, Tuesday September 6, 4pm to 11pm, All-Ages, FREE to Students of the University of Windsor and St. Clair College, $5 to non-students.
On Thursday August 18th, Windsor’s music scene lost one of it’s own. Bradford Rex Helner, one of the city’s most versatile and prolific drummers, passed away due to complications from a heart arrhythmia. He was just 39 years old.
Bradford, like many musicians and community folk alike, was not originally from our city of roses. From Dearborn, this Michigan Yankee in King Harper’s Court fell into our city’s lap over a decade ago, marrying a local girl. While the marriage didn’t last, his relationship with the city – in particular, it’s various musically inclined inhabitants – flourished. Already a respected drummer from Michigan’s rockabilly ruffians The Twistin’ Tarantulas, the list of acts Bradford touched, inspired and played with is nearly as comprehensive as a list of
every act who’s played in the last few years – you could almost play the Kevin Bacon game with him instead and touch upon nearly every musician in town. While perhaps his most beloved project was the original incarnation of jazz-funk jam band Huladog (and the first year or so residency at The FM Lounge), he’s capably handled the skins (either full time, part time, or for special events) with Mr. Chill & The Witnesses, Thornetta Davis, The Hung Jury/FourJury, The Eric Welton Band, an early incarnation of The Golden Hands Before God, Train 45, The Rockafellas, The Eric Arner Project, Dennis Cantagallo (of Ten Indians), Ray’s Right Fender, NOT_Digital, (wh)y.m.e.(??), Star Trek: The Band, FourLetterWord, The Last Jazz Trio, Surdaster, The Locusts Have No King, The Greg Cox Roots Combo, The Monday Milkmen, Whoa Nelly, Vice Aerial…the list could go on for days. Not to mention the amount of acts he’s sat in with for one-offs, appearances in live theatre (such as Hedwig & The Angry Inch) and working with both the Detroit and Windsor Symphony Orchestra. There was no gig too big or too small for his love of music. It was his oxygen and he made everything sound better.
But despite his staggering musical resume, it was his person that left the most indelible mark on our community. He was open to jam with anyone and often encouraged musicians that others wouldn’t even acknowledge. He was a tireless encouragement to many musicians who were on the brink of retirement, pushing them to keep playing when others were telling them to stop. He couldn’t stand seeing anyone else down in the dumps and he always had a story to tell to make you feel better, about yourself, your situation or simply to take your mind off whatever it was that was bringing you down – in fact, many of his fabled tales would inevitably splinter into so many sub-stories that the original beginning story would never reach its own climax (“Tangents out of tangents” was how one friend recalled them). But he could make you listen and no matter how you entered the room and encountered him, you always left his presence with a warm feeling in your gut (although that could also be attributed to the Jagermeister shot you would always end up doing with him).
His passion for life and music was equaled only by his love for cars and when he wasn’t telling tales or playing music, he was working on some sort of automobile. He had just secured a new job in an upscale auto-shop in Royal Oak weeks before his death.
Bradford lived life like one of those classic American muscle cars. He lived it hard and he lived it fast, but he lived it. He’d patch up the wholes when they arose and throw some paint on the body, but ultimately, the engine just couldn’t keep up to the way it was driven. But, as Bradford was oft known to say, “it’s not about the years, it’s about the mileage”.
Bradford Rex Helner got a lot of mileage out of those 39 years. And we loved every mile.
At his request, Bradford was cremated. Funeral arrangements will take place in Dearborn, Michigan under supervision from his family. Details will be released as they are known. A memorial service will be held both in Dearborn and Windsor, and some sort of tribute show is being discussed.
There’s really no need to get into the why of This Is War. All that really needs to be understood is the what of This Is War. The motivations and underlying concept deserves explaining, and we’ll talk about that later, but either way, once you hear this you’re going to at least tacitly understand what drove Scott Warren to put this thing together. You’re going to know Scott from around. You’ll probably have heard at least one of the bands he’s either fronted or played drums for in the last ten or fifteen years, be it Bombast, Lone Locust or more recently, Vultures!. You might also know him as one half of the production team behind the Rockerie, a fully functional studio that runs out of a warehouse on Windsor’s west side. I know Scott as the drummer who replaced me in the long-defunct Johnny El Camino, many years ago.
So Scott and I have stayed in touch. I suppose it’s sort of hard not to stay in touch with someone so active in such a small, local scene. But we’ve remained relatively close. Even if you’re not a fan of what Scott’s done musically, you’d be able to recognize that it’s good and that the man knows what he likes to hear which I have respect for.
You’d know this if you’ve heard any of his bands, but there’s a fairly consistent undercurrent there and it sounds a little like Queens of the Stone Age or the Foo Fighters. Maybe some Soundgarden and the more ‘tuneful’ aspects of the Melvins tossed in there for good measure. If it’s got Scott’s name attached to it, it’s rock and it might just have a nice, tasty hook in there too. Of course all of this depends on who he’s playing with at the time, but to use the tried and true music journalism cliche, his ‘output has been consistent’. A good sense for song craft? Check.
Scott and I had been tossing emails back and forth for a while; “Hey, let’s do this.”, “Why don’t we write some songs together?”, and so on. Scheduling can be a bitch, so nothing ever seemed to materialize. When you’re a musician in a smallish local scene where everyone knows everyone else, there is never any shortage of those drunken conversations on a Saturday night, where you pat each other on the back, extol the virtues of the other’s work and talk at length on how you should do something together in the future. That’s what this had been between Scott and I. Except sober. And via email. The point is that nothing ever seemed to work out.
And then the whole ‘This is War’ thing happened.
Ever the prolific promoter, Scott started tossing photos and posts out on the Facebook and if you were paying attention, you could tell that something interesting was going on. Pictures of amps and tracking sheets, song titles and updates from the studio. From what you could gather from the vague and sometimes cryptic little bits of information that Scott was pushing out, there were a couple of things happening: a) It’s a ‘solo’ album. b) It’s a ‘solo’ album in the loose sense of the word, and c) There’s going to be some impressive guests on this album.
This was more than enough to pique my curiosity as it would be an example of what the man can do without having to co-operate with anyone. If it’s his album, the involvement of others would be kept on a short leash. He’d be asking for help, but only asking those whose contributions would fit most closely with his intentions.
I know some of these guys. From what I could gather online, Andy Langmuir (Vultures!, Lone Locust, Bombast) was involved. As were Jeff Riley (Vultures!, Somatose) and David Allan (Explode When They Bloom, Poughboy, Cellos). There were a couple of allusions to some guest vocalists too, but until that point we’d been kept in the dark about who exactly those guests were. Details only trickled out, so we’re left wondering exactly what the scope of the whole thing is. Song titles like “Know That You Know Nothing” and “Easy Off”; Scott’s playing guitar; There’s 17 songs in the works…Then I get this email, two days after Valentine’s:
“Wrote a track on Sunday for my album that can only be executed by you. Interested?”
Fuck yes, I’m interested.
I had dropped the more traditional idea of collaborating with Scott when This is War started happening; the man was busy doing his own thing, exercising his own demons and I didn’t want to get in the way of that. So now I’m being invited into the fold. Neat-o. Shortly after this exchange I was sent a track via Soundcloud and it was not at all what I was expecting. In hindsight, I hadn’t really known what to expect, but this was not it.
Heavy. Noisy. Bizarre. “September’s Whore” plays out like some kind of Morse Code nightmare in slow motion, with an undercurrent of static that breaks into a sort of catchy, sort of morose chorus. Wrap it up with some more static and then do the whole thing again. I’m left scratching my head and thinking ‘what in the name of Christ am I going to sing over this’ and then the pressure is on. Scott knows what I’m capable of, and he knows my particular limitations, and this is what he sends me. Okay. Game time.
Time passes, and as is par for our course we miss some connections here and there and I started to fret about whether or not my ‘grown up’ schedule was going to allow me to contribute to this. I want to be in the studio with Scott, and I want my name somewhere on the behemoth that this album is eventually going to be, but I don’t want to hold him up. My understanding is that things are rolling along and it’s becoming a beast with seventeen heads and if I stall too much longer I’m going to miss my boat.
Somewhere along the line I have a conversation with the drummer in my band, who had just contributed to This is War. “It’s fucking good”. He describes a carefully constructed and apocalyptic motherfucker of an album that can be a bit overwhelming. There are some heavy guitars at play, and even more heavy emotions. Some kind of hard-boiled fist fuck of an album that demonstrates Scott taking a troublesome situation and turning into some troublesome art.
The man got dealt a shitty hand some time ago and if you’re Scott Warren, when life hands you shit-lemons, you forgo the lemonade altogether and make a cathartic concept album about the road from losing what you think is everything, to rebuilding and then coming back stronger in the end. So now the heat is on not only to schedule some studio time with the man, but to put an appropriately troublesome/apocalyptic/hard-boiled stamp on it.
Fuck. What am I getting involved in here?
Pulling up in front of the Rockerie is an interesting experience. Hidden inside a dry storage warehouse, which itself is tucked away on a side street in the west end, you get the sense that you’re entering into some kind of near-future, post-industrial crime drama, where gritty detectives duke it out with gang members in abandoned warehouses. It’s Robocop. Or one of the sets from that shitty ‘93 Emilio Estevez movie Judgment Night. Scott met me at the padlocked gate and we wound our way up some stairs and past palettes loaded with odds and ends on their way to supermarkets and distributors. It’s cold. It’s got a concrete floor. And it’s lifeless, except for Scott, myself and a single dove who has taken up residence in the rafters somewhere. A door on the other side of the big room opens into a modest, but fully functional and professional two room recording studio and then the whole thing makes a bit more sense.
The studio itself reflects a little bit of the building, which in turn reflects a little bit back on the region. Let’s not forget that this is Windsor, so it’s apropos that you’d be recording in a semi-run down warehouse, in a semi-run down part of town. Moreover, it’s an album about losing shit and then getting shit back, written and recorded in a town that some might say has lost it’s shit and is also in the process of getting it’s shit back. Let’s not wax too poetic here, but the whole thing works on a couple of interesting levels. And I’m thinking all this before we even get started…
He plays me a couple of tracks and I’ve got to admit, I’m a little struck by exactly how all over the place this thing is. And not ‘all over the place’ in a scattered sort of way, but like a mix tape put together by someone with a very keen ear for the last twenty years of rock music. In terms of construction, they don’t get any more polar opposite than “September’s Whore” (the Sturm and Drang doom parade that I’ll be on) and “The Pinkest Slip”. The latter struck me as one of the prettiest, saddest things I’d heard in a while; all acoustic strumming over layers of hypnotic synths and percussion sounds. He’s got softly sung (and apparently improvised) lyrics over a bed of dreamy psych-balladry. Quiet. Bittersweet. Great.
We start talking about the way things have been coming together for This is War and it becomes even more apparent that Scott is putting everything he’s got into this. There’s not only an emotional attachment to the songs that are brewing, but it’s all being done at the expense of considerable time and energy too. I’m sure that the ‘giving birth’ analogy gets tossed around much more than it should, but the way Scott frames this album is such that it’s an incredibly apt description; A whole lot of blood, some pushing and then wham… something brand new is laid out on the table.
And then we start talking about what we’re going to do, cloistered away in a building that feels a lot like the apocalypse happened, on a gorgeous afternoon when we should be on picnics and flying kites. Before the headphones even go on we talk about evil, and making people uncomfortable with sound. We talk about biblical imagery, noise and how best to capture something that’s going to hopefully gnaw at people a little bit. Maybe even scare them too.
Without sounding too presumptuous, that’s exactly what happened.
Working with Scott was an interesting experience; we discussed things and there were intentions laid out before he hit the record button, but inside of this there was a whole element of surprise and chance at play. We tried things, hooked up old, dirty microphones to old, dirty amps; we tried singing in one room, then another and then we tried getting me to move around the studio, we tried whispering and howling and adding effects to the whole mess. In the end, what was sent to my email inbox the next day sounded an awful lot like what you would expect the Southern Baptist idea of a day of reckoning to sound like. Dense, heavy and scary-as-fuck.
And now we wait.
He’s got the beast trimmed down to a lean 13 songs from the 17 he wrote in the first place. A couple more guest spots and then his own vocals and the it’s done. There are rumblings that a live show might be in the offing, but let’s deal with one thing at a time. It remains to be seen exactly how this thing is going to be released, but I can guarantee you’re going to want to hear it.
There is no shortage of wispy singer songwriter types around, strumming some BS and trying to give us all a taste of what they’ve got going on inside. Emoting and strumming and emoting some more. The pool of solo talent is a shallow one, lacking in anything remotely interesting. But this is a little different.
When you see Mr. Warren around town this weekend, buy him a drink and start harassing him about when you’re going to be able to hear this album that he’s been cooking up. Trust me, it’s going to be worth it.
I remember it like it was yesterday, us playing shows together. Me in Measured in Angles, them in Explode When They Bloom. Actually, I don’t remember much of that at all. I remember them being pleasant young men, who played pleasant music for other young people. At the time I was already entering what would be a long-standing period of deep cynicism and curmedgeonry so these fresh faced, handsome young lads who were so full of optimism and enthusiasm about rock and roll was sort of disgusting.
I recall that one of the first times we had played with them was an all ages event in the banquet hall of an arena in Kingsville, and thinking ‘Christ, these guys are nice’. It made my skin crawl. They would have been just starting out at that point, and the pessimism that inevitably accompanies the Sisyphean struggle to ‘make it’ had not started to settle in for them. Back in those days, you wanted to hand over a lollipop, tousle their hair and give them a hearty “way to go, boys”, like you might for a kid who at just come out on top at the track meet.
That would have been late 2006 or 2007 maybe. It’s hard to remember, as the intervening years have meant a lot of details getting lost in a haze, but the thing to remember is that they were young and just starting out, but they were fucking good. You can take my word for it if you weren’t there, and it’s an honest and unbiased assessment of where they were at. The truth is that I didn’t really like it very much at all; it just wasn’t my thing. But despite that, I could listen to it and safely say, “these kids know how to play, and they know how to write songs”.
At this point in the article, it occurs to me that I still haven’t said anything about their music.
When you’re in an indie band there’s a couple of scenarios that will likely play out for you. The most common being that you do a couple of shows, people are falling over themselves to pat you on the back, and then they forget about you, the crowds dwindle and you stop. You can almost set your watch to it. There’s a reason that this hasn’t happened to Explode When They Bloom; it’s catchy. It’s catchy, and it almost forces you to bob your head around or pump your fist. Like it or not, I’m going to say that Explode sits right at the intersection of Bruce Springsteen and Tool. Didn’t see that horribly awkward comparison coming, did you? And I’m willing to wager that you can’t even grasp what that might sound like.
Before you start thinking that the piece you are reading right now is a thinly veiled slab of cockstrokery between buddies, let me say that Explode isn’t really doing anything new. It’s still just rock and roll, it’s got hooks and choruses and some solos and all the rest. It’s just that it’s really good rock and roll. It’s the kind of thing that could launch a modest career, get a little North American notoriety in the ‘blogosphere’, and then after a couple of years give it up gracefully and be satisfied with the knowledge that what was done was done better than most indie bands do.
When I told the guys from the band that I would be writing this, I had them pick a couple of songs that they thought best represented them. Being the cooperative young lads that they are, I promptly received a handful of tracks in my inbox and set about diving in. Having listened to this stuff, and having heard some of it live and on my own in the past, let’s see if I can say this diplomatically; Explode When They Bloom starts with last year’s The Ugly. That’s not to say that there’s no recorded output before then, and it’s not that it’s not good…. but it all sounds a bit like a lead up to what’s on this most recent offering. There are prime cuts on the earlier As The Animals Make Their Way Through The Crowds, some of which are recognizable if you’ve seen them live, but at that point it sounds like they were still figuring things out. Maybe it’s that The Ugly takes a big step forward in terms of production, or maybe they all just got a little more confident with respect to songwriting and musicianship, but on As The Animals… they sound like kids. On The Ugly, the balls have apparently dropped.
I should add that saying some of the early stuff is a little ‘weak wristed’ is only in reference to the recordings. Those same songs played live in a tiny place like the Phog turn into the sonic equivalent of a balled fist in the nose, which is considerably more pleasant than it sounds.
So The Ugly is Explode’s grown-up album. There’s any number of indie rock journalistic tropes that I can use to put this differently, but I’d prefer not to go down that route. So instead, let’s get into details and see if you can fill in the rest: It’s groovier. It’s maybe a little bluesier than the older stuff. There’s a new sense of dynamics that wasn’t present before, and it sounds like they started to understand the idea of ‘atmosphere’. Use caution when interpreting that last statement… When i say atmosphere, I’m not talking about Enya or whatever that mess was that Radiohead just put out. It’s still a rock album, but maybe a little closer now to a rock ‘experience’ than on As The Animals Make Their Way Through The Crowd.
Being close to the source, I know for a fact that this album took a long time to push out and may have been the source of no shortage of frustration. And maybe this is a good thing. The longer you stew on something, the more vibrant the flavors and the more time you have to set things up just right. That comes through while you’re listening to the album itself. There are few if any missteps, and everything sounds like it was meant to be there. It’s spit polished, slick and quite frankly more ready for the’ big time’ than anything else I’ve heard coming out of Windsor in a long while. I very rarely sing along at local shows. EWTB has got those kind of choruses that make you want to do that.
They’re at Phog April 29th. It’s a Friday, and I can almost guarantee that there won’t be anything better going on anywhere else in Windsor. So do yourself a favor; show up early, grab a poutine and a pint and settle in for the closest thing to ‘big-chorus’ rock and roll that you’re going to get around here. Here’s some links in case you’re still not sold:
So every once in a while you hear something that has very little in terms of adequate comparisons. Or, on the other hand there’s a whole lot of points of comparison, but none really hit the proverbial nail on the head. So then in order to really describe what you’re hearing you end up grasping at straws. You want to point at bands that have tread similar paths or use certain conventional adjectives, but using bands would do no justice and the adjectives all sound tired and used up.
This is where I’m at with Ton.
It’s rock and roll. And I suppose that’s the most bare-bones, ‘easy-way-out’ description of what I’m hearing right now. I had two songs sent to my inbox by the band, and then checked out a third from their Myspace page and I’m still just at “Rock and Roll”. I could call it ‘alternative’, but that’s a fairly stupid and meaningless way to refer to something like this. So hold on and let’s try this instead:
From about 1992 to the early ‘00s there was a guy operating largely out of New York that went by the name of Wharton Tiers. Mr. Tiers developed a modest rep for having a sound; never as popular as the “Albini” sound, or the Rick Rubin sound, but distinctive nonetheless. Doing a lot of work for the East Coast-ish noise bands around that time, and having a particular way of doing that work meant the kind of consistency that could be described as ‘genre defining’. The short list of great bands who benefited from Tiers’ less-than-gentle touch would include folks like Sonic Youth (before they got old and tired), Unsane, Cop Shoot Cop and Helmet.
Before I go any further, I should note that Ton doesn’t sound a whole lot like any of those bands. No overtly anyways. Granted, I never really took the time to ask who they listened to for inspiration, but that’s an ultimately meaningless question anyways when it comes to actually listening to something. That is to say, for the purposes of pushing this band on you, who really cares what they listened to?
So why am I bringing up Wharton Tiers, Helmet and the early 90s New York noise scene? Because that’s all I’ve got. It’s all part of a no-bullshit approach to making and producing music. If you listen to Helmet’s early output, or Quicksand’s 1995 album “Manic Compression”, you get a good idea what I’m talking about. It’s not some ridiculously technical, prog wash-out, but it’s not AC/DC either. Little in the way of bells and whistles, but it will grab you and keep you. These guys clearly know their way around their instruments, but aren’t so arrogant as to push a bunch of wankery down our throats either.
I suppose I’ve inadvertently done exactly what I said I wasn’t going to do, which is compare Ton to other bands and use tired, rock-cliched adjectives. Whatever the case may be, I’ll leave you with this much: if you like loud rock and roll then you are going to want to GO to their shows and BUY their new disc, “Going Places”. Oddly enough, you can do both of these things on April 1st, when they release said new album at the Coach And Horses (156 Chatham St. West, basement level).
If you are of the sort that needs more pointless biographical information, black and white “rock shots” of the band in action, or have a masochistic desire to try to navigate the unholy mess that Myspace has become, you can find them online at www.myspace.com/windsorton or by searching for their page on the Facebook.
Enjoy. I did.
Ton (CD release) with special guests Voodoo Mafia, The Coach & Horses (156 Chatham St. West, basement level), 9pm, 19+
Since the 1970′s, Progressive Rock has seemed to be that of a staple within the Heavy Metal Genre. Long, drawn-out songs containing extended, glittery guitar solos, heart pounding bass lines and rhythmic percussion sequences that can range from earthy timpani beats to machine gun speed in a matter of seconds. And whether your first inclination of Prog-rock was with the power trio Rush, the over-the-top art rock of Dream Theater, or the local Anonymous Bosch, King Misfit should fit easily into your genre-specific music library.
I first heard of the band via word of mouth; a few co-workers mentioned a contest run by Road Runner records where bands can win a chance to get signed to the label. So I thought I’d check out the website. What was offered was 3 crisply produced songs and 2 behind-the-scenes videos during their recording sessions. As of 23 March, they currently held the top stop in the daily metal category.
King Misfit is comprised of 6 seasoned musicians all residing locally to Windsor. In some hard rocks circuits through the city, the word is that the guitar playing of Todd Kidd and Richard Miles is nothing short of ‘virtuoso’. When ‘Under Ancient Ground’ blasted threw my speakers I was shocked. Pulled right in by Charles Arsenault’s keyboard riff, and held tight by the Geoff Tate-esque wails of singer William Hawksworth. The 7 and 1/2 minute song doesn’t bore or stale, instead intrigues .. leaving the listener wanting to explore through the mysteries and puzzlement that classic progressive acts bleed as a muse.
‘Under Ancient Ground’ was the ‘shortest’ of the 3 tracks available. Both ‘Anguish’ and ‘Five Dollar Soldier’ clock in at 8+ minutes, the latter closer to the 9 minute mark. Both tunes follow the same progressive suit in that they devise a linchpin method of shredding guitars over a symphonic rhythm section. And singer, Hawksworth doesn’t disappoint as he thoroughly delivers the goods as a Queensrÿche crooner. As ‘Five Dollar Soldier’ concludes, we hear an isolated mariachi-style guitar play a fitting finale. Like watching a spaghetti western on the big screen, the hero here is the listener. Maybe not for everyone, but for fans of muscled prog-rock and symphonic metal, King Misfit are an accomplished fit and a great local talent.
Last night, Cellos made its live debut on a Windsor stage. It was their first performance as a band and despite a few stage jitters, they pulled it off magnificently.
Despite it being their live debut, the members of Cellos are far from being novices. In fact, the trio may be three of the best representations of their respective instruments in the city. Guitarist (and vocalist) Kyle Marchand is better known as the driving chunk behind Orphan Choir as well as the experimental soundscape engineer in What Seas, What Shores (he also had a short stint in the melodically golden Yellow Wood). Bassist Joe Rabie’s thundering grooves have build the skeleton for many projects, including the prog rock dirge of Surdaster, the instrumental frantics of Red Rows and the experimental blind field trips of Star Trek: The Band. And the sheer muppetry genius of David Allan on drums has all been evident to anyone who has seen the octopus-on-cocaine tentacles fly in other projects like Explode When They Bloom, Poughboy and Which Witch. It only makes sense that these three play together – they’ve been in such diverse projects individually, that it would take a project of this nature for each of them to truly shine and show what they are ultimately capable of pulling off.
Their set last night – opening the highly anticipated return of KEN mode to Windsor – was brief but succinct. The second song, tentatively titled “Notes from Underground”, was a clincher – when the power riff groove locked in, the crowd was hooked. For a band playing their debut, they had a crowd in their hands, attentive and hungry, eyes agape and ears thirsting. Their set was like a rock opera conveying how an underwater minefield going off must sound to the fishes around it – as heart racingly exciting as it is terrifying.
Marchand’s voice is reminiscent of Gibby Haynes via early Butthole Surfers records (a la Locust Abortion Technician) with a tinge of Bleach-era Nirvana (the band actually closed their set with a Nirvana cover, “I Hate Myself and I Want To Die”). If I was to play Pitchfork and mash analogies, I’d say it was like Gibby Haynes singing in a band with Paul D’Amour (Tool) on bass, a pre-Badmotorfinger Kim Thayill (Soundgarden) on guitar and Keith Moon on drums, with a set arranged by Mr. Bungle or Mars Volta, but even that isn’t entirely accurate. In fact, if I was a psychologist, I’d say they sound like the soundtrack for the exact moment when the voices in someone’s head suddenly instructs them to kill for the first time. It’s a rush of anticipation, anxiety, excitement and lunacy all at once.
But perhaps the real majesty of witnessing Cellos’ debut performance last night was something another witness said to me: “It’s so exciting to see a band’s first performance. I mean, I’ve seen them play in other bands before, but them together, is something new. Seeing something brand new is just so exciting.” These guys have done this before. In different bands, a hundred if not a thousand times before. But seeing them play something new and something fresh for the first time, is something magical. The material is fresh in the audiences ears, not tainted by the memories of shows past by, not blurred by the fact that they’re there to “watch a friend’s band play”, they were there to experience something new by musicians they’d grown to trust.
And judging by the response, Cellos has a bright future ahead of them.
You can catch Cellos next performance opening the show at Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West) when Calgary’s This City Defects comes to town on Monday April 11th (Red Rows is also opening).
Zara Dureno – who performs under the moniker Zarasutra - is a burgeoning new voice in the city’s singer/songwriter circuit. She’s more frequent at open mics than her own showcases right now, but she has had a few shows under her belt. She’s playing with another popular young talent, Tony Coates, this Saturday night at Milk Coffee Bar (68 University Ave. West).
She cites Feist and Cat Power as influences and it’s easy to hear their impact on her delivery; her voice has the strength of Nico and the fragility of Bon Iver. It can be as powerful as it can frail. But her real feel comes from her bloodline. She’s the daughter of Windsor music veteran Colleen “Tex Sin” Dureno, who powered such Windsor outfits as Dead Heat, Tulaine Blacktop and The Hard Liquors, as well as her solo work as Haint Flannery of a See-Saw (written and recorded during a stint in the Appalachians). Anyone that knows Colleen knows her passion for music is nearly unparalleled. She’s a collector of songs, ideas and her drive has taken her across North America. That passion has rubbed off on Zara.
Although she’s barely able to play in the venues themselves, Zara demonstrates a voice that sounds older and more hardened than her age would dictate possible. But she sings like she’s lived, loved and lost for a thousand years.
If you’re a Facebook user (and in this day and age, who isn’t?), I’d recommend checking out some of the songs on her Facebook page music player. I’d recommend a couple of her own – “All I Ever Want” and “Lullaby for a Lover”. And her cover of the Misfits‘ classic “Die, Die My Darling” is perhaps more hauntingly disturbing than Danzig and the boys’ original.
Zarasutra, opening for Tony Coates, Milk Coffee Bar (68 University Ave. West), Saturday March 19th, 9:30pm
A long time ago, in a skate park far far away, there was a band named Blurt. They were fun, energetic punk rock that had soundtracked more house parties than Pearl Jam “Ten” did in the early 90′s. The undisputed kings of the all-ages shows, they brought a more mature craftsmanship to a genre known more for its menace and lack of musicality. The Blurt song “Kingston Forever” is still a classic Windsor punk song.
But for whatever reason – be it timing, or perhaps a desire for something slightly different – Blurt never fully exploded in Windsor’s larger musical spectrum, despite countless out of town shows and a legion of underage die-hard fans. Finally, the band – consisting of Jesse Fellows on vocals and guitar, Joey Acott on bass and Anthony Maniscalco on drums – dissolved.
Fellows and Acott remained musically active together and the itch to write and perform shone through again and they recruited drummer Mat Stewart and create a new beast. The magnificent Shared Arms.
With a new name, their direction and attitude grew. No longer the skate punk of their youth, the songwriting matured closer to Mike Ness of Social Distortion in melody, but still retaining the piss and vinegar that dripped from their brows from their gestation years in Blurt. Like a punk Phoenix from its own ashes, they rose with a punk rock wrecking ball that is as polished as it is dangerous. If Orphan Choir was the punk scene’s Beatles, Shared Arms would have to be its Rolling Stones (Shared Arms are actually share the same label as Orphan Choir, Tragicomedy Records, run by Orphan Choir’s Jim Meloche and Shared Arms’ Acott).
Still playing in support of last year’s Ill Sessions, Shared Arms has been gaining the praise of the national music media as well, with a glowing review for their latest record by Exclaim! Magazine, Canada’s premiere independent music magazine. Reviewer Aaron Zorgel called the release “a collection of extremely impressive, diverse, interesting and inventive punk songs” and that the band “are one of the best active punk bands in Canada”. Zorgel went on to conclude that Shared Arms “are skate punk revival that will show even the most jaded ’90s punk fans that this music still has a place in the Canadian punk scene.”
Here’s a fan video taken from the last time they played Phog. A packed house.
Well, Shared Arms returns to Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West) this Sunday night for what seems to be yet another great Sunday showcase at Phog Lounge (with recent success with Rah Rah and the upcoming Rural Alberta Advantage). For those of us who have Mondays off, it’s nice to have a great option for live music on a Sunday night.
As you can see by the video, their shows get full. And this Sunday’s special early show (it’s all-ages, so it has to be over by 11pm) will be starting at 9pm (doors are around 8pm) with a $5 cover.
Shared Arms with special guests Everyone Everywhere and The All Night, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), Sunday March 20th, all-ages, 8pm (show starts at 9pm sharp, over at 11pm), $5 at the door
If anyone has exemplified Windsor tenacity over the past few years in the music scene (with the exception maybe of Orphan Choir), it’s Michou. This impish quartet (formerly a five-piece) has produced infectiously enveloping pop music that you either instantly loathe or are immediately smitten by. Fortunately for the boys from Windsor, it’s mostly the latter. The aforementioned tenacity shines through whenever you bump into one of the four – multi-instrumentalist Sasha Appler, percussionist Stefan Cvetkovic, bassist Ryan Firth and singer/guitarist Michael Hargreaves – following one of their extended tours across Canada. Their eyes are a mixture of exhaustion, frustration, excitement and wonder. The hardships of independently sending themselves across Canada coast to coast touring and sharing the stage with bands from Death Cab For Cutie and Dashboard Confessional to tours with San Sebastian and their upcoming jaunt with USS, may be physically exhausting them, but nothing is too hard of a sacrifice to continue to follow their dreams of playing the music they love with the band mates they love for the fans that they love.
Their kinship with their audience is as genuine as it gets, as they’ve been a homegrown band to almost every scene they infiltrate on their tours. In many of these cities and small towns, they started in house shows and grew to playing venues like the legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on more than one occasion. Their fans have watched them blossom from a rosy cheeked five piece (with former multi-instrumentalist Ryan Ard) to feel good popsmiths who now play the bars and clubs they’re slowly becoming legal to finally see them in. Then they get to follow them to bigger venues with national acts. It’s a perfectly symbiotic process of admiration, from artist to audience.
They’ve put on countless free shows for charity and friends, given away unreleased tracks to their fans, and worked social media to be as much a part of the band process as listening to their music. They’ve made Michou more than an entity – they’ve made it a community.
Which is why it’s no surprise that Michou took home the 2011 XM Radio Verge Artist of the Year award this year (voted on by XM listeners and music fans), beating out fellow nominees Tegan & Sara, Stars, Zeus, The Zolas and a small band from Montreal you may have heard of, recent Grammy winner Arcade Fire (they’re latest album, Cardona, was a finalist for Album of the Year but lost out to Zeus). This award comes with more than just prestige and bragging rights – there’s a nice $25,000 financial award. Which will sure make the next tour just a little bit more comfortable.
But if I know the guys in Michou, they’ll probably spend more of that money on recording than upgrading their tour patterns. Something tells me they’d rather write the perfect pop song than eat caviar. And hey. Cold pizza and beer is a great motivator.
They’re heading back out again soon in support of their new EP, Celebrate Love, which is available today in iTunes (preview the full EP on Much Music’s webpage here), including a stop in Toronto this July as part of Edgefest 2011, on a bill with Rise Against, A Perfect Circle, The Weakerthans, Arkells, Tokyo Police Club, The Reason and more.
Congrats boys. You deserve all you get.
Here’s the first single, released last November, off the EP.
Following the demise of clubs like Rum Runners and California’s, Windsor found itself without a true rock and roll home. Sure other venues have live music, but there isn’t truly a bar that encapsulates the rock and roll attitude like those other two did. The kind of bars where you were likely to hear Motley Crue or AC/DC over the sound system and denim or black leather seemed to be the dress requirement.
Well now it seems downtown Windsor is about to get another shot of rock and roll.
Venue Rock Parlour is a new rock club being opened in March by Hootie Perrera, George Marar and Scott Stevens – the three minds behind the highly successful LOFT Nightclub that opened last year. And if you’ve ever met Hootie, you know that this is the bar he was destined to open. Despite his success running clubs like The Room and LOFT, it’s rock and roll and heavy metal that fuel his veins. He’s more likely to be seen in a KISS T-Shirt than a tuxedo.
On Tuesday February 22, they are holding a job fair to hire their complete staff – from bartenders to bar backs, waitresses to door staff. It’s being held at LOFT from 7pm until 10pm, with DJ Vin Vicious spinning tunes.
Venue Rock Parlour – which will bring in live rock bands as well as DJ nights – is located at 25 Chatham St. East, right across from LOFT (and formerly the home of the New Danny’s and Jason’s).
Now I’m sure a lot of you younger folk are wondering who the hell is Jack Scott? Well, faithful Windsor Scene readers over the years (or listeners when I hosted the CJAM radio show) have probably seen/heard the name once or twice – he is one of the people I always claim to be part of “The Big 3″, a I don’t mean the auto companies or the band that Ron Leary briefly had with Kelly “Mr. Chill” Hoppe and Scotty Hughes. I’m talking about the three biggest music stars Windsor produced pre-1970 that influences music. One is Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence, Windsor singer/songwriter who moved to San Francisco in the 1960′s and joined Jefferson Airplane (played and co-wrote on the first album) before leaving to form Moby Grape (and subsequently record his critically acclaimed solo record, Oar). Another is Dorothy Collins, a Windsor born jazz singer who went to the United States and became a huge star in 1940′s radio, singing on all the major radio programs of the time. A protege and then wife for famed Chicago bandleader Raymond Scott, Collins got her start on the popular TV-via-radio program Your Hit Parade.
And then there is Jack Scott.
A Canadian-Italian born Giovanni Dominco Scafone Jr. in Windsor, Ontario, he changed his name to Jack Scott by the age of 18, when he decided to pursue music as more than hobby. He formed a band called the Southern Drifters around 1954 and played with them around the area until signing with ABC Records in 1957. Although he recorded two well received singles for ABC, it wasn’t until he switched labels in 1958 that things took off. His first single “Leroy” hit #11 on the Billboard charts, but it was the B-Side, “My True Love”, that made him a star, hitting #3. Scott became the first nationally recognized white rock and roll star from the Detroit area. Despite relocating to Hazel Park, Michigan, he kept his backing band Canadian, employing another successful Windsor group, The Chantones, to back him up on these records. He recorded several more hits for Carlton, including “Goodbye Baby” (#8 on Billboard) and “The Way I Walk” (#35, which also became a minor indie hit for The Cramps), before he switched labels once again, to Top Rank Records in 1960.
His tenure at Top Rank added four more hit singles: “What In The World’s Come Over You” (#5), “Burning Bridges” (#3), it’s B-side “Oh Little One” (#34) and “It Only Happened Yesterday” (#38).
Although he initially began in the vein of early rock and roll, similar in style to singers like Elvis Presley and Gene Vincent, by the time the 60′s ended, he had steered closer to country music, following the roots of his earliest love, southern hillbilly (bluegrass) music. He jumped labels with more ease this time, recording for Captitol, Groove and Dot amongst others, even scoring a minor country hit with “You’re Just Getting Better” in 1974.
In 1977, famed BBC Radio 1 producer John Peel asked Scott to record a Peel Sessions – which he did. That may seem an odd fit, but keep in mind Jack Scott holds the distinction of having more U.S. singles chart (19) in a shorter period of time (41 months) than any other recording act except The Beatles. Pretty impressive company (although it pains me to think that the cast of Glee may eclipse this…).
Although he was simply a few years too soon to really get caught up in the rock and roll fever that dominated the Sixties, Scott has always remained busy in the music industry (he still plays periodically in the Detroit area). And music historians have not forgotten Scott’s impact during the early days of rock and roll. Bruce Eder, editor for All Music Guide to Rock (3rd Edition, 2003) commented that “with the exception of Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley, no white rock and roller of the time ever developed a finer voice with a better range than Jack Scott, or cut a more convincing body of work in Rockabilly, Rock and Roll, Country-Soul, Gospel, Country-Pop or Blues”.
In 2007, he was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame and yesterday, he was announced as one of the newest inductees in the Canadian Songwriter Hall of Fame.
Congratulations Jack. It’s been a long time coming.
From the press release:
TORONTO, Feb. 8 /CNW/ – The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame/Le Panthéon des auteurs et compositeurs canadiens (CSHF/PACC) announced today their 2011 inductees, among them are Robbie Robertson, formerly of The Band, and French-Canadian songwriter Luc Plamondon. The 2011 inductees will be honoured at the CSHF’s 7th annual gala, presented by BMO Nesbitt Burns on Saturday, April 2, 2011, at the George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts. Tickets for theApril 2nd CSHF gala, starting at $55.00, are now on sale and are available through Ticketmaster at 416-872-8111, on-line at www.ticketmaster.ca, or in person at the Toronto Centre for the Arts box office. The full line-up of performers for the 7thannual gala will be announced in the coming weeks.
“The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization whose mandate is to recognize and honour the accomplishments of our songwriters, and to educate Canadians about our rich songwriting legacy,” says Dominic Denny, Executive Director, CSHF. “The work we do would be impossible without the loyal support of our sponsors, including our presenting sponsor, BMO Nesbitt Burns.”
For the first time since its inception, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame will induct songwriters and their entire body of work. “In past years, the CSHF has inducted specific songs from Canadian songwriters, but we felt it was also important to acknowledge their entire portfolio of songs, and their overall contributions as Canadian songwriters and storytellers,” says Sylvia Tyson, President, CSHF.
This year, the following songwriters will be inducted into the CSHF: Robbie Robertson and Luc Plamondon (Modern Era 1970 – 1985); Pierre Létourneau and Jack Scott (Radio Era: 1939 – 1969); and Roméo Beaudry and John Stromberg (Pioneer Era: Up to 1938).
Here’s two clips of two great early songs. “My True Love” the song that really launched him and a personal fave, “The Way I Walk” (live from a TV appearance).
Although it sounds like a bearded indie rock band from the Himalayas, The Yeti Agency is the natural progression (and in many ways, extension) of local Windsorite and heavy metal legend Al “The Yeti” Bones (ne Petrovich). Al has been a part of Windsor’s heavy metal scene for just over a decade now, starring in such bands as Mister Bones and Georgian Skull, as well as being a part of international metal sensation The Mighty Nimbus (which featured members of Sixty Watt Shamen) and touring alongside such metal heavyweights as Entombed, Crowbar and Pro-Pain. His latest project – and perhaps strongest and most cohesive to date – is the stoner rock meets Motorhead crunch of Gypsy Chief Goliath.
A graduate of Fanshawe College’s Music Industry and Arts Program, specializing in Audio Engineering Production and Music Business & Management, Petrovich was also a protege of sorts under Mia Tyler (yes, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith’s other daughter), whose launching her own management team ONR, last year. The Yeti Agency, under Petrovich’s direction, is designed to help launch independent acts (and not necessarily just metal) or offer advice and guidance (as well as help sorting out) on such things as booking tours, dealing with labels, picking the right studios, press liasons, etc. all drawn from Al and ONR’s vast pool of contacts. He’s already got a small stable underway, including fellow Windsorites ASK, Arkayic Revolt, Devilz By Definition and Reasons Lost, as well as A Necessary Evil, Pigeon Park, The Polymorphines, not to mention Al’s own project, Gypsy Chief Goliath.
There’s not many people in Windsor – and perhaps the industry – with as many battle scars as Al, but whose passion, knowledge and insight has still remained as focused, sincere and genuine as it has. And he is ready to take all the achievements, advances, mistakes, tragedies and, ultimately, triumphs, and use them to help guide not only his newest project’s career, but those that are willing to take a chance and simply listen.
Speaking of Gypsy Chief Goliath, they recently released part one of an online Video Documentary series, Gypsy Chief Goliath: In The Studio, chronicling the adventure the band undertook to record their newest album. They travelled to the Muskokas where they turned bandmate Brodie Stevenson’s cottage into a recording studio. Wondering why you haven’t heard the album yet? Because they’re making the album right now. As in, this is a reality show documenting them recording their new album up north. How intimate and awesome is that for fans of the band?
Here’s the first part, chronicling January 27-29 of the sessions, but before that, here’s a quick video for their song “Black Samurai”.