Saturday, October 23, 2010

Staff Picks

On this lurching, cross-continental trip, we've played with two or three bands per night. Some of them are more famous than us, and so we only mention them so that we can seem famous and important. "Yeah," we say to people, "we played with Band X, we're playing with Band Y, and that means that we are important and interesting, and not just 5 retards who voluntarily spend 5 months a year in locked a steel box together."

However, most of the groups we play with are basically unknown, and one of the coolest things about touring is running into an unknown band that just blows your mind.

When you call yourselves "The Bill Cosby Anarchist Society of America", you've got an incredible task in front of you. When you stand up in front of an audience and introduce yourselves as "The Bill Cosby Anarchist Society of America", you had better not suck. You had better not even be mediocre. You had better blow people's minds. That is why it is a bad idea to call yourselves "The Bill Cosby Anarchist Society of America".

Unless, of course, you are the three geniuses from Montreal who comprise The Bill Cosby Anarchist Society of America.

They are exactly as awesome as their name implies. Imagine Iggy and the Stooges had a baby with NOFX, and the kid had ADD and a severe eye twitch. Songs like "Street Fighter 2 Turbo", "Punch You In The Facebook", and "Q-Dog King Cheese Parking Bitches at Your Mom's Place" do not disappoint in the slightest. We simply can't say enough about how creative and powerful their album ("Fuck It Up Hard", 2010) is. It even includes, in the liner notes, a letter from Bill Cosby's lawyer telling them to change their name. Wow.

Moving along, Liquor Box are a country-punk band from Kingston, Ontario, and they succeed where so many others fail: they actually keep the rebel, outlaw-country spirit alive in the face of the continuing corporatization of their genre. I absolutely guarantee you that Hank Williams watches every single one of their shows from up in heaven, and maybe he even sings along.

Finally, despite all the hype and image surrounding Nirvana, despite the fact that Kurt and Friends made it seem like the whole thing was effortless, it is in fact extremely hard to make music like Nirvana did. Gnosis are a Japanese band whose albums unabashedly scream "GRUNGE IS NOT DEAD".

Again, it takes a lot of balls to try to breathe life into a Nirvana-esque sound, but in an ocean of musicians trying to find the next thing that will electrify the rock world like Nirvana did, a band like Gnosis is incredibly refreshing. Not only do they demolish stages, not only are they louder than loud, their songs actually come very close to achieving what Nirvana did, and that's pretty cool. The fact that they come from Japan makes it all the more impressive. I was under the impression that all music from Japan sounds like the Katamari Damacy soundtrack, but apparently I was wrong.

So remember, the next time you hear someone saying that rock is dead, that there are no good rock bands anymore, you stop them immediately and firmly inform them that this just isn't true. There are three of them.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"The Scene"

On this tour, some folks have noticed that we seem a little... on edge. This is true. The Dreadnoughts are angry. Normally, we don't express our anger, but we have discovered that this policy of repressing our wish-fulfillment drives is manifesting itself in a deep and persistent neurosis. Our therapist, Dr. Tholdt, has suggested that a little creative venting might help. In particular, he has instructed us to write a letter addressed to those people who most upset us. So, here it is:

DEAR ANYONE who is involved in the rock/punk music scene in any reasonably sized North American city or town, any musician, booker or promoter who has found themselves saying any of the following things:

  • "Yeah, the scene here sucks. It's way better in [insert other city here]."
  • "I hate the [rock genre] scene in this town: audiences never move around or dance or anything."
  • "Kids just aren't listening to [insert rock genre here] anymore."
  • "This city is no fun"...



The Dreadnoughts


In Guelph, Ontario, after being told by another douchebag "promoter" (who failed to make or put up a single poster for our show) that "punk is dying", we snapped. Ladies and gentlemen, we just frigging snapped. We can't take this anymore. We can't handle the way that people blame their own artistic failures on "the scene" or "the city" or "the kids" and their alleged preferences. Shut up. Just god damned shut up. Maybe it's hard, maybe it isn't, but SHUT UP.

A couple of years ago, a local Vancouver band called Mexican Drug Patrol decided that while their shows were going well, they would be happy with a bigger crowd response, more dancing, more movement. So, they went online, watched some old videos of some of the greatest live bands of all time, and began to re-invent their live show. I saw them on New Years' Eve 2009, and it was probably the most mind-blowing show I saw all year. They destroyed that crowd, and they destroyed the crowd because they took some responsibility for their own performance.

CONTRAST TIME: Before the wall fell, punks in East Berlin were routinely arrested, jailed and raided by the Stasi police. The government sent informers into the punk scene who would report any rebellious activities to the authorities. A punk could find herself being sent to jail on testimony from someone she thought was a friend, a comrade. She could find her apartment searched for lyrics sheets that contain anti-communist sentiments. She could even go to jail just for attending a show.

East Berlin, 1982: No Fun City. Look it up, friends. Then try to tell yourselves, again, that your town just can't have a good rock/punk/metal/whatever music scene because of X/Y/Z.

Now, we all know that it's difficult to carve out a space for rock/punk/metal in any city: that's a given. It's also difficult to start a bakery or a hair salon. Restrictions, taxes, evictions, rental hikes and various economic policies make it tough for anyone who decides to do anything other than live in a box and eat worms. Maybe it's even particularly tough for artists, I don't really know. But what I do know is that a whooooole lot of energy is being put into complaining about why we fail, and that seems like energy that could be used more productively. Like, for example, we could use it to stop failing.

If there are more than 10000 people aged 18-25 in your town, there will always be a market for good, powerful live music. You can either bitch endlessly to anyone who'll listen about how there is no scene, or you can help to create a scene. The choice is yours. But don't expect people who actually work their asses off creating a scene to stay quiet while you trash the very thing they're working so hard to nurture. Mmmmkay? Thanks.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


America is where God lives.

There, I said it. I know that most of our fans are in Canada and Europe, and are therefore used to making fun of the U S of A. Chances are, you've probably called Americans fat, stupid or politically insane at some point.

But no matter what you say, no matter where you live, and no matter how many Noam Chomsky books you discuss with your friends at the Anarchy Cafe Book Club, you will never be a citizen of a country that has chicken fried chicken.

Yes, America has spent the last 50 years starting wars that have basically ruined the world, but I don't recall driving through B.C. or Nova Scotia and seeing a restaurant called "Neato Burrito".

I don't recall the shots in London being 3 ounces, nor were there 40-oz cans of beer labeled "Big Ass".

I don't recall stopping at a restaurant in Germany or France and eating a grilled cheese sandwich where they grill the cheese before they grill the sandwich.

I don't recall stopping at a random bar in a small Dutch or Welsh city and discovering that it has 348 beers available.

I don't recall ever seeing a restaurant in Canada that sells burgers by the bag.

Every show we've played has been to about eight people: we don't care. We get to wake up the next day and go to some random diner where a nice older lady with a beehive haircut will turn a 100-calorie plate of mashed potatoes into a 1000-calorie plate of mashed potatoes via the river of hollandaise sauce she liberally pours all over the meal without even asking you first.

America is where God lives. And God is fat.