Chris Kinnon (of Lions in the Street) Interview

Lions in the Street are one of those bands that you can’t help but enjoy. There is a great divide between groups who dabble as a full blown rock n’ roll machine and those who live it, Lions in the Street is the latter. Presenting a ying to the Toronto art-band scene’s yang, this Vancouver quartet deliver a strong set with the recent release of the band’s five track EP, Cat Got Your Tongue. In this interview singer and guitarist Chris Kinnon discusses the band’s birth, the Vancouver scene and touring.

Where did the name “Lions in the Street” come from?

Chris Kinnon: From that Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton song… “Lions in the Street, that is what we are; no one in between, how can we be wrong.” No, it just kind of came to us. We liked ‘Lions’, and then a friend suggested the ‘In The Street’. We found out it’s a Doors song (poem?), which we didn’t know because we’re not huge Doors fans, but apparently it’s an older expression than that—like Hebrew old; means something about fear.

How and when did the band get together?

CK: We got together a couple years ago, as a different band with the same dudes, (we) met as brothers and friends from the block. Became Lions In The Street in January of this year. We started again from scratch: set up shop in mom and dad’s basement in Vancouver. With grandma’s organ and an 8-track we wrote and recorded the “Cat Got Your Tongue” EP and about 15 other songs that we dig a whole lot. Lots of cool songs no one’s heard yet: some wicked rock and roll songs, and a couple of Everly Brothers-like ballads.

What constitutes a solid Lions in the Street show? Do you have one or two memorable moments from shows that stick out in your mind above the rest?

CK: It’s always a good show because we care enough to make sure we bring it every night. We’re very grateful for the people who come to see us live, and we know they deserve a good rock and roll show. Plus, there aren’t very many bands that play our kind of rock and roll anymore; so there are usually lots of pretty girls at the front, dancing and smiling. As long as the train stays on the tracks, and the people are drinking and dancing, it’s a good show. It’s always on the edge a bit and the train could fall off the track, that’s the allure of good rock and roll, it’s not too polished. Memorable moments: one time a guitar came unplugged, mid-rock, and someone called off the song…oops, misfire.

Who have been some of the most electric bands you’ve played with?

Chris Kinnon: The Dirtbombs were awesome, Kings of Leon were cool; Zutons and Ponys were also great.

What are some of the most interesting opportunities you’ve had that have come from you being from Vancouver, or Canada for that matter?

Chris Kinnon: 40 days of rain, straight, last year in Van-city. That’s a unique opportunity for settling down in a basement to play rock and roll without any distractions. We recorded once in Bryan Adams’ studio, but that didn’t work out very well…too nice a joint for us. Canadian perks: hockey, plus every day we can eat bacon and smoked salmon smothered in maple syrup on a cedar plank…yes, it’s that good to be Canadian.

What other bands are there in Vancouver right now that we need to hear?

Chris Kinnon: Everyone knows Black Mountain/Pink Mountaintops, but now there’s a few good bands around: Pride Tiger, Bend Sinister, Ladyhawk, Blood Meridian. They’re all good, they all like the blues in one way or another, and many of them are not afraid of a jam, just like us, not in the Phish way, but in the Humble Pie way. It’s great to have a bunch of bands in town like this, makes up for all the bad commercial hard-rock bands with soul patches and board shorts.

Will the band be releasing a full-length studio album in the near future?

Chris Kinnon: Yeah, but lots of touring and recording first.

Who were the first bands that inspired you to rock?

Chris Kinnon: Lots, especially The Band. Stones, Zeppelin, Faces, Humble Pie, and all that. But also Fats Domino, Everly Brothers, Little Richard…

The video for “Lady Blue” has sort of on the road/tour feel to it. What do you do to spend time while on tour?

Chris Kinnon: Amusement parks, Mexican joints, and a game we like to call “I spy with my little eye.”

Eric Pulido (of Midlake) Interview

Midlake is a strange band, being one that is truly deserving of being at the center of attention within the realm of today’s indie rock scene. The band’s latest release The Trials Of Van Occupanther has been target to overwhelming acclaim. It could be likened to a completely pure retrospective effort, one that perfectly bridges modern rock with much of 70s roots rock. In this interview guitarist Eric Pulido explains multiple points of reference within the album, the band’s current tour and playing with the Flaming Lips.

The Trials of Van Occupanther seems to hint at such a broad musical tone without mimicking any particular artists. When recording the album were there any musicians that truly inspired any of the songs included on the album?

Eric Pulido: We immersed ourselves into the classic folk rock music of the 70’s so there were many artists that influenced us from that era. Some of which were Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, CSNY, The Band, America, Jimmie Sheeris, etc.

On the current tour there are spots where the Starlight Mints, Cold War Kids and SOUND Team are all playing with the band. While there is a Texas connection between Midlake and SOUND Team, what similarities are there between any or all of these bands?

Eric Pulido: Hmmm…I guess the greatest similarity is that we’re all bands trying to get our music out to the masses while keeping our heads above water. But also, we all probably smell a bit sour at times. And we all use the letter ‘a’ in our band names.

“We Gathered In Spring” is a standout track to me for a number of reasons, the greatest being the overwhelmingly heavy retro synthesizer sound. It inspires a lot of memories, musical and personal, for me and I’m curious as to any similar thoughts you might have surrounding the song.

EP: It certainly stirs personal thoughts for me, especially while we’re on tour. Being away from loved ones is always difficult when we’re touring and that particular song stirs images of a longing to be home and unite with the one you love.

Looking past the present, what does the band have any solid goals concerning touring and recording future albums?

Eric Pulido: Well, at the moment our focus is on touring and promoting this album as much as possible. Although it’s difficult not to think about the next album, we know we have to just take things as they come and try and keep the momentum going.

Other than exposure and promotion through key influences including Jason Lee and Simon Raymonde what have been some of the most important moments in the band’s history that have helped it gain such recognition within the current rock scene?

Eric Pulido: I think a collection of things both big and small have helped us gain some recognition. One of the biggest things, and coolest by our standards, was playing shows with The Flaming Lips. Not only are they musical heroes of ours, but they are some of the nicest people we’ve ever met. Their fans were wonderful as well, and we got to play in front of more people than we ever have before.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts "Sinner" Review

One of the greatest points of interest on Sinner comes from its liner notes, “Thanks” in particular, as it drives an interest into where this new Joan Jett is coming from. Steven Van Zandt, Fugazi, Social Distortion’s Mike Ness and Rancid’s Lars Fredrickson among a laundry list of others are all named. See, despite being heavily influenced and rooted in punk as her references suggest, Jett and her Blackhearts are generally considered something quite different due to the ominous clash of character caused by the band’s life changing 1981 single “I Love Rock n’ Roll.” Jett has been known as merely a one-shot chump to far too many people despite stringing together and overcoming burdening successes. To many, many others, however, she is so much more. Whether it be a figurehead for riot grrrl femme-rock, a predecessor to sleaze-rock acts like Peaches or being able to withstand the blunt of spoofs (see: Weird Al Yankovic’s 1983 parody “I Love Rocky Road), Jett has now become something different, something more; even if some still recognize her for one song. And to some degree, that’s alright, because it is after all, one hell of a song.

Reuniting with The Blackhearts in 1999, Jett now continues to reestablish herself and her bad reputation with her latest album Sinner. The album initially invokes many thoughts, why is it so centered on sexual ambiguity or why is it so trashy, but more importantly how come it sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard from Jett before? Have I been missing out? Survey says: yes.

Opening up the album is the slower, politically poking “Riddles,” which playfully teases George W.’s bumbling soundbite “fool me once, shame on, shame on you…fool me, you can’t fool me again.” Did I mention that Jett also thanks Howard Dean in Sinner’s notes?

The album finds its ups and downs coming in odd areas, but it graphically revolves around whatever connotation punk takes with it these days. It seemed odd to see note of Jett’s presence on The Vans Warped Tour, one notable for its extensive depth in all things punk, but after listening to tracks like the driving “Change The World” it becomes clear as to why she was a fit. And what would be considered an amazingly odd selection if included on many other albums, a pop country-funk version of Paul Westerberg’s “Androgynous” finds itself a perfect fit on Sinner.

“If anything,” Jett explains “the lyrical content might be expanding.” But the album waffles when actually being held for its lyrical inspection. The thinly veiled “Fetish” beholds the unattractive side to Sinner which leads to the invitation of a distinct level of questionability to the entire album. At its core, though, that’s what punk is, overly sensible and positively persuasive on the surface with an underbelly of unease and discord. As it is Sinner is an inviting album which refreshingly surprises with revamped power of this band of now forty something rockers. Unfortunately however the tracks are corrupted by the album’s lyrics which fail to equal the same level of energy. Despite an expansion of content, the lyrics come across, at times, as narrow and the powerful introversion that could reduce even the most discriminatory of songwriters to weep simply isn’t there. Nonetheless Joan Jett continues to revamp her sound and style, and she does so with The Blackhearts are who thankfully keep the sinning rhythmic steed in line.

Everclear "Welcome to the Drama Club" Review

Everclear’s new album Welcome to the Drama Club is a wasted effort from a nonexistent band past its prime. While such a criticism might be merited, actually listening to the album proves it wrong. What has Art Alexakis done? The band is different, but the music is refreshingly enjoyable. The band that backed him to initial fame and success is now a distant memory and the current band, formerly a trio, is now a five-piece. The hard gritty sounds that took a serious look at drugs’ crumbling influence on already dying relationships is no longer there, nor has it been for years. “Kids come up to me and say, ‘man, I wish you could write another Sparkle and Fade,’ and I go ‘I’m sure there’s some other kid out there that will.” And with this one defining statement Welcome to the Drama Clubmakes sense. The new band makes sense, and the new songs, with a new tone, make sense.

Undoubtedly it becomes a challenge to make sense of your career in modern rock when your songs have been critically overlooked for years. As the most popular mainstream affection for your songs came over a decade ago it has to be difficult to find relevance within your own music. Closure to a career seemed to come with a retrospective album of hits with the release of 2004’s Ten Years Gone: The Best of Everclear 1994-2004. But as Alexakis’ previously mentioned statement reflects a change brought on by years of success and failure, his new material reflects an introduction to an older man, looking back on the experiences that could influence a new generation.

The starting point for most will be the album’s lackluster first single “Hater.” The album version starts off with somewhat of a vulgar “Rock Superstar” intro which is completely unnecessary and detracts from the song. To be honest it’s what should be expected of Everclear, it is the wasted effort showing a band that has past its prime. The upside is that the rest of the album demonstrats an increased sense of maturity, and a return to strong modern rock. Tracks like “Shine” turn a similar, undeniably Everclear song into something that rings far-from-Everclear; as much the rest of the album does.

It could just be that I too had written Everclear off for too long and am now realizing that there is some sort of continuation of substance and heartache in the modern Art Alexakis Band. With general themes revolving around broken relationships, Alexakis might not have completely moved on content-wise and grown into a state of charitable reflection as marketing would like you to believe, but at least he’s not looking for another “Heartspark Dollarsign.”

Silversun Pickups "Carnavas" Review

“In the brutally cold world of Big Rock Biz, there’s something very comforting about just knowing that a band like L.A.’s Silversun Pickups exist.” Something tells me that the band’s press release has an air of arrogance stemming from varied facets, the main being that it is the truth. Simply said, there is something oddly comforting about the band’s album Carnavas. It is soothing to an ear molded by 90s alternia and shaped by post-grunge glorification. For a sound based on a secondary influence, repetitious hooks and fuzzed over vocals the album comes off as ambitious and unique amongst its contemporaries and certainly the highlight of the band’s career thus far.

While many initial mainstream comparisons toss about usual namedropping, there’s something deeper than such raw commercial parallels to like-sounding predecessors as Smashing Pumpkins, there’s a declaration of what has both introduced the band to its current state and what may come. “Now here we are revisiting a time a place, a whole industry, well we promise we’ll be leaving soon, we share apocalyptic views how comforting that we feel it too, who are we to promise we’ll be leaving shortly;” “Well Thought Out Twinkles” rings true with a bit of distinction when based inside of the sound’s context. The songs and band may be viewed as simple revisitations, but undoubtedly their time will pass and even the glory behind shoegazing will once be forgotten.

What’s special about the album can be found in its unexposed areas, hiding and startling as unexpected delights when the moments strike. There are a number of times when lyrical statements translate into pieces of universal thought within Carnavas, finding a unique context for any given listener. One such piece drops as the first line in the remarkable “Lazy Eye,” “I’ve been waiting, I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life, but it’s not quite right.” Something is gripping with this inch of universality, it cries for an all-encompassing agreement, no matter what the moment be, this reflects everyones thoughts. It could be such instances that offer inspiration to the aforementioned quote about the band, there is something there that genuinely makes the listener feel like the music was made for them.

When an album is first conceived its success can come in many ways. It can come through self-satisfaction, critical acclaim or even a simple letter mentioning how the words or chords you played meant something to someone else’s life. Through moments of layered, progressive drones of “Rusted Wheel” or even the Corganesque (see: commercial parallel) riffs Carnavas growls as a crossbreed of insecurity and egotism. The members of Silversun Pickups know exactly what they’ve done with the creation of the album and should be commended. It could be the calculation of factors which were introduced to inspire thoughts of reminisce and its universality was probably not overlooked. But when taking into consideration the summation of said efforts, the album makes sense and does so with tremendous power and honesty and it makes me feel like it was made for me, and that is special. Silversun Pickups have created a success.

Kaki King "...Until We Felt Red" Review

In preparation for a new album, it becomes fitting to revisit an artists older work, and in doing so various thoughts and memories are too revisited. Re-experiencing Kaki King’s live performances revealed a longing for her music that was unbeknownst to me at the time. While refreshing memories, a number of videos became suitable preparation before delving into her new work. To define her style, as performed in various late night television performances, renders her music uncompensated in the process. It’s aurally stunning, but a certain appeal stems from the musician behind the flowing harmonies that adds an undeniable essence to the music. To steal a thought from myself that I had in a post from a few months ago, her history in busking allows her to demonstrate her new sound, as much part percussion as it is guitar. While overpowering guitar plucking and hammering is alarmingly apparent in her earlier work, …Until We Felt Red is equally stunning, but for entirely different reasons.

The album takes an electric presence, and unthinkably adds something so simple, so beautiful, that it the listener is left questioning why it was not previously included; a voice. Often heard as a gentle whisper, King’s echo is completely proportioned to the dim, haunting guitar accompaniment in a variety of songs on the album. How fitting that the scale of her sounds match the graceful and charming cast set by the performer. The title track adds yet another layer to King’s majestic presence, a pedal steel guitar which allows for the introduction of distortion to an already artistically centered landscape.

My father, when watching an older performance of King’s, asked me if I knew where she learned to play guitar like that. I thought of course I did, as I had done my homework and had previously read that her style was refined playing in New York subways, and I told him so. He responded that he likened it to a Hawaiian guitar, “that’s how they play them,” he said. Unknowingly I was listening to world music performed as something domestic. Fitting when you consider that Kaki King viscerally concerns herself with such deep tones, tones that seemingly result from the summation of countless influences and experiences.

…Until We Felt Red is a unique experience that glows in the day’s background before passing without a trace. It is a fluid process from start to finish that explores the development of an artist who looks to examine unearthed sounds and methods. And even if you look at it as Hawaiian music, it’s really good Hawaiian music.

Brand New Heavies "Get Used To It" Review

Popular early 90s funk revivalists The Brand New Heavies new album Get Used To It jumps straight into a sound that precedes the group wherever it goes; acid jazz, lounge funk or even soulful grooves, if you will. Or at least history would lead you to believe this to be the case, as it would be expected from the band that rose to critical acclaim in the late 80s as dramatic, yet soothing, acid jazz forerunners.

The track “Right On” begins by chanting “bring back the funk in music, put back the funk in music,” an odd request considering much of the album’s content. Though the trumpet solo within is smooth and shows signs of a strong, ripened band underneath, the first question that comes to mind is, where exactly is the funk in most of the album? Without trying to sound as though there is some vendetta behind this statement, it’s a fair concern as much of Get Used To Itrevolves around dance and pop-R&B while teasing funk on but a few tracks.

“We Wont Stop” sounds more like such a mid 90s R&B group, En Vogue-ish circa Funky Divas era. While it’s a fine song it and many songs like it don’t possess enough energy and unique style to create a fundamental musical environment that enlightens its listener with a positive energy. Further detouring into dance comes “Let’s Do It Again” which blares with its straight-outta-disco overtones, which silences any cheers stemming from the genres demise.

The Brand New Heavies took a leave of absence to correct whatever it was that wasn’t working within the make-up of the group. In doing so the band now blends an excellent level of diversity into typically bland lyrics; the result is an album that shows tremendous vibrancy but finds itselt generally based on dated melodies which never seem to fully peak. When discovering Get Used To It, a memory sparked and the band’s name was immediately remembered. The memory has an overwhelmingly positive association, possibly with a piece of music from some point early in the band’s deep catalogue, a piece of music that stands out above others for its sheer impressiveness. Unfortunately this revived group of heavies falls short due to either elusive standards or the band simply producing a flat album; either way Get Used To It falls short.

Trainwreck Riders

Unfortunately I wrote the Trainwreck Riders off the first time I heard the band. I watched the video for the track “Slow Motion Cowboy” and thought that it was cheesy, a bit tacky and lacking enough kick to really differentiate itself in any modern scene. I think that’s just the point, however. The band isn’t new, the songs aren’t groundbreaking, and there’s just enough corny mid-90’s nostalgia to fuel a full blown retrospective fire. But there’s something undeniably unique about the charisma under the group’s exterior. Ranging from the up-tempo alterna-fests “Slow Motion Cowboy” and “My Defense” to the hipster country “Christmas Time Blues” the band is definitely worthy of being heard. And if it takes a few listens before you’re a convert, don’t fear, you’re not alone.

Gov’t Mule "High and Mighty" Review

Gov’t Mule stands out as one of those bands that are recognizable by name to many but are truly appreciated by a select sect of music fans. Historically, I do not find myself in that particular segment however, and often I have found myself making possibly unjust associations between the band and jams bands; along the lines of My Morning Jacket or Widespread Panic. I’m sorry, that’s just the way things seemed to turn out. When exploring the band’s new album, High & Mighty, and the history that accompanied it, a few interesting points stand out. Studio records are a sort of anomaly for the band, as history has proven an undeniable affection for a catalogue heavy on live recordings. The inspiration? Warren Haynes and Allen Woody filled in as members of The Allman Brothers band, Haynes as the second replacement for Duane Allman and Woody as the bassist. In such a tradition comes a southern hard rock album fueled with just enough tease at jam to satisfy true fans. Or so I presume.

The album’s lead single and opening track “Mr. High & Mighty” blasts as a solid classic hard rocking piece. With too many chords to be an AC/DC song, yet too hard to be considered pure jam and too old a cast to be considered a reinvention of a younger class of blues-rockers such as Kenny Wayne Shepherd, the song rings odd. While it is by far one of the select choices on the album, it is far too similar to a lot of mid-90’s rock that bled into jam as the decade ended.

“Brand New Angel” continues a hard rock vibe and has a variety of points on it that continues to risk continued association with such heavier sounding themes. Through this song, the album’s second, scarce organ and overpowering guitar begin to find harmony and the album melds together as evidence showcasing the band’s talent rather than a throwback to dated sounds previously hinted at.

High & Mighty moves on with gracefully with the track “Child of the Earth” which resolves itself as a shining glimpse of what the band is capable of before the album continues with a wash of reused anthems. One distinct exception to that comes with the track “Nothing Again,” an eight minute dub jam that rings with unique overtones that overwhelms the otherwise alike songs on the album. With it Gov’t Mule shows how the band has aged with such a strong foundation that there is little that can change it while, at the same time, an eight minute dub track isn’t out of the question.

High & Mighty is a powerful throwback to a lot of what was overlooked and missed as fashionable rock weeded out its classic rock influences and slow brooding, bluesy solos. Gov’t Mule is one such band that flirts with a variety of strong tracks which serve to help rejuvenate this often overlooked sound that has seemingly been forgotten.

Midlake "The Trials of Van Occupanther" Review

A few years after befriending the überhip Jason Lee and Cocteau Twins bassist Simon Raymonde began working with the band on various levels, the members of Midlake now relax within their given niche of stylish retroactive rock with the release of The Trials of Van Occupanther. “The Trials of Van Occupanther is now one of the most important modern records I own. In an age of overly-used irony and disconnected nonchalance, this record actually means something, and Midlake should be forever hailed for their unique and genuine approach to music. Simply put, Van Occupanther has backbone, and the fact that you don’t feel cheated by it gives one hope that sincerity can still exist within modern alternative music.” While Lee’s statements are likely slanted and based on his ever increasing infatuation with the band they doesn’t repel any class or credit from the enchanting exploration of modern musical relevance that is The Trials of Van Occupanther.

Having not heard Midlake’s 2004 release Bamnan and Silvercork it is hard for me to explain any differences the band has made in its sound, so rightly so, you won’t find any such comparisons here. Instead, hopefully, an attempt of explanation as to why this album is oddly refreshing. An attempt to identify how it revolves around smoother, softer sounds based on much of pop music from the ‘70s. An attempt to explain that whether you experienced the decade first hand or relived it through books and movies, multiple listens reveal eerie similarities to some highs and lows to the soundtrack of the Me Decade.

“Branches” offers the downtrodden piano that plainly pokes at a decades worth of crooners while it embraces the grace that elite crowd nonetheless possessed. “It Covers The Hillsides” breaks out of its muted drums with such intense guitar cheese that the song does nothing but hint at a full blown return to pre-hair arena rock. The simple synthesizer in “We Gathered In Spring” is laughable, but not because it’s poorly done or bland, but in that it prompts such a large number of memories to flood the system that nothing else could result but a laugh.

The point is that The Trials of Van Occupanther is a solid album that stands outside of anything that is typically going on in terms of rock music today. It tells a story without suffocating its listener with an overwhelming level of smoky arrogance. In the album Midlake presents a tasteful tribute to a general influence of sound, rather than a notable influence by any one particular artist which honors a phase in music rather than misappropriating a single artist’s legacy. Rather than breaking out of the fluidity that the songs offer by including one or more tracks that mimic anything overly modern sounding, the band enforces the purity of the songs by remaining constant in theme.

Do not panic when you hear “Roscoe,” it’s still 2006, and you’re still surrounded by people who listen to Nickelback and try to explain the complexities of how the band’s lyrics help explain their inner most insecurities and thoughts. Rather, allow the song to play on, allow the record to run its course, multiple times, and remember that there is more to artistic influence than merely mimicking. Midlake go far beyond such mimicry and encompass the passion and presence of matured anthems. It is the influence that is grossly apparent in Midlake’s music that is quietly crushing with its simplicity and aged relevance. Or, if nothing else, the band shows that it’s wrong to even considering Jason Lee’s taste.

Keith Nelson (of Buckcherry) Interview

Buckcherry hit the top of mainstream rock charts with its single “Lit Up” in 1999 but failed to follow the single and album up with anything that brought much mainstream attention. Shortly after the release of the band’s 2001 album entitled Time Bomb the band broke up, with lead singer Josh Todd pursuing a solo career and the other members in disarray. When sparks surrounding the possibility of a new Guns N’ Roses-based supergroup started flying, word began circulating that Todd would be the lead-singer for the group that eventually became Velvet Revolver. As time went on it Scott Weiland would prove to step into the position; the result, an unhyped Josh Todd solo album that failed commercially and a hugely successful Velvet Revolver album. With that Todd reunited with Keith Nelson, who had previously played live with the pre-Velvet Revolver project, resolved a list of friends that the two would like to play with and reformed an updated Buckcherry. In this interview guitarist Keith Nelson discusses the formation of the new group, modern rock bands and playing with The White Stripes’ Jack White.

What are the main creative differences between the current line-up and the band’s original line-up?

Keith Nelson: I think the thing about the new line-up that most influences the creative aspects are not musical at all. This is really a band of five creative guys that are great friends, beyond music. Having said that, it’s the friendship and camaraderie that creates and environment for great music. The free-flow of ideas and creativity, and ultimately a body of work we’re all involved in and excited about.

How did Xavier, Stevie and Jimmy come into becoming members of the band?

Keith Nelson: They were all, in some way, a friend of Josh or myself or both. The choices were obvious, and we put this band together on paper before we played a note together…kinda like, “If we could put anyone at all in this band, who would it be…?” The chemistry was there at the first rehearsal.

What separates Buckcherry from its contemporaries now as opposed to when the band first broke?

Keith Nelson: I think most musicians today don’t really do the history lessons with regard to rock and roll, and they should. This was way more evident when we first got together, so it’s nice to see a few bands around that you can tell have record collections. Most of the time, unfortunately, they only go as far as copying someone’s hairstyle, but at least it’s a start. If you’re in a band and you can’t follow the “family tree,” limb by limb, from what you hear on the radio today to Robert Johnson, Son House, even Bo Diddley and Little Richard…you’re really missing the boat. I think this band has a great reverence for where this rock and roll thing came from, and the great challenge is to make all those influences our own and end up with something that defines us as unique. When the band first “broke” Fred Durst ruled the airways, now it seems like it’s Tool, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, AFI and My Chemical Romance. We’re in much better company.

Looking ahead to the future what groups are out there that you’d most like to play with?

Keith Nelson: So many. For so long I just hated what I heard on the radio, but now it seems like there is hope! All the bands I just mentioned would be great to play with. Anything Jack White does is cool with me, too. Maybe he and I could cut heads one of these days.

Are there any modern influences that are showing up in the band’s latest album?

Keith Nelson: We tend to create in a bit of a vacuum, at least I do. I wasn’t much concerned with what anyone else was doing, it’s really a matter of getting the songs in your head to magically come out of the speakers.

Which bands in the L.A. scene are emerging as the most talented and are you working with any standouts?

Keith Nelson: Is there an LA Scene? The last thing I do when I’m home in LA is go anywhere near a “scene.” But, the Bangkok 5 are from LA and I like them a lot. I really liked Chelsea Smiles, but I heard they were no longer, which is too bad. A cool band. The nice thing about being on tour is getting to see more of what’s going on outside of LA, which is usually far more interesting. A lot less posing and a lot more music. Blackberry Smoke, Nonpoint, Supagroup…a few of the bands that we’ve seen out here that are doing their own thing and do it well.

Right now I’m not working with anything outside of this band. The touring schedule has been hectic for the last seven months and there is no end in sight. I am looking forward to working with some other artists but that’s all on the back burner right now. Call me in a year when the bus stops.

Ane Brun Interview

Norwegian born singer/songwriter Ane Brun has one of the most unique voices of the year within the realm of indie folk and not surprisingly, she attributes much of that to her influences. Influences including everyone from Ron Sexsmith to Jeff Buckley, Ani DiFranco to M. Ward. For the record, she digs indie folk. In this discussion Ane discusses her aptitude for music collaboration, her record label Determine Records and the recent exposure in America stemming from her album A Temporary Dive.

What is the difference between the indie-folk scenes in American and Europe?

Ane Brun: It’s hard for me to say, since I haven’t spend that much time in the US yet. But I think it’s more or less the same, but in a smaller scale.

How has the American media exposure with A Temporary Dive helped the overall exposure of your music?

Ane Brun: So far I guess I’ve noticed even more interest from the European media, since they read the American music press. And I guess quite a few people in the US has found their way to my music through these articles and reviews. I notice an expanding interest from American music lovers on my webpage and MySpace.

What are some of the main sources of inspiration for you when writing your songs?

Ane Brun: My lyrics are inspired by my own life; things I worry about, think about, wonder about. I usually write lyrics to explain certain situations, relationships or feelings to myself. The poetry kind of organizes and clears it up for me. Lately I’ve also been writing more about other people’s situations. The process of writing a song is kind of divided when it comes to technique. I write lyrics from an intellectual point of view, it involves a lot of thinking and contemplating. When I make the music it’s a bit more directly connected to the soul, it just has to feel right when I hear it. It’s a matter of pleasing my own taste in music somehow.

Are there any new bands that you are courting for your record label, Determine Records?

Ane Brun: At the moment we are 3 artists on the label, The Tiny (SWE), Wendy McNeill (CAN) and myself. We have no specific plans at the moment to sign any other artists. We are all out touring a lot and we would not be able to take proper care of a new artist at the moment. If we would sign someone and not be able to make a 100% effort to get their music out there, we would probably put this artist in a bad situation. And since we started our own record company to avoid such a situation ourselves, that would not feel right.

As you are on tour currently, do you find yourself taking solace in any books or movies. If so, which ones?

Ane Brun: I mostly watch movies on my laptop when I travel. Reading works in certain periods, but it takes a lot of focus to be able to read on the road. The latest movie I saw was It’s All Gone Pete Tong. It’s about a successful DJ turning deaf. It was really great, and heartbreaking. Other than that I’m a pathetic fan of romantic comedies. For me that’s the best way of killing time on an airplane.

Are there any artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future, with which you may possibly create a follow-up to this year’s Duets?

Ane Brun: Collaborations like Duets were mostly products of spontaneous meetings. I hope and believe that in the next year I will get to know many talented musicians; that might lead to new musical meetings. For instance, I toured with Matt Costa in June, and we played a duet-version of one of his songs as an encore in the last 3-4 shows. These kinds of things make touring and this job very meaningful. I guess time will show who will be next.

NOFX "Wolves in Wolves’ Clothing" Review

Wolves in Wolves’ Clothing is the album that NOFX needed to make at this point in the band’s career. The title itself serves as a hint as to what the music within is, the opinions thoughts and feelings of a blunt, aging punk band. The album’s starting point is hidden far below the surface of elite Liberalism and unabashed cynicism, Wolves in Wolves’ Clothing started twenty-some years ago as a group of young Californian punks started homage to their favorite bands by starting their own. With a line-up change, a flip-flop as to whether or not ska is really punk, dozens of shots at right wing conservatism, an album entitled The Greatest Songs Ever Written: By Us, and one or two social drinks along the way, the band now takes a look back at a career that most others could only dream about.

And it’s within such a context that allows the band to maintain its present state of self-righteousness, which to some extent it should. Punk has seen so much drama and self-degradation since the band started, it has seen so many ridiculously callous statements which ultimately chipped away at what punk once meant. Punk has seen its corporatization through Hot Topic (openly traded), the Tony Hawk media onslaught, and fourth, fifth and sixth generations of poorly bastardized music and values. And while some might see NOFX as having some strange part in this modern model, the band has survived it all as onlookers.

There is a two part song, “60%” which opens the album and “60% (reprise)” which closes the album, that gives a glimpse at where the band is currently at, both musically and personally. Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m finally starting to figure myself out, I don’t care what people say about me anymore, it’s like I’m finding out who I am”…? Well, if you have, most of the time you’re going to want to punch that person in the face for being so self-absorbed (unless its YOU that’s saying it, then its OK), but occasionally, that person is right. While “60%” is based on the band giving, well, 60% and still coming off as amusing, the revisited version strikes with typical NOFX irreverence.

“We’re the band with our own label, that’s money under the table, that’s answering to no one…” Making fun of themselves has never been an extreme point of tenderness for NOFX’s members, but in doing so it has left the band with a mixed opinion among many. Though the group started during punk’s heyday, it has never been given the same bountiful sense of influence that other “old” bands have. Even bands like the Dickies who have put out a series of downright bad albums in recent years get more recognition than NOFX due to a few good years way back when. Yes, NOFX releases on Fat Mike’s Fat Wreck Chord label, but, it’s still Fat Wreck Chords. It’s still a relatively small label in the grand scheme of things, but it is seen as a corporate entity due to its DIY success. But continues to move ahead.

It’s almost funny that Wolves In Wolves’ Clothing closes with a reprise as the album is in itself a restatement of older thoughts and a new look at older songs. “Benny Got Blowed Up” is a fresh, faster version of “Bob,” in which its lead role isn’t a drunk, but a druggie. “Instant Crassic” is a 35 second joke that touches back to many points of the band’s performances including some stage banter on the band’s 1995 live album I Heard They Sucked Live. “Cool and Unusual Punishment” could find its roots in the band’s S&M Airlines album, as the song is a trip through Asian dungeons, tongue firmly in cheek. “Getting High on the Down Low” could find itself on just about any album the band has released since White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean.

An interesting finale to the album is a “hidden tracks” which consists of roughly nine minutes of demo material. Much of it is acoustic, low-fi, unmastered, and really, really, rough; but all of it provides an exclamation point to an album that points its finger at others as much as self. Showing a strange, unnecessary tender side in some of the demo material is about the only thing the band could do that really comes as uncharted territory. And doing so is as much punk, if not more, than today’s Hot Topics and the Tony Hawks. Despite the album’s final sentiments, “I suppose that’s how we’ll go out, played out and way after our time,” punk icons of any sort, will not fall out of taste any time soon.

Ken Jordan (of the Crystal Method) Interview

The Crystal Method typically steps outside of the given borders within modern electronica, and have historically done so, especially with releases such as 2004’s rock-tinged outlet, Legion of Boom. Most recently The Crystal Method have recorded Drive, the first of its kind, a 45 minute cross training mix exclusively through iTunes and Nike. In this interview The Crystal Method’s Ken Jordan discusses the Drive project, rock influence within his music and the prospects of a full-length studio album in the near future.

Like the breakthrough debut Vegas did, I believe the new integrated athletic mix will catch the attention of many within the realm of electronic music. How does this project compare to creating and releasing an album and what unique challenges does it offer?

Ken Jordan: This was a very interesting and challenging project. The process was a mix between a new studio LP and a mix CD. Every track except “Roadhouse Blues” is ours. Every track is brand new and not available anywhere else. It was fun making something for a specific purpose. Normally we go into the studio and just make tracks for ourselves and aren’t concerned with too much else. Drive had to not only sound great to us but also work for the runner. We worked very hard making that happen and we’re really happy with the end result.

The electronic music scene seems to be lacking innovation and experimentation in recent years. What is The Crystal Method doing to offset stagnant trends?

KJ: We are always experimenting, in and out of the studio, and hopefully we’ll continue to innovate.

Since The Crystal Method’s birth in 1993 what have been the most enjoyable projects that you’ve worked on and how does the new Drive project compare?

Ken Jordan: We’ve had a lot of highlights: working with Filter, playing a fashion show in Milan for Donatella Versace, working with Tom Morello, headlining the Hollywood Bowl, playing Coachella, selling over a million records; but really, the most satisfaction comes from just making good records and we’re as proud of Driveas anything we’ve done.

In the past there have been a few drifts, hints and teases at a full blown rock production, such as the collaboration with Filter’s Richard Patrick and tracks such as Legion of Boom’s guitar-ridden “Weapons of Mass Distortion.” Are there any future plans to continue that direction with the group’s music?

Ken Jordan: We love rock and we like to rock. I think you’ll always hear rock influences in The Crystal Method’s music.

What are the plans for the follow-up to 2004’s Grammy nominated Legion of Boom?

Ken Jordan: Well since L.O.B. we’ve released Community Service II and this year we put out the soundtrack CD from London and just released Drive, our next studio LP should be out in early 2007 with a live tour to follow.

Jon Weisnewski (of Akimbo) Interview

Though Akimbo has maintained a reputation for being one of the strongest Northwestern hardcore bands for some time, the band has been together for roughly eight years, it has gone through a number of difficult line-up changes (ten members have called themselves members of the group throughout the years) and as a result found itself at a turning point with its latest release Forging Steel and Laying Stone. In this Q&A bassist/vocalist Jon Weisnewski takes a bit of time away from a couple drinks at three in the morning to comment on the modern hardcore scene, racism on the road and Jaws.

As the band inches closer towards the ten year milestone, how has the hardcore scene changed since Akimbo’s inception?

Jon Weisnewski: The beer is still cheap and the ladies are still easy. But really, what is hardcore? Hardcore started with Black Flag and now we have Mad Ball. Pretty fucking lame if you ask me.

As with many tours, there is a lot of time spent on the road. To quote the Akimbo website from Thursday, June 15, “Every now and then, the movie adaptation is superior to the book.” What books have been passed around that don’t compare to the big screen version?

Jon Weisnewski: Jaws by Peter Benchley was far inferior to the film we all know from a little known director named S. Spielberg. The Ten Commandments was definitely a far cry above from it’s adapted story in das bible. We have one infidel among us that claims the Harry Potter movies were better than the book, but she also never played D&D so she doesn’t know much about wizards. Also, The Exorcist was way more awesome than the books, which is not to spit turds on William Peter Blatty because the novels were great, but the movie was pretty brilliant.

Also included in the website’s notes is the statement “Racism is still very much a problem in America today.” What evidence of this have you noticed while on tour and what has the band done to confront similar themes in the past?

Jon Weisnewski: Well seriously for a second, we have seen and heard a fair amount of racist bullshit during our tours, which largely has to do with playing in the south and having a black roadie/photographer with an afro. But, while the message in that bullet point is important and by all means something that should not be ignored or belittled, the true meaning behind placing it there was ironic contrast from the “all party all the time” vibe that Akimbo continually represents with fervor and enthusiasm.

What has lead to a revolving door of band members in the last five years or so and what makes the current line up as strong as it is?

Jon Weisnewski: Stock brokers and heroine. That is not a joke. We finally have a guitar player who likes to drink as much as we do.

As the tour continues to head back towards its birthplace and onward, it will do so with The Sword and Saviours. How does the band fit with these stoner rock revivalists?

Jon Weisnewski: All the bands bring some serious slabs of sound to a live show. Rock first. Ask questions later.

Jon Weisnewski (of Akimbo) Interview

Though Akimbo has maintained a reputation for being one of the strongest Northwestern hardcore bands for some time, the band has been together for roughly eight years, it has gone through a number of difficult line-up changes (ten members have called themselves members of the group throughout the years) and as a result found itself at a turning point with its latest release Forging Steel and Laying Stone. In this Q&A bassist/vocalist Jon Weisnewski takes a bit of time away from a couple drinks at three in the morning to comment on the modern hardcore scene, racism on the road and Jaws.

As the band inches closer towards the ten year milestone, how has the hardcore scene changed since Akimbo’s inception?

Jon Weisnewski: The beer is still cheap and the ladies are still easy. But really, what is hardcore? Hardcore started with Black Flag and now we have Mad Ball. Pretty fucking lame if you ask me.

As with many tours, there is a lot of time spent on the road. To quote the Akimbo website from Thursday, June 15, “Every now and then, the movie adaptation is superior to the book.” What books have been passed around that don’t compare to the big screen version?

Jon Weisnewski: Jaws by Peter Benchley was far inferior to the film we all know from a little known director named S. Spielberg. The Ten Commandments was definitely a far cry above from it’s adapted story in das bible. We have one infidel among us that claims the Harry Potter movies were better than the book, but she also never played D&D so she doesn’t know much about wizards. Also, The Exorcistwas way more awesome than the books, which is not to spit turds on William Peter Blatty because the novels were great, but the movie was pretty brilliant.

Also included in the website’s notes is the statement “Racism is still very much a problem in America today.” What evidence of this have you noticed while on tour and what has the band done to confront similar themes in the past?

Jon Weisnewski: Well seriously for a second, we have seen and heard a fair amount of racist bullshit during our tours, which largely has to do with playing in the south and having a black roadie/photographer with an afro. But, while the message in that bullet point is important and by all means something that should not be ignored or belittled, the true meaning behind placing it there was ironic contrast from the “all party all the time” vibe that Akimbo continually represents with fervor and enthusiasm.

What has lead to a revolving door of band members in the last five years or so and what makes the current line up as strong as it is?

Jon Weisnewski: Stock brokers and heroine. That is not a joke. We finally have a guitar player who likes to drink as much as we do.

As the tour continues to head back towards its birthplace and onward, it will do so with The Sword and Saviours. How does the band fit with these stoner rock revivalists?

Jon Weisnewski: All the bands bring some serious slabs of sound to a live show. Rock first. Ask questions later.

Priestess “Hello Master”

Priestess’s release of Hello Master comes at a time in which blossoming metal revivalists are not simply becoming fashionable, but are sparking dialogue questioning which generation was better. Generation Budgie says it’s better, but Generation Priestess at a stronger, more determined level that some of the genre’s figureheads could only dream of reaching.

Voted Montréal’s heaviest band, and having toured with the likes of rock-gods Motörhead do a lot to help a band feel for position in the growing, ever-complicated rock scene. But as past generations prove, bands in the hard rock scene often draw too close a resemblance to each other from mass media. Following that theme, Priestess is The Sword’s sexy cousin. Priestess is slightly more melodic than Wolfmother. The band plays a broader, less hazy sound than the growing number of reemerging bands under the stoner rock label. Within the songs there is far more dialogue between the vocals, the guitar and the rhythm section. Priestess seem to express rawer emotions. The band is simply more.

Following the timeless rock theme, Priestess’ songs revolve around a mysterious object of affection throughout Hello Master. Two of the strongest tracks on the album, “Talk to Her” and “Lay Down” reflect on a thought as to why it is so important that women be at the center of the male dominated rock scene; if they didn’t exist, men simply wouldn’t have anything to write songs about. Where the guitars aren’t talking, the lyrics explain why it’s important to give respect where it’s deserved and what the consequences are if that doesn’t happen.

Ironic, but “Performance” is the weakest track on the album, offering slightly off-key riffs and vocals. That being the case, the lyrics still reflect a reassuring tone of self-measurement, which stands as the final card which shows Priestess to be an uncontainable, multifaceted rock n’ roll machine. In the same interview in which Priestess was announced as Montréal’s heaviest band, singer/guitarist Mikey Heppner reflects on Voivod and Cryptopsy and continues by reflecting on the scene, “Man, that’s a travesty. When people hear “Run Home” on CHOM and think that is the heaviest thing in Montréal, they’re pretty fucked.” But I believe that Heppner is mistaken as to what the title means, and what his band’s album means to its fans.

Priestess reflects an organic metal, a type which allows listeners to reflect and reminisce in their pasts and past musical experiences. What Heppner is true, Priestess isn’t the heaviest band in Montréal, nor are they the fastest, or the boldest. But what is reflected in the band’s music is a standard that represents many decades worth of history and evolution; and that is heavy.

Sonic Youth “Rather Ripped” Review

Once a mere footnote in a monolithic, vibrant art-rock scene, Sonic Youth now not only own the scene but have the power to adopt bands, tour selectively and afford whatever luxury an aged musical patriarch might want. But at what point in time did the band go from yet another voice in the crowd to an icon? Some say the moment the band recorded its first album, Confusion is Sex, in 1983. Some say it was marked by the 1988 release of Daydream Nation, questionably the band’s most acclaimed album. Personally I own a belief that the band reached such heights when any given music fan, who wasn’t completely oblivious to music found outside of classic rock radio, could hear a song for the first time, without knowing who was playing it, and upon listening to the first few chords, they would know that it was Sonic Youth. Such an ambiguous point in time, one that is different for everyone, yet that moment perfectly captures the band’s fame. For me that moment fell somewhere in 1998, around the time of the release of A Thousand Leaves. It was that year that Sonic Youth morphed from merely being hip to the level of icon. Or was it 1983?

And as the years passed Sonic Youth became one of the bands that I could consistently listen to and feel like I too was apart of something special, something unknown to many though being fully apparent and glorified by so many more. While the band followed with a number of strong releases it is Rather Ripped that re-admonishes me, reminding me about something special that I was beginning to forget about.

Granted, Rather Ripped doesn’t follow a mold or a routine typical of the majority of the group’s albums. While there aren’t any lengthy 15 minute trips through reverb with makeshift pawn shop guitars, there is “Pink Stream” which takes the roll of a heroin jam band-routine rather than diving into the depths of oft-repeated territory.

Adding an additional measure of worth, Rather Ripped boasts the strongest three song set I’ve heard on a Sonic Youth album in some time, “Reena,” “Incinerate,” and “Do You Believe In Rapture?” The songs combine a unique touch of the classic fast paced strum with an untouchable level of toned down maturity. “Incinerate” offers a catch so sweet it becomes almost bitter; how can this be the same band that I thought I knew so well? Sonic Youth doesn’t record songs like these. Where’s the ubiquitous shredding and seductive growls?

They may not be gone for good, but for now, there’s something else going on with the band; either years of musical experimentation have caught up to the band’s music or the music that has eluded the band for so long has finally caught up with the band. In all fairness it’s probably a little bit of both.

As the album’s first lyrics slip out of Kim Gordon’s mouth, “You keep me coming home again,” I too have remembered what continually pulls me back to a band that seems to elude obsolete mainstream cowering; that being the band’s ability to reinvent itself without having to change a thing. The album shows growth, the album shows a different, unique textured sound that is unlike much of the band’s past recordings, but when you listen real close, it’s still Sonic Youth. And Sonic Youth is still amazing.

Punk Rock Graduation Part 2

My intentions aren't to spark a debate or express myself as something that I'm not. I'm a simple fan with simple thoughts, but when Angela and I were talking and a post-punk reference was dropped I was sort of taken back that she wasn't quite certain what post-punk is. I was listening to a newer Brooklyn-based band the Pretty Flowers and I immediately thought post-punk. To be honest, it's hard to say that everyone can agree on what post-punk is and I'm not sure that I can narrow the term down myself.

As I was introduced to punk through which ever wave was going down during the mid to late 90s I was too introduced to post-punk. There were a variety of books I read during my teen years that lead me to believe that there was something huge that I was missing out on musically. The only information I previously had in my timeline included bands like Sonic Youth, Ramones, and through grunge references The Melvins, Green River and The Butthole Surfers. Who were bands like The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Echo & The Bunnymen, Gang of Four, Joy Division, The Cure and The Minutemen? Though, not all post-punk, per say, they all help lead into this discussion.

And now, however fitting it may be, I live near Minneapolis, the Mecca, in my opinion, of the American post-punk movement.

For the life of me, I see post-punk as a number of things. Elvis Costello, post-punk. Suicide and PiL, post-punk. But for the most part, when I close my eyes and think of the term, one set of lines flows through my mind; "Walking around with your head in the clouds, it makes no sense at all." The lyrics, are from Hüsker Dü's 1985 "Makes No Sense At All." When I think post-punk, I think lighter-toned alternative.

When Angela asked me to post a little for her I told her that I'd love to, and my agreement closely followed our brief mention of post-punk. I've recently been working closely with another blogger friend on a project and we were just throwing out names of bands that we were currently listening to. As Angela had previously mentioned the dozen or so Calgary based-bands that I've never heard of, I hadn't heard of the vast majority of my friend's list. What I was listening to, I told him, was Sonic Youth. He told me that he had never heard the band and had never given them a shot because "he shies away from bands with huge discographies that he's not familiar with, why get into them now?"

Now, if you will, allow me to preach for a moment.

It's important as a music fan to look into these bands, whether it be Elvis Costello, whether it be Public Image Limited or even The Replacements. The more you listen to music the more you know about why music today sounds like it does. The more you listen to music the more you figure out what was happening during a time before your own. The more you listen to music the easier it is to identify with those, thousands of miles away, who you may never see face to face. And finally, I find that the more you listen, the easier it is to love.

[This article first appeared on But She's on Fire.]

Prototypes “Prototypes” Review

Much of my first experience listening to Paris’ Prototypes lead me to believe that there was a serious connection between the band and general ’80s influences. A far broader base of pop culture influence, not simply musical—the band has seemingly jumped head first into the decade. The album’s lead single, “Je Ne Re Connais Pas” immediately hit me as the theme from a remake (which will more than likely be making its way to the big screen in the next few years) of The Breakfast Club. Though the lyrics are French, the entire tone of the song comes off as a plea, please, please, don’t forget about me.

With Prototypes comes a continual push/pull relationship causing the album’s content to fluctuate in consistency. “Gentlemen” is a laid back, ultra-hip, Euro-trash theme that delivers in true retrospective fashion, calling back to everything Duran Duran was trying to do during the band’s peak years. The track flows with a modern touch directly into a harmonica/fuzz driven “Danse Sur La Merde.” Though the song’s tones and rhythm structures may not perfectly sync with one another they represent the transitional trend within the album, that being a continual jump from one segment of pop culture to the next. One moment the band is in a slick members-only, business savvy, cocaine sniffing night on the town and the next the band is operating under the strictest of teen-pop limitations. While capturing electro-synth, hard driving keyboards and even the occasional guitar the Prototypes pick and choose the pieces that best represent the most animated moments from a decade that has emerged as the it decade.

The only problem with doing so is that even at its best the ’80s were highly inconsistent, shallow and uninspiring. Like the worst of stains, this influence seeps through and finds itself rising to the forefront in a variety of tracks including “Sexy” and “Fils De Bourge,” which miss on most all levels. There are peak moments that take the audience back to realizing that the band isn’t monotonous including the surprising expression of depth, “Who’s Gonna Sing.” At its heart the song calls back to Blondie’s “Rapture,” with its hip-hop undertones and basic beat, but it proves to be a key identifier as to how deep the band dove into the past with this recording. There are moments that beg for reflection and there are moments that should have been left in the past to be forgotten, but despite performing in a currently over-saturated scene the Prototypes deliver all of them with a unique francophone tone.

Punk Rock Graduation Part 1

There's something special about what our host, Angela, is going through in this particular time of her life. She's on her way to her senior year in high school, and presuming she graduates, she'll be looking forward to a new chapter of her life. As I graduated from a high school in Calgary I thought that I would extend a short examination of how a branch of my taste in music began taking shape, ie: babble/rant on about nothing important.

I was recently discussing a few things that have been going on in the city with Ms. Angela and I was baffled by how little I recognize the landscape. She named a number of bands off the top of her head including Pressure Kill Common Style, The Collapse, Woodpigeon and The Failure to name a mere few. Though I knew very little to begin with about the local scene, when I was graduating high school I spent a lot of time listening to bands like Rancid, NOFX and Gob which led me to begin to explore a little into the Calgary punk scene. In doing so, friends advised me somewhat of what was going on (maintain the time period of roughly '98-'01) and I found out about a few bands like Belvedere, Chixdiggit and Downway. Though I was a timid concert (or "gig" as the hipsters callen 'em) goer, I began listening to these bands a little, especially Chixdiggit, and felt somewhat close to the music.

As time has progressed I've grown closer to that band's songs for a number of reasons (here's where I babble) my journey towards my university diploma I found myself in a community college taking a course in rock & roll history. My teacher, Jocko, told tales of growing up in New York (not unlike my own tale) and spending time at, of all places, Rockaway Beach. How cool is that?! He continually mentioned how miserable a place it was, polluted and rocky with bitter waves. It was during this class, that I thought about the Chixdiggit song "Sikome Beach." Though I had never traveled there, legend has it that the beach was the same depressing polluted and rocky, sad excuse for a beach, swamp that old Jocko was referring to.

Oh, and for the sake of this rant, I had heard along the way that a member of Chixdiggit had babysat for someone who worked with my dad. Yeah, so I'm only like two degrees of separation from the band, but, I'm not trying to brag or anything.

Punk was and continues to be a major influence in my musical tastes. It's very enjoyable for me to listen to some of the music I listened to during high school and reflect on how like my tastes, I have changed. Angela has already proven her musical prowess by much of her postings on this site...and she's only 16. So with that being said, thanks for checking out the first part of the punk rock graduation rant. Topping it off will be the initial chance for me to reminisce a little longer and examine where some of my punk rock roots might have started. This has been Chris from and this is one of the few songs that I can look back and thankfully acknowledge as one of the puzzle pieces that lead me towards what I listen to today. (I can't believe how dated this video looks!)

[This article first appeared on But She's on Fire.]