September 2001

The Buttless Chaps
Aaron Booth
The Hidden Cameras
Da Bloody Gashes
The Unireverse
Do Make Say Think
Deep Dark United
Mecca Normal
Maz Fusion
Full White Drag
The Magnetars


THE BUTTLESS CHAPS
WAVELENGTH #79 Sunday September 2, 11pm
Purveyors of: Country-meets-new-wave showmanship
e-mail: thebuttlesschaps@hotmail.com
web: www.thebuttlesschaps.com

In this day and age when the most hyped bands often come off as some kind of SCTV parody, it takes a group like Vancouver's The Buttless Chaps to renew an audience's faith in the concept of band as entertainers as opposed to fashion spread. Whether pulling off a ballad as lonesome as any of Hank's or revisiting Jennifer Beals as a Flashdance "Maniac" - complete with some show-stopping running on the spot - the Chaps have chops galore, a great sense of humour, and are one of the best live bands ever. Miss this show at your peril!!!

I hear you guys are the latest boy band created by west coast svengali Carolyn Mark, how does it feel to be in her stable?
Carolyn is in Toronto on the 9th of Sept... she said she is bringing our new stage outfits for the next leg of the tour...

Have you ever been run out of town on a "rail"?
Sort of... death threats, you name it... but some people just don't get into the Flashdance segment of the show... recorders sometimes don't go over well....

Why leave the pristine beauty of Victoria for the depravity and bad tattoo haven of Vancouver?
For me personally I needed a change... Victoria is beautiful but 25 years there made me feel like Kurt Russell in Escape From New York.

What is the place where new wave and country meet?
In the delete bin of any record store.

What did you think of Ralph Macchio kicking Steve Vai's butt with classical chops in Crossroads, a movie ostensibly about the bluesman Robert Johnson?
Steve Vai played a good devil... but you have to bring ethics into music somehow and I feel that Macchio's Karate Kid persona transferred well into the world of horrendous guitar war movies... I wish he made more albums.

Joey Ramone dies and everyone boohoos, John Lee Hooker dies and not a peep from anyone, do you think this is a crime against humanity?
I think John Lee Hooker and Joey Ramone were both great... what about Chet Atkins?

Wrangler vs. Levi's, I hear true cowboys only wear Wranglers.
I wear Jordache... nicer fit.

Are there such a thing as Butted Chaps?
I'm not sure...

What do you listen to and read in the van?
Saga and Louis L'amour westerns.

Who would win this mudwrestling match: Leanne Rimes or Dolly Parton?
I can't even visually process that one. I'm sorry, it's the lack of sleep.

- interview by Nora Charles


AARON BOOTH
WAVELENGTH #79 Sunday September 2, 10pm
Purveyors of: Solo harmonic guitar pop
e-mail: aaronbooth@hotmail.com

Wavelength patrons may recall a low-key evening back in February (the week after our titanic Anniversary Weekend, in fact), when Calgarian singer/songwriter Aaron Booth treated us to his delicately finger-picked solo guitar tunes. We love Aaron so much we asked him back, and Sept. 2 is a special occasion - Aaron's "welcome to Toronto show." Yes, he has forsaken the oil fields of Alberta for the humidity and rent-gouging of the Big Smoke.

"I was already spending quite a bit of time out here with my own solo tours," explains Aaron of his move, "and working with Snailhouse." (Aaron plays keyboards in the Ottawa quartet led by the Wooden Stars' Mike Feuerstack.) "And Elizabeth wanted to, and we like the city." The Wavelength show comes just days after the newly wedded couple - Aaron married journalist Elizabeth Chorney in July - move into their new home at Bloor and Euclid.

Future plans include a "tour of the 401 with the Buttless Chaps in early September, a week-long recording session with Dave Draves at Little Bullhorn studios in Ottawa (featuring musical contributions from the Snailhouse/Weights & Measures/Kepler crew), and a potential Snailhouse/Aaron cross-Canada double tour for November. Other than that, Aaron is looking for "a cool guitar with a vintage character."

- Jonny Dovercourt


THE HIDDEN CAMERAS
WAVELENGTH #80 Sunday September 9, 11:30pm
Purveyors of: "The tones and drones of gay church folk music"
e-mail: thehiddencameras@joymail.com
Pictured: Alex McClelland, Paul P, Graham Hollings, Justin Stayshyn, Joel Gibb, Matias Rozenberg, Magali Meagher

When Joel Gibb was 16, he was known and loved for the 'zine The Bitch. In it, Brit-pop was lauded and deconstructed. Later, things became more witty with his Glamour Guide For Trash. Both were self-publishing gems - funny, wise and stylish like Joel himself.

Today, Joel is the founder/singer/songwriter with The Hidden Cameras, a "gay, folk, church music" outfit that sometimes hits on-stage numbers in the double-digits (although the core four are Joel, Magali Meagher, Justin Stayshyn and Mathias Rozenberg). The Cameras' first release, Ecce Homo, looks at love, lust, church and various other things that make the world more interesting. He even recounts at his small press days on "Ode to Self-Publishing Fear of 'Zine Failure."

While Joel has had the music in him for sometime (including a somewhat troubled experience as a junior high composer for clarinet), it wasn't until 1996 that he began making documents of his music, "instead of just singing things in my head." And, though Ecce Homo was released mere months ago, Joel is already at work recording new material.

"I like to turn knobs and dials. I can mix things in minutes if I can get my hands on it," he says, while lamenting the fact that his avocado and tomato sandwich just wasn't filling enough. In the Hidden Cameras' short history, they have made it their goal to make every show an event. Joel picks a lyric from a song and turns it into the night's theme. So far, there has been a skull show and a disease show. Wavelength will be the Gay Ghosts Show.

Taking the lyric "We proceed in stained bed sheets and hang on ourselves that 'we're happy,'" the night includes dancing by ghosts-for-a-night Paul and Alex. It's also a rare treat for the Hidden Cameras to play a bar (although they did it for a recent Vazeleen). They have played a university in Rochester, an old folks home (where Joel and Mathias mixed "Hava Nagala" and "If I Were A Rich Man" with Cameras originals) and, fittingly, a church. One thing they haven't played is a mall.

"We went into the Eaton Centre for about two minutes during our last photo shoot. Guntar (Kravis) took a couple of pictures and then security asked us to leave. We were taking photographs of us riding the escalator, but they came up to us right away." Proving the point that there's no escaping the hidden cameras.

- Zombiegirl


DA BLOODY GASHES
WAVELENGTH #80 Sunday September 9, 10:30pm
Purveyors of: Trash-rock excess... with slogans!
e-mail: dabloodygashes@yahoo.ca
Pictured: Yannick Desranleau, Chloe Lum, Suhrid Manchanda
web: www.dabloodygashes.com

Da Bloody Gashes claims to be about pushing the limits. Whose limits? How far?
Su: We didn't claim shit. We do push the limits of rock'n'roll in intensity, structure, concept, treatment. We push ourselves constantly to come up with real off-the-wall shit that makes you go "damn, is this rock'n'roll? Why do I have that funny feeling in my crotch?"

You can put any words to any sounds you want... why dirty, distorted rock with titles like "Now! Wave (S)explosion," "Glamapuss," "Sugatits" and "Fuck Yr Sexuality." Why is this your expression?
Su: Depends on the "song". Some don't mean shit and Chloe uses her voice either to propel our rawk destruction or to glide over the rumble. Who needs words to sing? Scat scat scat. Some songs mean a whole lot, like the as-yet-unrecorded "Say No to the Commodification of Rock & Roll/Say No to the Commercial Vulgarization of Rebellion"; or "Now-Wave!" which I wrote about my ex-girlfriend's tendency to masturbate in public spaces and how not only should that make any dyke or heterosexual man horny but also how that is an attack against the limitist charms of fascism.
Chloe: Because we wanna put the "rock" back into art-rock. It seems more and more that to be considered "experimental", rock-based bands have to pick between wanky, done-to-death post-rock, indie, or adding electronics, while heavier stuff gets pushed into the punk-rock or hardcore categories... Why those titles? Well, look at the time and part of the world we were produced by.

You've lost a series of drummers. Most recently, Katie Farrimond. What's the story?
Su: Katie quit because she wasn't as serious about Da Gashes as we were; even though she did it like a bitch and pulled out a week before five out-of-town shows we had planned as a mini-tour. Yannick and Chloe had put a lot of work into getting those shows and we had to cancel them. Some people refuse to book us now, others have been more kind. We recently had a guy who we worked with for a month and then quit, calling us "sell-outs" because we were taking photographs to put into press kits that would hopefully get us more shows and better distro. That hurt. But fuck him and Say No to Morons with a warped romanticist view of the music industry (underground/overground)... A couple of our cool friends (Suzuki Kid of The Unireverse, Louis of Les Georges Leningrad) are filling in for now. We'll see what happens.
Yan: Katie didn't get along with this intellectual post-modernist game that we are into via our art and music, so seeing that her interests were somewhere into something more stable and conformist, we all agreed on her departure.

It seems the members of your group have come from, gone to, and continue to be in, some pretty varied, interesting and notorious groups. Would you like to fill in your Toronto audience on some of the other projects members of Da Gashes are associated with?
Su: The Unireverse/Les Georges Leningrad/Kubelka/Suzuki Kid.
Chloe: I played with noise/industrialists Phycus for quite awhile, probably the most hated band in Canada. We set a lot of fires! My old group Kittenling was pretty infamous for our nudity, blood, foam-rubber costumes, flame-shooting robots etc. I'm also involved with the Neoist art movement (all involved people are hated). Right now Yannick and I have a performance duo called Nothing. We seem to get in trouble and/or banned everywhere we play including Casa Del Popolo. One of our shows at Montreal's Lark Gallery ended in fisticuffs with Radio Canada's avant-garde theorist Eric Letourneau. He had it coming - what a rude arsehole! Yannick also played bass in the now defunct biker rock band Les Morts (The Dead), who were notorious for destroying bars across Quebec. Right now he and I have started a noise/grindcore project to unleash on the masses: Scratching Elephant Gerald. Su is in Detroit Metal.

You have two accomplished filmmakers in the group. Does this infiltrate the approach towards making music?
Yan: I'm one of those. This kind of game we play with music genres and structure... it pretty much reflects my own video production, which is an exploration and a discussion on stereotypes and imagery of stereotypes. But layering is something going on in my mind and is not pushed over by any desire of starting some boring modernist exploration of whatever can be endorsed by a commercial gallery or the academic art world. It just comes from dreams, experiences, tries and misses, quick thoughts, even mental lapses... like our music...
Chloe: Camille Paglia said that as the most popular form of art today, rock musicians should be trained and surrounded as/by any other young artist; in art schools. I personally got my stage beginnings as a performance artist on the Ottawa gallery circuit in '95. My pieces having a large spoken component, I started experimenting with vocal contortion under the influence of artists like Diamanda Galas and Laurie Anderson. It was quite a while later when I realized I could actually sing. I don't see a direct effect from Yannick and I's filmmaking on our music (actually for myself it's the other way around, a lot of my films and performance works discuss rock, especially ideas of women's place in rock, in a social/personal/political context) I, too, agree with Paglia and strongly feel that any artistic endeavour you do informs the other. Also as visual artists, we have a certain freedom many other musicians may not have in that we control our public image beyond the music itself. We design our merch, records sleeves, flyers, direct the tone of our photos and are at the moment working on our own video (that will, with our usage of AVID and Final Cut, look as "pro" and "slick" as any thing on MuchMusic, while having a very different tone.)

Who pushes your limits?
Su: Ungrateful people. Overly confused people. People who don't know shit from shove. People who yell out "discrimination!" just when things aren't going their way. People who shit on my favourite pair of pants. Dogs that talk shit. Girls who need a boot stuck so far up their ass that the laces sprout out their nipples. Guys who need a footlong gash cut between their nipples, and then get opened up so you can see their lungs and eeeeeeping heart, and then get pissed on and slapped in the face. Ah, Monday morning...
Chloe: Le Shock, Lake of Dracula, The Locust, Arab on Radar, Royal Trux, Neurosis, Lightning Bolt, Pussy Galore and Gerogerigegege musically. Other than that, Raymond Chandler, Lester Bangs, Kathy Acker, Joyce Carol Oates and Philip K. Dick push pretty hard in a literary stylee.

- interview by Paddy O'Donnell


THE UNIREVERSE
WAVELENGTH #80 Sunday September 9, 9:45pm
Purveyors of: Psych-Moog trio, or electro-freakout?
e-mail: unireverse@yahoo.ca
web: www3.sympatico.ca/yannick.desranleau/uNiReVeRSe
Pictured: Kosmic, Mr. Zero, SK

Unireverse are an analogue synth trio from Montreal that has altered my perception of doin' covers. I mean just doing covers? They have twisted my favourite bands' (Hawkwind, Silver Apples, godspeed) tunes into something that could only be described by Stockhausian quotes of celestial harmony and composition. And then you suddenly realize that there is so much more to be said; especially now with their new Katron EP (Total Zero). And this was what Alex "Cosmos" Moskos had to say...

How would you guys describe the music that you play?
I think that Brian or Joseph might disagree with me on this, but I like to call it "electro-freakout". I like the term electro because mostly, what is classified as electro (proto hip-hop, etc.) used Kraftwerk samples (Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock", as one example), and by running that lineage backwards it's only logical to start feeling the trace of it on shit like Klaus Schulze or Suicide, or DAF or Eno. It's sort of running a reverse march of pop-music history. I think Suicide and (German electronics duo) Cluster are just as electro as Mantronix or the soundtrack to Breakin'. The "freakout" is just this cheesy thing to add to it that conjures up a sixties "happening" tranced-out thing, ya know, like psychedelic jam-hippies in a field, which is an aesthetic we all dig on. That's the genre description I neologized for it, but the standard marketing line is "psych-Moog trio" which is less colourful but more graspable for those who need to truly grasp the bugger.

The Unireverse have an affinity for analogue synths. Do you guys consider yourself exclusive to this type of gear?
I don't think we are entirely strict about it. I mean we love the sounds produced by these things. That's the prime mover behind it. They are just so great and it's all because they're analogue. Like it or not, we humans are still analogue beings, and I think no matter how hard we try, analogue signals will always be something we are more receptive to. Our sensory receptors still work on analogue methods and so digital signals come off as more foreign. The bonus with analogue synths is that you avoid being the dork staring at a goddamn laptop for two hours.

The new Katron EP was recorded and produced by Micheal Caffrey, formerly of Ottawa's Beautifuzz. What was this recording experience like?
I grew up in Ottawa and Caffrey was this sort of local legend. The Beautifuzz LP has always been a personal favourite of mine. We all witnessed Beautifuzz lauch rockets of sheer beauty many o'time. I always dug Micheal's aesthetic and we hit it off pretty well. (He copes well with Prog which is an admirable quality). I just thought he was perfect for the Unireverse. So we did it on this old 8-track reel-to-reel machine he has and he is now living over top of this candle factory/hemp shop and he has his little workshop set up off to the side. We set up all our gear in the middle of the candle shop with all of these huge candles burning. We were surrounded by these total over-the-top hippie-landscape paintings that looked like some vista in a Tolkein novel and you expected Dragons to land and start munching on wee Hobbits. There were hemp clothes everywhere and wax all over the place. And to top it all off this giant candle shaped like a woman's upper torso... life-sized... was hanging off the wall. We just got these massive psychedelic vibes off the whole joint. One morning we recorded our version of Pharoah Sanders' "The Creator Has A Master Plan". It was like 5am and the sun was coming up in the window and all these candles and incense were burning. It was perfect. We recorded the laziest, haziest, sun-fried version of that tune ever. It was great and we just ran some cables into Mike's little studio workshop, which as the weekend progressed took on this total dub-shack ambience. Micheal had all these old synths and boxes full of effects pedals and shit so we were set. He took to the music and understood what we were aiming for immediately so it worked out well. He might as well be in the band and in fact we've asked to him to play with us at our record launch in Montreal and I hope to continue that relationship.

Do you always perform covers? Is there a criterion of what songs Unireverse do cover? How do the bands being covered (namely godspeed you black emperor!) take to this act of manipulation/admiration?
So far yes. All covers and we have no interest in changing that at this stop. In a lot of the cases the originals get so lost in our versions that we might as well call them originals. Some basic harmonic structure from the original remains but it's faint. The decision usually comes on what to cover while Brian and I sit like Lords on our couch getting baked and listening to sides and someone says, "we should cover this tune." Then Brian will arrange it in his head and teach it to me and Jo will spend a couple of sessions finding the right beat on the Ace. I don't think that the majority of the members of godspeed even know that we do their piece. Mauro the bass player runs a club in Montreal and he's booked us a few times there. We've played the song with him in the audience and I think he's even somewhat flattered. Other than him I don't even know who the rest of godspeed are, really. They have this spectral presence. I hope they don't mind. I just hope Sun Ra's estate doesn't come after us or something for doing his tune.

Unireverse membership consists of known talented Ottawa/Montreal folk. Can you explain your lineage? Are there any other projects on the go?
Joseph is also the Suzuki Kid, a hardcore beats manipulation act. He samples beats and just mashes 'em up good and then does these sorta-hip-hop sorta-testimonial rants on top of them. He's temporarily employed as the drummer for Da Bloody Gashes as well. He used to play in Space City USA, which were a somewhat known avant-rock outfit from southern-Ontario. Brian, as everyone knows, was the founder of PhØcus, who delivered over ten years of insanity. He has two solo things on the go. One is called Discipline X, which are these really textured dense noisescapes created by looping old records on our old Telefunken record player and slowing them down to like 16 RPM and running them through effects. He also has this project with his girlfriend in which they do lounge covers of drum 'n' bass hits. It's like Martin Denny and Lenny Dee do Mickey Finn. I'm presently playing in Goa Gaja which is this trance-rock outfit led by Philippe Lambert (aka Monstre, just released a thing on Alien8) and Jon Ascensio (ex-Doughboys). I also do a lot of experimental sound design through school. I used to play in Kubelka, an avant-garage trio.

- interview by Zig Zag Wanderer


DO MAKE SAY THINK
WAVELENGTH #81 Sunday September 16, 11:00pm
Purveyors of: Epic groove sprawl
Pictured: The Do Makes live at the Church at Berkeley
web: www.cstrecords.com

Wavelength is proud to present international space-rock sensations Do Make Say Think on Sept. 16. Drummer Jimmy P gets us up to date.

You, the Do Makes, are currently in the process of completing your third album. Where does it stand? When can we expect to hear a finished product?
We are currently in the mixing phase of the album. We hope to have it all mixed and mastered by the end of September and shipped out to Constellation sometime after that. It won't be released until the early spring, likely in March.

If the first record was a nice soothing high and the second one was a serious head-spinning blast of chronic, what will the third one be?
A nice soothing high of serious head-spinning blast of chronic Do Makes to the power of three.

If the Do Makes were all crime-fighting comic-book characters, what would your names and powers be? (Yes, you can speak for the rest of the band.)
I would rather think of us as more like The A-Team. They drive around in their van from city to city as hired mercenaries who shoot up the countryside with their brand of military justice. We too drive around in a van from city to city, country to country, as hired professionals to deliver our brand of rock'n'roll justice.
The cast: Charles is Hannibal
Justin is Murdock
Dave and Ohad are Mr. T as B.A. Baracus (the role of a lifetime!)
And Jimmy P is Face.

Give us an example of how DMST is the exception to the rule of Constellation Records bands being Serious Artistesª.
Well... we're not from Montreal.

Your last two local shows were at the rather prestigious Bloor Cinema and the Church at Berkeley, respectively. What led you to choose the comparatively salty Wavelength for your next gig?
We really wanted to do one more show at home before Charles went on tour in the U.S.A. with a theatre production and before Justin moves to New York for a while. We are all fans of the Wavelength music series and I appreciate its significance for promoting local culture. We're happy to be a part of it.

- interview by Jonny Dovercourt


 

DEEP DARK UNITED
WAVELENGTH #81 Sunday September 16, 10:00pm
Purveyors of: Lo-fi blues implosion
e-mail: alex@deepdarkunited.com
web: www.deepdarkunited.com
Pictured: DDU say "happy birthday"

When you're talking "art-rock" (which I don't endorse) there are two givens:
1. The Beatles are absolute shit.
2. Radiohead are worse.
Thankfully, however, I don't have to piss any of you off by saying these things, because I'm not talking about art-rock: nay, the music of Deep Dark United falls under a different heading, that of the almighty Freak Rock.

When you're talking freak rock, there are two things you gotta know:
1. The Beatles are absolute shit and have nothing to do with freak rock. Stop mentioning them.
2. There are two types of freak rock: Spazzy (i.e. Truman's Water, Uzeda, Les Savy Fav, et al.), and Zen (Storm and Stress, Brise-Glace, US Maple).
Deep Dark United fall into the latter category, eschewing merely "freaking out " or "spazzing" themselves while playing "riffs", instead causing others to "freak out" and "spazz" upon watching them play something... else.

You see, nobody wrote these songs. The songs exist somewhere, and chose Alex Lukashevsky and crew as conduits. And thusly, out it comes, loose but never falling apart, familiar yet not resembling.

And you're left wondering why the fuck you ever bothered to listen to the fuckin' Beatles in the first place. They're absolute shit.

- Buddy 1078


 

MECCA NORMAL
WAVELENGTH #82 Sunday September 23, 11:00pm
e-mail: meccanormal@hotmail.com
web: http://meccanormal.tripod.com

Mecca Normal is the anarchist and feminist guitar and voice duo out of Vancouver. Jean Smith (vocals), is writing her third novel Living On Eggshells, while David Lester (guitar), publishes award-winning poetry, fiction and graphics at Smarten Up! and Get To The Point. Mecca Normal has released nine albums (K, Matador) in their 15 year history. Mecca Normal opens for Unwound (Kill Rock Stars) on a September 2001 tour.

In 1986, when we released our first album, we interviewed ourselves on tape, and sent it out as a press release. Here, 15 years later, is the next opportunity we've taken to interview ourselves, this time in email.

Dave: Jean, you have a chapbook coming out for this tour, what's up with that?

Jean: I've just returned from Olympia where I hand-printed the cover from my lino-cuts. Family Swan and other songs is a collection of specific and personal poems, that reveals a universal sense of family tension. Parents make weird accusations, accompanied by a "never to go beyond these four walls!" warning. Altered by emotional abuse, it's the adult who does the remembering. Unsettled feelings linger. Many of these pieces are new Mecca Normal songs.

Dave: Now we will both have new chapbooks for this tour.

Jean: Dave does very amusing political graphics, published by our small press, Smarten Up! and Get To The Point. Dave, can you explain how you got involved in the graphics side of the punk rock thing?

Dave: I'd just graduated from high school in 1976 when reports from England started to appear in the music papers - punk rock seemed too bizarre to comprehend. I believe I attended the first punk rock show here; Vancouver was ready for the politically-fuelled punk rock ethic. In the late '70s, when punk rock hit, I was the art director at The Georgia Straight, a Vancouver weekly newspaper. I put the PMT (photo mechanical transfer) camera to use, screening photos, reducing and enlarging images, preparing camera-ready art for gig posters. From '76 into the early '80s, I also worked on the collectively-run international anarchist newspaper Open Road. My artwork - colour portraits of anarchists Mikhail Bakunin, Sacco and Vanzetti, and the anarcha-feminist Emma Goldman - were included as centre-spread posters.

Jean: And you were in bands too, right?

Dave: I played guitar in a band called the Explosions when the original punk rock scene in Vancouver coincided with a strong leftist atmosphere, an opposition to the right-wing government of the day. Social unrest escalated in a dramatic response to the erosion of labour rights, culminating in a province-wide general strike in 1983. The radical, labour-funded, Solidarity Times began publishing; I was employed as its designer.

Jean: I always had a feeling I'd missed out on all that action, that I wasn't part of the original scene, now I look at my own history and consider that people who came along after we did probably feel left out of the scene we were part of. Good to remember there's always a new scene to contribute to, to create.

Dave: In the original punk scene, bands played benefits for many causes including End The Arms Race, Prison Justice Day, anti-poverty campaigns, Rape Relief, funding for teen centres, legal defense funds for activists, opposition to apartheid in South Africa. Of all the musical genres, punk rockers were the most consistent supporters of radical causes. Although youth and style oriented, there were occasions for general audiences, when D.O.A. played a benefit show with Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie, for example. My brother, Ken Lester, was D.O.A.'s manager in the 80s. I designed many of the band's album covers, posters, T-shirts, and stickers. Posters were the main method of letting people know about shows and political rallies. Now the battle for poster space is fierce, an anti-poster bylaw makes postering somewhat risky, while teams of youths who look like punk rockers are employed to strip posters off lamp standards. Communication at street level, and the contrived civic denial of opportunity to do this, have become a politicized issue. I self-published a series of posters on a variety of issues - censorship, poverty, historic labour rights, anarchist philosophies - and left them in public places for others to put up. Posters that weren't announcing an event or selling anything looked very good on the streets. I also design book covers for local independent publishers, create print material for theatre productions and poetry events.

Jean: And in the mid-eighties we formed Mecca Normal.

Dave: We co-organized a series of tours in Canada, the U.S. and England called The Black Wedge - we kicked off our first tour by selling out two nights in Vancouver. No one had heard of such a thing. Political poetry? Sold-out? We were a handful of anti-authoritarian poets and minimalist musicians reclaiming our voices, taking back culture, setting our wild hearts free! [laughs]

Jean: That last bit is from the poster: reclaiming our voices and setting our wild hearts free. We borrowed D.O.A.'s tour bus, a big old school bus, and drove the west cost playing clubs, a soup kitchen, an alternative school, radio stations, parties, and the anarchist book store in San Francisco.

Dave: The Black Wedge tours continued for a few years - the name is still up for grabs. Anarchist poets to the fore! Take the name and create a tour. Like those bicycles in Holland - you just take them and leave them for the next rider.

Jean: When The Black Wedge went through Olympia, Washington, we met Calvin Johnson of K Records, and discovered a whole different underground, a whole new "punk rock." A D.I.Y. aesthetic of making things happen rather than waiting to be entertained by the corporate ogre - could this bunch of berry-picking, pie-baking kids organizing themed dance parties and swimming-hole picnics be political? Everyone happy, picking up instruments to join in the fun. We collided with them in the summer of '86. Us with our smash the state ferocity, and them with a bag of marshmallows and some extra sticks. Almost fifteen years later we are still collaborating with them, or are they collaborating with us? [laughs]

Dave: Indifference is a doomed state that disappears as soon as you put your work out there for others to hear, read, see, and taste. Why wait for the media to declare culture on sale now, better than ever? Be bold, follow your passion - take a chance, choose a course of action, make it up as you go a long, and see where it takes you.

Jean: See you there! [laughs]

Dave: How do you strike a balance between promoting Mecca Normal and the purpose of the band?

Jean: Sometimes it feels like we have to step back from facilitating our movements to remind ourselves of the reasons we are doing this.

Dave: Like the fact that we really want to play these songs for people.

Jean: Yes, and in another way it feels like how we function is part of what the band is. Two people sorting out how to proceed, intentionally outside of the mainstream.

Dave: I think Mecca Normal thrives in this atmosphere.

Jean: This current wave of positive energy?

Dave: It feels like it is building again, extending out, re-vitalizing what was always good about creative collaboration; one to one, between communities, continents, the world.

Jean: Maybe what's new is that the musicians and artists who have been around for a while are acknowledging a positive swing while we are creating it. It is happening through a variety of intentions, rebellious and intuitive, artists fuelling and demonstrating a culture that works better than what we currently have. People are finding places for themselves and what they have to contribute within an open framework of potential. There is a sense of helpfulness more than careerism.

Dave: I think musicians are making it known that they aren't giving up, or leaving music to the corporate ogres to dole out to a predetermined youth culture.

Jean: The connection between globalization, capitalism and lack of accountability for how quickly health care and other social infrastructure begin to decline are becoming more obvious as we go along. The first anti-globalization protests in this current wave of activism were here in Vancouver, at an APEC summit about four years ago. Last week an official inquiry into the behaviour of the police described their procedural tactics as inconsistent with the basis of a democratic society. Since Seattle, where similar policing abuses were employed, the world has been monitoring government attempts to re-establish public boundaries, including the right to demonstrate.

Dave: Jean, can we wrap this up in a more upbeat manner? Something about Mecca Normal continuing to find the possibilities of expression through voice and guitar limitless.

Discography, more tour dates, and three new songs on our site: http://meccanormal.tripod.com.

Fri 9/7 Toronto, Lee's Palace (opening for Unwound)
Sat 9/8 Montreal, Spanish Cultural Centre (opening for Unwound)
Fri 9/21 Toronto, El Mocambo, a tribute to The Fall
Sat 9/22 Hamilton, The Raven
Sun 9/23 Toronto, day: Canzine, at the Big Bop, 1 to 7 PM, at a table with our new chapbooks. Mecca Normal will perform a 30 minute set at the end of the afternoon poetry reading. Night: Wavelength, at Ted's Wrecking Yard
Mon 9/24 Toronto, live to air 10 PM to midnight EST on No Beat Radio, CIUT 89.5 FM, www.ciut.fm


 

MAZ FUSION
WAVELENGTH #82 Sunday September 23, 10:00pm
Purveyor of: Beat-mashing guitar abuse
e-mail: thatfreakfusion@hotmail.com
web: www.mazfusion.com

****PARENTAL WARNING***
A shock of electric blue hair bobs menacingly above the uneven cubicle at the Lakeview Lunch. As I walk down the long row of empty tables toward the window, I wonder how swift my punishment will be. Will she toy with me for a while, or just go for the immediate attack? We went to OCA together, and I heard the rumours, NEVER cross Maz Fusion. And I'm late. Thankfully, all she does is dis my T-shirt, and I deserve it for wearing a Hanson shirt. She then adjusts the microphone to her liking, I call her on it.

Maz: That is so totally what I was doin'! [She's actually blushing!] Yeah, I'm brainwashed, eh? That's how anal retentive I am ya know, it's like I can't even sit in the Lakeview Lunch with a tape recorder without settin up tha mic perfectly, ya know? Fuck, like a robot!

A: Yeah, so that leads into...
M: It leads into that I engineer my own music.

A: You do everything yourself?
M: Everything!

A: So what does that involve exactly? Doing everything? You DO have a keyboard player now!
M: Yeah, I have a keyboard player for live shows.

A: Ok, so you're pretty um...
M: I write the songs, I play all the instruments, I do the programming, I record, engineer, produce, pay for it, by eating Kraft Dinner, like any other anal-retentive control-freak would. [It's too bad you can't see the look on her face when she says that.]

A: So have you considered the idea of working with other musicians, in light of the fact that you consider yourself an ARCF?
M: Do you mean my project or other projects?

A: On your own projects.
M: In the last six months, I went thru three bass players, none of whom even stuck around long enough to play one live show. Now, in my defense...

A: Did you scare them?
M: I don't know how much of that has to do with me, it was just like, "hey you need to learn these songs," and they said, "hey I'm cool with that!"

A: Right!
M: So, it's not like there's any surprises right? The surprise was, that I actually meant it. That they actually had to show up in order to do that, that I might be annoyed if they stood me up. And that seemed to surprise 'em. See the whole thing is, and again in my defense, it's like the whole point of this project is to find out what I can do, and what I'm capable of... and you can't find that out about yourself in any kind of collective situation, because it's always a bit compromised. When I work as a musician myself, on other people's projects, I'm quite capable of havin' no ego whatsoever and just keepin' my mouth shut and playin' exactly what I'm told to play, note for note, if that's what they require for tha song, right, and that's what I think gives me the right to be a dictator, in my own fuckin' creative project... and I've had a lot of ponderin' on the idea of bein' a dictator. It doesn't necessarily mean bein' an asshole, and even if it does, I ain't holdin no one here with a ball and chain, if I'm an asshole go start your own project.

A: You have a vision that you're trying to, you know, see happen. [Hawaii 5-0 theme music is swelling up in the background.] One thing that I was really surprised about, what you're doing right now, is the singing and the lyrics. It was really incredible to see you doing that, adding that to your music.
M: Yeah, they'll be more of that on the next record. Actual singin' with meoldies and shit. I'm terrified of that shit, man. I feel so naked using my voice, if your guitar fucks up, it's still a separate entity from you, it's an outside object, it's, my patch cables fucked, or my string broke, right?

A: Yeah!
M: When your voice yodels... You did that, man! You fucked up on this. I so wanted to do it but I'm so scared of it and that's why I will do it, just the same as why I will do publicity and just the same as why I will step into the jaws of the fuckin' music industry and spit down its fuckin' throat, because it terrifies me. Well there's no point sitting around and wondering and being scared, you gotta fight. There's no point dissin' something until you've really looked it in the eye too, man, you know?

A: Or you're not experiencing it.
M: Right.

A: I was sort of curious if you'd found any new ways to abuse your guitar lately?
M: Nope.

A: What are some of the items you've been know to use on your guitar?
M: See it's weird, I used to use a lot more items, but right now, because I have the record, I'm doin' the material from the record. So I mean you've got like, dustbusters, electric razors, numerous little muli-coloured secret boxes, and a bunch of sticks and prongs. The record is basically a document of five years of live performances, so that it can be documented, so that people that liked that stuff can buy the record and I'll still be performing that stuff live... So I still have toys left that I haven't used yet, that I definitely wanna pull out and use on some songs and stuff, but uh...

A: Anything you want to tell us about?
M: No. [Sorry Wavelengthers, you'll just have to come and see Maz!]

A: OK, well, one last question, I'm just wondering what an outstanding moment of your musical history might be, learning or performing or just talking to somebody, something that really changed your path musically.
M: It's more like music changed my path life-wise, man! So there's no outstandin' moments in it other than music happenin' itself. It's like, I woulda been probably in serious trouble if I hadn't found a guitar, I mean I was on the street when I picked up guitar and started playin' it in a punk rock band and that's what basically gave me a meanin' and direction... The fact that music happened was the biggest fuckin' surprise, it was the biggest curse too... I still swear to God, it probably saved my life and kept me out of jail, 'cuz I was a no-good angry person on the street, man. I'm a rough, stompin'-around, angry fuckin' Johnny-Rotten-era fuckin' English kid still, still a lotta "don't-fuck-with-me, fuck-you" shit to deal with, so... The best moment is that I have a thing in my life that can fuckin' give me somethin' that I'm good at, some people never discover that, man. And for all that I curse to fuckin' hell the fact that I'm in music sometimes, I think it must be much worse to never find that in your life.

A: Thanks, now, where's the coffee?


 

FULL WHITE DRAG
WAVELENGTH #83 Sunday September 30, 11:00pm
Purveyors of: Rock-trio danger music
e-mail: fullwhitedrag@canada.com
web: www.fullwhitedrag.com
Pictured: J, Eric, Dave

Full White Drag were originally supposed to play Wavelength back on Feb. 4, at the show that first exposed us to the glorious rock of The Constantines. But family tragedy forced them to cancel that entire tour with the Cons. Happier times now prevail, and the Windsor trio has a long-awaited make-up date on the 30th, as well as a new LP "in the can," entitled The Independence. This interview is composed of three questions from Jonny Dovercourt's "original" Q&A with singer/guitarist Dave Mueller which never ran, and three new ones which bring us up to date:

FROM JANUARY 2001:
You guys are the nicest guys, but your music contains a great deal of aggression and menace, especially your swaggerin' vocals. Is there anything to this besides the usual music-as-means-of-venting-frustration explanation?

Menace? Aggression? These sound like the characteristics of a really cool comic-book character. Swaggerin'?? I am proud of you for using this word in a sentence... I guess this can be explained by our fascination with small planets and bad drinking water..

What influence has your hometown of Windsor had on you and/or your music? Any hilarious stories about the casino are welcome in your response.
In fear of writing an entire novel for this answer, I will simply say that without Windsor, FWD would not exist nor would it look and feel the way that it does. Yeah... remember... Windsor is not alone... we have a big brother named Detroit... and he has been known to supply a great deal of experience in all areas necessary for building the massive corporation that is FWD... What casino?

My fave song on your CD Ambassador, "From Below," uses what I call the "math-rock glide" riff... y'know: (rest)-duh-DUH-duh; (rest)-duh-DUH-duh; (rest)-duh-DUH-duh... Why is this riff so goddamn fun to play?!
I am forwarding this question to J and Mike because they tend to have some anti-positive feelings towards this song... I thank you for helping to reinstate my case to start playing this song more... The riff is great because it is so easy, yet sounds so good (at least to me and you!)... it is especially easy for J, whos only has to flip a switch up and down continuously... simplicity rules... hence, the difficulty in concluding that we are a math-rock band??

FROM AUGUST 2001:
You guys have a new record ready to go, called The Independence. It's rougher and tougher and dare I say, more defiantly "we are FWD" than the first one. Would you agree with this assessment? Describe the circumstances that led to its creation, and inform us of your current plans for its dissemination.

The Independence was recorded in the spring of 2001 at the House of Miracles with our good friend and rising star Andy Magoffin. It is the first true capturing of what this band is all about. The last record we like, but we also laugh at the fact that we had no clue what we were doing with that record... we recorded it in Mike's bedroom secretly while his parents were away... we released it ourselves... it was mainly just to get us out of Windsor... to give us something to convince promoters to book us with. Little did we know that we would end up touring the whole country twice with it... and selling out entire pressings. But all along, we knew that it was not the best representation of what we were all about... some of the songs on that record were written when we were like 16 or 17... ha ha. Most of the songs we have been playing at shows in the last year or so are songs from the new record. So yeah, The Independence is a record that we are really excited about... we are still working on details of who is going to release it... and when... and where... we definitely want this recording to be fully available, hopefully all around the world, with all the promo to boot. But I guess most bands want that... we hope to have it out sometime in the next 6 months... the sooner the better... we look forward to touring with it, with our van headed towards the USA and beyond... as long as this record helps us to keep progressing and moving forward, it will have accomplished its goals.

What of the rumours of FWD's relocation to the Big Smoke?
Ha ha... yeah, I think some member(s) of FWD will be in Toronto full-time come the time of our Wavelength show. Some other members will remain in the wonderful world that is Southwestern Ontario... a lot of this all depends on what happens with The Independence... Toronto is definitely the centre... of what we are not quite sure yet...

And lastly, the "tough question"... by participating in the independent rock scene - spending money of guitars, guitar strings, amplifiers, recording time and tape, pressing said recording onto CD, maintaining big gas-guzzling vans, insurance premiums on same - are we not just slaves to the consumption-based economic system our subculture is supposed to present an alternative to?
I think we are just slaves to the rock... four years at business school was all I needed to learn that...

Final Note: We at Team FWD wanted to thank everyone at Team Wavelength for their love and support during our almost-Wavelength appearance back in February. And of course our good friends at Team Constantines for continuing on without us like the soldiers of rock that they are... we look forward to seeing you all soon... and making you all proud.


 

THE MAGNETARS
WAVELENGTH #83 Sunday September 30, 10:00pm
Purveyors of: Trance-country guitar duets... in space!
e-mail: jonnydovercourt@sympatico.ca
Pictured: Nora Charles, Jonny Dovercourt, Tascam four-track

When you have eliminated all other possibilities, Sherlock Holmes instructed, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the answer.

In the mysterious case of the Soft Gamma Repeaters, or SGRs, the answer appears to be a magnetar, a neutron star with a super-strong magnetic field a thousand trillion times stronger than Earth's.

Indeed, the magnetic field actually slows the star's rotation and causes starquakes that pump enough energy into the surrounding gases to generate bursts of soft gamma radiation. These led to discovery of the first SGR in 1979. For almost two decades, scientists speculated about the source, and eventually proposed a new class of highly magnetized stars - magnetars.