All posts filed under: Writing

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Nardwuar

In an interview from 2008, Lady Gaga puckered up and planted a kiss on an issue of Discorder Magazine. The cover featured a photo of American transgender icon Amanda Lepore, who earlier that year played the pop star’s Fame Ball. Over three years later, I sit down to interview the CiTR radio personality who captured Gaga and Discorder’s first kiss. Pointing my audio recorder in his direction, I start the interview. “Who are you?” Leaning into the recorder with a smile he says, “Nardwuar the Human Serviette from Vancouver, British Columbia.” Sitting in the basement of Neptoon Records, we’re surrounded by thousands of vinyl albums, alphabetized from floor to ceiling on all four sides. It’s an audiophile’s paradise, and a fitting spot to interview with Vancouver’s plaid-clad audio aficionado about his new compilation LP,Busy Doing Nothing. Wearing his trademark golf-style cap with detachable pom-pom (a gift upon his mother’s return from a visit to Scotland), Nardwuar is to the Canadian music scene what Don Cherry is to our national pastime. After years of witnessing his …

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World Club

When I arrive early to meet World Club at an East Vancouver pub, I casually take a seat at the bar and place a drink order. “Comin’ in to work?” the man drinking next to me asks, mistaking me for an employee. “Kind of,” I say scanning the faces in the room, “I’m here to interview World Club.” A waitress with a burgundy coloured bob sets a pint down in front of me. “Who’s in the club?” he persists. I’m not exactly sure, so I say nothing and wait. A while later, in walks a striking blonde accompanied by who I’m guessing are her three fellow bandmates. The blonde introduces herself as Janine Prevost, shakes my hand and invites me to take a seat at a glass table top framing an old map of the Georgia Strait. In a few minutes we’re joined by Tyler Dunn, Josh Harskamp, and Randy Szmek, who set their drinks down and take off their heavy coats. Together the four make up the uniquely experimental soundscape that is World Club. …

Rococode

About 10:02 a.m., Andrew Braun answers his phone: “Hello?” He’s sitting on the couch in his North Van living room wearing a Protest the Hero t-shirt, a pair of black jeans, and a cardigan. A few blocks away, I’m sitting in my living room with Braun on speaker phone — until now we hadn’t realized we’re practically neighbours. We make small talk about the neighbourhood, compare experiences commuting and laugh about the number of times we’ve been stranded at Phibbs Exchange waiting for the #212. Then I say, “So you must be excited about the album.” Rococode does not seem the least bit nervous about their anticipated debut LP, Guns, Sex & Glory. “It’s been a long time coming,” guitarist/vocalist Braun admits. The album, which came out on February 7, has been ready for a year, but the group — Braun, vocalist/keyboardist Laura Smith, bassist Shaun Huberts and drummer Johnny Andrews — have been waiting for the right time, he explains, waiting diligently for their hard work to pay off. Throughout the last year, the indie …

How To Pack Like A Rock Star

Three words: “Bring. Flip. Flops.” These are among the many humorous yet practical words of advice from musician Shaun Huberts’ debut book How To Pack Like a Rock Star. And who better to take packing advice from than Huberts, along with 30 or more of the world’s top touring musicians who have spent a better part of their years on the road, living out of a suitcase. The book is a photo driven how-to project that details Huberts’ infallible packing techniques and provides insights into the suitcases of countless musicians Huberts has crossed paths with while on the road. The objective: “to achieve and maintain perfection in the art of packing a suitcase, so that everything is in plain view and each item can be seen at all times.” Sounds easy, right? For Huberts, after years of touring, playing bass for Canada’s Tegan & Sara and more recently as a member of Rococode, packing is as logical as a simple game of Tetris. But now even us non-rock star folk can pack with the best of …

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Talent Time

If Vancouver’s Biltmore Cabaret is packed late on a Wednesday, whatever is happening inside must be worth staying out late for on a school night. After more than four years, Paul Anthony’s Talent Time is still surprising audiences and challenging our perception of “talent” (read:American Idol wannabes need not apply). His monthly two-hour variety-inspired talent show, also aired on Shaw and Novus as a half hour television series, has featured both bald eagles and a glass-smashing side-show act. And that was in the same half hour. “Would that have been as exciting if we hadn’t been whispering in a room with birds-of-prey just a moment before?” he asks, explaining that the variety makes each act that much better. For Anthony, the best acts are the ones that catch the audience by surprise, and he’s constantly looking for talent of the unconventional sort. “I’ll check out the bulletin boards in the library,” he says, “but, there’s no treasure map. It’s like shopping at a shitty second-hand store. You’re going to spend a lot of time there, but you might …

V. Vecker Ensemble

As this article goes to print, Vancouver will be wrapping up the 2012 International Jazz Festival. When I met up with Keith Wecker (a.k.a. V. Vecker) at his East Vancouver home, the Vancouver-based V. Vecker Ensemble are only a week away from kicking off the 10-day festival at Ironworks Studios. “We’re stoked on it. It’s nice to be asked [to play at the festival], and not have to apply,” Wecker tells me between drags of his cigarette. With their new 12-inch set to be released on Majorly Records this summer, the group has been concentrating on getting ready for the live show. Since his days studying visual art at Emily Carr, Wecker has spent more time writing music than oil painting. “I once had an art teacher who accused me of going to art school to start a band,” Wecker laughs, but at the time he claims he had nothing but art on his mind. But when he discovered electrical outlets in the underground parking of Granville Island, Wecker dove head first into music. The …

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Blackout Beach

“It’s kind of a grandiose teenage statement,” Blackout Beach main man Carey Mercer laughs into the phone of his boldly-titled new album, Fuck Death, “but it’s also like fuck my own fascination with death, fuck the way that death’s presented and manufactured—‘Fuck Death’ is simplistic and complex at the same time I guess…I hope.” Inspired by the equally provocative American contemporary painter Leon Golub’s painting of the same name and by his fascination with stories of war, Fuck Death, which comes out November 15 on the Dead Oceans imprint, appropriately reflects both the sonic and thematic substance embedded within the album’s nine tracks. While no stranger to recording—he’s also the frontman for Frog Eyes and a member of Swan Lake—Mercer says it’s difficult to compare his various projects. Swan Lake, the collaboration between Mercer, Destroyer’s Daniel Bejar and former Wolf Parade member Spencer Krug, for instance, doesn’t have a deliberate direction. “It’s such a collaborative effort that I don’t think we have a sonic idea when we go in. I think it’s more just a miracle that …

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Said The Whale

The greats of Canadian music share the same plight, as far as catching on in the United States. Neil Young made it. So did Nickelback. As did Justin Bieber (mind you, if Usher can’t make you famous, no one can). Then there’s Celine Dion and Shania Twain, and also Bryan Adams, whose music isn’t even considered Canadian according to the Canadian Radio-Television Commission’s Canadian Content regulations. The Hip tragically never made it in the U.S., despite taking home 14 Junos and reaching number one in Canada with nine of their 12 studio albums. Keeping The Hip company are an entire class of Canadian groups who, by choice, remain content to never hustle their talents south of the border. As demonstrated by their 2011 documentary Winning America, Said The Whale wouldn’t mind catching on down south. With their third LP Little Mountain on the precipice of its March 6 release, frontman Tyler Bancroft chats with Discorder from his cozy Vancouver apartment to discuss where the band’s sights are set next. The local quintet are gearing up to get back in their …

Capitol 6

The scene is a back lane off East Broadway where Capitol 6 guitarist and vocalist Malcolm Jack and I drop in on bandmate and bassist Matt Krysko, who is sitting in with desert-folk group Two Towns during a Mother’s Day recording session. The day is hot, though none of the six bodies cozied in the small shed-turned-recording studio seem to be bothered. A large ceiling fan spins overhead, offering only slight relief. Breaking to join us, Krysko starts by taking us out front to give me a tour through the historic East Van building known as The Lido. Behind the stylish old storefront, a glass display case with aging yellow cans marked “Cola,” once belonging to the perennially vacant general store, has become a retro fixture lending the space a sort of antiquated charm. The upstairs has been remodeled into a hotel for bands touring through Vancouver, and an apartment Jack calls home with his girlfriend and cat. The three of us settle upstairs on the sunny south-facing deck to talk about the June 12 release of Pretty …

Shimmering Stars

September 16th: the basement of the Waldorf Hotel is packed for the release of Shimmering Stars’ debut album, Violent Hearts. The faux-tiki decor of the venue, like the band’s early pop-inspired tunes, appears to have come from a different time. A bartender who strikingly resembles Buddy Holly takes my order. Drink in hand, I dance the night away. Eight days earlier, I met with the band’s frontman Rory McClure for a drink at the Railway Club. Arriving for our meeting after class on UBC’s campus – where he’s a newly enrolled student – he takes a hard look at what’s on tap before having a seat and ordering a beer. Putting down his bag, he casually mentions, “I don’t have a place to live right now,” and then says something about a rat infestation. Despite having recently returned from a European tour, being in the midst of “trying to find a new place to live, figuring out student loan shit, starting new courses” and prepping for the impending release of Violent Hearts, he doesn’t seem too stressed. …

Save the Red Gate

It’s the same familiar story, only this time the venue at stake is 152-156 West Hastings Street, the multi-purpose art center known as the Red Gate. If you’ve never noticed it, it’s probably because it’s not the regular type of underground cultural space that the City of Vancouver typically shuts down for the fun that goes on behind closed doors. The Red Gate is a legitimate space for artists, musicians, photographers and filmmakers to create and display art. What’s more, for the past seven years, the 15,000 square foot space has been a 100 per cent self-funded and self-organized cultural facility dedicated to fostering the boundary-pushing creativity for which the DTES is historically known. In spite of all this, without warning, on May 24, 2011, the City of Vancouver’s Building Inspector Branch issued the Red Gate a 30-day Order to Vacate notice, citing “serious life and safety concerns.” The city, however, took no initiative to inform the Red Gate of their apparent concerns, nor did they provide them any time or instruction on how to …

Powerchord: “Mistress of Metal”

Ask the Mistress of Metal what album she’d take with her to a deserted island and you’d be asking a lot. Bring up her radio show Powerchord’s upcoming 25th anniversary concert at the Rickshaw (May 21), however, and her veil of indecision is lifted. When the Mistress, the third person to host the long running heavy metal program, realized that 25 years had passed since Metal Ron and Gerald Rattlehead first started Powerchord on CiTR, it was obvious to her that they had to commemorate the occasion. The milestone is especially impressive, given that Powerchord is the longest running metal radio show in Canada. “Kind of a big deal,” is how she put it. She further describes the concert as “Canadian head-banging history.” Featuring a of diverse ballot of Canadian metal talent—Woods of Ypres, Titans Eve, Scissortooth, Scythia, Magnus Rising and Auroch—the concert represents what Powerchord’s all about: bringing metal to the masses. All proceeds from the concert will benefit the Music BC charitable foundation, bringing the gift of music to classrooms across British Columbia. …

Elements

DJs Jay Swing and Flipout are serious about their hip-hop. Talking to Discorder over sushi one afternoon Jay tells me about driving down Robson street back in ‘95, listening to a promotional copy of Mobb Deep’s Infamous album. “We thought we were pretty fucking cool ‘cause nobody else had it, it didn’t come out for another two months. It’s like a distinct memory in my mind. We were listening to it really loud, and we probably looked like nerds looking back on it. “I remember it exactly, it was between Howe and Granville,” Flipout adds. For these self-proclaimed hip-hop nerds, advance copies of albums might have been one of the only perks that came along with the late nights and long hours spent at CiTR working onElements, a mid-90s magazine dedicated to hip-hop culture, published by the Student Radio Society of UBC along with Discorder. While they’re best known as DJs and radio personalities, for a brief time, Jay and Flip used their arsenal of hip-hop expertise both on and off the airwaves, not only as Element’s …

Welcome to Pine Point

In the National Film Board-produced interactive web documentary, Welcome to PinePoint, Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons, who make up the Vancouver graphic design team the Goggles, offer an ironic welcome to the region–the irony being that the small mining town in the Northwest Territories is no longer there. The town’s disappearance, or rather, erasure from the Canadian landscape back in 1988 is the focus of the project. The interactive web doc is an exploration of memory and form, offering a unique way of back at photographs of Pine Pointers, now knowing what they didn’t know then–that it would all, one day, come to an end. “Would it be so bad?” the pair ask, if “your hometown never changed”? In a way the question implies that memories preserve Pine Point exactly as it was. As I navigated the site from my dining room table, I couldn’t help but wonder if memories could really preserve a place like Pine Point. There’s solace in the idea that not being able to return means that the town can, at least …