I’ve been utterly transfixed by the song “Dim Bulbs,” the last track on Detroit jangle-rockers Deadbeat Beat’s new album How Far. Starting off with a crisis phone call, it quickly shifts to deep out-of-body self-reflections on front lawns, busy roadhouse parking lots and lonely night walks. It’s a cinematic, melancholic gut-punch of an album coda and it’s one that makes everything that comes before it seem much darker around the edges. To be fair, it’s not like the trio of drummer/vocalist Maria Nuccilli and guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Alex Glendening and bassistZak Frieling are entirely subtle about glooming up their power pop. Launching one’s album with a song titled after the occult deity Baphomet isn’t exactly convention for the handclap-rock set. Neither are the bodies being torn apart and cement poured down throats in ghoulish number “The Curve.” To characterize How Far only as a “what if” where Sloan’s Jay Ferguson goes full Saruman is probably an overstatement, though. There are, after all, a number of exemplary pieces of genre-work on How Far. “You Lift Me Up” is an in-the-pocket bedroom dance starter, the do-do-do, do-do-dos feel like a classic anchor for “The Box” and the longing in “I’ll Wait” is a near-timeless sentiment. Taken as a whole it’s enough to make How Far feel something that’s both familiar and intriguingly distinct.
Category Archives: Music
Toronto punk band PUP have really captured the spirit of the thing with their newest album Morbid Stuff.
An exploration of depression, mental illness, anxiety and all-around existential angst wrapped up in a spiky pop-punk package, it’s a dose of cathartic rage ideal for anyone having trouble navigating this world.
I spoke to the band for a feature story in SOCAN Words & Music magazine.
To read the piece go here.
Can-rap OG Kardinal Offishall has been supporting hometown NBA team the Toronto Raptors since the beginning and through the lean years, so it’s only fitting now they’re the champs that he also gets to share in a bit of that shine.
I spoke to Kardi about the Raptors and the team’s close connection to the Canadian rap community in a piece for SOCAN Words & Music.
To read the story go here.
Episode 24 of the Polaris Podcast was the third in a four-part series dedicated to albums that received Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize designation.
For this episode we talked about Dream Warriors’ rap classic … And Now The Legacy Begins and Alanis Morissette’s zeitgeist-riding Jagged Little Pill.
Or, to make it easy, you can listen to it right here:
Anthrax bassist Frank Bello’s appearance at the Toronto International Film Festival is going to be a whirlwind. He’ll be flying in on Sunday morning, attending the world premiere of Greetings From Tim Buckley, his feature film debut where he plays the role of punk icon Richard Hell, and then he’s right back on the road in support of Anthrax’s latest album, Worship Music.
It’s hectic, but that’s just the way Bello likes things.
“I’m not a downtime kind of guy,” Bello tells Spinner. “I get nuts when I’m home too long.”
It’s also appropriate, given that the making of Greetings, a film about the late Jeff Buckley’s life- changing performance at a 1991 tribute show for his father Tim Buckley, was also a pretty wild and fast-paced adventure. The theatrically-trained Bello auditioned for the Richard Hell role, who also performed at that concert, on a Thursday and got the role the very next day. By the following Monday he was on set.
With no time to spare, the thrash metal pioneer set out to learn as much as possible about Hell.
“Thankfully, the internet exists,” Bello says with a laugh. “I read up on Richard Hell. I did everything I possible could.”
He also discovered that some of the film’s crew members had worked with Richard on the original concert and talked to them at length about the experience.
“I asked them about all of his personality traits, little quirks and things you wouldn’t think to ask, but I just wanted to know how he reacted to certain things, and music,” he explains. “They had a lot of great stories.”
In the midst of all of Bello’s research and filming — not to mention teaching himself to sing in French so that he could perform Tim Buckley’s “Moulin Rouge” — he had to steal away from the set to play the biggest show of Anthrax’s career: a Yankee Stadium concert with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer as part of the Big Four tour.
Bello had a major scene to film the next morning, but the crew were willing to accommodate him. At least a little bit.
“The people from Buckley rule. They knew that I had to play Yankee Stadium, so they took pity on me. They didn’t give me a 6 a.m. call time, they gave me a 7:30 a.m. call time! That night at Yankee Stadium, though, it’s the biggest show we’ve ever done. There’s a party after and you have to go to the party, be cordial, and all of that stuff. So I’m at the Metallica party after the show and all of the bands are hanging out, everybody’s talking and all of a sudden I get a tap on my shoulder and it’s my manager telling me ‘Frank. It’s 3 a.m. You have a 7:30 set call.’ And I just looked at him with big eyes. It went that fast.”
Getting up that same morning wasn’t the best experience.
“Let’s be honest, I had a couple of beers. I wasn’t drunk, but I celebrated a little bit and then I had two hours of sleep and I went right to set.”
Bello and the Buckley crew made it all work in the end, though. There was even a cot waiting for him between takes.
Greetings From Tim Buckley isn’t the only film about tragic cult hero Jeff Buckley that’s set to come out in the next while. Another film, which features Jeff’s mom, Mary Guilbert as an executive producer, is also in the works. Unlike Greetings, which focuses on Tim Buckley’s songs, the other film, tentatively called Mystery White Boy, has exclusive rights to the use of the younger Buckley’s music and the blessing of his family.
Bello is aware of the controversy surrounding the two films, but he stands by Greetings, both as a member of the cast and as a Buckley fan.
“This is a great story,” he says. “If I wasn’t in the film, I would want to see it. I’m a Jeff Buckley fan and I want to see the journey he took and, let’s face it, this really did start him off in his career.
“I don’t know what their story is [Mystery White Boy]. I know it has a lot of his songs in it. But this is a different kind of story. It gets you to where he started his career and that’s really interesting.”
Perhaps most importantly to the musician, though, Greetings From Tim Buckley cast a Jeff Buckley who could pull off the musical side of the role in Penn Badgley. The actor, best known as Dan “Lonely Boy” Humphrey on Gossip Girl inspired some raised eyebrows and doubt when he landed the role, but Bello wants to everyone to know that Badgley is for real.
“Penn kicked ass. I was so proud of him, man,” he enthuses. “This kid can sing. So I think that people will see that he’s actually got the chops, and this is from a music guy saying this.”
This interview was originally published September 12, 2012 via AOL Spinner
Episode 23 of the Polaris Podcast was the second in a four-part series dedicated to albums that received Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize designation.
For this episode we talked about Rush’s 2112 and Bruce Cockburn’s Stealing Fire.
Or, to make it easy, you can listen to it right here:
“When I was young I cut off the tip of my finger in a shop class accident, so I have to wear plastic tips,” says Dave Grohl, the leader of the Foo Fighters, on the morning of Summersault 2000’s first show in Vancouver.
His guitar playing is remarkable considering his disability so you’ll have to get real close to the stage to tell if what he’s saying is true, but it’s the cross-Canada tour he’s really excited in talking about. Going on at length about his favourite aspects of Canada, you just want to give him a little hug, hand him a toque and jug of maple syrup and give him a free “Good through all of Canada” bus pass.
Here’s what he had to say:
Getting excited about the tour yet?
Dave Grohl: I’m excited to do it. I’m really looking forward to it. The Deftones are playing today and I’m extra looking forward to seeing that. I’ve never seen them play and I really do like their record a lot. And, um, everybody else can go fuck themselves.
What’s the deal with the “Foo-B-Cue”?
We brought a barbecue tech with us on this tour. We are traveling with our own barbecue on this tour. So we’re going to set up right outside our bus and have a barbecue at every stop on the tour. We don’t have a pig on a spit or anything but, I wish…
Are you gonna play Molly Hatchet at the barbecue?
There’s gonna be a whole lotta Skynyrd, Foghat and a lot of fuckin’ death metal while we eat ribs.
Shouldn’t you eat the ribs raw for death metal?
We’ll just eat each other’s hearts or something.
So what’s it like to be back in Canada?
We were actually just here with the Chili Peppers a couple months ago. Canada to us is one of the best places to play only because, for whatever reason, they’ve embraced our band here more so than almost anywhere else in the world. The audiences here are greatly enthusiastic, so I’m looking forward to it. There’s a lot of things I like about Canada… not only is it beautiful country, the people seem to be genuinely, nice.
Now you’re sucking up.
I’m serious! There’s few countries in the world where people are actually warm and receiving. There’s Italy, there’s Spain and then there’s Canada.
How’s dealing with Our Lady Peace?
I don’t deal with anybody and you know what? We’re the easiest fucking band in the world to negotiate with because we just don’t give a shit! We don’t care! All we need is a barbecue and Crown Royal. That’s it. And some Coors Light.
Well, you are in the home of Crown Royal.
I know, that’s why I’m fucking psyched! This tour’s gonna be great!!
What do you think about Canadian chicks?
Canadian chicks are fuckin’ hot!
…As you say that winking.
Yeah. I know a Canadian chick that’s REALLY hot.
Ever heard the Fred Schnieder & The Shake Society song “Monster?”
I haven’t heard it. But anything Fred does is solid gold anyway.
It goes [singing] “There’s a monster in my pants/And he likes to jump and dance/When he comes into the room/People hit it with a broom [chorus] Oh no monster, Oh no monster…”
Wow!! Swe-eet! We have a song called “Watershed” and we went to do it acoustic on radio once but on record it’s this wild, fast, screaming punk rock song and we tried it acoustic and I realized there was no way I could scream over it. There wasn’t really any way I could sing it so I thought that I would tell a story in the voice of Fred Schnieder. The story was actually about coming to Vancouver.
More and more Canadian angles!
See what I’m talking about! I love Crown Royal! Canadian chicks are hot…
At what point do we have to declare you an honorary Canadian?
I guess whenever I get my green card. Do you have those here? I guess once I become spokesman for Crown Royal.
You could get your bus in the shape of a Crown Royal bottle.
Now that’s going a little too far man, c’mon. I don’t want the kids drowning themselves in Crown Royal every night. I’ll just wear a fuckin’ crown every night, how’s that?
That could work.
And I could make a cape out of all those purple bags! I think all the Crown we’ve drank in the last six months we could probably make a blanket or something.
What are your favourite Canadian cities?
I really like Montreal a lot and I really like Vancouver. Montreal’s good if you want to score some sticky and hang with death rockers.
Yeah, Montreal’s big on that.
I know. I love it. One of my favourite bands ever was this band Voivod. I worshipped them when I was a kid.
Iron Maiden and Rob Halford played here a couple days ago.
Hey, run to the hills everybody.
In honour of Iron Maiden and Rob Halford I stole this idea from a website called Metal Sludge. I’m going to give you a list of records for you to rate, 1 being something you should burn to keep from the ears of children and 10 being a record that’ll make you want to bust stuff in a real cool way:
Motley Crue Shout At The Devil
I give that probably about a 7.
Heart Dreamboat Annie
Ooh. That’s a fuckin’ 9!
Culture Club Kissing To Be Clever
That’s a 1.
Iron Maiden Powerslave
I’m not too familiar with that, but because it’s Maiden I give it a 6.
Judas Priest Turbo
That’s probably gonna have to take a fuckin’ 8. He was comin’ out record by record. It was gonna happen. Everybody knew, everybody fucking knew, but all the dudes that liked the music didn’t want to admit it to themselves. “He’s not gay, this rocks. No way man, no way, he’s not a fag.”
Depeche Mode People Are People
I give it a fuckin’ 2.
WASP The Last Command
2. I hate WASP.
Styx Kilroy Was Here
That’s gonna get a fuckin’ 8.
David Lee Roth Eat ‘Em And Smile
10 baby! 10 right there! That one never goes away. Did you ever hear the Spanish version of that record?! It’s so hilarious.
Foreigner Double Vision
Dude. That gets a fuckin’ 20! That’s off the chart! You can’t get any cooler than Foreigner. On that list Foreigner’s the baddest! There are legions of Foreigner fans in America.
This interview was originally published August 4, 2000 via Chart Communications.