Saturday, February 02, 2002

Here's a musical area that's caused me a whole lot of difficulty over the years:


Too young for punk
The first local music that I became aware of was punk rock...and my friends and I hated it. We thought groups like the K-Tels (who later became The Young Canadians) were a joke. KISS or AC/DC could kick their asses. But what did we know? We were, like, 12.

It's too bad, because I lived through the heyday of Vancouver punk rock, and I have nothing to show for it. I was too young to go to shows, I'll grant you, but I could have scored some insanely collectible albums and singles if I'd been spending my allowance at the right record stores back then. (note: I don't subscribe to the "collector scum" mentality. I buy records for the music, not any imagined resale value, I swear.) Alas, my punk rock alter-ego hadn't quite been hatched yet. I liked Rush too much (and still do).

Despite my initial aversion to punk, I've always liked D.O.A. for their humour, their blend of hoseheaded hedonism and sincere activism, and "World War 3," the best punk single ever. Here's a link to their oral history at Joey Shithead's own Sudden Death Records website. It looks like a pain in the butt to read--the centre-aligned text is nasty--but it's bound to be a lively tale nevertheless. Joey's a good Burnaby boy, and probably the only person who's lived there longer than I have. In fact, his place is just up the street from mine.

Are they local? Does Victoria count? I think they all live in the Lower Mainland now anyway. Are they punk? Are they jazz? Are they art-damaged, Oedipal geeks who haven't made a bad recording in their 20 years of existence?

All of the above. Armed with a TEAC four-track, the Wright brothers joined forces in the basement, took their music to the world, and became my favourite local band of all time. I haven't the space or time to describe their stellar discography (I'll let John Chedsey of the equally stellar Satan Stole My Teddybear give you his critical appreciation instead), but I will say here that their music has always inspired, scared, informed, and disturbed me during the 15-plus years that I've been listening to it.

What about the metal and the prog, Rob?
Don't get me started on how the Vancouver media, especially The Sun and The Province, have been utterly hostile to heavy metal since the beginning of time. Same goes for their attitude towards progressive rock. Tom Harrison, Fiona McQuarrie, Vaughn Palmer (hard to believe that this lumpen politco once wrote concert reviews), John Mackie, Greg Potter--the list of evil hacks goes on and on. Their ignorance and hostility only fueled my loyalty to the music I loved.

Back when the metal underground was exploding in '85, I could follow the local scene via CITR's Powerchord show (where Metal Ron and the Rattlehead hold court to this day, God bless their fraying bullet belts). I got to hear bands like Sacred Blade (I can't believe these guys are still going), Karrion, Mission of Christ, Dioxin and Fratricide. Wish I'd scored demos from all of them, but I didn't get out much in those days.

On the progressive front...well, there was no progressive rock in Vancouver that I knew of. Recently though, I've been introduced to Mind Gallery (who do quite well internationally, but I've only seen one article about them in the local press) and Earthbound, a Yes tribute act who manage to scrape together shows now and then (they also feature the Douglas College music department's own Bob Caldwell on drums). Their website has disappeared, I'm afraid, but here's a live review. I've had a pretty hit-and-miss history when it comes to catching shows by either of these bands, but I do my best. Gotta support the prog.

Shameless self-promotion
I like to think I've done my bit to clutter up the local scene with my thoroughly average musical talents. Two bands I've played in currently have a presence on the web--Stoke and KLAGG (there should be an umlaut over that "A", but I can't do it on this computer).

I'll go with KLAGG first, because it's been around the longest. KLAGG (pronounced "clog"--name taken from an SCTV skit starring Harold Ramis as a Swedish cop with an attitude) began when my friend Ian (bass, mostly) and I (drums, mostly) invited our friend Alick (guitar, mostly) to jam with us back in '95 or so. Man, did we jam. And we rolled tape. And we jammed some more. And we taped some more. After a few years, we decided to go back to the tapes and write some real songs with all the good bits. Long story short--two CDs, a couple shows, a bunch of fun. Ian's partner Rob built us our official website. I was supposed to supply most of the content, but I'm a busy guy. It's not quite the promotional powerhouse it should be. We also have an site, where the world can enjoy our painstaking craftsmanship.

Stoke came out of another jamming project where I teamed up with my friends Bruknow (bass) and Scum (guitar). It was kind of directionless (but still fun), and when Scum jumped ship, we drafted in Alick (of the aforementioned KLAGG). Alick, a master songsmith, gave us some direction, and before I knew it, we were in Vogville Recording Studios recording an eight-song CD. I had to leave the band because of my Print Futures workload, and they carried on to bigger and better things. Here's Stoke's site, where Bruknow's done a bang-up job of keeping the fanbase up to date. As Nardwuar the Human Serviette said, "Wicked!!! ... a total 21st century blast of rawk!" (sic). The man speaks the truth.

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