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Q & A

Monday, February 1, 2016

Justin McGrath (Walrus) interviews Kurt Inder

Halifax indie rock bands play shows tonight and all week

Posted By on Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 2:39 PM

Kurt Inder - KATE GIFFIN
  • Kurt Inder
  • Kate Giffin

Today for The Scene Blog, I've asked Justin McGrath (Walrus, The Age) to interview Kurt Inder, the frontman of the Halifax pop-noodle band of the same name. Indebted to the lo-fi jazz-jizz sounds of Mac DeMarco and beyond, I first saw Kurt Inder last summer at The Khyber, featuring one of our favourite drummers Bianca Palmer (Vulva Culture) and three boys playing guitars in make-up and Suzy Shier dresses. It felt pretty good. Since then, Kurt Inder has been playing around town and released this really wavy album, Cool Sad Natural, last September. Next week, Kurt Inder heads out on a Quebec/Ontario with Vulva Culture. But first, they play an Inder-suprise tonight with rockers The Age at The King's College Wardroom. 

  • The Age
  • Kate Giffin

On the same note, the similarly wavy and 60s-inspired classic-sounds of The Age will grace the return of Garrett Mason at The Carleton, and then on Saturday at Jacob's Lounge with The Scoop Outs (see event details below). McGrath, also a guitarist for Walrus and Shadow Folk, says The Age are finishing their new album with Charles Austin at the Echo Chamber, which should be ready soon. In the meantime, he hopes you can make it to a show. New and groovy stuff. 

Justin McGrath: Where are you from? How old are you? 

Kurt Inder: I'm from Newfoundland and I'm 25 years old.

When did you start playing music?

I started playing music in high-school and started recording music in 2013.

What's your favourite flavour of Mr. Noodles

Mr. Noodles is nasty as fuck.

Tell me about the new album you're working on ... 

The new album is a mess. I have four songs recorded on my iPhone, three recorded on my computer and two on something else. It should be ready by March 27th!

Who are your favourite songwriters? 

My fave songwriters. Hmmm. Tricky. Adam and Eve: Pink and Steve. 

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

An interview with hometown rap hero Classified

One of our favourite local rappers went all out on his 16th album

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 2:45 PM

Classified (Luke Boyd) - C/O CLASSIFIED
  • Classified (Luke Boyd)
  • c/o Classified

On January 15, Halifax rapper Classified released Greatful, his 16th studio album with features from the real OG Snoop Dogg, Brooklyn's DJ Premier (PRhyme), and local artists like singer-songwriter David Myles and popstar Ria Mae. This week, I called up Class (real name: Luke Boyd), chilling in his studio, to chat about the album, his upcoming tour and watching Netflix.

Congrats on the album! It's got some serious jams going on. Your 16th album has 16 tracks. But I read an article that said Greatful will be your last album? Is that true?

Actually, I don't know. CBC kinda blew that up like it was gonna be my last one, but I kinda always feel like every album is going to be my last album. I'm so exhausted and sometimes I feel like I've written about everything I'm gonna' write about. For this one, though, I did get some features from guys I'm big fans of, and it was also just a lot of me focusing on my own stuff for it. So it felt pretty good. But I do find I'm getting a bit more involved with the people around me. So maybe this could be the last one. But I think I'll still be making music and putting songs out and stuff. 

I love the "No Pressure" song, with Snoop Dogg. How did that come about?

That was me being a big fan. I had been reaching out for a few minutes before he ended up coming here for The Trailer Park Boys. When I found that out, I got in touch with management, like he'll be just 20 minutes down the road from me. So they invited me to bring a small studio to his hotel. 

What was chillin' with Snoop like?

At first, it was all business. He doesn't really know me, you know. I mean, we've done a few shows over the years, but he wasn't too familiar. So it was like, at first, like hey what's up, very business-like. And his security and everybody was there. But once he got into the song, he became more chill and we started having fun, had some puffs. So it was cool. It started a little weird but it got cool. 

Along with the Snoop feature, "No Pressure" also samples a Dave Sampson song.

Yeah, the song started from that. Dave sent me his album, asking I wanted to sample any of it, so I put the CD on, and that's the first track, and I was like, 'Oh shit, this is a cool chorus,' you know, the hook of the song. I had the whole song done before I hooked up with Snoop. And then I wanted to make it not so east-coast heavy, so I had Dave re-sing it as the "west coast" and then I was like, 'Who's the biggest from the west coast that could add to this track?' and of course, that's Snoop.

Well that's pretty interesting to take it coast-to-coast, because I've always thought about how "Maritimes" was such a regional song, and then "Oh Canada" was national, and now you're reaching international. Like, you keep going out and out. 

(Laughs) It wasn't put out that way. I mean, I never meant to do it that way. If you take a step back, it seems like I'm just making songs and I'll get a little bigger every time until I make a song about the world (laughs), but I think it's more because I like to represent where I'm from. That's what gives me my identity. When I first started touring out of the Maritimes, I was representing the people and lifestyle of the Maritimes, to let the rest of Canada know what we're about. Then when I started touring outside of Canada, people would be like, "Oh you guys are hip hop fans? What do you do there?" So I said, let me make a song about it. I always wanna rep where I'm from.

Do you have a favourite song on Greatful

It's really hard to pick. It's like picking a favourite kid, I mean, you like them for different reasons. I like one of my kids 'cause she's funny, and I like the other one, too (laughs). "It's Hard to Understand" is a deep track. We're working on a video for it, and four other ones, because it doesn't really fit in the radio world and I want visuals for it. I like "No Pressure" because it has to do with Snoop, and "Filthy" is some old-school hip hop, like when I was first coming up. 

So you've got this tour coming up...

I feel like I've been touring for 12 years now. It was nice to stay home for a bit and focus on stuff. Me and Dave (Sampson) have songs we're working on. We've got David Myles' new album coming up. Right now I'm in the studio working on this tour, lining up the set list. We'll be making some noise in Canada and the States. It'll have a party vibe. But since wrapping the album, we've just been doing promo for it and getting people hyped on the tour, and hanging with my kids. 

You watching football? 

No, I never really got into football, but all my boys watch it. But I was into hockey growing up, until I got into music. But actually I still play twice a week. I just played last week. 

Nice. That's sweet. You watching any cool shows lately? 

Yeah, we just got our Netflix hooked up so we're new to the game but I got as far as Episode 7 of Making a Murderer, I got all into reading the real documents and all the shit from the show, but it didn't seem like it was that good anymore so I didn't finish it. It just showed the one side of this guy. But I'm into Narcos, I really liked that. And I watch Empire, even though it's so cheesy, for some reason I really like it. I usually find that any TV show that's about the music industry is usually cheesy for some reason. But I really like Empire.

Yeah there's that new HBO series about the industry in the 70s, Vinyl.

Oh yeah, didn't Mick Jagger have something to do with that?

Yeah, it looks like it'll be good. So who else would you like to work with?

Well Snoop was the top. But 90s rappers I grew up with, like Nas and Jay-Z ... Eminem. I don't think there's just one person. Ed Sheeran is cool, I met him a couple years ago. Lately I've been working so much with Ria (Mae) and Dave. I like the singer-songwriter on guitar, then coming in and putting drums on it and producing the track. I like doing that, because it's so different from what I've been doing for the last 15 years. It's refreshing. I think that's what I'll be doing more of. 

Classified plays The Marquee on March 18th, with Son Real. Buy tickets now.

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Friday, January 15, 2016

A 90s Quiz with That 90s Night

DJs Jeff Pineau and Trevor Murphy share their favourite 90s things

Posted By on Fri, Jan 15, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Jeff Pineau & Trevor Murphy, 90s kings - JEFF PINEAU
  • Jeff Pineau & Trevor Murphy, 90s kings
  • Jeff Pineau

*Joey from Blossom voice* Woah! Did you know that DJs Jeff Pineau and Trevor Murphy (Quiet Parade) have been bringing Halifax one of the most nostalgic dance events, That 90s Night, since July 2012? *Jesse from Full House voice* Have mercy!  Well, it's true and it's giving me Goosebumps. Tonight at The Seahorse, they're gonna hit you baby, one more time

"Musically, we stick to the overarching theme of just playing 90s jams," Pineau and Murphy tell me, "From time to time, we'll throw a theme party — like the Saved By The Bell Beach Party or Neon Night — but that's more about atmosphere and it doesn't really have any impact on the music we choose. We're 90s kids, so we have both a nostalgia and a fondness for a lot of these songs. Never really thought we'd be so psyched about S Club 7 when we were 14, but here we are."

To get you pysched for this next nostalgia trip, we're quizzing Pineau and Murphy on their favourite things from the 90s. There's nothing like a Big Shiny Tunes 2 & 3 down memory lane.

Most Listened-To Genre of the 90s
PINEAU: Grunge
MURPHY: Rap Rock

Best Fashion Trend of the 90s
PINEAU: Bleached hair
MURPHY: Snap bracelets 

Best TV Channel of the 90s
PINEAU: Much Music
MURPHY: Much Music

Best Halifax Band of the 90s
PINEAU: Burnt Black
MURPHY: Burnt Black 

Best TV Show of the 90s
PINEAU: The Simpsons
MURPHY: Boy Meets World

Best TV Family of the 90s
PINEAU: The Simpsons
MUPRHY: The Aunts from Sabrina

Best Political Event of the 90s
PINEAU: Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton scandal
MURPHY: Chrétien's "Shawinigan Handshake

Best Software of the 90s
PINEAU: MSN Messenger & ICQ
MURPHY: mIRC (Internet Relay Chat)

Best Sports Event of the 90s
PINEAU: Tyson biting Holyfield's ear off
MURPHY: Blue Jays winning 92/93 series 

Best Musical Genre of the 90s

Best Snack of the 90s
PINEAU: Fun Dip!
MURPHY: Hostess Chips with WWF Stickers

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

10 Questions with Old & Weird

Halifax band plays tonight with Muncho Joe, Mauno and Seattle's iji

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2015 at 11:41 AM

Allison, Danika, Hannah & Cheryl - COLIN MEDLEY/KATE GIFFIN
  • Allison, Danika, Hannah & Cheryl
  • Colin Medley/Kate Giffin

Tonight at Gus' Pub (9:30pm, $7), Halifax rock band Old & Weird will play with fellow locals Muncho Joe, Mauno and special guest iji, "absolutely perfect pop all the way from Seattle, Washington." I'm not missing this one since it might be a few minutes before Old & Weird play Halifax again. After last summer's release of What I Saw, they had a pretty sweet summer this year playing NXNE, Pop Montreal, Sappy Fest (unofficially, hehe) and they released a seven-inch split with Toronto's New Fries on Pleasence Records. To get you more familiar with one of the best bands in Halifax, we played "10 Questions with Old & Weird," but really it's more like "40 Answers with Old & Weird," but you know. Just roll with it. Okay cool. 

1. What's your favourite cereal? 


Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Well, Adria, that would have to be my
old-time delicious favrite - Granule!!


2. What's your favourite fabric?


Silk or maybe wool. Silk wool?

Probably just cotton


3. What's the last song you listened to?

Abba - "The Day Before You Came

Relaxing Scarf Sorting for Sleep & Tingles

Last song of new Cindy Lee release


4. Who is your celebrity lookalike? 

I got Hope Sandoval recently (Mazzy Star); that
was kind and probably too flattering. People usually
give you look-alikes as a compliment though, right? 

Eminem? I don't know.

Any Jennifer


5. Who is your cell-phone provider?





6. Favourite instrument brand or model?

I'm not picky

I know literally nothing about this

Practice Amp


7. What's your go-to karaoke song?

Kylie Minogue - "Love at First Sight"

Alanis Morisette - "You Oughta Know"

Sophie Hawkins - "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover


8. What's your favourite place in Halifax? 

A moving vehicle

Tea Lake

Recently quite liked being in the Rebecca Cohn while 
the NS Symphony practiced, but I mean . . . bed, ocean,
lake, cafe, Point Pleasant and Public Gardens are 
pretty good if you're looking to the future while
appreciating the past, . . . toilet, Freeman's? 


9. In which TV show would you star?

Ally MacBeal, cast as a recurring dancing hallucination


Really wanted to be on Degrassi Next Generation,
maybe could go as a mature student at this point 


10. Your astrological sign





For more information, click "Attending" on Facebook.

*Old & Weird is Hannah Guinan, Cheryl Hann, Allison Higgins & Danika Vandersteen. 

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Q & A: Jeremy Banks, the new director of Bus Stop Theatre

Halifax's independent theatre co-op hired a new executive director last month

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 3:32 PM

New executive director Jeremy Banks & outgoing director Clare Waque - THE BUS STOP THEATRE
  • New executive director Jeremy Banks & outgoing director Clare Waque
  • The Bus Stop Theatre

Last month, The Bus Stop Theatre announced the hiring of its new executive director, Jeremy Banks. After incorporating as a non-profit co-operative in 2013 and establishing a Board of Directors, Waque's vision to transfer leadership was accomplished with Banks, a west-coast arts and culture administrator who moved to Halifax two years ago. We caught up with Banks for a Q & A about his new position, the value of the theatre, and what the future holds. 

Can you tell me a bit about your background? You're new to Halifax?

New to Halifax? Suppose so. This is year two in Halifax, but I've been here long enough to attend Dalhousie, join Deepwater Church, volunteer on the board of Eastern Front Theatre, work to make democracy better with Springtide Collective, put pianos in public with #PlayMeHfx and join ArtsHalifax, HRM's arts advisory committee. I'm also working with artist Eryn Foster on a project with the Dalhousie Art Gallery and Dalhousie Urban Garden Society - so there's that too. My background is in arts on the west coast, where I founded a festival, managed small theatre and ran marketing for big theatre. From there I found a passion for places where arts and culture meet Urban Design. You quickly discover arts and culture create economic growth - it's one of the ways Ontario created jobs and supported growth during the '08 recession, and it still works to create growth today in the communities that invest in it.

How did you hear about the Bus Stop and when did you get involved?

How can you not hear about the Bus Stop? It's the place for independent, innovative and alternative live events: theatre, festivals, music, performance art, art shows, and I'm totally into that! I attended the Bus Stop first as an audience member, then later started making plans with friends to host shows. Now I'm an Executive Director. Who knew?

Why was this position appealing to you? Why did you take it on?

I took on this role with the Bus Stop because it's a place where urban change meets arts and culture - it's a community hub, a platform for sharing your message and a place that locals have come to know and love - situated in one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in Halifax. With that in mind, it's a role doing exactly what I love - bringing together communities, supporting economic growth, and doing it in a way that supports as many people, organizations and performers as possible. In fact, it's the only place of it's kind in the Atlantic Region's largest metropolitan area - a gem found nowhere else in the maritimes than on Gottingen Street.

What do you hope to develop in your time as Executive Director?

I hope to support the legacy and community that Clare has fostered over the years - there's a great community of people who love and support the Bus Stop Theatre Cooperative through their membership and contributions on our board - especially Colleen MacIsaac, our Board Chair, who has worked with Clare since the first murmurs of creating a cooperative. So really - I hope to keep doing what Clare and the Bus Stop Theatre Cooperative have been doing: giving artists, community members and locals a place to perform, incubate and create in Halifax.

  • Christian Aires

What do you think is special about the Bus Stop as a venue and a space?

Clare asked this at a meeting the other day - I think she was fishing for a compliment because ever since coming to Halifax, I've known that the Bus Stop is the place to see unique, sometimes odd, and often groundbreaking performances - its the only place of it's kind in Halifax and Atlantic Canada, and because of that it's often a place where professional artists present new works before taking them nationally and internationally. It showcases not just regional artists, but international ones - a platform to present, connect and grow in a way that just can't be done elsewhere.

What are your favourite kinds of events? Theatre? Music? Etc?

That's a hard question. The best of anything is always a favourite. But THE favourite kind of event for me? The ones that brings everything together. A theatre show that involves a live band and incredible visual art, or an art show that has a great live performance and music, or a concert that's really well-directed - and the best part is when it's not from a professional - like when your friend does a great mixed-media performance over a well-designed mixtape style-musical score that involves eye-dropping visuals and it sells out. That's the type of show you just won't see anywhere else. It's why I love the Bus Stop!

Click here to become a member of the Co-op or for more info on programs and events. 

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Q & A with L.A. comedy duo Cheap Smokes

Comics host variety show with 22 Minutes & the Trailer Park Boys on Wednesday night

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 2:16 PM

Smokes, let's go - TONY LOMBARDO
  • Smokes, let's go
  • Tony Lombardo

Tomorrow night at The Company House, Toronto/L.A. comedy duo Cheap Smokes (Kaitlin Mamie and Laura Danowski) are presenting a variety show that'll satisfy all of your comedy cravings (8pm, $7). The show will feature special guests Adam Christie (This Hour Has 22 Minutes), Heidi Brander (This Hour Has 22 Minutes), local comic Dan Hendricken and appearances by cast members from The Trailer Park BoysSmokes, let's fuckin go

Now based in L.A., the comedy duo has appeared on Just for Laughs, MTV Canada, Sirius XM Radio and their own comedy miniseries about their move to L.A. They're in town filming sketches for TPB's SwearNet. Mamie says, "We've been shooting a ton of ridiculous sketch comedy over the past few weeks, we're really excited for people to see what we've been doing. It's going to be super funny." Gotta subscribe to that SwearNet. Danowksi says it's time to get greasy. 

Tell me about your backgrounds. You're both from Ontario?

I grew up in a small town called "Pembroke, Ontario" that's been known to be pretty wild. The highlights are murals, retirement homes, and East Side Mario's on a Friday night. I met Laura in the comedy program at Humber college in Toronto. The story goes, I went over to her house, she microwaved me some tea, and we've been best friends ever since. We became instant friends and soon realized we had the same sense of humor and started a sketch troupe.

Laura: I'm from a small town with one stop light called Thamesford. It has a festival called Calithumpian and the town crowds around a giant field with cows. The field is set up like a bingo grid and wherever the cow poops, you can cross off your bingo sheet. When you get a line or 4 corners you have "Bingo" and you win a tractor. Pretty cool if you ask me. I am very glad I moved to Toronto. Kait and I have been performing together for eight years and still going. 

How did you get wrangled up with the Trailer Park Boys? 

 They basically found our Youtube channel, watched some of our videos and realized we were insane and completely unafraid to do almost anything. We met the boys in Los Angeles, drank a giant bottle of tequila out of red plastic beer cups and immediately hit it off. 

Who is your favourite character on the Trailer Park Boys? 

I really love them all. It's a very safe answer I know, but after meeting them all in person I really can't say I have a favorite. Dancing: Ricky. Drinking: Bubbles. Cutie Pie: Julian.

Laura: I love them ALL although I do feel like Bubbles and I were separated at birth. We both love to say "yes" to anything and we hate when the party's over. They are all the best and made us feel like we've known them for years. We all got along handsomely. 

Do you perform stand-up as well as sketch? Or sketch and some stand-up?

Our performing style is a bit of a mixture of sketch and improv with a little bit of stand-up. We really like to involve the audience. We tend to be really interactive and extremely physical. I'd say we burn about 500 calories a show, easily. Can't stop, won't stop! We're very silly and fun. We've been described as being "a party onstage," which pretty much sums us up.

Laura: It's hard to describe us onstage, you kind of just have to come and watch. I'm not going to say that we don't do fart and poop jokes but I am going to say that we love fart and poop jokes and do them often. We each do character stand-up if one of us can't do a show.

What's next for Cheap Smokes after Swearnet wraps? 

Kaitlin: We're hoping to get a sketch comedy show on television. This really is an incredible time to be a female in comedy and we are so happy to be part of it. We'll be going back to L.A. We'll continue to do live comedy and film videos for SwearNet and our Youtube channel. And continue to share a luxurious one bedroom apartment in Little Armenia. Hollywood, here we come!

Laura: Someday I won't live in the living room of our one bedroom apartment but I hope we will work together forever. We say that when we (if ever) get husbands and a family that we will live right beside each other. Hopefully you'll see us next with our own show.

Check out their comedy videos now; get your chicken fingers ready for tomorrow. 

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Five Questions About Napalm Death

the more you know

Posted By on Fri, Oct 7, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Napalm Death
  • Napalm Death

Can I be real with you guys for a second here?
The truth is that while I am a fan of certain metal bands, I actually know sweet fuck all about grindcore. Thanks to the film Metal: A Headbanger's Journey , I am aware that grindcore is, like, a thing in metal. But I can't tell you much more than that. Yes, I AM CLOAKED IN FAILURE.

So when people started getting excited about the upcoming appearance of seminal grindcore band Napalm Death at the Seahorse tonight, I didn't really know what they were talking about. Moreover, I felt supremely ill-equipped to write/report on it in any meaningful way. So I asked Mike Parks - guitarist and resident shrieker for the Halifax grindcore band Burnt Church - to answer some of my stupid questions about grindcore and explain why the band is important to him. He kindly obliged. Thanks Mike!

PS _ Burnt Church open for Napalm Death along with Pith and Hellacaust on Wednesday, October 12. Tickets are pretty much sold out, although there may be a few stray ones kicking around if you ask nicely.

1. "Grindcore" is one of those metal sub-genres that make me feel vaguely anxious because I don't know much about it. Can you explain what characterizes grindcore - sonically and ideologically?

Grindcore has more or less become of a vague blanket term, much in the same way punk has. There's so many different subgenres that cater to people's specific tastes. There's subgenres like porno-grind that are sonically way more metal and as you can gather from the genre name, the lyrics are generally pretty trashy and/or intentionally offensive.

The way I always describe grind is that it is a mixture of hardcore punk and death metal, with lyrics that focus on mostly socio-political topics. I feel that would best describe the style that both Burnt Church and Napalm Death plays.

2. Where do Napalm Death fall on this grindcore continuum? What makes them notable?

Napalm Death are really the first band that was called grindcore. The name was derived from the buzzsaw grinding type sound that was made by their guitars. They've been together over 20 years, put out a slew of amazing albums and have never really sucked. Whether or not you like some of their mid 90's output depends on your individual taste, but I think it all rules. You can't say that about a lot of bands these days.

3. When did you first hear Napalm Death?

The first time I heard Napalm Death was on much music of all places back on the Power 30. The minute the music started I was floored. That would have been 1992 or 1993 and until then Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer were the staples of my musical diet, I hadn't really discovered punk yet. They had this speed and aggression that not even Slayer really matched.

4. How have they influenced your songwriting?

I would certainly say they've influenced both me personally as a songwriter and Burnt Church collectively. Their last album Time Waits for No Slave is one of my all time favourite records and has definitely influenced my playing a bit. One of our newer songs that Gerald wrote was temporarily titled Napalm Death until I wrote lyrics and gave it a title.

5. Tell me your favorite Napalm Death song and why you like it.

My favourite ND song is probably "Suffer the Children" from Harmony Corruption. I hope they pull that one out on Wednesday. I want to mosh to that breakdown.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Buck 65 talks

on zombies, Jenn Grant and revisiting the past.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 12:38 PM


Buck 65's new album 20 Odd Years comes out on February 1st and features a series of all-new songs and collaborations with Gord Downie, Jenn Grant, Nick Thorburn (of Islands and Unicorns fame) and others. (You can pre-order it here.) Buck/Rich Terfry was in town filming a video for the song "Zombie Delight" at the Bloomfield Centre and when I met with him, he was doing interviews on a makeshift newsroom set, wearing a suit and tie, the floor around him smeared with blood.

So I was wondering where this song came from. Are you a fan of zombies?

When I was really young, I had this serious phase when I was really into horror movies. It went on the wane for awhile, and then when I met my wife, she had this zombie thing. I seem to remember one of the first things she ever said to me was that she had a whole plan worked out for the zombie apocalypse. I was impressed by that. Then when we started dating and I began watching more of the underground zombie movies - the low-budget stuff, the foreign stuff.

In terms of the song - just before Halloween in Toronto, there was a zombie walk, so all these people gathered dressed as zombies, and the place where they gather is right outside my house. I think part of what motivated me was seeing that and being highly amused by that, and thinking I'll make a song and they'll use it as their theme song next year.

Also, this is another case - more common for me these days - where the music was done first. I didn't have any concept for it - I just had this piece of music, and I sat on it for a long time trying to figure out what it would be about. There was an urgency to it. It felt like there was a panic - what is it? Maybe I'm alerting people or warning people about something. Threat - warning - something - zombies! It was a funny thought.

Once in awhile, it's fun to do a song that's kind of a novelty. It's not the most serious thing I've ever written. Usually my primary motivation is to write the most beautiful thing that I can possibly write. This is a clear exception. It's like yeah, I'm taking a break from the thing I'm going to agonize over, to bleed for, and just do something fun and simple and fast.

It's something that eats at me a little bit at times, through the years, when I dabble in this particular area, when I do something with a novelty factor, those are the ones people gravitate towards. People shout them out and request them when I play live, stuff like that. So that's something I wrestle with. I also realize I have a sense of humour that people like sometimes. If I have a silly thought that pops into my head, sometimes you just gotta do it - there seems to be an appetite for it.

Well, it's probably not fun for you to be serious all the time, either.

Well, the sillier and lighter songs are the most fun to do live. It can be heavy, it can be serious. There's a lot of my stuff that is that way. On a Friday night in a room packed with people, you need to break up the heaviness once in awhile. It makes that much more of an impact, if people aren't hit over the head by that. It's important to have a few of those in your back pocket.

What's another song of yours would fall in this category? I assume, like, "Kennedy Killed the Hat"....

Yep, that's one. The one I still have people requesting the most is "The Centaur" which I made a million years ago. High novelty factor. "Food" is just a list of food, people like that one. "Hot Lunch" is just bragging about looking good. More recently, people have latched onto one called "The Niceness" that's all about being nice and bringing some absurdity into it - like bragging about being nice. I thought what's the most ridiculous thing to boast about? Being nice seemed to work. A lot of those silly ones are fixtures in the set a lot of nights, yeah.

Going back to the album - you wrote a lot of the music beforehand. I read somewhere that you said you wrote with a specific person's voice in mind. With this album, were you able to get everyone you wanted in your mind's eye?

No. Close, but not quite. One thing that I have been working on really hard and chasing and chasing but I refuse to give up is tracking down Roland Gift from the Fine Young Cannibals. I have spoken to him a couple of times, he knows this is something I'm hell-bent on doing, he's expressed seemingly cautious interest. It's time for him to come back. My view is that he has one of the best and most unique voices from the last 30 years. I know a lot of people would love to hear him again.

I also approached K'naan but just as things were starting with all the World Cup stuff, I sent him some music for him and he was really into it. But then his world got completely taken over. He's been working hard and I still don't think he's taken a break, really. It's still something we'd like to make happen.

There were a lot of people I had in mind specifically - early on, the seeds of the album were coming together in the studio with Charles Austin and I, and my friend Graham - they're kind of my core guys - and with one song, we could hear Gord Downie's voice on this one piece of music right away. We were like do you think we can get him? He's been pretty supportive of me, he's taken me on tour a couple of times. Maybe. We were hesitant to get our hopes up. But we sent it to him and he was like "I'm in, I've got ideas" right away.

Most often if I'm working on something, and I'm thinking - "I need a great singer, guitarist, pianist, whatever" - I usually have a friend who is talented that I know and trust and feel good around. Usually that's my primary motivation. It's not like "Hmm, who's a name I can get on this thing?"

In regards to Jenn Grant - her voice sounds so different on all the songs. Since you've chosen to include three collaborations with her, I was wondering what about her is appealing for you.

The first thing I would say about Jenn Grant is that she's one of the best singers in the world right now. Her raw talent is unbelievable. I'm very lucky that she's a friend that I can go to. I'm interested in her as a creative person, her whole approach. Even though she's got great chops and everything, I think everyone gets the feeling that there's something innate with her. Like she's been singing since she was a little kid. I got it the first time I ever saw her play - that not all of what I was hearing was written and labored over - there was something natural that just oozes out. She's also an inspiring person to talk to and hang out with - she's got a pretty unique mind and a unique sense of humor. She makes me feel good. I have a hard time with people in general - I'm pretty shy - so often it's hard for me to feel really relaxed around others. But I do with her.

When we did the Leonard Cohen cover, the only way I knew we'd get away with it is by being as faithful as possible. I said that to Jenn - "We have to do this by the book." My God, when you turn her loose to sing parts and harmonies and stuff.....She did her part before I did mine, and figured out the harmonies and everything, with no base to work off of. Her raw musical ability is awesome.

I liked the idea of challenging her and a few others - getting them outside their comfort zone. She rose to the occasion and handled it really quickly and easily. She approaches things on a real gut level. She doesn't overthink. I like to challenge myself in those ways, and I like to challenge friends in those ways too. She's my ringer, basically.

Most artists, when faced with a 20-year mark, would lean towards doing a greatest hits package. I know you've done something like that before....(2004's This Right Here Is Buck 65.)

Sort of. That wasn't my idea - it's something the label at the time put me up to.

Right. So now, I imagine you've been going back and listening to all the old songs you've got - I was wondering how that process informed the way you wrote the new songs?

I did consciously choose to go back and look through all the old stuff. I found the first or second song I ever recorded, and the first song I ever did in a studio, and with the others I did it chronologically. And I heard some things that were exciting to me, and others that were embarrassing to me. With some songs, I came away saying "Uh, no, not gonna try that again." And then there were others where I was like, "I was really onto something in '96, maybe it's time to get back to that place. Why'd I ever stop doing that?"

What's an example of something that you found embarrassing?

There's moments on the first album I put out on Murder Records, Game Tight that are okay, I kind of like them. There's some things on that that give me the willies a bit. And then there was the Chin Music EP, which came out on Waye Mason's old label No Records, I pretty much can't listen to it at all. It sounds like the work of a very insecure person. There's just nothing worse. But yeah, in '96 I was like, here's I'm finding a voice that sounds like my own. I was still kinda cocky, but dabbling in the absurd, and to me that's an irresistible combination - cocky but absurd at the same time. At that time, I did that song about Kiss - cocky and absurd, like "No one's as into Kiss as I am!"'

Just like bragging about being nice.

Yep. And I found a sharp distinct difference between my bedroom recordings, and the stuff I did in the studio. In the past couple of years, I did these three Dirtbike recordings, I was like "I need to make more music like this. I need to get back to when I was living above Black Market at Blowers and Grafton. I need to get back to what I felt like then." And the result was Dirtbike.

I also noticed (with the new album) that my vocal recordings were suffering in the studio, as opposed to when I recorded at home. I thought "I'm not getting the right level of comfort. There's no comparison. My performance was always better at home than when I was in a studio." So I said for the new stuff, I had to record my vocals on my own. I told the guys, we'll buy a good mic, do everything else in studio, but I have to do the vocals at home where I can be completely alone and get a performance I'm happy with. In the past, there was a pressure, an embarrassment about it, an unwillingness to open myself up in front of others. I wanted to be alone. I just wanted to get a take and finish it. There was always a lack of commitment, a stiffness, or just not a gutsy performance. I knew I couldn't keep doing that.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

5 Questions: Bloodhouse

They take a break from their precious NHL 10

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 10:49 AM


You may recognize Bloodhouse from the majority of my answers in the Coast's Best of Music survey, but if you didn't catch my personal ballot, please click the handy highlighted link to transport yourself to a shack in the woods swirling with pot smoke and fantasy hockey league stats. They are playing a show on February 27 at 2627 Connolly Street (final basement blowout show) with Bad Vibrations, Genetic Angry and Tongan Death Grip (8pm, pay by donation).

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mark Black's interview with Jay Reatard

Memphis garage punk icon dead at 29.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 1:41 PM


Music fans were shocked to hear the news on Wednesday that Jay Reatard had passed away (and then Teddy Pendergrass! RIP). Reatard played a memorable show at the 2008 Pop Explosion, and as you can see from Mark Black's Pop Ex story, he wanted to be remembered by more than just his stage antics.

-Mark Black & Jay Reatard Q&A

-Pop Explosion coverage

-Laura Kenins' review of Reatard's live show at the Marquee

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

5 Questions: Tongan Death Grip


Posted By on Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 11:21 AM


Our own Tongan Death Grip have some pretty boss news! Germany's P-Trash Records will be doing a TDG full length that should be ready late spring/early summer. So get your fill of their angelic faces before they inevitably pack their bags and tour Europe forever.

See them January 22 at Club 1668 with Pastoralia, Cold Warps and Darby Hall (10:30pm). DO IT.

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Friday, January 1, 2010

Halifax cognoscenti talk about genres/bands they’re excited to see in Halifax these days

What the driven dance to

Posted By on Fri, Jan 1, 2010 at 2:58 PM

Secret Colours
  • Secret Colours

I've been feeling really excited about bands from Halifax lately, there seem to be a lot of motivated people recording and releasing. Some bands I can't wait to hear more from are Bloodhouse, Cold Warps, Bad Vibrations (Husband + Knife, Air/Fire), The Lodge, Gamma Gamma Rays, Cat Bag, Dog Day, and a bunch more.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Deerfield twang up the afternoon, Dartmouth style

Country matinee? Don't mind if I do!

Posted By on Wed, Dec 16, 2009 at 10:49 AM


Alt-country trio Deerfield have started a new matinee series at Jacob's Lounge in Dartmouth (106 Portland Street), performing every Saturday afternoon at 3-8pm, providing you with tunes to salt your draft to. The group also added Katherine McQueen (formerly of Skank Williams) on vocals, to get some of that sweet, sweet lady harmony in there. Guitarist and vocalist Roger Nelson talks about the Deerfield developments

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Five questions with Stop Motion Massacre

Punks of few words

Posted By on Mon, Dec 7, 2009 at 7:07 PM

Stop Motion Massacre: Beings of pure light
  • Stop Motion Massacre: Beings of pure light

Stop Motion Massacre play manic punk rock, that, in my personal experience, usually involves one of them taking off their instruments and rolling around on the stage. They have my vote for most compelling vocal performance in Halifax. See them play at Gus' Pub on December 10 with Myles Deck and the Fuzz, The Fat Stupids and The Crimson Tides as a benefit for the IWK.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Five questions with Meat Curtains

Words of wisdom from Halifax pottymouths

Posted By on Sun, Nov 29, 2009 at 5:19 PM

Um, gross!
  • Um, gross!

Meat Curtains play minimalist punk songs about underage boys, dead dogs, and news anchors. Their vocals all sound like like they've unleashed the gates of hell and dual drummers mean you hear that hammering in your head for days. They're great entertainers, what can I say?

Scene & Heard: What are you up to right now?
Meat Curtains: Puking, but later on, basement recording for our first cassette release

S&H: What has been your best band memory so far?
MC: Ham sammiches, active wear, road trips to Truro

S&H: What has been your worst band memory so far?
MC: Denim onesies

S&H: What is the meaning of life?
MC: Making detailed plans and preparing oneself for the afterlife boyfriends and ultimate cunt fortress in the sky

S&H: What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
MC: Often effort is the only reward

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In Print This Week

Vol 28, No 3
November 12, 2020

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