"You're totally going to write that Hollerado went to China to eat a lot of dicks." Those are Menno Versteeg's words, not ours. But Versteeg, the singer of the Montreal-via-Manotick, ON, power-pop foursome, is serious. He's reminiscing about Hollerado's recent tour of China, where, between busking at Tiananmen Square and getting shot at by the police, he also had the chance to indulge in a local aphrodisiac. "It's a 55-percent, three-dick liquor," he explains. "It was rice wine with the dicks of otter, dog and deer in it. And it was good! Imagine combining Jagermeister with rubbing alcohol."
Despite a suspect phone connection, Versteeg's energy is undeniable: he's a mile-a-minute storyteller, devoid of PR cliches. It's easy to see how he's the puppet-master responsible for the thundering choruses and sunny-with-cloudy-periods guitar pop. Today, he's calling from Toronto, where Hollerado's being awkwardly ignored by Chad Kroeger. They're rubbing shoulders with Nickelback's entourage at MuchMusic. Apparently, the bands don't quite share the same sense of humour.
"I said, 'It's good to see that we're not the only shitty band playing Much today,'" Versteeg laughs. "The room went quiet. Everyone knows it: You don't talk shit to the biggest band in the world."
Nobody would confuse Hollerado with the biggest band in the world, though they were picked by Jack White to open for Dead Weather, but they've leafed through their fair share of Lonely Planet guides. Its collective CV more closely resembles that of a carny instead of a hand-to-mouth indie rock act. Hollerado's eventual destination will be Warsaw, where the band plans on working on new material this fall.
"It's neat to be really nomadic," Versteeg says. "We're not really locals of anywhere, which is kind of a strange feeling. But we have friends in a bunch of different cities."
Before leaving for Poland, Hollerado is embarking on a Canadian tour that has them landing at the Seahorse on April 16 with Vancouver charmers Said the Whale in tow. Their far-flung tour adventures are impressive, considering the band's Black Flag-esque commitment to DIY. It's an ethic that was developed over a contract dispute that Versteeg's previous band, Montreal punk act The Delegates, had when its label, Bankshot Records, folded. While Hollerado's debut, the aptly titled Record in a Bag, is backed by the distribution muscle of Arts&Crafts, it was released last year as a free digital download and hard copies are produced by their own label, Royal Mountain.
Supportive of budget travelling, Hollerado is holding a contest to rid themselves of their old van. They're encouraging lesser-established bands to submit YouTube videos of "random acts of awesomeness" to be judged by members of Priestess, Malajube and the Arkells. As for Halifax, Versteeg says he'll park Hollerado's replacement van outside the Seahorse, where he's hoping passersby will contribute some graffiti. They'll provide the Sharpies, but that's not the only fun they're anticipating.
"I'm looking forward to going to Pizza Corner and catching the fights," chuckles Versteeg. "You can't miss it." –Mark Teo