Quality over quantity, a great sense of humour and a relaxed sense of joy in Old and Weird's music leaves us breathlessly waiting for its upcoming tape.
The four members of Old and Weird began as co-workers, classmates and friends who had between them a new drum kit, a sister's borrowed bass, guitar skills and a fondness for Halifax bands from the '90s, like Jale and Plumtree. Writing songs together seemed like the natural next step. To get the ball rolling, bassist Hannah Guinan hosted a screening of Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, a 1982 cult classic starring Diane Lane, chronicling the trials of an all-girl punk band.
"It had weird messages, though," guitarist Danika Vandersteen says. "You didn't really know what the moral of the story was. In the end, all the girls in the crowd are dressed the same, and the band hates their fans, and I think one of them quits because she loves this man."
Luckily, the story of Old and Weird hasn't emulated that of The Stains. Over the past year and a half, Guinan, Vandersteen, guitarist Allison Higgins and drummer Sandi Rankaduwa have been busy setting up shows around town, recording, releasing a two-song Craft Singles cassette and playing Pop Montreal. The festival was an exciting experience, especially having the chance to see fellow lady rockers The Raincoats and Grass Widow. "We also went to The Raincoats' artist talk, and that was inspiring, just a really similar feeling, relatable," says Guinan. Old and Weird's artistic practices feed into its musical sensibilities, too: "I think the kinds of drawings I make are like the kinds of songs I make," Vandersteen says.
The group has found Halifax to be a supportive community when starting a new venture. "We've got good friends who have helped us out a lot with jam spaces and lending us gear and stuff. It's been pretty easy, I'd say," Higgins says. "It's seems as though everybody likes everybody," Vandersteen agrees: "It's kind of like, 'Your new song's great'... 'No, your new song's great!'"
Old and Weird has been recording here and there, at Echo Chamber and in its jam space at the Khyber, with a quality-over-quantity approach. There are only two songs on the group's Bandcamp (oldandweird.bandcamp.com), but both "Feel No Threat" and "Doing the Things" are summery pop treasures, weaving together the light and dark: think a thunder cloud floating on the horizon of a hot and hazy June afternoon.
Next up is a new, yet-to-be titled tape, featuring eight brand-new tracks, recorded with Gabe Wallot-Beale at Paul's Hall, a St. Margarets Bay church. "It's nice getting out of the city and having all day there," Higgins says. The tape will include artwork that may involve Batman or the Canadian flag. And although the details haven't been nailed down yet, watch for a release show sometime, somewhere in the next month or so. "It will happen," Rankaduwa says.
It's clear that Old and Weird is having fun, there's a relaxed joy that shines through in songs and performances, and in the way the members crack up over shared jokes like the time Wallot-Beale drove to the bus stop after a recording session and tried to throw an apple core out the window, only to have it ricochet back inside the car. So, maybe their experience doesn't have the drama to be made into a movie, a la Fabulous Stains, but Old and Weird is giving us good times and good art, instead. --Jaime Forsythe