I sat down with Jordan Gauthier, creator and founder of Ottawa-based drum manufacturer, YC Drum Company. We talk about what got him into drumming when he was younger, what inspired the company and other great stuff. You can also find the link to his company’s page at the bottom – so don’t forget to check it out and give it a like! Tell us about yourself and what you got into drumming.
At the beginning of last year, the Ottawa based alternative rock band Mosely released their second EP release “With Pencils in Hand” independently through their own record label, House of Fish Productions. After releasing the EP, Mosely went on a 4 month tour with the non-profit organization, Live Different where they promoted both the album and the organization’s message.
The band has been in the Ottawa scene for many years ranging from Your Portrait Here, a post-hardcore sound in Not Even Death to their now alternative rock sound in Mosely. The EP features 6 tracks drawing influence from old punk rock bands like Green Day and Blink 182.
This past weekend Montreal electro-infused, psych-rock band Suuns (Secretly Canadian) played at Black Sheep Inn for the first time and treated us to their in-your-face sound. Their pulsating, unfettered sound was unforgettably penetrating to us in the quaint venue, and nothing was going to stop the music from making an impact on those who made it out that night. Joe wrote a great post on the night, which can be found here.
Swearin’ is one of the bands I’ve listened to most in the last year. Songs like “Dust in the Gold Sack,” “What a Dump,” and “Just” (with its unbeatable chorus of “I just want you to love me, woah-oah-oah-oah-oah”) are burned into my psyche. Swearin’s songwriting style, which is both universal and extremely specific, makes for choruses and verses which I’ve come to associate with moments in my own life. I’m pretty sure anyone can relate to a song like “Loretta’s Flowers”, a slower number which singer Allison Crutchfield describes as being about “watching your friends make mistakes in their love lives”. This is all a slightly tangential way of saying that I went to this show with high hopes and was not disappointed. The band seemed appreciative of the packed, lively house at Luneta and returned the favour with an energetic, highly enjoyable set.
Finderskeepers are set to release a new album, check them out rocking out.
This Friday, February 28, Ottawa punk rock three-piece Finderskeepers are releasing a six song 7” called Pack Your Bags. This will be the band’s third official release, and having been lucky enough to listen to it I am very excited for them. But not everyone knows these lovely people so I thought best to do a little question and answer with guitarist and lead singer Chris Cook on the band and the upcoming release. Check it out and you can stream Pack Your Bags below.
So what do you get when you cross classic R&B anthems, a trio of badass DJs, and a sexy, sweaty atmosphere on Valentine’s day? No, not some weird sex romp. You get SILK‘s one-year anniversary party at Raw Sugar Cafe.
Ottawa’s The Superlative had a very busy 2013. They released their debut album Chester in March, played a lot of shows and got some big time international exposure. I had the opportunity in early December to sit in one of their practices (see the two-song video below) and interview the band. So here is my interview with the guys, Kiel Burwell (guitar/vocals), Charles Lapointe (vocals), Pat Lebrun (guitar/vocals), Alex Tait (bass) and Zach Lachance (drums).
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Shadrach Kabango, better known as the Juno-winning Canadian hip-hop artist Shad, as he came through Ottawa while touring his new album Flying Colours. Here is the interview I conducted with him before his stellar show, which you can read about here.
I have been listening to the new album since it dropped and I really like it. Where does the album title, Flying Colours, come from?
The title comes from the phrase passing with flying colours. I knew I wanted to talk about success and failure, and knew that it would be a thread throughout everything. I just like the idea that we are all doing well, in some kind of grand scheme and ultimate sense. Particularly because it comes as a surprise to everyone, we are so self-critical and to our surprise we are all doing quite well.
What is your favourite colour?
I like grey because grey clothes are easy to wash, hahaha. I also like blue and maroon. I can’t just pick one.
Throughout your new album, and your previous albums, you make a lot of sport reference. What is your favourite sport?
What is your favourite sports team?
I don’t have a favourite sports team that I cheer for year in and year out. Some teams that have been close to my heart over the years are, the Fab Five Michigan, the Penguins of the Lemieux years, Vince Carter’s Raptors, the Golden State Warriors with Hardaway, the Knicks in the Ewing and Starks days and the Stockton and Malone Jazz. My loyalty shifts from team to team, but stays with core players.
Those are some great teams, when it comes down to it you clearly love good sport. What is your greatest sporting achievement?
My greatest… I’m going to have to take it down to two. Grade 9 high school city champs in basketball. I won a three-point contest at a charity tournament I defeated a lot of very good players.
Those are some pretty sweet memories to have. Now to get back to your music. The media and many others say that you are a positive and uplifting hip-hop artist. You do have a lot of positive lyrics, but you also deal with some very serious and troubling subjects. What leads you to be more positive in a style that often focuses on the negative?
At this point, one challenge that I like with lyrics is to try to find hope and name it. Really put a finger on it and put words to it. It is a creative challenge that I like, to try and do it without short cuts or over-simplifying. Confronting the reality of who we are and the reality of the world, but also finding some hope in it.
Sticking with that theme, mainstream hip-hop is seeing a little shift into popular and comedic lyrics like yours, with the likes of Macklemore tearing up the charts for example. How do you feel about that and why do you think it is happening?
It is great, it speaks to what resonates with people. People like to feel good, it just makes sense. People also don’t always feel good, so they don’t always want to hear happy music, and I can understand that. A little aside, in fact the whole musical tradition in America is essentially sad, comes from the blues and it is all sad music. Music elsewhere does not have a tradition like that, it is mostly happy. There is a place for positive. That is what people use music for to a great extent. It can be a release in terms of negative emotions, but also it is a place people go to for joy, to dance, have a good time and remember the world is a good place.
I really like the song ”Keep Shining” off of your 2010 album T.S.O.L. It focuses on the need to get more women involved in hip-hop. I was hoping you could talk a little about why you believe hip-hop needs more women?
It is a curious thing that hip-hop has grown since its inception in so many ways, sonically, creatively, globally but not in terms of female participation. I like to think of it in term of, every guy knows what it is like to be talking with 5 to 10 dudes. You share a brain and there are ways of talking you just wouldn’t do if females were part of that conversation. I see hip-hop to be the same way, if there were more females being a part of that conversation, things would change for the better. From the general tone of the conversation of the music would improve, people’s understanding and the kind of perspective that they share would grow. I like to think I went into it a little with the song. And I hope songs like that are an invitation and create space for women.
What is the biggest difference in Shad from last album to Flying Colours?
That’s a good question. I feel like I have learned a lot. I have grown a lot, learned a lot about myself. With this album my process was a lot more disciplined, I found that I was working harder, I felt more mature with the whole process and approach to it.
Well speaking of that new album, I absolutely love the track ”Stylin.” I think it is one of your most complete tracks so far, and was hoping I could ask you rapid fire questions inspired by the lyrics of the song?
Thank you. And of course.
What is white music?
Off the top of my head, Vampire Weekend, hahaha.
What is your favourite white music?
Simon and Garfunkel are at the top of the list.
You speak of haikus and highbrows, what is your favourite Shakespeare?
One of the silly comedies for sure, like Taming of the Shrew.
You’re out of my league you’re the MVP, you’re 23. So Lebron or Jordan?
Oooooooooooooooooooooooh! I wish I could say Jordan, but I am more of a Lebron personality.
Fair enough, but who is better?
You’re the best draft, MGD. What is your favourite beer on tap?
Mill Street Organic.
You are an MPP, what is your slogan?
It would be a play on the word party… let’s say I have a party affiliation, let’s say I’m part of the NDP like I reference in the song. My slogan would be ”turning the NDP into a real party.” Hahaha, something like that.
Ok last one for rapid fire, not from ”Stylin” but you have mentioned Star Trek and Star Wars on other tracks. So Star Trek vs Star Wars?
Star Trek, no Star Wars. I think I was most the into the first one, Episode IV: A New Hope.
You recently mentioned Bonnie Klein’s Order of Canada acceptance speech on your blog. Can you talk about why you liked it and what you thought about her view of Canada and the United States?
I thought it was cool it came out the same day as my ”Fam Jam (Fe Sum Immigrins)” video, so I highlighted and shared it. It speaks to the feelings that a lot of people have had and have, and the conversations I’ve had. I think it is true of our country and our own selves, we can have values, we can have principals, and be proud of the things that we have done, but if you don’t make an effort to progress those values and principals… you lose them. Things don’t just stay in a steady state, you are either getting better or getting worse. I think that is something a lot of us feel about our country. A lot of things we take pride in, many of us feel they are disappearing.
Here in Ottawa we are making national headlines politically, and Toronto is making them internationally. As a politically-minded artist, how do you feel about the state of politics in Canada?
There is an old way of doing politics and a lot of people of my generation have grown so detached, if you know what I mean. I am sure Rob Ford is a talented person for doing work in the city, there is a reason he got elected, and I am sure he is a decent man. But the way that he does politics, there are a lot of us who really resent it. There is obviously a lot of lying, a lot of deceit, a lot of bullying and we are sick of it. Then there are the other political games that we see going on in Ottawa. It’s like I think our generation is hoping there is a better way. We are so disengaged, it just creates this gulf between the people and what goes on in these rooms through all the layers of deceit. Then it just becomes common practice and how is anyone suppose to get engaged.
So you were raised in London, Ontario. It is not exactly known for being the mecca of Canadian hip-hop. How was carving out your career there?
I didn’t really start my career there exactly. Growing up there and going to high school there, music was fun but nothing I took seriously. I think a big part of that was that it was London, and there was not a whole lot going on. You could freestyle with your friends, maybe hop up on some stage at a talent show. That being said, once I started, London has been super supportive and awesome. A lot of my first shows were there and that is great. London was super supportive, places like the Embassy, Call The Office and the whole music community there. I love London.
How was it to present at the Giller Prize ceremony a few weeks ago?
It was a cool opportunity to meet different people. How many people get the chance to talk to very talented thoughtful writers. It was a very cool night. The guy I was presenting, Dan Vyleta, wrote a very amazing novel and it was cool to get to talk to the guy. You don’t normally get to read the book and then talk to the guy who wrote it. I thought it was very cool of the CBC to include me, because there were probably some more likely people to put up on that stage.
Sticking with literature, what are some books you would recommend?
I would recommend ”Becoming Human” by Jean Vanier and ”All Rise” by Robert F. Fuller. Both are very cool and non-fiction.
Keeping with recommendations, who is the one of the best underground hip-hop acts in Canada no one is talking about and that you would recommend?
I would tell people to check out the group called Freedom Writers from Toronto. They are basically a super group of Toronto underground kings. Some of the most talented guys in the city from the last 10-15 years. Very intense, very political music.
Final questions. You have won a Juno, put out killer albums and proven yourself time after time. Why aren’t more people talking about Shad?
I don’t know man. I am happy I get to do what I do, and I get to work hard at this. I get to have awesome experiences, and get to contribute my little piece. It feels really nice to feel like you have something to offer and to get to contribute it. Everyone has that one little thing to give man, I am just glad I get to give mine.
I went to the awesome Veara show at Luneta Cafe on Wednesday November 6th (review here) and got to sit down and chat with their drummer Brittany Harrell afterwards.
Where does the name Veara come from?
Well there’s a local music store where we’re from in Augusta called Jay’s Music, and when we were younger and growing up there used to be a lady named Veara who worked there. She had kicked some of us out of the store before for picking up a guitar or whatever, and well, she was kind of a bitch.
So when we started the band we were like, “she sucks! Let’s name it after her!” So it was that kind of mentality that kinda stuck with us.
How long since you left home in Augusta?
Well we did our record release on September 20th in our hometown of Augusta, technically that was our first day but we were at home. We’ve been out since then, almost two months. We’ve been in Canada since November 1st.
Augusta is not known for punk rock, but it will be now, what else should they be known for that they aren’t?
Well it’s already known for this, so I’m not sure if this counts, but the Master’s Golf Tournament? It happens there and it’s super popular. I don’t know though, thinking of something that it’s not known for but should be is hard. I’m going to say the food. One of my favourite restaurants in the world, and we’ve been to a lot of places in Europe and Australia, but one of my favourite restaurants is in Augusta, Georgia. I’m a total foodie, too. The Village Deli is “home of the gooey fries” so I’m going to say it should be known for that.
How are you liking Canada so far? What’s your favourite part?
We’ve played Toronto and Montreal before on previous tours, and also just played Montreal last night for the second time. We love this country, but the free Wi-Fi at the McDonalds is the best thing about Canada so far. We probably spent six hours at McDonalds today sitting there using their internet. Free Wi-Fi is like crack on tour, you don’t want to pay roaming.
You have traveled the world with the band, and I know you played Australia. Can you tell us a bit about that?
We were there in 2011 for Soundwave Festival which had Iron Maiden headlining, and it was one of the craziest tours we’ve ever done in our lives. We’ll be going back next year for Warped Tour Australia, too.
Excellent to hear you are going back. If I am not mistaken you will be playing with one of your biggest influences?
New Found Glory! They actually did Soundwave Festival the same year we did, so I made sure to go and watch them. We’re all friends with them and had a chance to chat. I mean we’re not call ‘em up buddies, but we know them and they know us so it’s always cool and watch them destroy because they are awesome.
I noticed a definite progression on your newer album, what do you think about your steps forward as a band?
Yeah, our new record Growing Up Is Killing Me took a step forward musically – I think we became better writers and musicians. With What We Left Behind, I mean, I love that record, but I think there were some things musically that we were scared to try earlier on. As far as dynamics go, we just stepped it up on the new record. Also, as far as writing goes I think it’s a lot more mature. I’m in the band and I can definitely hear a difference in how mature it sounds. So that’s something that’s different for sure.
How was working with Jeremy McKinnon of A Day to Remember earlier on? Still in touch?
Oh man, working with him on What We Left Behind, we were still writing and trying to figure out who we were as a band. Working with him and Andrew Wade really helped us zone in on our songwriting skills and musicianship too, which really helped us get to where we wanted to be. When we got to Growing Up Is Killing Me we already knew who we were as a band, this is what we sound like, not let’s take it a step further. We worked with Dave Korneff, who is amazing – amazing producer, amazing engineer – and he helped us take that next step.
For those not lucky enough to catch you, what can they expect from a Veara show?
Let’s see. If you’re going to come to a Veara show, you can expect sing-alongs, high energy, jumping around, people going nuts. Depending on the market, it can get pretty nuts. I mean, our bass player is a perfect example of our energy. We always try to get the crowd going and get people moving. Brad sings in people’s faces, just a great time with everyone having fun.
Veara has one of the most intense bass players I have ever seen on stage. He is jumping, flinging his bass, screaming, grabbing the crowd…what is his secret?
Yeah, he’s an awesome dude. I think he’s like all of us, once we hit that stage then a switch turns on and all we focus on the show and what’s in front of us. He’s crazy though. Sometimes I’ll be playing drums and I’ll look up and think, “HOLY SHIT, did he just do that?” So it’s pretty cool!
As mentioned before you played big stages in Australia for example, how do you like playing smaller venues like this one, 80 person capacity?
Big stages are fun and all, but when I’m playing a show like this (at Luneta Cafe) where we’re right in front of the crowd, nothing beats that energy. When you’re playing big shows, sometimes there are drum risers and the drummer is far back. So you gotta really try to maintain that energy, but smaller shows like this it’s no problem. I’ll never stop playing this kind of show.
The punk music scene is often seen as a boys club. And drumming is almost exclusively lefts to the boys. What motivated you to become a female drummer in a punk band?
I started playing drums when I was nine years old because of the band Hanson. When I was nine I saw them on MTV and was like, “Holy crap, I really like this a lot”, you know, that bubblegum pop was just irresistible. I saw that the drummer was close to my age, so I thought that if he can do that then I could do it too. I begged my parents and Santa for a drum set, and magically one day a cheap drum set appeared at my house. They thought it was just a phase but I stuck with it and took lessons. I played in middle school and high school, and just remembered that it was always just something I did for fun.
I remember not really practicing much, and then I heard Blink 182. I think “What’s My Age Again?” was the first song I heard by them and so I bought the CD. I listened to it non-stop, and I remember in “Adam’s Song” especially, the drums blew me away. It completely changed the way I looked at playing drums. I never thought you could play verses and choruses the way he did. It made me practice more and is what helped propel me to get better and really made me want to be in a band.
Any advice to girls who want to start playing drums and be in a punk band?
Yeah, I mean I’ve always been really competitive. I grew up with an older brother and was always going head to head with him, but I think I took that mentality and applied it to drums. I mean, you don’t really see a lot of girl drummers, but I didn’t go into it thinking “I really hope I can play this”, I went into with the mindset that I’m going to play the drums and it was something that I wanted to be good at. So my best advice to girls is to just practice lots, and don’t be gender specific. There are actually lots of female drummers that can run with the best, I don’t think gender really matters. Whoever is at the top of the game, guy or girl, that’s what I’m striving for. Always having someone to look up to and trying to achieve a higher level is really important.
I got the opportunity to sit down with one of my favourite Canadian bands, Elliott Brood, last weekend at Westfest. As some of you may know, I’m also the Music Editor for Herd Magazine, a position which certainly comes with its perks. One thing we’re really starting to push for at Herd is more media content online, because people like that sort of thing on the interweb. Well, and because it’s interesting (in a different way than a physical magazine can be). Let’s just say this is the first of many. Mark, Casey, and Steve were very genuine, down to earth guys that were happy to sit down and discuss their music with a lowly avid fan. The video was shot with the talented Shooter McNally and Mark Delaney. Big shout-out to Rosalyn at Westfest for making this happen! Here’s what they had to say.