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THE OBLIVIANS Photo by Jamie Harmon

turn tables

by More Betty

Photo by Jamie Harmon

There is a bit of a garage punk renaissance every time folks rediscover the Oblivians' records. Turn the clocks forward to summer 2013, the release, Desperation hits the decks. And despair not, as trash rockers Greg Cartwright, Jack Yarber and Eric Friedl still defy any singular explanation with their revolving performances and their first studio album since 1997.

“You are really getting three different perspectives,” explains Cartwright. “Three different singers and three different songwriters. I would play drums on a set, Jack would play drums on a set, Eric would play drums [and we] all take turns on the lead vocal.”

The trio found themselves back in the driver’s seat, after taking their road show out for a spin.

“At first it was fun enough to play those old songs and relearn them and find those grooves again,” says Cartwright. This Memphis band rediscovered their chemistry after a tour in 2009, with their Detroit musical soul mates, the Gories. “Then we realized we wanted to keep playing, but we didn’t wanna keep playing those old songs.” With a tank full of creative fuel, they deliver 14 new vibrant tracks. “I am not afraid to bring new musical ideas I have into the thing. Cause I know, once they are computed into the Oblivians' machine it will come out like an Oblivians song. That’s a really cool thing to have. You can hear some of the Reigning Sound in my songs, some Tearjerkers in Jack’s songs,” adds Cartwright. “We’ve each had our own style of songwriting and, if anything, it’s just grown over the last few years. I didn’t know how much I missed it till we started playing live.”

Mr. Quintron’s “Call the Police” jumped out from a collection of New Orleans hip hop zydeco music. “It’s one of those songs that just burrows into your head and you can’t get it out,” he says. With a twist of fate, Quintron had a live date while the Oblivians were recording in Nashville, so they called him up. “He said yeah, I’ll come over and play on your track if you come over and play with me, the night of my show.

“A happy circumstance,” says Cartwright. “We were at the same place at the same time and we recorded the same song twice. One for his live album and one for our studio album within 24 hours.”

Desperation was recorded with a Scully one-inch eight-track from a '60s Electrodyne console.

“I love the directness of recording on to old gear. The great thing about analog is [that it’s] all tubes,” he says. With a guitar, guitar, drums, and vocals set up, the three just went in and cut it. Working analog to tape as a direct print of the process. “It might not be perfection but the Oblivians are not perfect and it works to our advantage,” he laughs. “You don’t have to second guess yourself. You don’t have any opportunity to change it anyway. There is not going to be any endless tweaking. I wanna mix with my ears, not my eyes,” he explains. “Back in the day, people had to know exactly how a song was going to be played and finished. Now, when people go in to record, it’s a drum track and then endlessly layered guitars and keyboard. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that. It’s a whole other art form that I’m just not any good at.”

Hailing from the musically resilient Memphis, TN, their recordings were noticed much later after the original releases. “It makes me happy. It lets me know that those records have longevity beyond when they were made,” he says. For a whole generation just hearing these for the first time, it’s an incredible break. “An awesome opportunity for them,” says Cartwright. “But an awesome opportunity for us to play for them! We get to run around and pretend we are a rock band even in our 40s!”

Seize this rare opportunity as The Oblivians play the Rickshaw Theatre on July 11.


CHI of SNFU - Cat Ashbee photo

trouble to prove

by Jason Kolins
Photos by Cat Ashbee

Speaking from a toilet stall in Vancouver’s Pub 340, Mr. Chi Pig, the charismatic lead singer of legendary Canadian punk band SNFU, is full of emotion as he discusses his band’s much anticipated new record, Never Trouble Trouble Until Trouble Troubles You. “That title comes from a fortune cookie that I got from the Double Breeding Wonton house,” recalls Chi about his favourite Edmonton “haunt” after band practice. This studio album will be their eighth and first since 2004, a record that many doubted would even happen due to the front man’s very public history of mental health and substance abuse issues.

CHI of SNFU - Cat Ashbee photo
“A lot of people thought I was down and out and that I couldn’t do it, but I knew better. I knew it instinctively and distinctively,” he explains. “I knew it all along man. I certainly did.”

The bed tracks were done in Vancouver and the vocals were recorded in Chi’s native Edmonton with friend and producer Steve Loree. “I got away from the dangerous distractions of life here on the downtown lower east side. I decided to come to Edmonton. My family and friends are there,” he says. “It made perfect sense.” There, the 51-year-old focused, drew pictures, wrote lyrics and played some live acoustic shows.

“I felt very lively, creative and vibrant and it worked out perfectly,” he says. Chi’s vocals took four 12-hour days to complete and though he felt no pressure. It took hard work and determination. “I‘ve done this for 34 years of my life and it still was a task, but it was a task worth taking,” explains Chi. “When I heard the final product, I was so fucking proud!” Since the SNFU lineup transformed, there have been naysayers who claim that without either Belke brother in the group, it’s not the real deal and just a Chi Pig solo band. However, the vocalist feels differently. “No, it is SNFU. It’s not an egotistical thing, man. There has only been one member that never quit, that never failed and that never gave up. And who is that person? That’s me. I am SNFU. I designed those concepts, came up with the logos, wrote those words, sang those songs and I did it and am still doing it,” explains Chi.

To Chi’s credit, fellow punk veterans Jon Card on drums and Ken “Goonie” Fleming on guitar join him in the current incarnation of the band. Card’s resume also includes DOA and The Subhumans. Goonie was in Winnipeg’s The Unwanted, amongst other notable groups. Not only have both done time in the band in years past, but both have contributed to songwriting as well. Card has played on a full-length and several releases. Second guitarist Sean Colig, though decades younger, is not a new kid to the scene, having played in Minority, Side 67 and Savannah before joining SNFU in the summer of 2012. He adds a bit more perspective to joining the band. “It sucks to listen to people saying, ‘well if Marc’s not in it, then I’m not interested,’” explains Colig. “I’ll give it a chance. When Goonie took over to get Card back in the band, I believe he got Marc and Brent [Belke’s] blessing. I know how they felt. Nobody wants something that they’ve worked hard for all their life to be dragged through the mud and I knew that it wasn’t going to be.” And it wasn’t. With the absolute solid roster of musicians behind him, the unit has recorded an album well worthy of the SNFU name. This time, their characteristic sound, catchy choruses and Chi’s trademark vocals are all present, as are the intensely personal lyrics by Chi. The bulk of these and with songs like “Voodoo Doll Collector” are dealing with his trials, tribulations and his demons over the last few years.

“I included myself into that song. I made a voodoo doll of myself and by the end of the song, I’d tortured myself. [It’s] about self-discovery and that pain… those times when you’re on fucking pins and needles, which I did to myself,” he reveals. “Morley” and others are about friends that helped him and saved his life. “Ashes,” according to Chi, is a very cryptic song. “It’s almost like ‘Fate’ Part Two.” Written about an experience, while looking at a crematorium through a window at class, back in the school days. “The students are looking at their future. And what do they see? They’re gonna see ashes,” he says and “you know you’re gonna die. And you’re gonna wind up right there … you’re gonna be in that chimney and your smoke signal is gonna go up.” Of course there are also some ‘not so serious’ numbers like ‘’Speed Weenie.”

“It’ s about doing hard drugs like crystal meth or speed and you can’t find your dick!” describes Chi.

Don’t miss out, the new album drops this September in Canada on Cruzar Media!

Catch SNFU live at Thrashers a.k.a. Funkys Friday, July 12.


THREE WOLF MOON tiina liimu photo

set the controls for the heart of the fun

by Heath Fenton

So let’s get this straight. The bulk of new bands that form have members that have come from other bands that have broken up or had someone leave. There are rare exceptions when a band may start from scratch. For instance, when a few friends in high school decide to form a band, but other than that, most bands are comprised by seasoned, experienced musicians. So with that theory, the majority of bands could be affiliated with the term “super group.” However, in the music world those two words do have a dirty feel. And I am guessing it’s because they are used more for media hype for bigger acts. So let’s just call Three Wolf Moon a conglomeration of members from some awesome bands comprised from local heroes such as We Are Machines, Black Wizard, Hugenelk and The Best Revenge. If you are familiar with any of those bands, you might think Three Wolf Moon straddles that line between barnstorming and Oh Henry heavy. It would be a safe assumption, but nothing could be further from the truth. In actuality they are the complete opposite

THREE WOLF MOON tiina liimu photo
Three Wolf Moon would be the perfect sound track to a backyard BBQ featuring some laid-back bocce ball and badminton tournaments. They come across with some sandal-wearing psychedelic jammy looseness that doesn't come across like any of their other hard rocking projects. Members of Three Wolf Moon are like most musicians of any genre; their musical palette spans many genres and playing this type of music came with ease for the boys. "I think with this band, because we all play in edgier bands, this is almost like an escape from that. It's really refreshing not to have to play like that all the time." guitarist/singer Adam Grant explains. "It's a '70s style with a modern twist to it."

Coming together at Bullys rehearsal studio in New West about a year and a half ago, Three Wolf Moon also consists of Adam's brother Max Grant on drums, John Sayer also on drums (yes! a two-drummer band!), Evan Joel on bass, and Tyler Maynard on keys. They are just starting to gather speed one show at a time and turning many nodding heads during the process. If people aren't familiar with Bullys, it is a famed New West rehearsal studio that is sort of musical bawdyhouse for local band sluts in the burbs of Vancouver. It provides a natural "buddies basement" type feel with many friends from like-minded bands coming through each day. And it was from this cool brotherhood atmosphere that Three Wolf Moon was born. "We all jam here and it's like family, we all know each other and play with each other's bands," says Joel. It was also the place they recorded their upcoming self-titled debut album that will be out in late August or early September. Will the members then find some time to tour in support? According to Adam they are looking at late summer dates. "We’re working out an August tour and just do an Edmonton, Calgary type thing. This started as a side project but I don't consider it a side project anymore. It would be nice to get it on the road as much as possible.

THREE WOLF MOON tiina liimu photo

Three Wolf Moon is simple easy listening with some wacked-out keyboards much like the bands Lucero, Dessert Sessions or Clearlight with excellent grooves and a friendly '70s beached-out hippie approach. So pack your hacky sack in your fanny pack, grab a cooler of beers and come chill sometime with Three Wolf Moon.

Check in for upcoming tour dates and catch a taste of upcoming releases at their Bandcamp


STILL ABOVE SNAKES photo by tiina liimu

Not dead yet

by More Betty

Still Above Snakes unites three generations of hardcore punk. By June of this year, they had their first live show, a completed recording under their belts and five of those songs head straight to an EP release, which is out in the streets and online by July.

There is more to their sound than just a rehash of the old. “The music is a culmination of anger, heaviness, speed, energy and groove,” explains vocalist Jason Kolins. He describes their influences as classic hardcore, such as Cro-Mags, Bad Brains, Agnostic Front and Sick Of It All. But there are many elements including metal and punk. “Thrash metal in the riffing, some leads, separate guitar parts and a bass player that actually plays bass and isn’t just an extra rhythm guitarist,” he says.

Kolins formed this band in March 2012 and his former projects include Burden, Pressure and Abstain. Deon Malloy plays guitar. Stefan Nevatie is also on guitar and hails from Ninth Hour, Self Regime, Cum Soc, and Myopia. Bass player Dan Walters has played in Fratricide, Death Sentence and Head First. The missing piece was a drummer so, by April 2013, Ottawa native Derek Hill joined the group.

Still Above Snakes is a curious name initiated by a phrase found in an urban dictionary. “Above snakes,” explains Kolins: “means ‘still alive’ or ‘not dead yet.’ As all of us have had a lot of years pass since our last bands. It’s been nine years for myself since Burden’s last show and it’s been sixteen years for Dan.” There is a good spread of generations with this group. “Aside from our drummer, who is in his late twenties, we’re all in our thirties, except Dan who is in his forties,“ he says.

The bass player held a noteworthy role documenting Vancouver punk, with a printed fanzine called Terminally Stupid. In 1984, he started talking to local bands by phone. He obtained copies of MRR and Flipside by trade, which led to mail interviews. After Walters’ first punk show with the Exploited, Dayglos, Death Sentence and the Fitz, he would interview touring bands.

“What a great way to learn about this fairly new thing called hardcore,” explains Walters: “All the bands were easily accessible with no rock star bullshit. I’ll quickly say that thanks to Facebook and Kim Kinakin’s file service, a visual account of most of the more memorable punk/hardcore gigs of 1985 in Vancouver [which] will soon be shared with the world. It was a great year for the scene.” The same Kinakin of Vancouver’s post hardcore band Sparkmarker.

“We call this O.G.H.C., Old Guy Hardcore,” jokes Kolins, “but age is just a number!” Walters, the eldest member certainly has a close history with Vancouver HC.

“The only thing that never let me down was playing music and that was missing from my life for too long. I met Jason through his Vancouver old school punk, hardcore and metal group. When I heard he was jamming with some other scene vets, he invited me out. The closest thing to sanity was restored!” exclaims Walters.

Lookout for upcoming Vancouver, Okanagan, Vancouver Island and Alberta dates.

Still Above Snakes joins Vancouver’s SFNU and The Living Deadbeats at Funkys, July 12th


Skeletonwitch - photo by tiina liimu

Skeletonwitch - Biltmore Cabaret - June 10, 2013

It was a Monday night that Skeletonwitch’s headlining tour touched ground at the Biltmore. It was well put by singer Chance Garnette when he yelled into the crowd that it “feels like a fucking Friday!!” And I’d say that judging by the mosh pit’s reaction that the crowd was putting their best Friday foot forward.


PIGGY photo by tiina liimu

punks and rockers celebrate a shake down

by More Betty

With a relentless train of punk rock dates, the only way to catch Ron Reyes was to move fast. Tracking him down to the Black Flag tour van, headed for the next venue. There he brings us up to speed on the terrain of his Vancouver project, Piggy, a rock ‘n’ roll band with a debut album.

“I wanted to do something I never did before and that was lead a band from the position of guitarist,” says Reyes. “So I dusted off an old guitar and started writing [what] would end up as Piggy songs.”

The first sparks flew when he caught Lisa Furr Lloyd playing bass for the East Vamps and she was an immediate recruit. By summer 2010, a landmark birthday fete for Reyes became a catalyst. Not only was there a surprise appearance with Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn, reuniting old friends, but this event organized by Doug Smith also lit another rock ‘n’ roll flame, igniting Piggy.

Smith did a brief stint as the band’s keyboard player and took on an administration role when they first got off the ground.

“Smith also suggested Craig McKimm on drums and so we had the band, now all we needed was a singer,” says Reyes. After a session of musical chairs with vocalists, enter Izzy Gibson. With a bold leap of faith, the former drummer auditioned for vocal duties.

“That is when the band really came together and that was just over a year ago,” he explains. Smith steps off as keyboardist, now as a four-piece collaboration, they continue to progress and boldly take on challenges.

“For me it was huge. I have been a bandleader in different ways mostly as a front man or a drummer but never as a guitarist,” he adds.

As for the vocals, there were many exceptional singers vying for the energetic spot, but the challenge remained, coming up with the right chemistry.

“A lot of people ask me how I got this gig and I wish it was more interesting, like; I had to battle sexy female robot ninjas until I was the last one standing [and] then I got to be the front woman for Piggy, but in truth, I just auditioned,” humours Gibson. “I was primarily a drummer and guitarist before, but have dabbled in vocals with small bands in the past. The challenge and joy of doing this is playing with different musicians. No one will play the same song the same way,” she says.

When Piggy hit the studio the vocalists had just switched. “My good and long-time buddy Kyle Nixon hooked us up with Jack Endino to do a quick recording in Seattle,” says Reyes. With Gibson just enlisted on vocals, straightaway they carried on with dates. “In true punk rock fashion and followed through with the two Seattle shows and the recording commitments even though we were not really ready.” So, a decision was made to lay down the vocal tracks in Vancouver under the careful ears of Cecil English. “And then he also recorded one of our Vancouver shows live. So we took 'Jealous Again' from that live session to include on our vinyl,” adds Reyes.

The interaction of Piggy members and especially in the songwriting process is a collaborative one.

“Ron comes up with the riffs and we all ‘kinda’ add stuff along the way,” says Lloyd.

“Then we all sort of mash our thoughts, different riffs, beats and lyrics together around it. Sometimes I’ll write lyrics and we’ll jam something out,” echoes Gibson.

“Most of the songs come from demos I have pre-recorded. “Some have lyrics but I don’t like writing lyrics for singers if I don’t have to. That is their job right!? So many of the lyrics come from Izzy,” explains Reyes.

“I was mostly involved in changing the groove and feel from the drum-machine recordings Ron made, altering arrangements, beginnings and endings, that sort of stuff,” says McKimm.

“Everyone contributes their parts and I will seldom if ever force a part or a beat or a line on anyone,” says Ron and “Craig adds a lot of texture and dynamics with his drumming and often suggests some cool arrangements I really love his contributions,” adds Reyes.

The new release Undignified will be out on pink vinyl. “To me that speaks of doing things in a true and pure, ‘not give a fuck’ attitude,’” he states with emphasis. “It is being pressed as we speak and should be available by the time Piggy joins the Black Flag tour in California.”

“Night after night, Black Flag has been crazy and exhausting. The crowds are awesome and playing again with Greg is like a dream come true,” says Reyes.

Both musical projects can actually be more of a compliment in their direct differences. The process of working with Piggy is a relaxed route compared to the focus of Black Flag.

“Practicing with Piggy goes something like this: Hey are we practicing tonight? Show up late, once or twice a week. Talk, talk, talk, take a smoke break, and drink a few beers. Play two or three songs, take a break … then do it again and again for a couple hours and we somehow manage to get things done so it’s cool, he explains. “In Black Flag we set up and practice several hours a day, every day nonstop once we start. It is a totally different dynamic. I love both styles.”

Many of the Black Flag shows we have played in Europe and the States have been all-ages and it just feels right. It was a tall order to pull it off in Vancouver, but eventually the folks at Arrival put it all together for us,” he says.For the bill local punks, liĆ© are handpicked by Reyes and Arrival Agency recruit Vacant State.

“Piggy will offer up an interesting contrast to Good For You and Black Flag,” says Reyes. Not only is this a record release for Undignified, but it is also Ron Reyes’ birthday party.

“The last time we had a birthday party in Vancouver for me, shit started to happen so I am really looking forward to this!” he exclaims.

Time it right and hop that fast train to the Chinese Cultural Centre Saturday, July 20.


the STRUGGLERS - tiina liimu photo 2013

The Strugglers, A.W.T., Karen Foster - WISE HALL - June 21 2013

The Wise Hall was to be the venue for the long awaited video release of local punk rockers The Strugglers, who are sort of a spinoff of the now defunct Little Guitar Army.  The Strugglers may just be the ugliest band in rock and roll.  “G Tone” the burly bass player looks like he might live in a van down by the river. They have two guitarists, one with the first name “Dirty” and the other is a tall spectacled lankyfreaky looking guy with very horny hands called “Prickish.” The drummer “Jamieson,” just happens to be named after a whiskey.  And “Bertman” the singer isn’t afraid to take it off and roll around with the best of them.  Sort of a PG Allin, if you will.  It’s a good thing that rock and roll isn’t a beauty contest.  And on this night, The Strugglers failed to live up to their name by pulling off a flawless energetic set full of primitive rock fury.  Their set was performed just the way garage punk should be performed.  They let it all hang out and laid it down in a sweaty distorted heap of rowdiness.


SUBCULTURE by wendythirteen

I loathe thieves! So touring season is upon us and out come all the 'Bad Luck Brian' stories that plague touring underground bands... Now an unfortunate reason for this is that venues for our subculture usually exist in the less desirable areas of town.... I'm starting to think I need to make a list of common-sense dos and don'ts for band members thinking of visiting beautiful Vancouver with each gig booking acceptance reply...