The big weekend of shows (for us) awaits.
Tonight at the Piston with Gentlemen of Leisure. Tomorrow in Ottawa at Raw Sugar with Winchester Warm. Saturday in Montreal at Casa del Popolo with the Hyrdothermal Vents (John Tielli and Tessa Kautzman’s new project). Details on everything are here.
Vinyl is in. It’s been 10 years since I’ve had anything of mine released on vinyl. It’s a real treat, nostalgic as it might seem. But it also makes sense — there’s something about hearing a full record that seems more… something. Plus, you can see the wonderful artwork by our pal Stephen Evans (also behind the hilarious animation for the Wiretap show).
But enough about mememememememe. How are you? Fine? Good.
Today, our band releases a record.
I work a full-time job in an office where I spend a large portion of my time typing things into a computer screen and occasionally talking to voices on the phone. I am, like many of us, even in these anxious economic times, a lucky person – I have enough money to eat well, to spend on hobbies like music, and, if the thought occurs to me, do the very odd donation to something I care about. I’m not rich, but there always seems to be enough money in the bank.
Despite having the good fortune to be middle class enough to make music (in a time when people say there’s no future in either being middle class or making music), I sometimes wake up, drudging off to work, and hear things in my head I wish I had time to make exist. I’m not oppressed by having to work for a living. It’s just that the fact of the daily seated-in-front-of-a-computer existence is not good for feeling like you are a properly functioning bi-pedal organism.
Part of why I started playing music was because, as a kid, I liked jumping around. I think I always had a sense that the world would want me to take a seat. Playing music, then, was a good way to keep moving.
There are a lot of people fretting about how much less fun it is these days. Fuck, I fret about it. Whether it be the death of the spirit of indie/punk/underground, or the demise of whatever broken model existed for compensating for music makers, or the just fucking bored feeling that is increasingly creeping into the experience of being “into” music, there are a lot of unhappy campers out there.
In some ways, I’m one of those campers.
I do not like that a good portion of being in a band involves some aspect of small-business entrepreneurship and/or project management, usually involving a computer, a phone, or some other combination of button-pushing and human ingratiating. I don’t like trying to figure out things to post about on various social media platforms, where I don’t have anything much to say other than “hi look at me!” Something bugs me when I hear some supposedly underground act selling a song to a car commercial. (I don’t hate them, I hate that they are made to feel they have to do it). I dislike the muddy, unclear harshness of the way everything sounds on devices that are built to play music as an afterthought. I don’t like some of the songs I’ve written, and I don’t like that my voice can’t sing 8 octaves without you really hearing it. I don’t like it when sound guys insist on treating you, even as a grown man, like a child when you ask them to turn down the Metallica edge they’ve added to their kick drum. I don’t like lugging gear to a show, waiting for 4 hours hoping people will show up, only to have those who do come mildly “woo” after you’ve tried your damndest to tear through a song. I especially hate that I’ve done the same mild “woo” for things that have blown my mind, for fear of distinguishing me amidst a sea of crossed-arms and conversations amplified by a cupped had around the mouth. I don’t like that I normally don’t dance. I don’t like that rock and roll doesn’t seem all that dangerous.
And yet… Here we are, having done this all over again. There are good reasons for it.
I like the shiver in the back of the neck when you discover or re-discover something that moves you. I like the feeling of digging in during a song, accompanied by the realization that in so doing, you are actually making instinctual choices that have a real-world affect. I like unspoken camaraderie involved in playing instruments in the company of other people. I love the people that I’ve met playing music. They are almost universally hilarious and thoughtful. Those who stick with it, “successful” or not, are getting better.
I’m not a spiritual person, but I’m comfortable saying that playing music can have that feeling to it. Anyone who has had the good fortune to make something creative knows a bit of what I’m talking about – even if you feel that maybe you’re not as good as you want to be.
And on that, note, here is our new record (Note, you can get CDs now at Static Clang. Vinyl is almost done) It was made with the best of intentions — with equal parts optimism and cynicism, hard work and laziness, pride and self-doubt.
If you happen to like it, we hope you’ll find some way of supporting it directly, either by buying a vinyl copy (the vinyl, when ready, really sounds the best), a CD, or an electronic version. If we’re in your town and you are free, we think you’ll like the live show.
We’re not making t-shirts or stickers, nor are we auctioning off a box that we’ve farted in. We made the record, and we hope that says enough.
Total Entertainment is coming out very soon! October 23 on Static Clang on vinyl (hopefully done by then), compact disc, and the usual electronic stuff.
This was very tiring to do, but we want to keep you abreast. We are tentatively stoked for this.
I’m also expecting to jot down some less promo-ish thoughts about this whole mess here sometime soon. So do keep in touch.
mostly x’es and some ohs
Well that was fun on Thursday, wasn’t it. I’ve totally done things wrong, I know, posting about shows that took place in the past, but here we are.
On Thursday, we played our first show at the very fine Piston with the also very fine Old Foes (click there for a live recording by the always fine Mechanical Forest Sound. Steve was unavailable but our old pal Nathan Doucet, who is often found drumming with kindred spirits in the Yellow Jacket Avenger. Gratuitous linking aside, good times were had by all, which can be rare in the dead of “winter” in the big smoke.
Not speaking of which, things are actually heating up in Tusks’ land. With our pal Justin Nace handling overdubs and mixing, we are nearing completion of a new record, tentatively titled “Totally Entertainment.” It should appear in the world sometime in late spring/ early summer. 8 songs! That’s not too long, is it?
It’s been some time, but we feel compelled to tell you we most certainly still exist. In fact, in our time of darkness, we’ve seen some light and are chipping away on a new 8-song record AS WE SPEAK.
More soon, and more news about shows as it comes.
Some sample rejected beats:
Samir was recently interviewed for the “Small Talk” section of Southern Souls.
No you have not. Thanks for coming out to our recent shows with les boys. We have a few more coming up as part of the White Whale showcase at Ottawa Bluesfest (July 10, 2:00 @ the Black Sheep in Stage) and July 14 with our good friends and fiends in Snailhouse here at the Dakota Taven (July 14).
Greetings, world. It has been some time since our last missive, but we thought we’d share with you some exciting tidbits.
1) We are a band again… We welcome to the fold Steven McKay on the drums (you might recognize his pretty mug from his work with our pals in Bruce Peninsula), and Jordan Howard, who plays with too many people to mention, (such as the Skeletones Four, Jim Guthrie, and The Magic. We are most happy to welcome these white boys to the band, thereby not upsetting the multi-culti flavour of the group. We’ve been chipping away at new material with these fellas and we’re very much excited to show them off to you.
2) We have shows again… In June, we’ll be opening for the Acorn (June 11) at Lee’s Palace (along with the lovely Lisa Bozokovic). On June 25, we’ll be hitting up the Horseshoe along with the aforementioned Jim Guthrie and Steven McKay, and the not-formentioned MINOTAURS. There will be a stunning amount of personnel swappery during said show. More shows in Ottawa and Toronto will take place in July.
3) There is so much other wonderful stuff going on, what with Shaw-han’s I am Robot and Proud project having just returned from market exploration efforts in Japan, China, and South Korea, Toronto’s long spring, love in the air, and mortgages being finalized. Tusks is signing all dotted lines, making long-term plans, and being sweet to our sweethearts.
Hi folks: It’s been a while at the old .com, and for that we are truly apologetic. Fact is the last few months have been a bit topsy-turvy. For one, in September we parted ways with Robin over a disagreement over a particularly fraudulent drum fill. Now, 5 months later, we then cut loose Julien for his needlessly promiscuous soloing.
As keen observers of this space will note: we are joking. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong, but the sad fact of the matter is that the four of us, blessed as 3 of us are with some pretty spectacular talents, were unable to finish songs. We tried, and came tantalizingly close.
But alas. It’s damn hard work writing songs. It’s especially hard to try to impress yourself in the process. It stinks but given the mild stakes, it should not be surprising that we truly do all remain friends. And I count Robin and Julien as being some of my favourite musicians in the world. Incidentally, you can hear Robin’s latest work on Ben Gunning’s newest juggernaut of songwriting.
I went through a little mini crisis of feeling like I was done with the whole thing. But oddly enough, as Tusks is further away from playing and recording, things have started to make a bit more sense again. Myself and Shaw-han are jamming around with very special people (more on this soon!) and hope to have a Tusks (v3) ready for showing in the near future.
So do keep in touch.