Saturday, September 12, 2020

Which Way Am I? An Interview with Jarrett Samson of Tough Age & Show # 846 & 844

Describing their music as “culmination rock" fusing elements of surf, garage, punk and indie pop, Toronto’s Tough Age released their fourth full-length album Which Way Am I? on Mint Records in August 2020. Originally from Vancouver, but located in Toronto since 2015, Tough Age have released what many feel is their strongest album to date. Tough Age is made up of singer/guitarist Jarrett Samson, Penny Clark on bass/vocals and Jesse Locke on drums. Musically the album draws from the sonic textures of indie bands such as The Clean, The Chills, The Bats and other early New Zealand bands on the Flying Nun record label. In addition to this there are other musical signifiers such as Sonic Youth, Television and The Feelies. Lyrically, the songs are very introspective, that often question and contradict at the same time.

“Self-Confidence” opens Which Way Am I? With scratchy guitars, driving bass and steady, yet explosive drum patterns, this song opens with the question many people in the arts find themselves in “Here we are back on track/Anyone still looking?” The song questions being a band in the modern age of Internet streaming with Samson’s own sense of wit and humour. Other lines such as “Work hard and lose it all/Isn’t that depressing?” and “Life fades gold to salt with excellent timing”, starts off the album with a series of thoughts that everyone can identify with. “Penny Current Suppression Ring” comes in as track two on Which Way Am I? Sung by bassist Penny Clark, this song with lyrics such as “I didn’t feel like no one/And if you can’t be like anyone/You can’t be like me then/You can’t be like anyone” pokes fun at Samson’s obsession with New Zealand Flying Nun bands. The song thrives with energy and influences of bands such as Eddy Current Suppression Ring (who are from Australia, not New Zealand). Like many of the songs on this album, more than one thought runs through it. This song also poses the question what success would mean in order to be happy. “Desire?” arrives next with stop and start guitar/bass riffs, keyboards and laid back drums that propel this song forward. Lyrically, the song questions the patterns, change and limitations of life.

The jangly “Consequences” features lyrics such as “Where do you go when the consequences start to matter and all your friends are letting you down but all your friends have been let down by you?” that finds Samson at an emotional impasse. In between the intense, but brief scruffy influence of The Clean, The Verlaines and other Flying Nun Records goodness, “Consequences” deals with forgiveness, accountability and how we don’t always get where we need to be when trying to deal with these two things. “My Life’s A Joke & I’m Throwing It Away” is filled with tongue in cheek wit as it pushes forward with an undeniable energy and excitement, despite the songs subject matter. Tough Age launches into the punky “Anti-Anxiety Exercises” next. The song features bassist Penny Clark on vocal duties as she vents her anxieties throughout the song. Musically it features a lot of space as guitar jumps in and out, while the bass and drums hold down the foundation of this track. This also ends side one of Which Way Am I? The album thematically is separated into two disparate sonic halves. The first half seems to be more up-tempo with a fight against acceptance, while the second half is more mellow and accepting.

“Repose” begins side two as Penny Clark once again takes the lead vocal that channels a Cate Le Bon aesthetic. This track features a combination of jangly and arpeggiated guitar parts mixed in with the contemplative drums and bass. Drawing comparisons to The Velvet Underground, The Clean and The Chills musically, lyrics such as “Meanwhile I’m trying” reflect a calming presence and enthusiasm. The next track is an instrumental song titled “Mathers Avenue”. This song dates back to being one of the first songs Samson ever wrote. Originally called “Sperling Avenue” it has since evolved, much like the sound of Tough Age, as it pulls in a lethargic Sonic Youth mentality. It provides the album with a moment of space that goes with the flow of the record nicely. “Possession” is a reverb driven, airy track. As the drums crash in time, Clark’s bass climbs to a melodic intensity throughout. This character driven song is woven from the same lyrical fabric of the song “Castigation” from 2017’s Shame. "Possession" also features the presence of a flute, which floats throughout this track, played by Claire Paquet. While the flute part in this song may have been influenced by the twee-pop of Look Go Blue Purple, the vocals evoke the haunting quality of The Chills “Pink Frost”.

“Patience of Mind” is a mellow, dreamy song. Drawing on Jim O’Rourke-era Sonic Youth and elements of Television, this song expands Tough Age’s sound while the lyrics contemplate with the words “You want to be amazed/You want it to feel like the old days”. “In A Dessert” ends Which Way Am I? This instrumental track is also the shortest song on this album and features an almost marching drumbeat provided by Jesse Locke and a shimmering sound that juxtaposes itself with the song’s title. Recorded once again with producer Peter Woodford (TOPS, Moss Lime, Homeshake, Tess Roby) at The Bottle Garden in Montreal and mixed by Jay Arner, Which Way Am I? is just one of those albums that you can’t really describe why it affects you so much. The way that this three piece plays together on this album projects an energy and mesmerizing cohesion. Maybe that’s it? Whatever it is, Which Way Am I? creates its own sonic landscape that swirls with different lyrical and musical textures that are intense at times, but also thrilling and addictive.

Listen to an interview that Revolution Rock did with Jarrett Samson of Tough Age here:

Show 846 Playlist (Originally Aired On September 12th, 2020) (Tough Age Interview):

1. Beat Happening - Cat Walk
2. King Khan - Loving Ain't My Business
3. The Orange - What's In A Name
4. The Clean - Thumbs Off
5. Apollo Ghosts - What Are Your Influences?
6. Protruders - Hydrophytol
7. Tough Age - Me In Glue
8. Tough Age - Self Confidence

Jarrett Samson (of Tough Age) Interview Part One

9. Tough Age - Repose
10. Tough Age - Electric Chair
11. Tough Age - Warm Hair
12. Tough Age - Possession

Jarrett Samson (of Tough Age) Interview Part Two

13. Tough Age - Unclean
14. Nap Eyes - Snake Oil
15. Run Coyote - Night Rider
16. The Microphones - The Microphones in 2020 (extract)
17. Metz - Hail Taxi
18. Eric's Trip - This Way Out
19. Silver Apples - Oscillations
20. Amyl & The Sniffers - Gacked On Anger
21. Amyl & The Sniffers - I Got You

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the September 12 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 844 (Originally Aired On August 29th, 2020)(Walter Lure (Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers, The Blessed, The Heroes, The Ramones, The Waldos), Blanks, Cindy Lee, Pony, Orville Peck):

1.  The Original Dukes - Ain't About To Lose My Cool 
2.  The Pirates - Cuttin' Out
3.  The Threads of Fybre - Believe Me
4.  The Haunted - I Can Only Give You Everything
5.  The Diodes - That Was The Way It Was (Eastern Sound Demo 1979)
6.  The Rolling Stones - Lies
7.  Titus Andronicus - Tulmult Around the World 
8.  Blanks - Red Tide
9.  Blanks - Looking For
10. The Heartbreakers - Flight (1976 SBS Demos)
11. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - One Track Mind
12. The Blessed - American Bandstand
13. The Heroes - Seven Day Weekend
14. Walter Lure & Ramones - Street Fighting Man
15. The Waldos - Golden Days
16. Cindy Lee - I Want You To Suffer
17. Cindy Lee - As I'm Steeping Thru The Gates
18. Orville Peck - Summertime
19. Bill Callahan - Cowboy
20. Nilsson - Mr. Tinker
21. Love Language - Design
22. Sweet Dave - Future Dirt
23. Heavy Trash - Mr. K.I.A.
24. The Old 97's - The Belmont Hotel
25. PONY - Web MD
26. PONY - Somebody Kill Me Please
27. Bully - Every Tradition
28. PJ Harvey - Missed
29. Angel Olsen - Whole New Mess
30. Tough Age - Consequences 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the August 29 file to download/stream the episode.

For those keeping track, show #845 was an encore of a previous episode that originally aired in September 2019 (show #791).  Download that show here and find the playlist here.  

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Radio Brain Drain 2020 & Shows # 843, 842, 841

Back in 2015, CJAM FM started Radio Brain Drain, which is made up of weeklong programming celebrating punk music in all its forms. This was started to celebrate the first show that was played by Ramones on August 16th, 1974 at CBGB’s. There have been a variety of programs and interviews since 2015 on Revolution Rock (and CJAM FM). This year we did a show focusing on demo recordings by bands that either influenced the Ramones or were influenced by the Ramones. We also went a little outside of those parameters.

A demo recording is usually an early version of a song or a group of songs used for reference or a specific purpose. They usually are not meant for public distribution, but they seem to find their way on album reissues and through bootlegs, whether physically or digitally. Originally demos were made by bands to help them secure a recording contract with a record label, a publishing deal or to help them get live shows. Since the advent of the internet, home recording, and lo-fi music, their initial use may have changed, but they still exist for many different reasons. Musicians still make demos for reference purposes sometimes on their phone to get the idea down quick so that they don’t forget it. It is basically like a rough draft in writing, but whatever their purpose, demos or demonstrations are sometimes drastically different from the final song/recording. 

On this show, we dug deep to play recordings of varying quality and rareness. Take a look at the playlist and download link below the playlist to hear this episode. 

Show 843 (Originally Aired On August 22nd, 2020)(Radio Brain Drain 2020):

1. Ramones - You Should Never Have Opened That Door (1975 Demo)(Ramones - 40th Anniversary - 2016)
2. Ramones - What’s Your Name (1975 Demo)(Ramones - 40th Anniversary - 2016) 
3. Generation X - Your Generation (1977 Demo) 
4. The Spy’s - Been Through The Mill (1979 Demo)(Original Punk Rock From Canada 1979-1980)
5. Orphan Choir - Red Channels (2011 Basement Demo)
6. The Diodes – That Was the Way It Was (Eastern Sound Demo 1979)(Rarities - 2017)
7. Patti Smith – Redondo Beach (Land - 2002) 
8. Pointed Sticks – All My Clocks Stopped (Studio Demo - 1980)
9. Blondie – The Thin Line (Blondie - 2001 Reissue) 
10. X – I'm Coming Over (Los Angeles - 2001 Reissue) 
11. Red Lights - Jungle Book (Red Lights - 2020)
12. The Nerves - Letter To G (Demo)(One Way Ticket - 2008) 
13. Richard Hell & The Voidoids - Smitten (1979 Demo)(Destiny Street Repaired - 2009) 
14. Buzzcocks - Lipstick (Demo)(Love Bites - 2010 Reissue) 
15. Iggy Pop - Loco Mosquito #2 (Soldier Demos
16. Devo – Shrivelled Up (Hardcore Devo Vol. 3 - 1990) 
17. Television – Prove It (Brian Eno Demo)(Double Exposure - 1988)
18. The Heartbreakers – Love Comes in Spurts (Demo)(Yonkers Demo 1976)
19. Teenage Head – Don't Cage Me In (Tornado [Reved Up Edition] - 2019)
20. The Replacements – Raised in the City (Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash [Deluxe Edition] - 2008) 
21. The Cramps - All Tore Up (1979 Ohio Demo)(The Ohio Demos - 1986) 
22. Paul Jacobs - Spirit Folks (2012 Demo)(Demos - 2013)
23. TV Freaks - Thirteen (Demo) (Scraps Vol 1 - 2020)
24. Psychic Void - Morning Anxiety (2017 Demo)
25. Teenanger - Dawn (Demo)
26. The Nils – Scratches and Needles (Now (Demo))(Green Fields In Daylight - 1996)
27. The Clash – Janie Jones (The Clash on Broadway - 1991) 
28. Simply Saucer – Low Profile (Cyborgs Revisited - 2003 Reissue)
29. Wire – Mannequin [Third Demo] (Pink Flag [Special Edition] - 2018) 
30. Ramones – I Don't Wanna Be Tamed (1975 Demo)(Ramones - 2001 Reissue) 
31. Ramones – Judy is a Punk (1975 Demo) (Ramones - 2001 Reissue)

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the August 22 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 842  (Originally Aired On August 15th, 2020)(Daniel Romano, New York Dolls, David Johansen, Iggy & The Stooges):

1. Reverb Ranch - Tinijas Atlas
2. La Luz – Big Big Blood
3. Shoobies – Open for Business 
4. Pixies – The Happening
5. Helvetia - Love Me 
6. Matthew Grimson - Stood Up 
7. Daniel Romano’s Outfit - A Rat Without A Table 
8. Damaged Bug - I Tried 
9. Tommy and The Commies - Power Standby 
10. Jesse Jams & the Flams – It's Not Fun to Stay at the YMCA 
11. Pup – Morbid Stuff 
12. Rogue Tenant and Steve Sladkowski - My Father's House 
13. Women – Bullfight 
14. Actress - I’m Confronted (Demo)
15. New York Dolls - Lone Star Queen (1974 Demo)
16. David Johansen - Cool Metro 
17. Slyvain Slyvain - 14th Street Beat
18. Iggy & the Stooges – I Got Nothin' (Live - Metallic K.O.)
19. Iggy & the Stooges – Scene of the Crime 
20. Iggy & the Stooges – I Got a Right 
21. Iggy & the Stooges – I'm Sick of You 
22. The Criminal$ - The Kids Are Back
23. The Heartbreakers - I Wanna Be Loved (1976 Yonkers Demo)
24. Jerry Nolan (with Teneriffa Cowboys) - Countdown Love 
25. Walter Lure & The Waldos - Crazy Kids 
26. Pottery - Down In The Dumps 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the August 15 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 841 (Originally Aired On August 8th, 2020)(Fontaines D.C., Tough Age, Tom Waits, John Lurie, Marvin Pontiac):

1. Fontaines D.C. - A Lucid Dream 
2. Crack Cloud – Tunnel Vision
3. Tough Age – Penny Current Suppression Ring 
4. Tough Age – My Life's a Joke & I'm Throwing it Away 
5. Modern Baseball – Apple Cider, I Don't Mind 
6. Big Joanie - Cranes In The Sky 
7. Swell Maps - Let’s Build A Car
8. Rough Francis - Tito’s Revenge 
9. Stooges - T.V. Eye (Live At Goose Lake Park August 8, 1970)
10. Wolf Parade – Wandering Son 
11. Daniel Romano's Outfit – Little Shirley Melrose 
12. Orville Peck – Take You Back (The Iron Hoof Cattle Call) 
13. Shotgun Jimmie – Sappy Slogans
14. Pavement – Coolin' by Sound
15. Ten Million Lights - Never Let Go
16. Matt Ellis - Flowers In The Moonlight
17. Television Personalities - Part Time Punks 
18. Laurie - Echo Chamber 
19. A New Kind of Mambo - New Kind of Mambo 
20. The Beastie Boys - Song For Junior 
21. Oscar Peterson – C Jam Blues 
22. Lounge Lizards – No Pain for Cakes 
23. Charlie Christian – A Smooth One 
24. Tom Waits – Nirvana 
25. John Lurie - Tuesday Night in Memphis 
26. Marvin Pontiac - Let Me Tell You 
27. Women - Group Transport Hall 
28. The Burning Hell - I Want To Drink In A Bar 
29. Fontaines DC - Living In America 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the August 8 file to download/stream the episode.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Joy Division Closer & Shows # 840, 839, 838, 837

Released on July 18th, 1980 on Factory Records, Closer was Joy Division’s second and final studio album. The album was released two months after the death of lead singer Ian Curtis. A darker tone surrounds this album and the passing of Curtis only added to this element of the music. The album features a mixture of more guitar oriented songs and more of a synthesized electronic form of music. It is this combination of the experimental and the noisier guitar based tracks that create a certain type of dichotomy in the music. This when combined with the lyrics of Ian Curtis, which depict torment and the dealing with different paradigms such as alienation, loneliness, and materiality that create something different than its predecessor, Unknown Pleasures

“Atrocity Exhibition” starts of with a rotating drum pattern, before bass and experimental, noisy guitar builds up momentum. On this track bassist Peter Hook and guitarist Bernard Sumner switched instruments, giving it an unnerving, unpredictable edge. The song’s title comes from author J.G. Ballard, a lyrical influence of Curtis. With lyrics such “Asylums with doors open wide/Where people had paid to see inside/For entertainment they watch his body twist/Behind his eyes he says, 'I still exist”, Curtis draws influence from his own personal struggles and distills it emphasizing the fascination of being entertained by something atrocious. “Isolation” begins with a very distinct electronic drum sound and springy sounding bassline as icy synthesizers float in. Lyrically, Curtis sounds as if he’s singing in a cavernous hall, it is also somewhat digital, which gives the song a certain aesthetic that fits its mood. This song displays a sense of melancholy as it addresses loneliness, anxiety and alienation. Comparisons have also been drawn to themes found in Dostoevsky’s The Idiot to this song. “Passover” features more moody, jagged guitar work from Bernard Sumner, mixed with the metronome-like drumming of Stephen Morris and idiosyncratic bass parts from Hook. Lyrically it takes on multiple meanings showcasing a positive and negative ambiguity. “Colony” draws on the influence of Franz Kafka lyrically with dark lyrics, while musically the song moves with tense rhythm with heavy bass, erratic guitar and meticulous drumbeats. 

“Heart And Soul” jumps more into the experimental side of Closer. With lyrics such as “Existence well what does it matter?/I exist on the best terms I can/The past is now part of my future/The present is well out of hand”, Curtis emphasizes existential themes, while also drawing on themes of hopelessness and frustration. Musically, the pulsating basslines build pressure underneath the drums and guitar. “24 Hours” contrasts haunting, dark lyrics with more upbeat music. The six string bass playing on Peter Hook on this track really adds to the song when combined with the drum and guitar elements. “The Eternal” starts off with intense train noises, before piano, bass, and echoing drumbeats take over. The lyrics are chilling as they depict an almost spectral mood. “Decades” ends Closer. Musically, shades of David Bowie’s Low show as an influence, but Joy Division make this song their own. The song clocks in at over six minutes and looms with creeping synthesizers, subtle, yet driving basslines that lock in with the drums in a locomotive-like way. Atop all of this are Ian Curtis’ vocals, which express a multitude of emotional turmoil. 

With Closer, Joy Division released what many feel is their masterpiece. The music and experimentation when combined with the production qualities and techniques of Martin Hannett painted broad strokes with Joy Division's sound. Recorded Britannia Row studios in Islington, Joy Division found themselves in a more conventional studio space. And space was something that they had. The space that is found on this record is often breathtaking. With Closer, Joy Division created a darker atmosphere with their sound, often exploring multi-layered sonic textures that had not been explored before. The icy, cavernous feeling is present throughout this album whether it is the music, the lyrics or both. Closer would pave the way for future musical landscapes from bands such as The Cure, U2, Bauhaus, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and the genre that was to become goth rock. While many view the album as exploring a world of darkness, that’s not all that it does. It searches for hope, love and rebirth. It is something you have to experience and can pull different meanings from.  Closer has its own mystique that draws in its listeners.  

Show 840 (Originally Aired On August 1st, 2020)(Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac), Bruce Springsteen, Dog Day, Teenanger):  

1.  Enchanters - High Heel Roller Skates
2.  Leather Uppers - Hot Shot 
3.  The Mumps - Crocodile Tears 
4.  The Marbles - Computer Cards 
5.  Gary Valentine - The First One 
6.  Fleetwood Mac - The Green Manalishi (With Two Prongs) 
7.  Les Hays Babies - Almost Minuit 
8.  Holy Fuck - Saint Sebastian 
9.  Dehd - No Time 
10.  Special Interest - Homogenized Milk 
11.  Reverb Ranch - Theme From El Camino De Los Muertos 
12.  Sandford Clark - They Call Me Country 
13.  Fiver - Why Do I Have To Choose 
14.  Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers - Quick Trick 
15.  Grant Green - No. 1 Green Street
16.  Bruce Springsteen - Atlantic City 
17.  Bruce Springsteen - Hello Sunshine 
18.  The Lost Dakotas - To Love Someone 
19.  The Sadies - It's Nothing To Me 
20.  Dog Day - Trouble 
21.  Coriky - Hard To Explain 
22.  Thee Dirty Rats - Universe Is Chaos 
23.  Penny Diving - Nineteen 
24.  Shadow Show - Trapeze Act 
25.  Peach Kelli Pop - Don't Push Me 
26.  The Amps - Pacer 
27.  Skating Polly - Camelot 
28.  Sonic Youth - Bull In The Heather 
29.  Teenanger - Touching Glass 
30.  Teenanger - Fun Forgot

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the August 1 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 839 (Originally Aired On July 25th, 2020)(The OBGMs, Jarv Is..., METZ, Protomartyr):

1.  John Zorn - Milano Odeo 
2.  Dead Kennedys - Chickenfarm 
3.  Jesse Jam and the Flams - I'm Drawing A Blank 
4.  SNFU - Money Matters 
5.  The OBGMs - Not Again 
6.  Au Pairs - You 
7.  Favours - Memories 
8.  The Vacant Lots - Station
9.  The Strokes - The Adults Are Talking 
10.  Pottery - Under The Wires 
11.  Jarv Is… - Save The Whale 
12.  Touching - Oh General 
13.  Mother Sun - Pizza For Days 
14.  Priests - Texas Instruments 
15.  Jeffery Lee Pierce - Wildweed 
16.  The Unrelated Segments - Where You Gonna Go 
17.  Neil Young - Love Is A Rose 
18.  Joel Plaskett - West Cork Blended Irish Whiskey 
19.  Bloodshot Bill - Butcher Shop Boys (W/Butcher Bros) 
20.  White Fence - Beat 
21.  Cathedrale - Gold Rush 
22.  Holy Wave - I'm Not Living In The Past Anymore 
23.  Crack Cloud - Ouster Stew 
24.  Venus Furs - Paranoia 
25.  METZ - A Boat To Drown In 
26.  Rough Francis - Waxed Curb 
27.  Protomartyr - I Am You Now 
28.  Protomartyr - Modern Business Hymns

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the July 25 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 838 (Originally Aired On July 18th, 2020) (Joy Division Closer (40th Anniversary), Kestrels, Mark Sultan, Guided By Voices):

1. The Chats - Pub Feed
2. The Mark Vodka Group - Big Time Rocker
3. Paint Thinner - Touch In Arm's Reach
4. Thibault - Drama
5. Butthole Surfers - TV Star
6. Joy Division - Atrocity Exhibition
7. Joy Division - Isolation (Live at High Wycombe Town Hall, 20th February 1980)
8. Joy Division - Passover (University of London Union, 8 February 1980)
9. Joy Division - Colony (Peel Sessions 1979)
10. Joy Division - A Means To An End
11. Joy Division - Heart and Soul (Live at Lyceum Theatre Feb 29 1980)
12. Joy Division - Twenty Four Hours (Peel Sessions 1979)
13. Joy Division - The Eternal
14. Joy Division - Decades
15. Kestrels - Vanishing Point
16. Zoon - BrokenHead
17. Sahara - Indoor Pool
18. Glutenhead - It's Not Really A Problem
19. The Jerry Cans - On The Rocks
20. Mark Sultan - Two Left Feet
21. Mark Sultan - I'll Be Loving You
22. Bloodshot Bill - The Message
23. Mick Futures - What You Wanna Say Now
24. Kinetic Ideals - This Face
25. Guided By Voices - Haircut Sphinx
26. Guided By Voices - Man Called Blunder

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the July 18 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 837 (Originally Aired On July 11th, 2020)(Ennio Morricone, Coriky, Trout, L-Seven):

1. Ennio Morricone - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (Main Title)
2. Ennio Morricone - Il Giardino Delle Delizie
3. Ennio Morricone - Driving Decoys
4. Ennio Morricone - Indagine Su Un Cittadino Al Di Sopra Di Ogni Sospetto (Main Title)
5. Ennio Morricone - Desolation (Main Theme)
6. Coriky - Shedileebop
7. Coriky - Too Many Husbands
8. Dead Ghosts - Freak
9. Trout - Scaredy Cat
10. The Famines - The State Of Music
11. Saba Lou - She Is The Keeper Of My Soul
12. The Phantom Keys - In The Summertime
13. Johnny Kidd & The Pirates - Casting My Spell
14. Dog Day - Hell On Earth
15. Not You - Mable
16. Trout - New Space
17. Neil Young - Homegrown
18. Drive By Truckers - Slow Ride Argument
19. Cass McCombs - Crick In My Neck
20. Evening Hymns - Heavy Nights
21. No Age - Sandalwood
22. Sarcasm - Drainpipe
23. L-Seven - Flower of Romance
24. Tommy and The Commies - Hurtin' 4 Certain
25. Jon McKiel - Management
26. Pottery - What's In Fashin?
27. Animal Collective - Slippi
28. Special Interest - Don't Kiss Me In Public
29. Girl Band - Going Norway
30. Pottery - Bobby's Forecast
31. Fontaines D.C. - Televised Mind

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the July 11 file to download/stream the episode.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Black Dots: An Afropunk Primer & Chris Murdoch Interview & Shows # 836, 835, 834

On June 10th, Montreal based label Pentagon Black released the first of their Pentagon Black Pamphlet Information Series. Black Dots: An Afropunk Primer is an eight-page essay written by Halifax musician, DJ and writer Chris Murdoch. The eight-page essay is somewhere in between a zine and pamphlet that also includes exclusive illustrations done by graphic designer/musician Raymond Biesinger. Inside over the course of 2800 words, Chris Murdoch covers his own experiences being a musician and attending shows in Halifax along with information about when Black first met punk in the UK and US. The pamphlet costs two dollars and all of the proceeds for the month of June went towards the Black Lives Matter Solidarity Fund in Nova Scotia. During the first initial days of the release, orders came in and numbers quickly surpassed the 500 mark. At the time of writing this article, 1601 copies of Black Dots: An Afropunk Primer have sold with over $3000 donated to BLM Solidarity Fun Nova Scotia. You can still get a copy over at the Pentagon Black website.

Here is the Press release from Pentagon Black:

“In the first instalment of the Pentagon Black Information Pamphlet series, noted Halifax musician, writer, and DJ Chris Murdoch distilled his critical 2017 Black Dots presentation into pamphlet form. What's it about? When Black first met punk in the UK, the USA, and Chris' own life, and along the way its scant 2800 words catch large quantities of DIY spirit, noise, fury, skateboards and weirdness. Mentioned in the pamphlet: the Bad Brains, Death, Toni Young, Minor Threat, Don Letts, Red C, Nicky Thomas, Fire Party, Black Flag, Bubba Dupree, Void, Chuck Treece, Mike Cornelius, JFA, McRad, Thrasher mag, Ray Barbee, Underdog, Poly Styrene, X-Ray Spex, Neville Staple, Lynval Golding, the Specials, Ranking Roger, Simone Thomas, etc. Released in June of 2020, this eight-page pamphlet includes five illustrations by Raymond Biesinger. Mandatory reading.”

Chris Murdoch has also been involved in numerous bands in and around the Halifax music scene. Some of his credits include being in Outtacontroller, Word On The Street and Botfly to name a few. Recently Murdoch has been playing drums and writing songs with Souvenir. This band just released an EP entitled Beating Into Dust in February 2020.

Continue reading for an exclusive interview with Chris Murdoch. He covers his band history growing up in Halifax, bands that he has been a part of, recording histories and more.

RR: You recently released an information Pamphlet through the Pentagon Black label called Black Dots: An Afropunk Primer. I read that prior to this in 2017 you did a series of presentations on the subject. When/how did you first begin doing those presentations and what was the response like?

CM: Funnily enough, this all started as kind of a little art project on Instagram. That's all it was ever initially meant to be. In February of 2016 I decided to post a picture of a Black punk musician on my account each day, with a little write-up highlighting their work, in honour of Black History Month. I really enjoyed it and could think of a good handful of folks I didn't get to showcase in that initial go 'round (February is the shortest month; a big part of the reason why it was chosen to be Black History Month in the first place, unfortunately) so I decided to do the same thing in February of 2017. Shortly after, I was invited by my friend Dave Ewenson to turn the Instagram project into a talking performance and present it at that year's Everyseeker Symposium (formerly Obey Convention) in Halifax. Dave definitely deserves a lot of credit for the evolution of this thing into a kind of information session - that is likely not something that would have happened without his suggestion and support.

To date, I've only given the presentation four times: once in Halifax NS, once in Dartmouth NS, once in Montreal, and once in St.John's, Newfoundland as part of the first Out Of Earshot festival. I try to slightly modify the presentation each time I deliver it, and all four times have been significant and special in their own ways. The talks in Halifax and St. John's were the best attended, and therefore had a very special energy.

RR: The Black Dots: An Afropunk Primer is something unique. What led to releasing this pamphlet through Pentagon Black and how have people been responding to it?

CM: I hadn't really done much or thought of doing much with Black Dots for a year or so, as I'm always busy with work, family life, and music. A co-worker of mine encouraged me to give the presentation at work this past February, again in recognition of Black History Month, and that was a lot of fun. He took care of all the promotion and logistics of it himself, and it was open to the public. A couple months afterward, I received a message from Raymond Biesinger of The Famines/Pentagon Black about putting out some kind of version of the talk on a pamphlet that he would produce. Everything went pretty quickly from there!

The response has really been phenomenal. I've had friends order anywhere from 1 to 100 of the things, I've made new friends as a result of the project, had friends kickstart their own fundraising campaigns in conjunction with it, have had it translated into a different language or two, showcased in zines, etc. I've been so lucky.

RR: Over 1500 copies of Black Dots have sold so far with proceeds going towards the BLM Solidarity Fund in Nova Scotia. Do you plan on doing anymore writing, whether on this subject or anything else in the future?

CM: It was really cool how that came together. Initially, Pentagon Black was going to sell them through their webstore like normal, and Raymond asked if I'd like a few copies to distribute locally. I asked him to send me 25 with the intent of giving them out for free to a few folks I could think of who might want a copy. In light of all that's going on in the world right now, I thought it might be a good idea to sell them locally rather than give them away, just so I could collect money for the BLM NS Solidarity Fund and do something concrete to support my community at this time. I mentioned this to Ray, and was surprised when he said that Pentagon Black would do the same thing during the month of June. After that, it morphed into much more of a deliberate fundraising campaign, and I'm extremely happy to say that due to Pentagon Black's sales, they were able to donate $3154 to Black Lives Matter NS. Due to my local sales and some donation-matching efforts from friends, we were able to raise an additional $1100 outside of Pentagon Black's sales to donate as well.

I would love to do more writing on this subject in the future, time permitting. I've been approached by a friend with a publishing company about doing a book, so at this point I guess it's a matter of making some plans around the format and scope of the book, and then actually getting off my ass to write it! The former involves a bit of work, but the latter is definitely the bigger challenge.

RR: You’ve been involved in the Halifax music scene for quite some time. How did you first get involved and what was the first band that you played with?

CM: My introduction to the local scene here in Halifax came about through a friend named Megan, who took me to my first few shows. We were in school together (she was a couple years ahead) and she knew I'd been pretty obsessed with rock music since I was about 9 or 10 years old. I was going through a (fairly awful) nu-metal phase, and her boyfriend at the time played drums in a local nu-metal band, so a lot of my first shows were going to see them play. The VERY first local show I ever went to though, was a really rad mixed bill show that completely blew my mind. It was the spring of 2000, and a lot of people I saw perform at that show I am still friends with now: for example, my friend Dave Prime who would go on to drum in Risky Business and now owns and operates Prime Strength Club here in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia - just a few streets down from my house. Also, Nancy Urich, who would go on to play in Dog Day and now also plays in the band Not You with my wife, Stephanie.

Megan sang in the very first band I ever played in, but we never made it out of the basement. The first proper band that I played with was an extremely Misfits-esque band called The Villains, with one of my nearest and dearest friends named Mike. We were both still in high school at the time. We recorded an 11 or 12-song CD and played one show, and then the band kind of morphed into this other band called Hot Death, which was essentially a Samhain cover band that mostly played house parties. Good times.

RR: What was the first recording you remember being on with Outtacontroller and what was it like playing/recording with the band?

CM: The very first thing I recorded with Outtacontroller was a 4-song "sneak preview" thing of the LP we were working on at the time, made specifically for bandcamp. One or two of those songs ended up on the LP I recorded with them, Television Zombie, as well as my first proper recording with the band, Remote Control. That LP is the only one I've ever played on and I'm quite proud of it (, but there is something special about Remote Control. My friend Matty and I were still quite new to the band when that thing was recorded (she is the one who invited me in to the group in the first place), and I think a lot of that fresh-faced excitement was kind of captured within that recording.

Playing with Outtacontroller was a dream. The best shows ("best" as in packed venue, fun atmosphere, cathartic playing experience, etc.) I have played so far as a drummer were with that band. Hooks and big choruses are a major factor within the songwriting, so the music is just naturally fun to play live. We played in Moncton, New Brunswick a lot and had the best response there. I started to get teased a little bit for how much I would smile while we played, but I couldn't help it!

The band dynamic was a great one too - out of four members, Matty was the only one who wasn't a drummer (although she is such a naturally talented musician, she's probably a better drummer than me now) - so when the other two guys (the songwriters and core of the group, Terry and James) would have ideas for what they wanted on the drums, or would listen to me bounce ideas off them for how a drum part could go, it was especially easy to communicate. We did a bit of touring, just a few short rips to Ontario/Quebec and back, and always had tons of fun. Sometimes we'd roll up to a venue listening to some James Brown to pump ourselves up! I've always been a lover of many kinds of music, but Outtacontroller was the first band in years that I'd played in that wasn't a hardcore band. I learned a lot about drumming, recording, and just music in general from my bandmates in Outtacontroller.

RR: How would you compare and contrast being a drummer in a band as opposed to taking on vocals, as you did in Word On The Street?

CM: I'm not a shy person, but there has always been an element of safety and comfort with playing the drums - you're kind of hidden back there, and it feels like no one is really looking at you or really paying much attention to what you're doing, which can actually be quite nice sometimes. Fronting a band is the exact opposite of course, you're standing there front and centre with no instrument to hide behind or distract yourself with. It's just you and the audience. I see no issue with front people who prefer to stand still while performing - if the music is good then who cares? As a hardcore frontperson though, I kind of felt it incumbent upon me in WOTS to move around and be engaging, to make our live shows an exciting experience. I'm a big, clumsy dude though, and look a little bit ridiculous bouncing around while we play - WOTS footage is a bit embarrassing for me to watch for that reason, but I hope it made for an entertaining live show when folks came to check us out.

Also, as a drummer, I'm very used to "supporting" the music with a few ideas here and there, rather than having any major input within a band's artistic direction - if that makes any sense. I'm not saying that this has to be the case for a drummer in a band, but it was a role I felt comfortable playing. Again, that approach is completely antithetical to being the frontperson of a band, where a lot of times the lyrics and overall vibe of the band are largely informed by you. I wrote all of the lyrics to every WOTS song, and they're an important element within the band, even though they are mostly indecipherable hahaha. A lot of them revolve around the same personal politics that most people could identify with, but there are a number of songs specifically about instances of racism I've experienced. They've provided a good vehicle for getting out years of pent up anger and frustration - I suppose that would be one of the biggest differences between drumming and doing vocals (I certainly can't refer to it as "singing" within this context): hitting the drums hard can provide a bit of a release for me I suppose, but not really as I still need to be mindful of the song dynamics and rhythm. Also, I don't hit hard because I'm angry about anything, I do it because I think it sounds good and it just sort of comes naturally. When doing vocals for WOTS however, I just completely lose myself. Other than the timing required for a song's rhythm, ALL I'm focusing on is my anger in relation to whatever a specific song is about.

RR: You’ve played with a lot of different bands. What are some of the bands that you’ve been a part of that people might not know about as much?

CM: I'm totally flattered that you would ask this. I'll probably rattle off more than I should.

Tone Deaf - A sort of "recording project" I did with some friends in high school. Really bizarre songs and skits about obtuse things, where we would often fuck with the sound a bit: for example, we did a song called "(S)lowrider" where I played a skeletal version of War's "Lowrider" on a cheap-ass Casio keyboard, and my friend Jivesh sang it. Then we took the recording and slowed it down to the point where it was unlistenable. It would be a couple years before any of us first heard Butthole Surfers, but that was EXACTLY the vibe we were going for.

BrainAmp - There's a town about an hour north of Halifax, NS called Truro - some of the most original and wonderful people I know come from there. About 15 or so years ago, Truro had this booming all ages scene with these really unique bands and kids in it - for whatever reason, a lot of them gravitated toward powerviolence. BrainAmp was essentially a tribute to that place and time period, specifically. I was the only one in the band who wasn't from Truro, and had NO business trying to play blastbeats without the chops, but we went ahead and did what we did ( Played a couple of shows, and put out one demo recorded by Chad Peck (whose band Kestrels just put out a fantastic new record. J Mascis makes a guest appearance on, actually:

Resistance To Theory - This was a two-piece band/project I did with my friend Alex Fountain. One of my oldest and best friends Erick Muise (now of Botnek; he also makes music under the moniker Tom Classic) was taking a Sound Engineering program at the time and needed a band to come in and record a couple of tracks. It was a perfect opportunity for Alex and I to play music together. We were both in an undergraduate sociology program at the time, so the name is a nod to that. We recorded two songs with Erick, and played only one show, in my friend Ian's bedroom! Alex's friend Seamus played bass for us. Sadly, Alex would take his own life a short while after we did the project. He was a beautiful and incredible person.

Negative Rage - This is essentially a solo project done by my friend Cody. It rules and think a lot of people are aware of it, but some may not know that I was lucky enough to play drums on the first NR release, Don't Wanna Talk ( The first live incarnation of the band played shows in Halifax, Truro, and Charlottetown, PEI.

Mean Streets - Two members from Word On The Street came together with two members from an incredible Halifax punk band called Mean Mug to form Mean Streets (get it?). We recorded a demo and played a handful of shows around Halifax - I don't think we ever played the same venue twice, which is cool ( The demo was recorded by Luke Mumford, who has just put out an outstanding record of his own:

Rubbish Heap - This was a recording project done by Cody, myself, and our friend Tri, who played bass and recorded/mixed the songs. Tri had a makeshift studio at his place and was offering bands/artists to come and record for an extremely low price. That, paired with the fact that I was a new dad who had foolishly quit playing music and was craving it really badly, led to us making the Rubbish Heap demo ( I would also dare to say that we are one of, if not the only Halifax punk band to have completely POC membership.

Botfly - Botfly are extremely well known throughout Canada and only have greater success ahead of them I’m sure. They are a trio, and the core lineup has been together for a while now - but I was fortunate to be the band’s original drummer. I play on the releases Parasitic Oscillation and Host:

RR: You’re currently playing with Souvenir, how is this band different from bands that you’ve played with in the past and how/when did you first start recording the Beating Into Dust EP?

CM: Souvenir is perhaps the only serious band I've ever played in that is not a punk band. The three of us in the band all come from punk and hardcore to varying degrees, so I do hope those elements find their way into our music. The band's main influence is definitely the band Silkworm, although I'm not sure how much we really sound like them. Certain songs sound a little like Jawbreaker, while others have more of a Dinosaur Jr. feel to them.

Souvenir is also my first time writing some of the actual music for a band since back in high school, playing with The Villains (hopefully I've gotten a bit better at it since then). Beating Into Dust contains 6 songs; each member of the band wrote the music and lyrics for two. "Artifacts" and "Promises" are mine, but I asked my friend Lachie to sing them. I might try to sing a song on our next release.

After four years (!) of trying to play with Lachie and Dave (my bandmates in Souvenir) in different projects that didn't work out, Souvenir finally came together in April 2019. We wrote the first EP fairly quickly, and recorded it that September with Charles Austin at Ocean Floor Studio here in Halifax. Working with Charles is always a pleasure, and I'm really happy with how the EP came out. We're hoping to get back in there this September to record a follow-up.

RR: What's next for you musically? Are there any other projects that you are working on?

CM: The only full-time band I see myself in for the foreseeable future is Souvenir. It's been such a rewarding process creating music with those two guys, and I'm very excited to see what lies down the road for us. I've still had some cool opportunities outside of the band: Weekend Dads will be digitally releasing their new record, Good Hangs, very soon - I play drums on it. I like everyone in that band a whole lot, so that was a really fun thing to get to do. I played a couple of shows with them as well. Also, my friend Trevor Murphy has a new project called Sluice, where he writes and performs music in French; a recognition of his heritage. He's invited me to play drums on some upcoming Sluice songs, so I'm really looking forward to that. Thanks for the interview!

Show 836 (Originally Aired On July 4th, 2020)(The Pyramids, The Bags, Pure Hell, Outtacontroller, Souvenir, The Dirtbombs):

1. Sugluk - I Didn't Know
2. Saddle Lake Drifting Cowboys - Modern Music
3. Leland Bell - Messenger
4. King Khan & The Shrines - Let Me Holler
5. Big Joanie - Tell A Lie
6. John Brim - Rattlesnake
7. The Pyramids - Here Comes Martha
8. The Pyramids - Pyramid Stomp
9. The King Sound Quartet - I Wouldn't Put It Past You
10. Wolfmanhatten Project - Silver Sun
11. Mari Elliot - Silly Billy
12. Pure Hell - Noise Addiction
13. The Bags - Babylonian Gorgon
14. Bow Wow Wow - Radio G String
15. Bad Brains - You're A Migraine
16. The OBGMs - Torpedo
17. The Holders - Peoria
18. Outtacontroller - Stuck In The 902
19. Outtacontroller - Creeps
20. Word On The Street - Cut To The Chase
21. Souvenir - Artifact
22. Souvenir - Promises
23. JONCRO - Violet Hair
24. Pleasure Venom - Deth
25. Stiffed - Burn Again
26. Best Praxis - We Fell
27. Rough Francis - Teen Zombies
28. TV On The Radio - Dancing Choose
29. Junior Walker & The All Stars - Cleo's Mood
30. John Coltrane - Locomotion
31. Lloyd Cheechoo - James Bay
32. The Screws - Valleys
33. The Dirtbombs - Don't Break My Heart

Download/stream this episode here.

Show 835 (Originally Aired On June 27th, 2020)(Preoccupations, Alice Bag, Kestrels, Protomartyr):

1. Preoccupations - Unconscious Melody
2. Cindy Lee - A Message From The Aching Sky
3. Mac DeMarco - Ode To Viceroy
4. Dirty Beaches - Sweet 17
5. Sinkin' Feelings - Sinkin' Feeling
6. Matt Ellis - I Don't Wanna To Know
7. Alice Bag - Noise
8. Scratch - Melt
9. Constantines - Call Me Out
10. Rolling Blackouts C.F. - Cameo
11. Kestrels (Ft. Jay Mascus) - Grey and Blue
12. Tunde Adebimpe - People
13. Sleater-Kinney - Bad Dance
14. Protomartyr - Scum, Rise!
15. Black Barron - Seek Your Pleasure
16. Conduct - Bacchanal
17. No Joy - Hollywood Teeth
18. James O-L - My Tunes
19. Ron Leary & Dean Drouillard - Frontline
20. Bob Dylan - Goodbye Jimmy Reed
21. Bloodshot Bill - One & Own
22. Built To Spill - Honey, I Sure Miss You
23. Ty Segall & Cory Hanson - She's A Beam
24. Orville Peck - Roses Are Falling
25. Timber Timbre - Sewer Blues
26. Fiona Apple - Heavy Balloon
27. Luays - Fifty Fifty
28. Jordaan Mason - Pharmacy
29. Protomartyr - Michigan Hammers

Download/stream this episode here.

Show 834 (Originally Aired On June 20th, 2020)(X, Cloud Factory, Guided By Voices, Bob Dylan):

1. Dion Lunadon & Kate Clover - When Will I Hold You Again
2. The Magic Plants - I Am A Nothing
3. The Mummies - The Fly (Peel Session)
4. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Telepathetic (Peel Session)
5. Les Hou-Lops - Ebb Tide
6. The Vibrants - The Breeze And I
7. Jeff Tweedy - Ten Sentences
8. Neil Young - Vacancy
9. X - Someone's Watching
10. X - Cyrano DeBerger's Back
11. Cloud Factory - Amnesia
12. Travel Check - Death of Chill
13. TV Freaks - ABC
14. Sweet Dave - The Long Ride
15. Eddy Current Suppression Ring - Insufficient Funds
16. Outtacontroller - Television Zombie
17. Souvenir - Meter
18. Gum Country - Talking To My Plants
19. The Courtneys - K.C. Reeves
20. Japandroids - Heart Sweats
21. Territories - Defender
22. Guided By Voices - Game of Pricks
23. Guided By Voices - As We Go Up We Go Down
24. Guided By Voices - Little Whirl
25. Guided By Voices - My Valuable Hunting Knfie
26. Bob Dylan - My Own Version Of You
27. Bob Dylan - Black Rider
28. Bob Dylan - Scarlet Town

Download/stream this episode here.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Spy's: An Interview & Shows # 833, 832, 831

The Spy’s formed in 1978 in Windsor, Ontario, but their beginnings also have ties across the border in Detroit when future singer Frank Carlone and some friends went to see Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, which featured Fred “Sonic” Smith who had previously played in the Detroit band The MC5. During one of Smith’s sets, guitarist Dale "Elad" D’Amore played on stage with the Detroit legend. It was after a rendition of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” that Carlone decided to form a band with D’Amore. With Carlone taking lead vocals and D’Amore on guitar, another catalyst for the band came when witnessing future punk cohorts The Dry Heaves get second place in a Battle of the Bands at Ojibway Park in 1979. Carlone and D’Amore added bassist “Coma” Joe Desrameaux and drummer Dave O’Gorman to their collective shortly after this to form the band. This band would become known as The Spy’s.

The Spy’s first and only single “Underground/Machine Shop” was originally released in 1980 and has since become somewhat legendary. Even after the bands split in 1980, it is still sought after. The single recorded in Kingsville, Ontario starts with “Underground”. A musical statement if there ever was one, it packs a mighty punch as the lyrics combine with its classic 70s punk attack and catchy choruses. The B-side “Machine Shop” starts off with a jazz intro as lyrically it delves into the confines of the blue-collar working class world and the fight against it. By the time the single was pressed, the band was no more. Despite only being around for a short, intense period, The Spy’s developed a devout following in those early days as a band. Various members of the band would go on to form other bands after the split in late 1980, D’Amore and bassist Joe Desrameaux merged with members of The Hardtops to form The Nelsons, Carlone would form The Ronald Reagan Story and O’Gorman would join The Dry Heaves. Dale D’Amore’s Guitar Army has been active since the 90s and sometimes feature Spy’s classics in their sets. In the mid 90s The Spy’s reformed for a reunion show at The Loop in Windsor.

In the decades that followed, interest in The Spy’s has only grown. They were featured on the Smash The State Volume 2 compilation album in 1994, along with a collection of other early Canadian punk acts. In 2001, a compilation album entitled Original Punk Rock From Canada 1979-1980 was issued on the Incognito label. The album features demos that the band did of six songs in 1979 that were regular features of their live shows, the 1980 single and some live recordings of new songs from the 90s reunion show. Songs such as “I Wanna Be Like You”, “Welcome To The Cruel World”, “Been Through The Mill” and “Best I Can Get”, simmer with energy and attitude. Hearing these songs you can just imagine what their live shows must have been like.

The linear notes to the Incognito album perhaps described The Spy’s best: “They were raw energy, a match lighting five gallon cans of gasoline. We were jarred by the sexual freedom of Elad’s searing guitar solos, Coma Joe’s bass rattled our tailbones, O’Gormans’s hyperactive drumming propelled our bodies. Intellectually, they were disappointed utopians. Their vision was filtered through their working class ethic and experiences. They hurled thoughts, feelings, emotions at us”. Out of print for decades, Ugly Pop Records reissued The Spy’s “Underground/Machine Shop” single in 2012. While the band only ever released one single during their original run, it is a testament to the band and the songs found on that single that over thirty years from its original release, people are still talking about it.

Continue reading for a Q&A that Revolution Rock did with Dale D’Amore (Spy’s guitarist) and Frank Carlone (Spy’s vocalist). They provide insight into the band’s history, the recording of their 1980 single, the origin of some of their songs and playing live.

RR: How did the band decide on the name The Spy’s?

Dale: How did the band decide on the name The Spy’s? Well as I remember it was Frank Carlone that came up with the name, he had some other`s like The Mercenary's, but there was an argument on the spelling of The Spy's or The Spies.

It was good with the name and the spelling. lol I was just happy to be playing with these guys, Frank and Coma Joe were and still are my close friends even though we don't see each other a lot and Dave O'Gorman was a powerful drummer.

Frank: I’m not really sure. I don’t recall any long debate about the name. I think we wanted something short, plural and easy to say. If I recall correctly, we liked the James Bond/sixties kind of feel to the name. I think it also implied a bit of cool mystery and detachment. I think, for graphics purposes, it was also good ‘cause it was short. And it fit easily onto a button; buttons were all the rage back then. I think we had buttons done up pretty early.

RR: What do you remember from the recording sessions from this single? Where was it recorded and how many songs were recorded?

Dale: It was recorded at Salem Studio in Kingsville, there were not a lot of places to record and he had this great old farmhouse that was real cool. We did a demo there earlier in 1979 that is found on the Incognito album [a compilation album featuring this single, demos and live tracks called Original Punk Rock From Canada 1979-1980], but the single session was just the two songs. Now what I do remember is... we had no idea what we were doing!

We had never recorded much, but we acted like we were pros lol. So during the mixdown the engineer Terry Goulding I believe was his name... he gets up, says I am leaving and walks out, never said much just left and never returned and Dirk the owner finished the mix. So Frank would say thanks to Terry “I am leaving” Goulding for the mixdown.

Frank: It was at Salem Studios in either Harrow or Kingsville. I’m not sure if the engineer was too keen on our sound and way of doing things. We had been there once before to doing quick recordings of 6 songs, I think.

We went in knowing that we wanted to lay down “Underground” and “Machine Shop”. And I think we went in, did our thing and then waited for the record to come out. I can’t recall whether we did a lot of takes or not. I don’t think we did.

RR: How did you come up with the song “Underground”? Was it written before you were in the band or was it written after the fact?

Dale: “Underground” was written during the peak of The Spy's and I was a little angry. I mean I was 19 and we played lots of shows in Windsor and Detroit (I loved the Red Carpet Lounge in Detroit) anyway... we had a manager Yvonne Guadette and don't get me wrong he was great.... did a lot for us, but he started managing the Dry Heaves as well and was setting up some production company and stuff. So we had him tugging us one way and some of us thinking another way, and people asking us to start a new band and all this shit going on and they would have these meetings and drink wine and talk about what to do to make money off the bands and shit. So the last verse in “Underground” is really a statement to all of that. I mean I was young maybe the money would have been good. lol.

Frank: That was all Elad, sorry, Dale D’Amore. Lyrics and music (although I added the mumbling part just before the guitar solo). The song was kind of a statement for us. I think as soon as Dale showed it to us we all liked it right way. It kind of has an ebb and flow of intensity, like from 9 to 11 (maybe an 8 in the middle)!

RR: What about the song “Machine Shop”? Did you plan on having a jazz intro or was that something that happened at the last minute?

Frank: That was all Coma Joe, sorry Joe Des Rameaux. The jazz part was always a big part of the tune. We loved doing it live. Joe had eclectic tastes and could really write and sing a melody (and he always had great hair. I told him he should be a hair model, but I digress). I guess even a punk band needs to chill out for 30-45 seconds per show so the jazz intro was perfect for that. My contribution? The finger snaps (If I recall correctly) and the “go go’s”.

Dale: “Machine Shop” was written by the great Coma Joe. The intro was part of the original song and was actually longer but it was shortened to make the record. I have a recording I think with The Nelsons, the band Joe and I played in after The Spy's and Joe does the extended jazz intro.

RR: When the Underground single came out in 1980 do you know how many copies were pressed? Was it released independently or through some type of label?

Frank: I think either 500 or 1,000 copies of the single were pressed. I think it was done in one pressing. There were two covers printed. That was due to a lack of communication as the band broke up. I think we decided we were breaking up either before recording the single or just after. Pretty sure we were already broken up when the vinyl was shipped to us. Then the divisions that led to the break up kind of got reflected in the inability to agree on a cover.

Dale: There were 1000 copies of the record made, we each got 250. I remember handing them out to people, I once brought a box of the records no covers just the vinyl and a plain white sleeve and I handed them out to the audience. I wish I had them now! I also have one untouched it has been under plastic cover since 1980. There were no more pressings after that other than the Ugly Pop ones. It sucked because right when we got the records, we had already broken up, there was no work, interest rates were at 20 percent! Shit you could not sell a record at that time and I never thought that the record would become as popular as it did. And 007 was the label name Frank came up with, but it was pressed at a plant in Toronto owned by CBS so that's why it says CBS on the record. Doing it yourself was a hell of a lot harder back then, but after everything that has happened, I am glad that we did do the record and people still care about the music.

RR: In 2012/2013, Ugly Pop reissued The Spy’s single. How did this come about and how involved were you in the reissue?

Dale: Ugly Pop, yeah the guy (Simon Harvey) contacted me by e-mail, he told me that he wanted to re-issue The Spy’s 45. I asked Frank and Joe what they thought, they were all for it, so we gave him permission. I did not have any input into it at all as far as I remember. It was pretty cool thing to happen after so many years.

Frank: I knew nothing about it. I actually think I heard about it from my friend, Mike Panontin, who runs the terrific Canuckistan Music website and knows quite a bit about record collecting and vintage Canadian music (you can also follow him on Facebook: Michael Panontin). I still haven’t seen a royalty payment (LOL). Mike also teases me by telling me the going prices for the original Dry Heaves 45 are higher than the original Spy’s 45.

RR: In 2001 Incognito Records, a German label put out a compilation Spy’s album called Original Punk Rock From Canada 1979-1980 that featured the single, some demos and live recordings. What led to the release of the compilation and what do you remember about some of the live reunion material that is found on this album?

Frank: That I do recall. I think Dale told me about it before it came out. He was the contact with Incognito I thought it was pretty cool that someone in Germany had even heard about us. I guess to show you there’s a lot of niches and sub-niches out there. I was impressed by the quality of the cover and the pressing. I think it was pressed on some pretty heavy-duty vinyl way before the vinyl resurgence. I hope Incognito at least broke even.

I remember the live show stuff very well. We probably hadn’t done anything together for about 10-12 years. It was recorded at The Loop. We had a great PA System and I think the recording was done through the board. We were hyped to do that show. It was in the fall of 1995, so 15 years after we broke up. I think all the guys were hyped to play. I remember that I was hoarse for about 3 days after that.

Dale: The Incognito album was very cool, I got a phone call from someone who was involved with a compilation album of Canadian punk called Smash the State, now I never even knew that this came out and we were on it, lol. I think his name was Dirk. Well he asked about any recordings that we may have, and we had the studio songs and then the live stuff from our reunion at the Loop in 1995 or 96. So he talked about making the album, we came to an agreement and it came out. As far as the reunion recording, it was luck that I said to the sound guy Kirt Scammell at Band Aid Systems to hook up a d.a.t. recorder. They were the thing at the time and he did and it came out pretty good. It was just live off the stage, real cool lots of energy. I think it rocks.

RR: You recorded six demos in 1979 that are also found on this album (“Welcome To The Cruel World”, “I Wanna Be Like You”, “Been Through The Mill”, ”Watching You”, Ludwell Woodwork” and “Best I Can Get”) what do you remember about writing/recording these songs?

Dale: The demo we did at Salem Studio, same place we did the single at. Those songs I thought were fucking great, it really captured the band.

So I wrote “Cruel World”, yeah so I just came back from New York and found out I was out of a job and out came the song.

The song “I Wanna Be Like You” Frank and I wrote. I had the chorus "I wanna I wanna I wanna I wanna be like you” and Frank came up with the rest, and we wrote “The Best I Can Get” together too, I think that song has some of Frank's best lyrics.

“Been Through The Mill” and “Ludwell Woodwork” were Joe’s songs. “Ludwell” is such a cool song about a guy he knew from hanging around the Pool hall on Pillette road. I don’t know if it’s him or someone he made up. lol. “Been Through The Mill” is classic Coma Joe, great tune. And “Watching You” is a Frank classic, a power pop love song. I really liked that one, great melody. I don’t think Frank cares for it too much.

Frank: That was our first time in a recording studio. I think that the guys that were trying to manage us (see “Underground”) set it up and paid for it. It was at Salem Studios in Harrow/Kingsville. It was pretty quick and dirty. A Sunday afternoon. I was a bit nervous because I was actually able to hear my vocals clearly, which was kind of a distraction and a bit unsettling.

Re: the songs:

“Welcome to the Cruel World” was fully written by Elad (sorry, Dale D’Amore). Although I humbly admit that I added the “Na na na na nah nah na na’s” to the choruses (thank you). It was crowd pleaser and we loved doing it with energy. Still sounds good today. It’s in the Guitar Army repertoire.

“Been Through The Mill” was written fully by Coma Joe (Joe Des Rameaux). I think it was loosely based on Joe’s time working somewhere up north for a while, but who knows. I just liked the whole idea of “Been Through the Mill”:

And I

I don’t plug my ears

And now I can’t even hear
Don’t have to listen to you.

Elad wrote the music to “Best I Can Get”. He had the title and asked me to the do the lyrics. I did the best I could. We got a bit fancy with the backing vocals. I like the last part of the second verse (h/t to the New York Dolls):

I got a love bomb, it’s atomic and its ready
I stole the plans from the school library

It ain’t the best... 
But it’s the best I can get.

Then Elad tears into a couple of torrid guitar solos. That is also a fun song to do live.

“I Wanna Be Like You”. Some say it was our signature song. Simple and catchy. Again, Elad wrote the music. He had the title and he wanted it to be in the chorus, and he allowed me to fill in the rest lyrically. I don’t know if he wanted it to sort of be about unattainable girls. But I went there and he didn’t seem to mind.

“Ludwell Woodwork”. A Coma Joe masterpiece. Is it autobiographical? Who knows? I just know it rocks. I can’t remember if Joe wrote the little spoken word intro or if I did. Otherwise the rest of the song was all him. It’s unfortunate that Joe hasn’t been performing cause that song needs to be heard more often, BUT, BUT only Joe Des Rameaux can sing it.

“Watching You”. I wrote that one. Kind of a weird love song. Probably a bit wimpy for us back in the day, but for some reason Dale seemed to like doing it.

RR: Do the master tapes still exist for these demos/the single and has there ever been any consideration to putting this stuff out again maybe in a remastered form?

Frank: I am pretty sure the tapes from Salem Studios are long gone. It’s funny, we didn’t really hang on to stuff like that back in the day. They may have gone with the “managers” who paid for the studio time, or we were just nonchalant about hanging on to them. Would love to have them and see if we could fatten up the sound a bit.

Dale: I am glad you asked that! This year is 40 years for the record, my son and I are working on putting some kind of a re-master out with some unheard stuff that we found. I have the half-inch tape but you can’t mix it. I will master it, give it some volume and then some stuff from a practice we had recorded around the reunion show.

RR: What was the strangest thing you remember happening at a Spy’s show?

Dale: Spy’s shows were so much fun!! I mean we would go up do an hour and a half set real fast music and be done. I remember a show at The Masonic Temple on Ouellette and Joe and I being pissed about some shit our manager did and we were jumping in the air doing Peter Townsend jumps, we were pissed. I don’t know if that was the show where Howard Stern was booed off the stage, he was a DJ at a Detroit rock station at the time and got booed and shit thrown at him. I think he mentioned it in his book. I never read it, but someone did mention it to me, lol. One time the promoter said we are not getting paid and we chased the promoter down the block and got our money, that was funny.

Frank: I can’t recall strange things happening during the shows. Usually I was in my own little world for 30-45 minutes or so, letting the sound get to me. I do recall Joe breaking a bass guitar string one time, downstairs at Hadleys. That was a fun show. We had been off for a while so it was our first show back. It was a small room and it got pretty intense.

I do recall getting into some minor hassles crossing the border to play in Detroit. And I recall getting a few weird looks from sound tech people because I had my own mic. It was an Electro-Voice and it had it’s own battery. I just thought that made it so cool. I’m sure the sound techs were wondering WTF I was doing.

RR: When was the last time the original Spy’s line up played together? Was it the 95 reunion show at The Loop?

Dale: Yes , it was the reunion show at The Loop. Frank and I have played many shows together since that, Coma Joe and I played in Grumpy together for a bit. I don’t believe there is any hope of us ever having the four of us together again.

Frank: I’m pretty sure that the 95 reunion was the last of the 4 original Spy’s. Even though on the complete live recording I have Elad says “See ya in another 15 years” after we did our last song that night, which happened to be “Better Off Dead”.

Don’t think it will ever happen again. But, ya never know...

RR: What do you think it is about the songs on the Underground/Machine Shop single that causes people to keep returning to it, even though it was released over 30 years ago?

Dale: Well I often wonder and I am truly thankful that it still is being played thanks CJAM!! I mean who thought that I would be doing an interview about the Spy's some 40 years later? But yeah, I think that the era was not documented too well. No video footage, very little photos and there was some great music and bands, Dry Heaves, The Hardtops, Sonic Boom, and so on. I do have a video of the Spy's Reunion at the Loop in 1995 or 1996. I have to dig that up.

Frank: Firstly, they are pretty good tunes that people can relate to. Plus it was the only vinyl we put out so it kind of represents a flashback to that short-lived era that we played in, late 1979-80. I think back then bands like us and the Dry Heaves, and others brought back some energy and physicality to the music scene. We made people want to dance, pogo, whatever, get their bodies into the music, let loose. I guess people have fond memories of that.

Here is an additional question where Frank Carlone talks about his time with his post-Spy’s band The Ronald Regan Story:

RR: You formed The Ronald Reagan Story not too long after The Spy’s. What are the origins of the band name, how long was this band around for and what do you remember of your time with this band?

Frank: Good question. I think I came up with the band name just after Ronald Reagan was elected for the first time. I remember paying a lot of attention to that US election. I was politically attentive, but not active. And I was listening to a lot of Dead Kennedys. Plus the name had a certain quasi-academic, mysterious nature to it. It wasn’t just another band name. Actually before the RRS started I was in a short-lived band that practiced 2-3 times. We were called “The Vichy Government”.

Anyway, RRS had some fun gigs. Our bass player wore a mask, mainly because he was also in The Nelsons, and couldn’t be seen playing with us (just kidding). He had a great old time goalie mask, a la Jason [of Friday The 13th], so we called him Doctor Death. (I guess I can reveal the secret now: it was Dominic D’Amore.) I think he liked my simple tunes because he could do whatever bass runs and fill he wanted to: I was not going to complain, and they really added some texture to my sparse 3 chord tunes. We opened a lot for The Nelsons.

Later Mike Fortier came in on bass, of course he had to wear a mask. One time at the Embassy Hotel in London, we unmasked him, but he had a second mask on underneath (brilliant, I know).

Brian Chick was THE Drummer. Brian Chick was the glue that kept Ronald Reagan Story together. Admittedly, it was only for a year and a half. He also contributed a couple of really good tunes. On one of them he came out to play bass and Doctor Death went on the drums (“Childhood Romance”). Brian was dubbed “Caspar Weinberger”. He was Reagan’s Secretary of Defense, I think, or something like that. Anyway the name sounded pretty cool at the time.

We were known for our banter. There is a great recording from the University Pub (Sac’s Pub back in the day) with some great heckling. Classic stuff. I may have that reel-to-reel tape somewhere in my basement.

I think two or three people thought we had some hits like “You’re Love Has Turned My Heart Into a Hand Grenade”, “Revolutionary Girl”, “Sac’s Pub” (which I stole from R. J. Hollub and The Vichy Government), “Colorado Drifter” and “Ronnie. I Voted for You”, to name a few.

*An earlier version of this article appeared in The Windsor Independent.

Show 833 (Originally Aired On June 13th, 2020)(The Spy's, James O-L, Ron Leary, X-Ray Spex, Otis Redding, The Gories):

1. James O-L - All That I Need
2. Ron Leary - Roadside Motel
3. Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network - When My Day of the Crone Comes
4. New Town Animals - Three Steps Backward
5. The Exploding Hearts - I'm A Pretender
6. The Marked Men - She Won't Know
7. Jay Reatard My Shadow
8. X-Ray Spex - Warrior In Woolworths
9. Buzzcocks - Breakdown
10. The Spy's - Underground
11. The Spy's - Welcome To The Cruel World
12. The Spy's - Don't Touch That Dial (Live)
13. The Spy's - I Wanna Be Like You (Live)
14. The Ronald Reagan Story - Just Another Warning
15. Elad's Guitar Army - Rattlesnake Tongue
16. The Burying Ground - Behind These Eyes
17. Coal - No Angel
18. Huevos Rancheros - Ride, Cowboy
19. The Sadies - Postcards
20. Dusty Mush - Space Cat
21. The Future Primitives - Open Up Your Door
22. Girl Over Planet - Tetromino Swing
23. The Flamethrowers - Intensity
24. Bo Diddley - Bo's Guitar
25. Otis Redding - These Arms of Mine (Live at the Whiskey A Go-Go - April 9th, 1966)
26. PJ Harvey - Naked Cousin
27. Liz Phair - Soap Star Joe
28. Emily Rockarts - Right Now
29. Vancougar - Obvious
30. Juliana Hatfield - Going Blonde
31. The Gories - Boogie Chillun
32. The Gories - You'll Be Mine

Download/stream this episode here.

Show 832 (Originally Aired On June 6th, 2020)(James Brown, Funkadelic, The Paragons, Art Blakey, Daniel Romano):

1. James Brown - Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud) (Live in Dallas 1968)
2. Sly and The Family Stone - Luv n Haight
3. Funkadelic - You and Your Folks
4. Death - Where Do We Go From Here???
5. Martha & The Vandellas - Dancing In The Street (Alternate and Extended Version)
6. The Paragons - The Tide Is High
7. Prince Buster - A Change Is Gonna Come
8. Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers - The Freedom Rider
9. Mirabelle - Teenage Dreams
10. Penny Diving - Divine
11. Dead Ghosts - Tell Me How
12. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Cars In Space
13. No Age - Turned To String
14. Daniel Romano - If You Do Or If You Don't
15. Daniel Romano - The Farther Side of Love
16. Daniel Romano's Outfit - If Words Can't Express It
17. Daniel Romano - Super Pollen
18. Daniel Romano - Heat Wave
19. Daniel Romano - Spider Bite
20. Haden McNulty - The Cops
21. Yves Tumor - Identity Trade
22. Dean Blunt - 100
23. AMC Gremlin - Nachos For One
24. TV On The Radio - The Wrong Way
25. Dean Marino - Dark Horse
26. R.E.M. - Gardening At Night
27. David Kilgour & The Heavy 8's - Shifting Sands
28. Rough Francis - Urgent Care
29. King Khan - Children Of The World

Download/stream this episode here.

Show 831 (Originally Aired On May 30th, 2020)(Sweet Dave, The Kinks, RUDI, Damaged Bug, Dead Ghosts):

1. Sweet Dave - Beautiful Dreams
2. Jeff Rosenstock - Monday At The Beach
3. The Vibrators - Into The Future
4. Adrian Teacher and The Subs - Modern Art
5. Baby Eagle and The Proud Mothers - Strange Bodies
6. The Modern Lovers - Hospital
7. RUDI - Big Time
8. The Saints - Run Down
9. The Kinks - Nothing To Say
10. The Kinks - Shangri-La
11. The Kinks - Too Much On My Mind
12. The Kinks - Nothing In The World Can Stop Me Worrying About That Girl
13. Vivian Cook - Where In The World
14. Faith Healer - Might As Well
15. Steven Lambke - At The Start of the Song
16. Built To Spill - Bloody Rainbow
17. Shadow Show - Charades
18. Asphalt Eaters - Ford 49
19. X Ray Cat Trio - Demiurge
20. Swearin' - Dogpile
21. Matt Mays - Dog City (A Doogie Boogie)
22. Waxahatchee - War
23. Destroyer - Kinda Dark
24. Jon Mckiel - Deeper Shade
25. Private School - Science Fiction
26. Antheads - Think Fast
27. Plasticheads - One Way Ticket
28. The Moby Dicks - Talk Money (Demo)
29. Lame Brain - Moria
30. Ditches - The Great Escape
31. Revo - Space Junk (Live)
32. Damaged Bug - Sold America
33. Dead Ghosts - Swiping Hubcaps
34. Dead Ghosts - Drugstore Supplies

Download/stream this episode here.