Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Scenics In The Summer Andy Meyers Interview & Show # 586

In 1976, Andy Meyers posted an ad in a Toronto music shop looking for musicians to form a band that was bold and risk taking. Only one person, future Scenics member Ken Badger, answered this ad. The two would become the main songwriters of the group, often alternating between bass, guitar and vocal duties depending on who wrote a particular composition. The band would play in the Toronto punk/new wave scene in the late 70s and were known for their experimental sound. The Scenics blended elements of bands such as Television, Pere Ubu, The Velvet Underground, Roxy Music, Big Star and The Byrds, among others. However, The Scenics sound was uniquely their own. During their initial run as a band from 1976-1982, The Scenics released one full-length album 1979’s Underneath The Door and a single “Karen/See Me Smile” in 1981. They were also featured in Colin Brunton’s 1978 documentary The Last Pogo, as well as being on the accompanying soundtrack. A collection of vintage recordings were released in 2008 (How Does It Feel To Be Loved), 2009 (Sunshine World) and in 2012 an album of new recordings was released as Dead Man Walks Down Bayview. In the fall of 2015, a remastered version of recordings made from 1977-1978 was released as In The Summer on Dream Tower Records via CD and Rave Up Records on vinyl.

In The Summer opens with the erratic grooves of “O Boy”. Musically the song blends elements of Pere Ubu and The Velvet Underground with a sense of up-tempo, nervous energy. Lyrically Ken Badger sings of what seems to be a series of disillusioned experiences by someone who is "A product of a college community”, while Andy Meyers lays down a heavy bass groove that digs deep. “Do The Wait” is a more straightforward song with vocal harmonies that sound as if they are from Velvet Underground’s Loaded album as buzzing guitars and melodic basslines dance in between the guitars, drums and vocals. “It’s just the sweetest thing that you have ever seen/Like you’re walking standstill in a dream” is a lyric that exemplifies the mood expressed in this song. It also features a section of silence before it ends which humorously makes the listener “wait”, while listening to “Do The Wait”.

The second track “Wild Trout” swims with exotic landscape inspired lyrics, guitar arpeggios and flooding basslines and crashing drums, while the next song “Great Piles Of Leaves” features basslines that drift in amongst the drums and vocals. “Great Piles Of Leaves” tells a fable involving a father and son. The son wants to be a great cellist like Pablo Casals, but it seems he is uncomfortable with his surroundings and takes solace in the simple things like playing in great piles of leaves, not really focusing on anything in particular. When the leaves are cleared he finds himself older and in a domesticated lifestyle. “I’m Hurt” features a catchy intense chorus that has a smooth funky bassline that juxtaposes with the guitar lines. The song also features a breakdown towards the end of the song with saxophone showcases The Scenics willingness to experiment with jazz textures. “Sunshine World” reflects the jagged rhythms of Gang Of Four and Devo, while the title track “In The Summer” reveals a Byrds influence. The songs “Gotta Come Back Here” and “So Fine” provide slower, more mid-tempo grooves. “Not Dead Yet” sucks you into a trance-like state. The sprawling, watery guitars filter in and out of the steady bass and drum grooves as the lyrics seem to deal with a lazy, yet sinister character that doesn’t know what they want.

In “Great Piles Of Leaves” Andy Meyers sings that “Perfection is not necessary as long as he gets things right”. Well it seems like The Scenics did get things right long ago when they were recording these tracks, but no one really heard them then. For The Scenics, when the leaves of the past are cleared we are left with recordings that many never knew existed. And while this album is an abbreviated version of 2009’s Sunshine World, these newly remastered recordings are exhilarating and a more powerful example of The Scenics vintage 1977/1978 period.

Check out the interview that I did with Andy Meyers of The Scenics here:

Saturday Night Playlist:

1. Archie & The Bunkers - I’m Not Really Sure What I’m Gonna Do
2. Juice Box - Rat Therapy
3. Neil Young - The Losing End (When You're On)
4. Big Mama Thornton - Black Rat (Take Two)
5. Patti Smith - Gimme Shelter
6. Pointed Sticks - Broke
7. The Scenics - O Boy

The Scenics Andy Meyers Interview

8. The Scenics - Great Piles Of Leaves
9. Talking Heads - The Book I Read
10. Pere Ubu - Misery Goats
11. What Seas What Shores - Blank Of America
12. Gram Parsons - The Return Of The Grievous Angel
13. The Pogues - Jesse James
14. Elvis Costello & The Attractions - (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding
15. Allen Toussaint - Brickyard Blues
16. Ought - Celebration
17. Deerhunter - Duplex Planet
18. Paul Jacobs - Still Waiting
19. The Velvet Underground - Satellite of Love (Demo)
20. The Velvet Underground - Sweet Jane (Early Version Remix)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for November 14. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

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