Archive for November, 2011


I saw Dan Mangan play to a sold out crowd at the Alix Goolden Hall in Victoria the other day. (Update:  Because I forgot to mention it when I originally posted this, and because there’s been searches from people looking, the openers that night were The Crackling from Vancouver and The Daredevil Christopher Wright from Wisconsin. Both are great – check them out.) This was one of the best concerts I’ve seen this year. To convince you of that, I’ve posted some video from the evening below. You can find my photos from the night on my Flickr page here.

 

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The Arkells are playing Sugar nightclub in Victoria (tonight) Saturday November 12th. Opening for them is Rich Aucoin. Be sure to arrive early – Rich puts on quite the live show.

This post marks a couple of firsts for EhBSeasides: it’s the first interview for us, and it’s the first contribution by a guest writer. My friend Lucas Kitchen had the chance to chat with Max Kerman of the Arkells back in October 2010. Part of this conversation was published in CFUV‘s magazine Renegade Radio. Here’s the full interview:

Lucas Kitchen: What drives you guys to tour so much?

Max Kerman: We connect most when we play the songs live, and we really enjoy playing live. We get a lot of joy being able to travel from city to city, and trying to win people over. The band is at its best when we’re playing live.

LK: What have you learned about touring across the country, about touring in general?

MK: There’s a good attitude within the band about how seriously we take touring, I mean we have fun doing it, but the reason we have fun doing it is because we take it seriously, and because we do everything in our power to make sure the show is good because if the show is good then we’re going to feel good. Touring in Canada especially, you’re out driving 8 hours a day between cities so its tough to show up to a venue and play a half ass show. It’s something we try never to do because what’s the point otherwise? If you’re gonna be hauling all your gear somewhere and show up and not take it seriously and not put on an energetic show, then there wouldn’t be any point in doing it. I think the one thing we’ve learned is that you have to take every show seriously and try your best
every night.

LK: What have you learned about the country from criss-crossing it so many times?

MK: I find we always end up fueling up in the same spots ’cause our gauge gets low at the same points on every trip. There’s a gas station in Chamberlain Saskatchewan (which is between Regina and Saskatoon) which we always fill up at. There’s little truck stops we become used to. We found out there is no reception between Sault St Marie and Thunder Bay which is like 10 hours and kinda strange for people used to having their cell phones on them at all times. We’ve found that even if its not snowing, the Rocky Mountains can be terrifying because of fog. We’ve had a couple of really frightening experiences going down the mountain between Kamloops and Kelowna and not being able to see anything. We’re probably better drivers now because we’re used to each land formation that the country has to offer. The prairies can be pretty easy, but they can also get really slippery on the roads.

We’ve also gotten better at occupying our time on the road, listening to a podcast or an audio book. The guys have computers out and get into their movies and TV shows. The first couple of tours everyone was really excited and just kinda anxious the whole time but now its like I don’t mind getting in the van for a long period of time because I know I can send some emails, watch a movie, read a book, stuff that I like doing anyways.

LK: Anywhere you haven’t been yet that you’d like to go?

MK: In Canada we’ve been basically everywhere except for PEI which I’d love to see. We got to tour America this past summer with Tokyo Police Club and that was a great experience, they’re one of our favourite bands. Just getting to see other places around the world is something the band allows us to do, so that’s just really the next step, getting to see other cool places.

LK: How important is Hamilton to the band?

MK: The band was formed here and it’s the band’s home. Everyone comes from places just outside of Hamilton but we met in Hamilton. The band’s become such an important part of our lives and Hamilton is such a big part of that.

LK: Does a band lose a little part of who it is if it’s forced to relocate?

MK: If a band loses its connection to where it’s been sleeping every night for the past 5 years it’s because they’re not sleeping there, it’s ’cause they’re on the road all the time, feeling a little lonely. I don’t think we’re at that point yet but I understand that bands don’t always have the same connection they once had to their home towns, just because the nature of being in a band is that you’re not at home. But that’s not a bad thing, it just shapes a man differently. Every band remembers their first gig and starting off playing awful shows and it’s one thing we haven’t forgotten. It feels like in recent memory that we were playing to nobody at the Casbah in Hamilton but still really liking it. It’s all part of the process of growing up as a band.

LK: I know that the band members all have degrees of one sort or another. What was the plan back then when you were at school, what were you thinking of doing when you were working towards those degrees? What would you have been doing if the band hadn’t popped up?

MK: I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say that I’m smart enough to surround myself with people much smarter than me. That’s the only thing I really got going for me is that I pick the best and the brightest to hang out with. I don’t know exactly what I’d be doing. We all have our own interests, journalism is something I think of few of us might get involved with, Mike is a really excellent graphic designer, Dan could be at law school, Tim is a fantastic recording engineer – we record a lot of our demos with Tim – and everyone could have gone to grad school. Everyone would be keeping busy, I’m sure of that.

LK: Where does the band name, Arkells, originate?

MK: Mike and I lived on Arkell street. For a period of time we were called Charlemagne but then we got a cease and desist order from an American singer/songwriter. When we started working with Dine Alone Records we had to tell them our dirty little secret that someone else had the name. We had about half an hour to change it because there was a deadline we had to meet about the promotion of our EP and we didn’t realize it was coming up so soon, and it was like “oh we’re just heading off to the printer, what’s the new band name?” Arkells had been kicking around for a while ’cause it kinda sounded like a 60s doo wop group. We could never fully decide because changing your name is kind of a painful process, not everyone in a band will completely agree on a name ’cause it’s just too tricky. But with half an hour we had to make an executive decision and so that was what it was gonna be.

LK: You’ve always been a band that enjoys hanging out after the show and talking with fans. Do you think that connection with your fans is important to build?

MK: When it comes down to it, we’re the biggest fanboys of our favourite bands and we’ve been lucky enough to have some really good experiences with Canadian bands. We opened up for Cuff the Duke and they were super kind to us and treated us really well. I’ve seen Joel Plaskett who’s probably my favourite songwriter in Canada and I’d go to his shows and stick around and he’s just as charming in person as he is on stage. I think there’s a real humbleness that a lot of Canadian musicians share. The fact that people are paying 20 bucks to come out to a show and buying a shirt, the least we can do is come hang out a bit if people want to talk. We’re really happy to do it, and people get a kick out of it as well.

LK: Jackson Square came out just over 2 years ago now and we’ve heard some new stuff at your last concert, is there a new album in the works?

MK: Yeah we’re just in the process of figuring out who we’re gonna do it with and then hopefully we’ll be recording in January or February. We’ve been practicing a lot in the last few weeks and getting really excited about the new stuff. The new stuff has been super fun to play live and it’s going to be a little prettier I think. I’m really excited and can’t wait to show people when its finished.

LK: One more anecdote for Victoria:

MK: We’ve always been pretty aware of having to try our best when it comes to playing live. I remember the Waking Eyes tour when we played Victoria, we came off of a Vancouver show that went really well, and then the club that we were playing at in Victoria had bumped our show earlier, and we got these ticket counts and we hadn’t sold too many tickets. So the whole band was feeling kinda bummed out after coming off this high at the Vancouver show: here we are in Victoria, we haven’t sold that many tickets, the show’s been bumped early ’cause they wanna get a band in later that’s gonna bring in a lot of people. I remember the first three or four songs of that show I wasn’t even really looking up which is uncharacteristic for all of us not to be engaging with the crowd. And
then I looked up four songs in and a really nice crowd had formed and people were getting into the music. The show was going really well and I was kicking myself because
we came in with a really bad attitude and by the end of the show it ended up being a wicked show. It taught us a lesson about not really caring about anything other than
putting on a really good show. Since then we’ve said, alright guys, we gotta bring it no matter what.

Somebody made me feel a little guilty about not keeping up with my writing for Victoria Record Club, so this is my attempt to get back on track. I have quite a few months to catch up on, and I’ve tried to list all of my picks here to the best of my knowledge. Through the magic of Facebook I know I’ve got all the dates correct, but the specific tracks off a couple of albums might be missing.

Meeting #4: Tuesday March 22nd 2011 at Talk’s Cheap

Album: The Meligrove Band, Planets Conspire

Tracks Played: “Everyone’s A Winner” and “Feversleep”

This is one of my all time favourite front to back records. I’d give anything to see the Meligrove Band live. I’d especially give anything to see them perform this album in its entirety. The story of how I came into possession of this album is kind of interesting.

The Meligrove Band have have some kind of curse on their heads. Currently three albums into their career, the band has had one hell of a bumpy ride to get to where they are now. Just before the release of their second album Planets Conspire they were signed to V2 Records (the label Richard Branson founded after he sold Virgin Records to EMI). The band was set to receive some well deserved world-wide attention when the label suddenly “restructured” and dropped all the artists on their roster. While a setback like this would ruin your average group, the Meligrove Band persevered and released their third album, Shimmering Lights, in 2010.

It was while on tour to support this release that major disaster struck the band for a second time. Only a few dates into their December 2010 tour of the US, the band’s bus broke down and they were left stranded in Orlando, Florida. The band was forced to cancel the remainder of their US tour due to being thrown so far off the tour schedule, and then they were forced to cancel all their Canadian dates opening for Tokyo Police Club and the Arkells, as well as their European tour due to the financial burden of the mechanical costs.

I had a ticket to the Tokyo Police Club and Arkells show here in Victoria. I was pretty upset that I wouldn’t get the chance to finally see the Meligrove Band when I heard news of them being stranded. I was especially sad because at the time I was searching for a vinyl copy of Planets Conspire and I was planning on picking one up when they came to town. Since the record was released on a now defunct label, few copies of the vinyl were pressed and from what I’ve heard there’s no talk of a reissue. This wasn’t just an album I could order off the internet. Here’s where the magic of Facebook comes into play. One day the band posted on their Facebook page that they had unearthed some lost copies of Planets Conspire and that they would have them available at their bus repair fundraising show… in Toronto. I jumped on this news and sent a message to the band saying I was desperate for a copy and asked if they would be willing to ship a record out here. The bass player Michael Small emailed me back later that day, was super nice, and we worked out a deal via PayPal. Really, this was one of the most positive interactions I’ve ever had with a band.

Despite all the setbacks, the Meligrove Band is still working hard at making a go of it. Just a couple of days ago they posted on their Twitter feed “All done playing shows for 2011. Thanks everyone. Now we work on new songs. Tonight, though, we’ll go to the big @sheezer show in Toronto… “. They’re not quite out of the woods yet though. The band has the following message on their webpage:

“By now you probably know about the piles of money we lost fixing our bus and missing half a tour, stuck in Orlando for a week. This forced us to cancel Europe and US tours, including SXSW, and still threatens to for-real bankrupt us. So if you were thinking of grabbing some music and/or a t-shirt, today is the day. Or tomorrow, whenever. Thanks!!”

Want to help the band out? You can buy their merch here.

Also, here’s a great interview with the band about their bus misfortune.

 

Meeting #5: Tuesday May 3rd 2011 at Talk’s Cheap

This is the one meeting of Victoria Record Club that I’ve missed. I had a good excuse though: I was in Vancouver seeing the Pixies perform Doolittle in its entirety. When I asked Jeremy later what fun had transpired in my absence, he informed me that I didn’t miss much. The meeting was scheduled on the same night as a Canucks playoff game, and people had opted for sports instead of music. I guess the lesson learned from that night is that around these parts you have to schedule your record club meetings around hockey.

(I was lucky enough to see the Pixies perform again in Victoria two days later. You can find my photos from that night here.)

Meeting #6: Tuesday May 17th 2011 at Talk’s Cheap

Albums: PS I Love You, Starfield 7″ and PS I Love You and Diamond Rings, Leftovers 7″

Tracks played: “Butterflies and Boners” and “Leftovers”

The month of May gave the Victoria Record Club our quickest turnaround between meetings. There was a good reason: my friend, musician, author, and CBC radio host, Grant Lawrence was in town to promote his book Adventures In Solitude. (It’s a great book, I ended up reading it in a weekend because I couldn’t put it down. If interested, you can buy it here.) We invited Grant to join us while he was in town, and fortunately his schedule cooperated with the Canucks playoff schedule so we had a free day to meet with no hockey game to fret over.

I ended up bringing two 7″ records to the Record Club meeting this month. A couple of months earlier in March I saw Diamond Rings and PS I Love You perform at Sugar. I had seen Diamond Rings live before and knew how great his live show was, but I didn’t really know what to expect out of PS I Love You. The duo from Kingston Ontario released one of the best debuts I’ve heard in a while with their album Meet Me At The Muster Station. Listening to the album though, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the whole thing was created with just two musicians: Paul Saulnier on various guitars and Benjamin Nelson on drums. It instantly hit how great the duo was though when they opened their show at Sugar with “Butterflies and Boners” which has a pretty kickass finger tapped guitar solo. The band put out a 7″ with Diamond Rings in late 2010. This release included the song “Leftovers” which was a collaboration between the two groups. The show at Sugar ended with PS I Love You joining Diamond Rings on stage to perform this song. This was one of those great shows where I walked out being a much bigger fan of both bands.

Meeting #7

Ahh, the mysterious meeting #7. I searched all through my past Facebook events to see when this occurred. My conclusion: it never happened and we suck at keeping the numbers on our events straight. There you go kids, if you want to sound like you have street cred tell everyone that you were at the fabled Meeting #7 of Victoria Record Club.

Meeting #8: Wednesday July 6th 2011 at Smith’s Pub

Albums: Said The Whale, The Magician 7″ and Bruce Springsteen, Born In The USA and The Beatles, 1962-1966 and David Bowie, Changes One

Tracks played: “Camilo (The Magician)”, “Glory Days” and “Dancing In The Dark”, ???, ???

The Record Club decided to switch things up a bit this month and rather than meet at the record store, we ended up crashing Jeremy’s DJ night at Smith’s Pub. The pub was surprisingly empty when I showed up, even for it being a Wednesday night. Record Club basically ended up taking over the place which proved to be lots of fun. Jeremy brought a ton of his vinyl out that night and I remember there being some pretty great things that I wouldn’t mind having in my collection. (I clearly remembered there being a Smashing Pumpkins album I coveted.) I brought a bag of my selections from my collection out that night too and told DJ Jeremy to pick whatever he wanted to play out of there. By the end of the night I had a few spins from my collection on the stereo, including my Said The Whale 7″ that I picked up at their Rifflandia 2009 show and my Bruce Springsteen Born In The USA album that I’m pretty sure I picked up at a thrift store for only 50 cents.

One of my good friends, and a fellow music lover, David moved out to Ottawa recently to do his PhD. With the move came the need for him to downsize his record collection. Thanks to him I added quite a few classic albums to my collection. Actually, most of the good old albums I have are thanks to him. Two of discs added to my collection thanks to David were the greatest hits collections of The Beatles, 1962-1966, and David Bowie, Changes One. I remember these two records being on the stereo at one point near the end of our Smith’s night, but since it was the end of the evening I have no recollection of what songs were played. It was that good of a night.

Meeting #9: Sunday August 7th 2011 at Andrea’s backyard

Album: Crosby Stills Nash Young, Deja Vu

Tracks played: “Helpless” and “Woodstock”

Record Club switched things up again in August when member Andrea offered up her backyard for a Sunday afternoon BBQ. Dogs, children, beers, various meats for grilling, speakers, turntables, and records were brought and a good time was had by all. We ended up chatting until well past sunset.

I was a bit lazy with my selection this time around. I again decided to bring a bag with a few selections in it. Just around sunset when it came time for my turn to put something on the stereo though I told the other members to choose what they wanted to hear. They chose well and put on “Helpless” from my Crosby Stills Nash Young album Deja Vu. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon in the summer than to have drinks, friends, and Neil Young.

Meeting #10: Tuesday October 18th 2011 at Studio 16 1/2

Album: The Rural Alberta Advantage, Hometowns

Tracks Played: “The Deathbridge In Lethbridge” and “Don’t Haunt This Place”

I was getting a little worried about Record Club by the end of this summer. We had become nomads, having meetings wherever we could, be it bars or backyards. We also had just marked the one year anniversary of the first Record Club meeting. This was too young of an idea to let it die off. Luckily Chris, owner of Studio 16 1/2 in Fan Tan Alley, stepped up and offered his place for our get together this month. The space seemed to fit our style, I’m hoping we can make Record Club a somewhat regular thing again. This gathering of Record Club was notable for another reason: Jeremy and I finally managed to drag our friend Tyson out to join us. (I’m not really exaggerating with that, I had to drive him there and everything.)

The album I brought this month was Hometowns by The Rural Alberta Advantage. I picked this one up just a week or so before the Record Club meeting when Tyson and I made a trip out to Ditch Records. I was rummaging through the selection of used vinyl new to the store when I came across it. Hometowns got a lot of play on my stereo this summer and so my reaction to this find was “who in their right mind would get rid of an album like this??”. I knew I had to give it a good home.

The last time that The Rural Alberta Advantage passed through town I made the mistake of agreeing to cover for a sick friend who was supposed to teach a stats class the next morning at 8:30am. I made the difficult decision to be a responsible instructor and actually prepare for the lecture and get a good night’s sleep instead of seeing the show. I instantly regretted my choice when I walked in the next morning to see a student sitting front row and center, wearing a Rural Alberta Advantage t-shirt that he bought at the show. After the class was over I asked the student how the concert was. His reply: “It was great! I met the band and they signed my shirt and everything!”. He then turned around to show me the autographs on the back of his shirt. That’s what I get for acting like a responsible adult.