Photo by John “Rawkhard” Pike. Scroll down for names.
One day, 18 hours, 33 minutes.
That’s how long it would take you to listen to all the music recorded by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as part of this year’s RPM Challenge.
Every February, The Scope dares people across the province to set aside their feelings of musical inadequacy, loosen up their schedules, and get down to writing and recording a full album of original music in the coldest month in our winter.
This year, 70 local bands came through, and there’s some really, really good stuff in there.
But that’s not the point. The RPM Challenge is not a contest. The only carrot dangling in front of these musicians was the thrill of having 35 minutes or ten tracks of their own fresh, original music set to disc. And they got the carrot.
Neither hard drive failure, nor creative blocks, nor horrible flu managed to keep these people from submitting their albums to us by the deadline. And if you’ve ever spent time at the finish line of the Tely Ten, you know some people strode over the line feeling pretty good, and some had to claw their way across.
But here at the end of March, that pain is long gone. Now we get to enjoy the fruits of their labour. On Saturday, March 28 we’re throwing a listening party where we’ll play at least one track from each of the artists who submitted.
We’ve got some listening to do.
Come to the listening party! Saturday, March 28, from 8pm (sharp!) to 11pm at CBTGs and Roxxys. No cover. RPM CDs will be available for sale by the artists.
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If there was a book written about the RPM Challenge, some could call it “Zen and the Art of Recording an Album in a Month.” One of the most important and difficult things for musicians to overcome is your internal critic, the voice that says “you suck” and “what’s the point of working so hard for this anyway?” Well, screw that voice. If people didn’t try because they were afraid of failing, nothing good would happen ever. When you’re recording an album, spontaneous jams and random noodlings can go a long way. Loosen up a little, would ya?
By Elling Lien
“This RPM thing has just reinforced my opinion that I probably write better songs when I don’t think about it too much,” says the anonymous force behind the “grunge/metal/punk” outfit Ultramammoth. He says it gave him an excuse to use the phrase “that’ll do” more than usual, which he enjoyed.
“In terms of recording, I’m really into music that sounds like it’s being made in real time,” says Alison Corbett (aka Black Molly) “I think it’s important to experience music as a risk and to keep in mind that it’s not rocket science. If you make a mistake, it can be terrible or it can be the best thing that ever happened. The most important thing is to remember that no one’s life is on the line.”
Bobby and melodic trio The Troubletones, were without their drummer for the month of February, but they still managed to have a good time putting together a great album. The song “I Think You’re Dreaming” was the result of a spontaneous jam that seemed to come out of nowhere. “We ended up using everything we could get our hands on to get a heavy, stomping percussion track,” says Andrew Wickens. “Matt was banging on a case of beer (some full, some empty), Andy was playing tambourine and stomping on the ground, and Steve was playing a 50 pound bag of dog food.”
The first day Craig Soper started recording his reggae-tinged album, his computer crashed, leaving him days behind and a little disheartened. When he got stuck for a song for a few days, he “started to go into panic mode.”
“Then I started to mess around with a simple riff for a bit…” And the riff grew into one of his favourite songs on the album, “Matters to Me.” He was back on track.
Ryan Green describes his project Patch as a fairly accessible techno/indie outfit. The RPM’s tight deadline kept him from obsessing over the technical side of recording and forced him to focus on writing and production. “It’s funny how most people won’t even notice the small details that can consume a project,” he says. “It was just enough stress.”
Bryan Oliver agrees. His project, Worker, was “a bit of electro weirdness”, and he had most of his fun recording his songs live—always tricky with electronic music—but occasionally liberating.
Matthew Beverly’s solo project was Sluts on Sluts. Once he realized the songs he was working on would need some vocals, he panicked. But the panic subsided a few social lubricants later and he was shouting across the hall into a microphone at the top of his lungs. He just had to let go a little. “It was good to focus my musical ‘noodlings’ and spend a month trying to create an actual cohesive album,” he says. “I’m not sure if that happened… but I had a good time trying.”
Finally, not much is known about the three-piece band Les Enfants Terribles except they recorded their entire album in the last 12 hours of February. The spontaneous jam is their modus operandi, and the result consists of songs with titles like “Winter Townie Nausea”, “Mansbridge vs. Suzuki” and “The Bottle Man Always Rings Twice.”
“28 days? We could have made 28 albums!” says band member Jon Montes.
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There’s nothing quite like the experience of making music with people you really dig. Making music can be (is usually?) heartbreaking agony, but when you’re working with friends, there’s usually somebody around to pick you up when you’ve accidentally erased your hard drive, can’t come up with a good rhyme for “raisin”, or to reassure you that it’s okay you can’t sing your way out of a paper bag. You can’t go completely wrong, since as long as you’re having fun, at least you’ve got that to show for it.
By Elling Lien and Bryhanna Greenough
You can make music alone, or you can make it in a group. Which is more fun? You could say it depends on what you’re working on, and who you’re working with.
Take Counter Destroyer, for instance. It’s their second year participating in the RPM Challenge. This sarcastic group of friends would probably be the first to admit that their recording isn’t great, and their music isn’t at all polished, (“when was the last time music hurt you? made you feel uncomfortable or sick?”) but you can hear them having fun making a racket. These guys embody some of the let-loose spirit of the RPM Challenge. “Fuck it,” you can hear them say. “Let’s just record something.”
“It’s a great excuse to get together and make music!” says Jeff Kinsman of Audiophile. He started out solo, but ended up signing up two other friends “it’s now a three-piece outfit looking to play gigs,” he says. “This wouldn’t have happened without the Challenge.”
Alive Underground is another repeat from last year’s RPM, but what originally started out as a solo project for Snowden Walters expanded this year to include guest appearances by his two kids. “My son (13) had a guitar piece in his head that we recorded and named ‘Pedro’s Theme’” says Snowden. “It came out of nowhere and sounded great, and it’s very different from the stuff he’s usually playing.” Having his kids involved was great. “We didn’t break any records for recording, but we had fun and they’ve been exposed to the process… Perhaps by next February they’ll have some more of their own material.”
Sometimes a sympathetic ear is enough collaboration to keep you moving. You can’t make music in a complete vaccuum. Bryan Power of The Subtitles started a solo electronic project for this year’s RPM, but things fell flat quite early on. “Once I got past the fact that I had just wasted a week building electro beats on a computer program, it went pretty well,” he says. While he doesn’t seem to have collaborated with anyone on tape for Pilot to Bombardier, he credits “the team” with helping him through it. “Being able to call friends to put me on the right track when I was about to throw it out the window, roomies coming to listen, making suggestions, and distributing high-fives as tracks were getting completed.”
There were a number of couples that worked on the RPM projects this year.
Amy Joy, a producer for CBC television, and Grant King of the Pathological Lovers , the Monday Nights, and Exit Party worked on Other People. While to Grant, music is old hat, this was Amy’s first time singing on tape. “There were a couple times when Amy and I got so frustrated that we almost threw in the towel,” says Grant.
“I’d sing something and Grant would say, ‘flat,’” says Amy. “I just thought, ‘well, that’s it. You clearly can’t sing, Amy, why are you even doing this?’ Of course, this would translate into me getting mad at Grant.”
Couple Ian Murphy (Exit Party) and Rebecca Cohoe (The Subtitles) worked on their project Pet Legs for the RPM this year. “Finishing the lyrics to ‘Our Lies Are Always On Fire’ was a sudden late night burst of inspiration and collaboration,” says Rebecca. “We built a fort and crawled inside with a flashlight and traded ideas back and forth until the song turned into something altogether different.” What resulted at the end of the month was a pop record they’re both proud of. “It challenged us personally and musically,” Rebecca says. “It let us try on new costumes.”
Terry and Allyson Barrow worked with Trevor Barker on Vitamin N, an acoustic rock project with “hints of folk and jazz.” Their experience was a bit of an emotional roller coaster ride, but they promised themselves they’d finish it. “We didn’t want it to become another failed project in our lives,” says Terry. From the fun of trying out every kitchen utensil in the house to get the best pots-and-pan sound to expressing a personal tragedy that happened in February, this group rallied together to create something “bittersweet and beautiful.”
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For some valiant RPMers, the challenge pushed some long-dormant creative buttons, inspiring a flood of inspiration and plans to never, ever stop making music.
By Sarah Smellie.
“I pretty much stopped all forms of music until recently,” says Mike Kirby of Fontana. “It forced me to get off my ass and start recording again.” Kirby says that his best moment came when he listened to the album for the first time and was able to simply enjoy it and not listen for flaws. It’s inspired him to keep going. “Four days after I finished my album artwork, I begin tracking for Fontana’s second album,” he says.
Sharona Clarke was also able to tap into fresh springs of creativity. “I hadn’t done any real music creation in so long, since I’ve been working on my album On the Right Track since forever!” she explains. “I needed a fresh creative spurt to ensure myself that I could still write songs.” Her album The Secret … Is To Dream is inspired by many of the “crazy fairytale dreams” she’s had over the years. The result is that she’s actually feeling more grounded. “I feel much more accomplished and secure in my abilities as a writer … I feel that I’ve come into my own and I can write good songs that are 100% me.”
Weighing in at a mind-blowing nineteen songs is Jerry Stamp’s album of fun, quirky pop called Make/Like/Wish/Think. Seriously, nineteen songs. In a month! “When I started, I was out of control writing,” he says. “I wrote three songs in the first day, two the second, two the third, one the fourth and one the fifth.” After that he got sick. And bogged down with work. But he still managed to pull it off, and he’s hoping to be even more productive in the future. “I have developed a new approach to writing and recording that I think will change how I write, and how much I write from now on,” he explains. “I don’t intend to spend all my time at it everyday like I did that month, but my productivity is definitely going to be through the roof.”
“Four Tet meets Boards of Canada in Dr. Who’s Tardis for drinks with Geisha Girls.” This is how Rick Bale of Los Beatniko describes Exit, and album of lo-fi electronic soundscapes. He says that album contains some of his best work to date, and is itching to keep going. “People like me don’t stop, they just pause to plan the next step…” he says.
“I’d like to add some new gear to my setup,” he adds. “That would make recording ideas faster still!”
Cover photo by John “Rawkhard” Pike, featuring some of the 70 local bands and musicians who completed this year’s RPM Challenge.
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Squirreling yourself away in solitary confinement is a classic tactic for writing and recording an album. For some of this year’s RPMers, hunkering down with just their instruments and their hearts was the perfect way to turn another serotonin-depleting February into an intense period of quiet self-exploration and rejuvenation. And they didn’t even break for yoga class.
By Sarah Smellie.
Veteran musician and songwriter Al Drysdale describes his second solo RPM effort as a mix of metal, rock and experimental sounds. Some of his songs are inspired by true stories, exploring his feelings on subjects like the Ocean Ranger disaster. He says that the experience allowed him to “keep the spirit of music alive.”
“Now that it’s over, he says, “I feel like I should be making more songs.”
Displaced Newfoundlander Ryan Taylor recorded his album in Alberta, where he presently, and grudgingly, resides. “The sounds of an Alberta basement, two mics, and a homesick Newf on creative over-drive,” is how he describes his one-man project. He says that not having to worry about playing the songs live, or writing pieces for a band, was particularly liberating. “If a song needed 18 guitar parts, a piano and a shaker solo, it got it!” he says.
Steve Haley, of The Human Soundtrack, shook out the cobwebs with his folk-oriented album Two Steps in the Dark. “It’s very much a narrative album consisting of imagistic ghost and fantasy stories. The stories/songs are about witches, ghosts, dreams, dolls, wars and giant squid.” He enlisted Human Soundtrack bandmate Brad Lannon to help him out with a bit of the recording. After purging his ghosts this winter, the two are hoping to creative a more upbeat album for the summer.
If you can believe it, two of this year’s RPM solo artists found the experience of writing, recording, mixing and producing an album, all on their own, in only twenty-eight days to be … relaxing. “I didn’t feel a lot of pressure because I didn’t exactly have a band to let down or anything,” says Mike Minor. “It was a very selfish thing, I did it mostly for my own entertainment … relaxed and folky, with some jazz influence.”
(Of note: the picture of Mike handing in his completed album on rpmchellenge.com does show him gripping two bucket-sized coffees. He’s human after all.)
Brett Vey is another RPM conquerer who magically turned a potential melon-sized ulcer into a laid back adventure. “I personally found the RPM challenge to be the perfect ‘get away from it all’ experience,” he says. Normally a band-oriented type of guy, Brett let his love of music guide him through the process. His concept album, called Her Legacy, tells the story of a woman growing up, from her birth in the first song to her death.
“This sort of challenge really never ends,” he adds, “but keeps springing into other projects, and creates a chain of meeting new friends and writing new songs.”
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For a lot of musicians, a deadline is one of the only things standing between them and their music. Ask, and ye shall receive!
“I had been desperately trying to write some new stuff all year. This challenge gave me a tangible goal, and some much needed motivation.” Justin Guzzwell
“It was just the fire I needed under my complacent butt to re-test my songwriting skills. It wasn’t my typical way of creating music. Since nobody ever asked me for new songs, I was content to let inspiration come slap me up side of the head, not the other way around.” Barry O
”It feels like I just finished a 28 day game of Tetris, as if the blocks were chunks of recorded songs, and they were filling holes of self-doubt. I no longer feel crippling panic every minute of being awake.” Errand Boy
“I found it overall kinda fun, it gave a sort of sense of meaning to what I was doing, and I really liked the community it formed. People just sort of got together via this website and talked RPM and all these albums came out.” Dan Ficken
“I feel absolutely relieved. I think everyone (aside from maybe Jerry) had a hint of doubt in their minds about whether they were going to finish it and finish it well. With the completion of the task, a dark cloud of self doubt that followed me around for 28 days has taken a well needed hike out of my life for another 11 months.” Adam Baxter
“It’s definitely something everyone should try, whether you’re new at this, or a seasoned little songbird…I am not the latter, that’s for sure, but this experience has given me a lot more direction, and a sense of what I can do in a limited amount of time. I’m excited to see how everything evolves from here.” Jillian Slaney
“There was a ton of personal shit going on in Feb so I didn’t sink myself into the project as much as I wanted to. But what time I did get inspired me immensely. Satisfied. I’m my own worst critic, so I’ll never think its good enough, but I’m glad it’s complete with interesting and original material.” The Cause
“I’m a recording engineer/producer, so I’m recording and mixing almost everyday. I think the RPM challenge is a great way to experience what a real recording session might be like for those that aren’t that familiar. Having a quota of songs to write while fighting the clock to finish your project before the deadline gives the artist that sense of realism. The funny thing is, I found the RPM Challenge a way for me to enjoy the writing/recording/and mixing without the usual stresses associated with the recording industry such as budgets & meeting the expectations of the artists.” Richard Seypka
“There’s definitely a sense of accomplishment now that it is over. I’ve never been really good with deadlines, so I’m pleased with my self-discipline. The project has been tossed around the Maritime hip-hop community over the last few weeks and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.” Hotbox
”It forced me to write hastily and therefore not obsess over words. The constant changing and rearranging that sometimes comes with no-deadline writing can butcher a good lyric.” St. Brendan’s Champions
“I recorded my album in 3 days. It felt very liberating to record an album and not having to worry so much about quality.” Thom Coombes
“It started off slow but got easier as it went along. Quickness and spontaneity are key factors with all the SUPERGOD! albums (this is the fourth one), all of them took about a month to complete start to finish. So I knew what I had to do to finish it.” SUPERGOD!
“After playing all the instruments on my own, which was fun and a learning experience, I’m now ready to start a band: “WANTED for powerpop trio: rockin’ bass player with groove, rockin’ drummer with backbeat. Influences include Beatles, Ramones, Chuck Berry, Stooges, Radiohead, Blondie, Motown, and lots more.” The Connexions
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Some bands like to draw inspiration from a story outside of themselves. The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, Green Day, and Styx have done it, so why can’t we? Sometimes being abducted by aliens is more interesting than your day-to-day, middle-of-winter existence. Sometimes you wish you were in a movie. Or sometimes you just feel so strong about something that you have to write a song about it.
By Elling Lien and Bryhanna Greenough
Take Dave Walsh for instance. He’s a solo rock musician who usually writes about relationships and people (“the usual sappy stuff,” he says.)
“Fuck that!” he said. “This is a chance to really try something different!” So he did. He decided to go the alien abduction route. His story is full of extra terrestrial women, magical healing powers, and war in space. Of course he is used, abused, and ultimately decides to destroy everything. (“I know… crazy!” he says.)
Bobby Young, a project by Brad Lannon of the Human Soundtrack, is based around a popular science fiction series by Orson Scott Card, beginning with the novel Ender’s Game. Lannon’s friend and musical conspirator Steve Haley (also a participant in this year’s RPM) gave him the book. “It really sparked my reading interest for pretty much the first time in my life,” he says. Strangely enough, for something based on a science fiction series, it ended up being “real folky,” says Brad. “A mixture of mandolin, acoustic guitar, bass, harmonica, melodica, and keys.”
Two local RPM albums were based around movies that don’t exist. Four-time MusicNL nominee singer-songwriter Ian Foster and finger-pickin’-good Jack Betty (aka Boobie Browne, aka Darren Browne) both put together their own soundtracks
“Found: Music From the Unmade Film” gave Ian a chance to experiment with styles he had never tried before. “I sent a few of these out to friends throughout the month, and the songs that people responded to by saying, ‘when I hear this song I can picture…’ were the ones that ended up staying,” Ian says. “It had to convey some sort of scene.”
The spaghetti western was Jack Betty’s muse. Fast, violent, and thick with drama, these movies inspired a soundtrack he hopes can sync up with just about any in the genre. “There’s lots of tremolo guitar, and mandolin, and lap steel,” he says. “When I listen to it, I think of horses, and mountain passes, and hoedowns, and cookouts, and cacti, and hopefully you will too.”
am/fm dreams were RPM participants last year, and they were excited to take part in 2009. This time around they decided to make a tribute album: early 90s grunge. “All three of us grew up on a steady diet of 90’s alt/grunge during our early teens,” says Damian Lethbridge. “We are definitely children of the 90s. For some reason a lot of people nowadays don’t like to admit that they ever listened to that kind of music. Who knows why?… I like to think of the album as am/fm dreams dressed up in a different suit of clothes… one that’s threadbare and full of holes.” Their CD jacket is even made from old flannel shirts from Value Village.
To let the world know he was more than just a teddy bear man, last year Terry Rielly recorded a moody, at times even angry acoustic RPM album. This year, though, he describes his album as a “’wow! I didn’t know Terry Rielly was into Jewish spiritual music!’ CD.” Nuff said!
We don’t know how he did it, but Matthew Finateri, under the moniker Vegan Porn, made a highly-listenable pop album about how why you should change your meat-eating ways. “The majority of the lyrics are constructed around my beliefs as a vegan, so they can be quite heavy at times,” Matt says. “I tried adding a splash of sugar to sweeten things up a bit, with fun vocal melodies and faster, more intricate drum beats, complete with tempo changes.” Some song titles include: “Fish in Your Stew,” “Bring Your Friends,” and “Your Cat’s A Piece of Steak.”
Thu, Mar 26, 2009
Anya Nesviatylo as Regan in Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada’s King Lear. Photo by Aleksandr Onyschenko. (Next year they should do The Matrix, hey wa)
Kerri Breen is in ur field, taking notes.
Bent into shape
Bent, a 1979 play by Martin Sherman, is set in Nazi Germany. It follows Max, who is living with his boyfriend Rudy, but is sleeping around.
“And on the Night of the Long Knives, when Hitler decides to overthrow the SA, Max takes home the wrong guy—he ends up bringing home one of the storm troopers that’s on the hit list,” says Sandy Gow, artistic associate of C2C and director of Bent.
Then, for about two years, Max has to hide from the Nazis. Eventually he ends up in a concentration camp, where he meets Horst. Max opts for the Star of David over the pink triangle, but when the right time comes, he finds dignity in admitting that he is gay.
“Horst explains to him what it means to be gay in the camps,” Gow says.
The play, nominated for both a Pulitzer and a Tony award, has drawn attention to the experiences of gay men in Nazi Germany. It’s not purely a grim, historical experience, however.
“In all of the dark stuff of the time, there’s always humour, hey,” Gow says. “Even when they’re in the camps we see Horst usually tries to touch things from a lighter perspective.”
“I think at the heart of it, it’s really a love story,” says Jon Montes, who is playing Horst.
The play stars Phil Goodridge, who just finished up as the lead in Rocky Horror, as Max. Bent runs from April 1 to 5 at the Arts and Culture Centre Basement theatre.
Return of the King
Necessity’s sharp pinch!
The Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada’s production of King Lear was supposed to grace St. John’s in late January, but because of bad weather the crew ended up getting stuck on the ferry and the show was cancelled.
But, as the cliché goes, the show must go on—even if it is a few months late getting here.
Lear is now happening on April 9 at the Arts and Culture Centre. This is the first time the tragedy, which toured the rest of Atlantic Canada last fall, has been adapted for the ballet.
Artistic Director Igor Dobrovolskiy, who choreographed and conceived Lear, says it’s not quite Shakespeare’s tragedy of the ego as we know it.
“But believe me it doesn’t lose any Shakespearian flavour or drama,” he says.
His ambitious adaptation of Lear holds dear the theme of the conflict between generations; the conflict between Lear and his triflin’ daughters.
“This major idea comes through the whole performance,” he says.
The music was composed by soviet-era Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Check out a preview of the play at atlanticballet.ca.
Insert “idle” pun here
Rest assured that the love-spreading, 11-piece reggae crew is up to something. This time, they’re in Woodstock, New York working on a record.
“[Bad Brains bassist] Darryl Jenifer is mixing our album right now 100 feet away from us,” says Mark Wilson, who sings and plays trumpet with the band. “He is awesome and the album is going to be a nice mix of our tunes with vintage equipment and microphones.”
Jenifer worked as a producer on the Bedouin Soundclash albums Sounding a Mosaic and Street Gospels.
The Idlers are also working with Grammy-winning engineer Phil Burnett. They will be back in town on Friday, March 27 to play a gig at the Rockhouse.
In the meantime, you can keep up with them on their blog at theidlers.ca or on Twitter at twitter.com/Idlers.
Summoning the fleet
The rumours are true. After a fury of successful tributes—Cohen, Springsteen, Simon—local heavyweights will honour Fleetwood Mac. “Go your own way” features Janet Cull, Natalie Noseworthy, and Dana Parsons on vocals.
The tour, based on a 2008’s sold out show, will hit up Arts and Culture Centres across the province. The St. John’s concert is on April 8.
Up to something field noteworthy? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Thu, Mar 26, 2009
David Keating talks to Children of Eve as the prodigal sons prepare to return on tour.
Joel Upshall is somewhere in the middle of Canada. (Nearabouts Oakville, Ontario at last contact.) Via intermittent email and phone calls he found the time to answer questions about the monster 30-gig tour that he and the member of Children of Eve embarked on starting St. Patrick’s Day.
Dubbed The Canadian Crusade, the band is booked with almost daily shows running round-trip from Milton in Ontario to back home in Newfoundland before closing out in Kitchener on May 3rd.
The one show in St. John’s is scheduled for March 28th.
“Touring is when a band is at its best,” says Upshall. “Your music is the tightest, your band is working together as brothers and as best friends to make your little unit work.” As an afterthought, he adds: “Haha, I said ‘little unit’.”
It’s clear Joel and the band are having fun.
“The Canadian Crusade Tour we’re doing right now is eight weeks long,” he says. “We’re happy to be on the road for that long, especially with such amazing people. Today I Caught The Plague, from Ottawa are amazing friends and musicians. If you haven’t checked them out, do it up.”
Two years ago when members of Children of Eve spoke to The Scope, the primary reason for their relocating to Halifax from St. John’s was the need to be better situated for touring. Having made good on their promise to get out on the road, the members of Children of Eve have also discovered additional benefits to making music in a brand new setting.
“We moved to Halifax with only two of the 11 songs on our new record already written,” Joel says. “We got there, got settled into the house, got set up in the new jam space and it was like we were in a whole new world, man. It brought us closer and made this music thing seem a whole lot more real to us too. It was a great era in all our lives.”
More than the move or even the recording of a new album, Joel says touring has brought the best experiences.
“We’ve learned that we live in a big, beautiful country. Canada has as an amazing alternative music scene that we’re really excited and thrilled to be a part of,” he says.
Despite the gig-heavy schedule, Upshall says fans of the band can expect a high-energy show every night of the tour.
“We like to create as much of an original atmosphere as we can. We don’t just like playing heavy music all night, we like to start somewhere, go somewhere and end somewhere completely different. Every set is different, every crowd is different, every show is different. That’s the goal.”
Children of Eve members—Joel Upshall, Logan Wall, Will Dray, Bruce Skinner and Steve Hollett—along with their merchandise and ‘amazing mustaches’ will hit Corner Brook on March 26th for their first Newfoundland show of the tour.
One word of caution from Joel for those attending their shows: Beware the naked werewolf.
“The naked werewolf is a mystical and majestic creature from the depths of your fears. Watch your back at Canadian Crusade shows this month. The werewolf is naked and hungry.”
Catch Children of Eve at Junctions on March 28th. Online, visit Children of Eve at www.myspace.com/wearetheonesunheard
Thu, Mar 26, 2009
Sweet Relic to change to The Bookery on Signal Hill
Mom’s the word
Nancy Day-Howard and Janet Murphy were fated to be best friends.
“We kept crossing paths in different children’s stores, once in New York, once in Montreal and once in Toronto,” explains Murphy. “I’d never met Nancy before but I knew her husband, and Nancy and I would just lock on and talk and talk.”
“We both have ginger-haired children, curly red-haired,” says Murphy.
Day-Howard continues: “Bella and Levi are only six days apart, and they look like brother and sister. People don’t believe that they’re not related whatsoever.”
Then the women discovered a similar unfulfilled dream.
“We got together for our first playdate and Nancy sort of let her secret out that she was really wanting to open a children’s store. I was crushed for a moment because I was like, ‘but I wanted to open a children’s store!’ but then we thought ‘Why don’t we open one together?’”
The besties-turned-business partners have taken over the storefront at 202 Water Street, the location once home to Sugar Cane Lane and Lululemon Athletica pop-up store. Gingersnap will be a place for children and their families, explains Day-Howard.
Furniture, maternity wear, infant and children’s clothing, toys, eco-friendly children products and gender-neutral baby accessories are just some of the products to be featured in-store. The store’s price point ranges from $10 to $1,200.
“We don’t want it to be just a Mother and baby store, we want it to be about children and the people who love them.”
The pair are very passionate about the products used in their homes, so they’ve sourced out products they feel are the best.
“We have things that are prenatal, so for the expecting Mom and when they’re nursing, and products for children up to 8 years,” says Murphy. “As we find interesting things for dads we want to expand into that as well.”
“We want to have everything, like a little mini shopping centre,” says Nancy. “We’re going to have a baby registry and a birthday party registry, so kids can register there for their parties.” Other in-store features include a public bathroom, a breast-feeding area and a play centre where kids can get creative.
Nancy and Janet are aiming to open Gingersnap in early April.
For more information on GingerSnap, stay tuned to the store’s website, www.gingersnap.ca.
End of a beer-a
A few weeks ago my friend Lindsay wrote to us wondering why Storm Brewing’s bottles seemed to go from stubby to extra-tall overnight.
“I mean, it’s one thing to go from ultra stubby to regular Newfoundland stubby, but to go straight to mainland size? Is there legislation? REVOLT!” she says.
According to the micro brewery’s owner, Michael McBride, the bottle changeover was inevitable.
“Unfortunately, the stubby is no longer available,” he says. “All of the larger brewers that produced them have stopped using them [and] any remaining inventories are now gone.” Since 2001, Storm had been using its own supply of stubbies and by fall 2008, they had run out. Storm has since made the switch to the long-neck bottle.
“The long-neck was an obvious choice for a small, independent brewery like ourselves because it’s widely used, plentiful and relatively inexpensive,” explains Mike.
“As the brewer who resurrected the stubby beer bottle in Newfoundland and Labrador, we too are saddened by its disappearance. We must, however, whether we like it or not, move on without the stubby, and we hope our customers understand.”
Still just as sweet
That sweet little bake shop on the hill is changing its staple—from breads to books.
Sweet Relic’s co-owner Patricia Pin—who was in charge of their small bakery—will be moving back to Ontario soon, but the bookshop has gradually become the focus over time. Co-owner Russell Floren has decided to take that part of the business up a notch.
“We have about 5,000 to 6,000 titles and we’re going up to 15,000 to 20,000, so it’s really changing,” explains Russell. “We’re expanding our book collection and bringing in a lot of alternative books that you can’t get elsewhere… and of course lots of Newfoundland and Labrador stuff.”
The store will change its name to The Bookery on Signal Hill with Sweet Relic as a sub-heading, since the coffee bar will remain intact. “We’re still going to have our drinking chocolate, which seems to be everyone’s favourite, and coffee and tea, but we won’t be doing breads anymore. We still will be doing pastries and muffins and scones, it’ll be like a chocolate-coffee-sweets bar.”
The Bookery will also be removing its inside chairs to make way for an outdoor patio tent.
“There’ll be seating outside in the garden with a tent over it, like an outside cafe. We’ll probably have that up in May”
You can check out The Bookery at 42 Power’s Court in the Anderson House Heritage site, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays ,10AM-6PM. In April, the store will take on its regular hours, Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm.
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Thu, Mar 26, 2009
Afro Ninja: Destiny (DVD)
As former Republican senator Ted Stevens once said, the internet is not a big truck, but rather a series of tubes—and the greatest tube of all is undoubtedly YouTube. Most of us have watched a lot of clips on that website, ranging from freshly uploaded content to ten-minute chunks of Capitol Critters. YouTube has also become the default site for viral videos (suck it, Ebaumsworld!). While a lot of these tend to come from the “it’s pointless, therefore it’s inherently funny” school of humour, some of them are absolutely hilarious and few more so than the video labeled “Afro Ninja” or “Afro Ninja 2”.
To recap the video for those who haven’t seen it, we are presented with a group of men who are auditioning for a Nike commercial. The theme of the commercial seems to simply be “men bursting with enough macho-ness that they would put Randy Savage to shame,” and what the “Afro Ninja” video shows us are the outtakes of said theme.
I don’t know about you, but that’s obviously comedic gold. You are watching one minute and thirty-two seconds of hulking (and sometimes not-so-hulking) people who think they are awesomely powerful discover that they are, in fact, not so awesome. Schadenfreude at its finest comes from the titular “Afro Ninja”—stunt man Mark Hicks—who falls flat on his face after a backflip, then flails about with nunchaku. Hicks believed the popularity of the video was damaging to his career, so he attempted to “take back the Afro Ninja” as it were, by writing, directing and starring in Afro Ninja: Destiny.
I don’t know about you, but the idea of a YouTube-inspired movie is not very promising, especially given that the movie’s first third is devoted entirely to given the video a kind of origin story before having anything remotely funny or interesting happen. Describing the plot of this film—man finds magic nunchaku and fights crime even though his one super power is that he can’t backflip effectively—you’d think it’d be really funny, but you would be wrong.
Look, any of us can write silly plots like this, especially if we had a viral video to base it on. How about a soldier who is near-fatally wounded by a brush fire, but the military thought they could repair him by building a banana-shaped life support system in Banana Fire: Inferno. A movie made by a stuntman should have put the stunt-work in Death Proof to shame, but instead we have sub-Xena stunt work in a film that manages to make Jim Kelly seem boring.
However, if any producers interested in my script for Dramatic Prairie Dog: Revelation can reach me via The Scope offices. Serious inquiries only.
Number of months into development that a baby in the womb begins to show preferences for certain notes and melodies:
Average percentage of neurons in the brains of awake patients undergoing surgery for epilepsy which exhibited increased activity when the patients were played a song by Mozart:
Average percentage of neurons which exhibited increased activity when the patients were played the theme song for Miami Vice:
Percentage by which a Brunel University student found carefully selected music to enhance the endurance of exercisers:
Percentage, three months after a stroke, by which verbal memory had improved in stroke victims in a Finland study who listened to music daily:
Percentage by which verbal memory had improved by those who did not listen to music:
Number of months of music therapy needed to accelerate language development in some children with developmental disorders such as Asperger’s and autism by up to three years:
Minimum number of songs written and recorded in St. John’s during this February’s RPM Challenge:
A farting contest it is not. But what else could Stank Fest be? Well, it’s “fierce, it’s fun, and it’s unnecessary” according to organizer Chris Kirby. Over the course of a two nights, some of the best string players the city has to offer will duel on stage with their sonic weapons in a no-holds-barred battle to the death. Rock guitars, acoustic guitars, guitars of the Spanish/jazz persuasion, and even some fierce (duelling!) banjo and dobro will be thrown in. Friday night is all-electric, while Saturday is all-acoustic. On your marks… Shred!
The Fat Cat, $10 (In support of Chris Kirby’s upcoming CD, Vampire Hotel) Friday, Mar 27 & Saturday Mar 28 at 10:30pm)
Thu, Mar 26, 2009
Andreae Prozesky isn’t quite as pure as one might think.
Every now and then I’ll have a weird encounter involving food. I’ll be out picking up groceries or grabbing some kind of quick bite and someone, sometimes a stranger but more often a vague acquaintance, will come up to me and say, “you write that food column, don’t you?” “Yes,” I’ll reply, and realize that my shopping basket is carrying packets of Kool-Aid and a bag of white dinner rolls and a Styrofoam plate of confetti squares, or that my food court tray is holding up a large poutine and a giant waxed-paper cup of Sprite.
Then I’ll get the look, the “well, now I can’t believe anything you say, because I caught you sucking back high-fructose corn syrup at the mall” look. If I were a truly secure person, I would be able to ignore this judgey judgeness, perhaps even offer a cheese curd-draped French fry. But instead I get all socially-awkward and say things like, “Uh… I’ve just read a fascinating article on dying felted wool with Kool-Aid… if only you could get organic drink powder, but oh well, heh heh heh…” or “Man, this Sprite is gross, but when you look at the environmental impact of bottled water, I mean, heh, what are you supposed to do?” Then I babble nervously for a while, and the Nerd-spotter walks away, no doubt never to read my column again. Way to go, Food Dork.
I mean, yes, Sprite is gross, but it’s a kind of gross I like. I don’t drink enough of it to do any lasting damage, and it’s only ever in combination with greasy fries. Based on my own highly scientific research, I feel that the acidity of the soft drink counteracts the greasiness of the dinner somehow—although that’s probably wrong in about fifteen different ways. Oh, well. And poutine? Well, that’s food of the gods if you ask me. I’ve been known to go to the mall for no other reason than to get a big dish of it. Poutine is just tasty stuff.
Invariably, as the judgey-pants former reader walks away, I get all mad with myself for being so sheepish about my trashier food choices. For one thing, I know enough about food to balance my confetti square addiction with steady doses of green vegetables and whole grains. For another, just because I love a plate of sautéed Swiss chard with garlic butter, does that mean I can’t also revel in the magic that happens when hot gravy meets cold cheese? Just because I can whip up a gorgeous brown-rice soda bread, resplendent with sultanas, each slice yieldingly gritty beneath its thick layer of sweet butter, does that mean I should be ashamed of the pleasure I get from tearing paste-white dinner roll from paste-white dinner roll, the strands of unholy gluten pulling and snapping, the interiors soft as the dough they once were?
These are the sorts of things people call “guilty pleasures,” but I think that’s ridiculous. Feeling guilty about food isn’t going to help you eat more healthfully, and it’s certainly not going to make you a better person. In fact, I think that applying the principle of guilt to eating just waters down the meaning of guilt. Guilt is a potent feeling, so for heaven’s sake, save it for when you’ve actually done something wrong. If I eat half a chocolate cake, I may feel bloated, sticky, simultaneously wired and lethargic, and mildly nauseated, but I’m not going to feel guilty. Unless I stole the cake from a child’s birthday party. (Stealing from children is so wrong!)
Eating too much cake is perhaps a little stupid, but it’s not immoral.
So there you go. No guilt, no shame, and moderate amounts of junk food. There’s not a thing in the world wrong for it. Should you catch me in the grocery store, loading my cart with nasty, sugary, chemical doughnuts, rest assured it’s not something I do often, and that I’ll pay for it later when I feel like absolute rubbish. Then it’s back to the sensible homemade goodness for me.
Several really kind of gross things I dearly love
(in no particular order)
Marshmallows. I can’t have them in my house because I will devour the entire bag over the course of 48 hours, standing on a chair in my kitchen so that I can reach the top self where I’ve hidden them. And those fruity pastel mini marshmallows don’t even make it to the 36 hour point.
Miracle Whip. Oh how I love it. I know it’s not real mayonnaise. But you know what? Neither is Hellman’s. It’s all just glop in a jar. I’ll take my glop in a jar sweet and tangy, thanks.
Egg salad sandwiches made with Miracle Whip. On white bread, cut in triangles. At a school fundraiser. So very good.
Assorted squares. Of the sort that you find in the bakery section of your grocery store, or in convenience stores, especially those attached to gas stations, for whatever reason. Assorted squares needn’t be square, actually: peanut butter balls and their cousins, peanut butter mice, both count. I cherish them, even if they actually list “Parowax” as one of their ingredients. *Shudder*
Fried egg sandwiches. If you look at the components of the fried egg sandwich – fried egg, toast, cheese, mayonnaise (ahem, Miracle Whip, ahem) – there’s nothing actually wrong with them, but any sandwich that drips greasy egg yolk is kind of gross. But it’s oh so tasty.
Viva Puffs, and any of their copycat versions. See above entry on marshmallows. I can easily eat a whole package of them. Nobody in my house likes them but me. I’m so lucky!
Fried chicken. From Mary Brown’s. With Orange Crush. There, I’ve said it. Now you know.
Send your questions, comments, and guilt-ridden suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org