Ep. #118: Steve Sladkowski of PUP

Steve Sladkowski plays guitar and sings in a Toronto punk-infused pop band called PUP. Originally called Topanga, PUP changed their name ahead of releasing their first, self-titled debut album, which is out now via Royal Mountain Records. PUP plays Guelph’s Hillside Festival on Saturday July 25. Here, Steve and I discuss staining fences in Toronto, living in Guelph and putting on shows and working for the Guelph Jazz Festival, touring the U.S. with the Menzingers, single A baseball in Iowa, America is weird, this is Texas, talking to Americans about baseball, the Oakland A’s and Moneyball glitches, regular seasons are a drag, why the Skydome sucks and seeing baseball in America rules, I don’t think I like Toronto, talking to people outside of Canada about Rob Ford, playing ska-punk, Protest the Hero, the 3tards, and the Reverb, working with Dave Schiffman on the PUP record, pathetic use of potential, Toronto punk is thriving, when Weezer was wonderful, my membership in the Weezer fanclub and contributing “Mykel and Carli” to its first covers compilation, Rivers Cuomo goes back to the shack, impersonating Fucked Up at the Halifax Pop Explosion, feeling honoured to get to do cool stuff, it comes and goes, self-promotion, not needing day jobs but working harder than ever, their Polaris Music Prize nomination, the status of hard music in Canada, Peter Bradley is in Alaska, Constellation Records, forced conversation, Tanya Tagaq should win awards, PUP’s new songs, throwing down, writing songs in extreme emotional places, marrying real-life with fictional narratives, the song “Guilt Trip,”  and then it is outta here!

Related links: puptheband.com royalmountainrecords.com hillsidefestival.ca vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #117: Charles Austin of the Super Friendz

Charles Austin lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia and is one of the best musicians, producers, and people that I know. Austin has played in bands and projects like Neuseiland, the Lodge, Lost Wax Guild, Aqua Alta, and Psychic Fair and has also collaborated with Buck 65 and Al Tuck among others. He first gained prominence in the mid-1990s when his band the Super Friendz became underground favourites, releasing three killer albums and touring the continent as headliners but also frequently opening for people like Sloan and Guided By Voices. Their landmark debut album, 1995’s Mock Up, Scale Down was issued on vinyl for the first time last year and, after years of inactivity, the band is playing select shows including one at the Hillside Festival in Guelph on Saturday July 26. Here, Charles and I discuss how playing a single show is pretty selective touring, the Super Friendz drummer issues and why Kieran Adams is filling in for Dave Marsh at Hillside, meeting your new bandmate two days before a big show together, Halifax and Hurricanes Arthur and Juan, abandoning your family for Mike O’Neill, the Trailside in PEI, great Halifax bands like Monomyth, Walrus, and the Scoop Outs, local venue issues, recording cool bands like Paper Beat Scissors, Nathan Doucet is a great drummer, Josh Salter is a rocking encyclopedia, the Psychic Fair band and working with the lovely, underrated Jenn Grant in Aqua Alta, reading rock books like Feeding Back: Conversations with Alternative Guitarists from Proto-Punk to Post-Rock by David Todd, the best songwriter is Al Tuck, 1995 and Clive Macnutt, the vile temptress that is music, how to encourage your children’s interest in music, how your kids’ peer groups might ruin the bond you’ve forged with your kid, the Wiggles versus Ramones, American underground music in the 1980s, early Super Friendz jams, learning how to engineer and produce records, noted Nova Scotia producer Brendan Maguire, what’s up with the Super Friendz’s current status and that unfinished new album, the song “Mountaineer,” and then we’re good to go.

Related links: thesuperfriendz.tumblr.com hillsidefestival.ca vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #116: Matt Andersen

Matt Andersen has earned a reputation for being one of the most powerful live soul and rock performers of his generation. The New Brunswick native has released seven albums and toured the world over, quietly gaining an army of loyal fans who gravitate to his rumbling voice, accomplished guitar playing, and vivid lyricism. Though he’s impressed audiences on his own, his latest album is boldly produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin and features fully-fleshed out arrangements that his touring band, the Mellotones, have been bringing to life over the past few months at headlining shows and opening tour dates for Buddy Guy and Los Lobos. This latest batch of songs also features songwriting collaborations with Joel Plaskett, David Myles, Tom Wilson, Dave Gunning, and Keith Mullins among others. Andersen’s new album is called Weightless, it’s out now via True North Records, and brings Andersen to music festivals across Canada in the coming weeks, including Guelph’s Hillside Festival on July 25. Here, Matt and I talk about Ottawa, acronyms, working with Steve Berlin, Phantom Power, writing songs with Joel Plaskett and why collaborating is important, Matt’s old band Flat Top, solo is good, with and without the Mellotones and how fans have been reacting to Matt having a band, Perth-Andover New Brunswick and a Maritimes musical upbringing, soulful rock versus pop music, Creedence Clearwater Revival might be better than New Kids on the Block, Matt Andersen Blues Award Explosion, Gary the cat has to go outside, your girlfriend will take your dog with her, Matt’s self-consciousness about being called ‘Canada’s greatest guitar player,’ Stubby Fingers, playing music while others make noise, serious music/fun guy, “City of Dreams” and Detroit, not getting the simplified folk revival and how it relates to new country, the double-edged sword of being championed by Canadian folk music festivals, CBC, and Canadian music fans, backlash, writing universal songs, updates on new songs, touring in a pickup truck, Fords and Hyundais, his busy touring schedule, Elvis Presley is dead, the song “Weightless,” and then we drift away.

Related links: stubbyfingers.ca hillsidefestival.ca vishkhanna.com

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