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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Ep. #115: Jeremy Gara & Samir Khan of Kepler

Jeremy Gara and Samir Khan are accomplished musicians who once played together in an Ottawa-based band called Kepler. For a good chunk of their time together, they were associated with a kind of slow-building atmospheric music that made them a nice fit to open for Godspeed You! Black Emperor for example. Their final album felt like a real departure to fans who heard its pop-oriented, singer-songwriter leanings when it was first released in 2006. The album is Attic Salt and it was just reissued by a German boutique record label called Oscarson. Here, Samir and Jer and I discuss Roncesvalles Village in Toronto, what tambourines are good for, Soho in London, England, the Rolling Stones, Monty Python’s Flying Circus at O2 Arena, how sometimes records are now commissioned by rich people, patronage, why Attic Salt has been reissued, small bands and big bands, podcast stats, tiny defensiveness, Michael Feuerstack is right, Ottawa’s pointed, smart, and possibly under-appreciated music community, Wooden Stars, Clark the band, Yellow Jacket Avenger, Snailhouse, HILOTRONS, Shotmaker, Okara, when Jeremy wrote Samir a fan letter about Samir’s post-punk band Kluane, Kepler and the Constellation Records loft in Montreal, bass is easy, Sonic Youth is easy, seeing the Cure play live when you’re 12, how Samir ended up in Ottawa after living in Winnipeg, Ottawa’s counter-culture and punk scene, the Pit in Ottawa, Sloan and murderecords, local bands stopped getting love, micromanaging the spectacle, I still don’t know what cynicism means, how Kepler started, the change within Attic Salt, Jeremy’s impact on Kepler, rock music and the myth of progress, Kepler weren’t part of the mid-aughts indie-rock renaissance, Kepler might come back and open for Slowdive, when Jer left Kepler to join Arcade Fire, Jer really misses Kepler and wants the band to play together again, Samir sees making music for a living as a deep, meaningless, bleak pit, things get heavily nostalgic when these dudes really start pondering Kepler, old bands finally getting their due, fans not letting go of the bands they loved as kids, the internet and zombie music, Constantines, the Attic Salt reissue and its rather elaborate packaging that makes it sit weird, Slint and June of ‘44, Attic Salt outtakes that Germans can Google, nice racism, Jer is playing Hyde Park, Keith Richards no longer actually plays guitar when the Rolling Stones are on stage, AC/DC and Malcolm Young, Arcade Fire’s going on a North American tour while Samir eats dinner and works his job, Samir is always chipping away at music stuff, his band Tusks, what the crowd might be like if Kepler played some shows, Kepler should play the Hillside Festival, the song “The Bedside Manner,” the Ottawa Millionaires, Dave Draves, and then reward and respite.

Related links: oscarson.bandcamp.com arcadefire.com vishkhanna.com

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