John Semley is a prolific journalist and cultural critic based in Toronto who regularly contributes to the Globe and Mail and Macleans magazine. His obsession with comedy led him to fall in love with true originals in the innovative Canadian troupe, the Kids in the Hall. ECW Press has just published This is a Book About The Kids in the Hall, Semley’s exhaustive and engaging overview of the life and times of Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson, otherwise known, as the Kids in the Hall. Semley and I recently met at his home to discuss Bloordale and a toxic gas event, Scharpling & Wurster at the Mod Club in Toronto, SCTV, phone comedy and radio shows, oblivious characters, The Kids in the Hall and The Simpsons and Mr. Show, adults comedies getting syndicated and then running at like four in the afternoon when kids get home from school, obsession and fandom, being a metal guy, comedy and classic rock, the Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers, metal and hardcore scenes and Alexisonfire in St. Catharines, Constellation Records and Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Neurosis, generalism in a post-taste era, sardonic, contemptuous comedy, surrealism, humour and coping with life, the Kids in the Hall were outcasts, seeing Brain Candy at a movie theatre when he was nine years old, dad issues among the Kids, Mr. Show and irony versus The Kids in the Hall and sincere rage, psychological studies and post-Freudian critical theory, skewering authority figures and conceptions of manhood, cross dressing and female characters, queerness, dad types, rebelling via The Kids in the Hall, idiocy, his 2013 oral history about the Kids for NOW Magazine and its surprising popularity, Toronto the cool, Queen Street West in the mid-1980s, comedy club intimacy and the Rivoli, love comedy discomfort, comedian smugness and aloofness, the interviewer who thinks they’re as funny as the comedian they’re talking to, his entertaining prose in this book, when trying to relate to someone leads to alienation, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet and Lorne Michaels’ pride for the Kids in the Hall, Janeane Garofalo, Dave Foley’s show Spun Out and the Kids’ unique chemistry, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert reviewing Brain Candy, negative reviews of Death Comes to Town, nothing like the Kids in the Hall, “Screw You, Taxpayer!,” an unauthorized biography, a second book proposal, interviewing ‘Dylanologist’ AJ Weberman, @johnsemley3000, and then John when to hang out with these guys who smoke!
William Tyler is a talented musician based in Nashville, Tennessee. Known for his work in the bands Lambchop and Silver Jews, Tyler is also an accomplished solo artist and has released four critically-acclaimed albums. His latest is a gorgeous, instrumental record called Modern Country, which is steeped in familiar folk and rock structures but is also eerily expansive and hypnotic. Modern Country is out now via Merge Records and Tyler is playing a number of shows over the next few months, most of which find him opening for the Chicago band Wilco. Here, Tyler and I discuss how things are going in Nashville, the Country Music Association Festival and Bonnaroo, living in Nashville most of your life, Nash Vegas and what happens when your city grows, changes and WXNA, the world’s most talented music city, Harmony Korine is taking his talents to south beach, auditioning for Harmony and Budweiser, Dave Cloud and the Springwater and the Gospel of Power and losing local luminaries, getting older and the song “I’m Gonna Live Forever (If it Kills Me),” the notion behind Modern Country and its relation to America’s current political climate, media mediation and misinformation about different parts of the country you live in, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, the illegal and fraudulent conduct of the Democratic National Party, the 2000 Presidential election, Hill feeling the Bern, what Trump is stirring up and people comparing him to Hitler, his platform as it relates to the Republican party’s platform, hatred and racism, projecting a landslide loss, the stigma of intellectualism and the rise of reality TV, hope and faith in the American people, Trump’s imperviousness to criticism, the RNC as imagined by Hunter S. Thompson and Fellini, conveying political thoughts and perspectives via instrumental music, musical intent, receiving external inspiration, the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor and Silver Jews and the Mountain Goats, working with David Berman, lyrics, Wooden Wand, John Darnielle, relating as much to mood as words in lyrics, modernism and archaism, emoji’s and hieroglyphs, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, less talk more rock, adapting to different situations, playing in bands and also not, jamming, the Grateful Dead, Glenn Kotche and Darin Gray, Glenn Jones and Jim O’Rourke and Sir Richard Bishop and John Fahey, O’Rourke deserves more credit, O’Rourke interviews and music recommendations, Glenn and Darin and Insignificance, coming to Canada, touring woes, quiet storm psychedelia, those Silver Jews rumours, pleading with David Berman to write again, the song “I’m Gonna Live Forever (If it Kills Me),” and that was it.
Related links: williamtyler.net mergerecords.com vishkhanna.com
Rebecca Foon and Bruce Cawdron are the founding members of a superb chamber rock ensemble from Montreal called Esmerine. Founded in 2001, Esmerine was an exploratory outlet for Cawdron, a marimba player and percussionist who once played drums in Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Foon, a cellist who once played in A Silver Mt. Zion. Following their Juno Award winning 2013 album Dalmak, Esmerine have returned with their glorious, charged up fifth album, Lost Voices, which is out now via Constellation Records and prompted them to tour throughout Ontario and Quebec in November. Here, Rebecca and Bruce discuss village scandals, dumpy Montreal and rent control, the wild spirit of Lost Voices, guitarist James Hakan Dedeoglu and the evolution of Esmerine’s sound, the importance of viable, sustainable communities, NOLA and water, Katrina and Sandy and climate change, Pathway to Paris, why it might get louder, the urgency to alter the world’s course, expressing ideas and anger via instrumental music, how Esmerine formed out of Set Fire to Flames and what Montreal was like some 15 years ago, the connection between Esmerine, Godspeed, A Silver Mt. Zion, and Constellation Records, Montreal Mile End music waves, making history, John Peel, electric marimba and changes in Esmerine, Jamie Thompson keeps himself busy, dreams of the future, orchestral visions, the song “A River Runs Through This City and that was it.
Related links: esmerine.com cstrecords.com vishkhanna.com