Tag Archives: hair metal

Ep. #88: Vanessa Dunn of Vag Halen

Vanessa Dunn is the lead singer of Vag Halen, one of Toronto’s most exciting and confrontational rock bands. On Facebook, they describe themselves as “Toronto’s feminist art rock band that brings the bad with a dash of ass! Armed with a repertoire of classics, Vag Halen muff dives into the salty cock rock waters, blowing nether regions with their commitment to all things queer and all things rock.” Having seen the band myself, I can verify that that is all totally, totally true. Vag Halen storm Guelph on April 12 for a set at Kazoo! Fest at Van Gogh’s Ear. The band is on at 11:30 PM sharing a bill with Whoop-SZO, Biblical, and Legato Vipers. Here Vanessa and I discuss the pizza in Parkdale, growing up in Scarborough and celebrating the suburbs, where Vag Halen came from and what it might stand for, Katie Ritchie of the Organ, good Van Halen (David) and bad Van Halen (Sammy), how the band covers songs by different cock rock, hair metal bands who are male-centric, as an attempt to assert and understand the role of women and queer culture in such realms, the sexy, revealing attire and stage presence of Vag Halen, the power and cultural contributions of Tawny Kitaen and Miss Elizabeth, Vanessa’s acting background, whether or not we’re well past the era where musicians can get away with blatantly misogynistic and homophobic aesthetic stances, Nirvana’s decision to perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with women like Joan Jett, Kim Gordon, Lorde, and St. Vincent filling in for Kurt Cobain, why Axl Rose is the worst, most complex person, how personas or behavioural patterns in musical genres can perpetuate problematic lyrics and attitudes, running into Alice Cooper at a restaurant, Vanessa’s love of Depeche Mode and the Jesus and Mary Chain but her passion for hard rock, whether Vag Halen will ever write its own songs, the generally positive reception for the band in Toronto and Vanessa’s place as a role model, what’s new in Vag Halen’s set these days and why things are gonna get heavy at Kazoo! Fest, and nothing more.

Related links: twitter.com/VagHalen kazookazoo.ca vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #74: Stephen Malkmus

Stephen Malkmus is the lead singer and songwriter in a great band from Portland, Oregon called the Jicks. Since he dissolved his highly influential and respected band Pavement, Malkmus has led a prolific artistic life, releasing six albums with the Jicks and touring the world extensively over the past 14 years. The latest album by the Jicks is Wig Out at Jagbags, it’s out now via Matador Records, and the band makes Canadian stops in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Victoria in the coming months. Here, Stephen and I discuss the end of snail mail and end times, living in Berlin and pretending to be Canadian, why I might not know anything about geography or culture because I’m a music journalist, our interaction at Sled Island where Stephen suggested I get my toddler a trampoline, my son’s obsession with Pavement and Silver Jews songs, the video for the Jicks song “Gardenia,” and how my son might eventually be into hair metal, how the new Jicks album is translating live, his perception of electric guitar solos and his approach as a player, feeling appreciated for his work, making music that has its own voice, the tension between nostalgia and appreciating history and certain eras, playing and creating things against memories, deflecting people’s perceptions of cynicism, the Pavement reunion and its ‘pure nostalgia,’ what it sounds like when my son and I sing “Stereo” and “Shady Lane” right before bed, and more.

Related links: stephenmalkmus.com matadorrecords.com vishkhanna.com

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