Nathan Lawr is a talented songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who lives in Guelph. Over the past 20 years, Lawr has been a go-to drummer for people like Jim Guthrie, King Cobb Steelie, Royal City, FemBots, Bry Webb, and more. When he emerged as a folk-pop songwriter in his own right about 10 years ago, Lawr’s love songs had bite and topical, political implications, which eventually morphed into his most outspoken band yet, the Afrobeat-inspired MINOTAURS. Lawr is also greatly invested in social change and democracy and has worked with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association to develop the Canadian Artists for Civil Liberties. He has helped organize a 50th anniversary celebration of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association on May 3rd at Trinity St. Paul’s United Church in Toronto, which will feature musicians, spoken word performers, dancers and visual artists who have all come together to celebrate freedom of expression in the arts. Here, Nathan and I discuss ‘Uncle Natey’s Grump Shack’ and cheering up, why he’s working with civil liberties organizations and putting the ‘active’ in activist, how social media doesn’t necessarily encourage dialogue, how freedom of expression is non-partisan, how our freedom was infringed upon in World War I, getting younger/busy people interested in political discourse and fostering opinionated engagement, change and people in the streets, what the Donald Sterling/NBA fiasco teaches us about protective face-saving, Nathan’s fondness for H&M’s line of socks and how righteousness is undermined by accusations of hypocrisy, the theme from Peter Gunn and his history as a musician and music fan, the video game Spy Hunter, drum lessons, Fugazi and Primus, not loving guitars but being ok with pianos, knowing when to fold ‘em, playing in King Cobb Steelie and their pioneering approach to punk, the politically-charged city of Guelph and having tolerant parents, here comes the argument, how Nathan did not turn out a punk, my unfocused, unnecessary curatorial advice to people programming variety shows, arbitrary references to Feist and “farting on sandwiches,” why some famous people won’t vouch for things they actually believe in and why some topics are ‘hushed,’ Nathan’s ill-fated and traumatizing attempt to bring musicians and Toronto Police together for a hockey game to raise awareness about civil liberties, why talking shit out is important, Nathan’s great regrets about leaving the band Royal City and our fun American tour in October 2000, his future music plans, the MINOTAURS song “Make Some Noise,” and then we just spent the rest of the day farting on sandwiches.
Related links: minotaursband.com ccla.org vishkhanna.com
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