Tag Archives: nostalgia

Ep. #296: Christopher Ward

Christopher Ward is a songwriter and author who currently splits his time between Los Angeles and Toronto. Renowned for writing the hit single “Black Velvet” by Allanah Myles, Ward bears the distinction of being one of the first ever Canadian on-air video jockeys (VJ) when MuchMusic launched on August 31, 1984. The network went on to alter the course of live broadcasting and music media for decades and Ward was an active participant in its early, heady, experimental, and chaotic days. He’s chronicled the experience in a compelling new oral history book called Is This Live? Inside the Wild Early Years of MuchMusic The Nation’s Music Station, which features commentary from musicians, hosts, producers, crew members, and many other firsthand witnesses to the weirdness. Is This Live? was published this past fall by Random House Canada and Christopher and I recently met at his publisher’s office in downtown Toronto to discuss how MuchMusic got started, how and why it became beloved and influential, its rawness and prescience for interactive content and social media, his book, and more. Sponsored by the Bookshelf, Pizza Trokadero, and Planet Bean Coffee.

Related links: christopherward.ca much.com/is-this-live vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #104: Fucked Up

Fucked Up are a really awesome and prolific band from Toronto who make great, smart rock records and do remarkable, community-minded things for people less fortunate than themselves. On June 3, Matador Records is releasing the band’s fourth proper album outside of the thousands of singles and EPs they’ve released over the past 13 years. The new record is called Glass Boys, I saw some of it get recorded in Chicago at Electrical Audio last summer, and there are at least two versions of it, one normal, one slow, that you can listen to. A couple of weeks ago, I went to Fucked Up’s practice space and, like some journalistic Noah, interviewed the band in pairs, starting with singer Damian Abraham and drummer Jonah Falco, following up with bassist Sandy Miranda and guitarist Ben Cook, and finally guitarists Mike Haliechuk and Josh Zucker. So yeah, Damian and Jonah are first and we talk about their mysterious practice space, Sloan and Danko Jones, beefs, Career Suicide, 13 years of Fucked Up and serious practice spaces, roller coaster land, my odd hair day, the band’s current collective emotional state, #marriage, Sandy, hair, and cars, who in Fucked Up actually knows what’s going on, the lyrics of Glass Boys and the burden of nostalgia, working towards the future, punk rock and archiving, music is non-formalized, Mike’s interesting instrumental ideas and multiple drum kits, alternate tempos and the half-time, spatial version of Glass Boys, many suggestions for special guest ‘back-up’ vocalists, J Mascis, Gord Downie is a good person, Mike likes songs, marijuana, Damian thinks Glass Boys is a concept record, being perfectly set up to fail, where we fit in and fulfilling our dreams, the song “Warm Change,” Sandy and Ben and I talk about her broadcasting experience, which includes doing the Mods and Rockers radio show on CIUT with Damian and Collective Concerts’ Jeff Cohen when she was a teenager, another show she did on CKLN, and working for Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting, driving all the way to New Jersey to play for 25 minutes, how Sandy joined Fucked Up in March 2001, Ben was a fan of Mods and Rockers, Smegheads, Toronto punk, Melanie Kaye, opening up for the Stooges on August 6, 2008, Ben’s first Fucked Up show was in Montreal after being their roadie, Ben thinks Mike had a crush on him, packing tea, Ben was the buffer, removing oneself from an emo, dysfunctional group, Fucked Up Zen, Sandy might be losing it, some people are getting along better, Ben goes off about stuff sometimes, Toronto people should be louder, recording chunks of Glass Boys with only certain members at places like Electrical Audio in Chicago, the songs are written together, Mike and Jonah took lead roles, other people played bass on this LP and Sandy’s not really ok with that, proper pairing, ill communication, bands are too much like families, Ben thinks Glass Boys is about Mike and Damian’s weird vibes about getting older and now they’re friends, Sandy thinks it’s about end times and the uncertainty that comes with growing older, Ben is surprisingly optimistic, Fucked Up has more gas but there might be a hole in the tank, the song “Sun Glass,” it’s not all cotton candy and unicorns, the song “DET,” drugs, I try to ask Josh and Mike about the song “DET” but it’s a Damian song and it’s very personal, I went to a bakery, New Jersey might be better than Japan, work is work, Mike begins to become a very difficult interview subject, Mike thinks that he’s 29 and I’m old, I try to take him seriously, Mike goes through the litany of philosophical questions that Glass Boys attempts to answer, Mike says he and Damian didn’t actually write this record together, tension vs. weirdness, Mike played piano when he was a kid, Josh was in a Toronto hardcore band called Youngblood when he was 12 years old, at one point Mike was an aimless drifter, I keep asking Mike about songs Damian wrote, Damian references historical and literary figures, I didn’t do my research, another question about Fucked Up’s “tensions,” Mike blames the media, I’m asking stock questions apparently, Mike and I have interview tension, Mike breaks down the FAQ he’s been getting about Glass Boys, Mike didn’t know Sandy was upset, Josh is “honest guy,” Mike doesn’t think administration talk is good podcast fodder, how the ideas (not “concepts”) for Glass Boys came to be, writing about the music industry, Mike seems into my question about his references to “echo” on this album, the hardcore punk continuum, embracing nostalgia and taking responsibility for one’s place in time, what Fucked Up talk about amongst themselves, Positive Force, the groovy rationale behind Glass Boys’ multiple tempos, where the album title comes from, Mike likes writing, pharmacists don’t have to have good origin stories, the Year of the Hare Zodiac single and my haircut, Mike wants to know how my podcast works, Mike works out and he beat me at an arm wrestle in Newfoundland and I didn’t like it, Josh wants this horror show to end, Mike thinks the slower Glass Boys songs might be longer than the regular ones, “Sun Glass [Slow version],” Nils Bernstein, and then the fiasco is over.

Related links: fuckedup.cc matadorrecords.com/fucked_up 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

malkmusjicks

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