Tag Archives: R.E.M.

Ep. #270: TUNS

TUNS is the mighty new Halifax/Toronto supergroup featuring Chris Murphy, Matt Murphy, and Mike O’Neill. Chris Murphy has ushered some excellent music into this world, both as the co-curator/co-founder of the murderecords label and as a quarter of one of the world’s finest and most successful rock bands, Sloan. Matt Murphy is an accomplished journalist who has worked for CBC and Vice Canada and is one of the most dynamic musicians and showman anywhere, who’s likely best known for his work in the Super Friendz. Mike O’Neill is a busy and gifted screenwriter and sound engineer for Trailer Park Boys and Black Jesus who has released criminally under-appreciated solo records since disbanding the wonderful indie-rock duo, the Inbreds. So, if it’s not clear already, when it comes to thoughtful pop and rock music trios, this TUNS configuration couldn’t possibly be more top shelf. The band’s self-titled debut record will be out August 26 via Royal Mountain Records and they’ve been playing select shows of late, including an upcoming performance at the Hillside Festival in Guelph on Sunday July 24. I met up with TUNS at the Pho Asian 21 restaurant in Toronto recently and we had a revealing conversation about Mike’s desire for Vietnamese food in Toronto, working with Trailer Park Boys co-creator Mike Clattenburg on a new TV show about a guy who re-locates raccoons, the song “Back Among Friends” and what it captures about TUNS, Zeppelin covers and joy, positive pressure, recycling things and writing new songs, Mike’s inventive bass playing, the writing process and its progress in TUNS, Chris’ songwriting, giving the singer some, the song “Look Who’s Back in Town Again” and various TUNS Easter eggs, the song “Lonely Life” that Mike sings, whomever sings generally wrote it, Mrs. Claus, lyric collaboration, wisdom and experience and democracy, magical harmonies, being in Sloan for 25 years, “Gimme the Keys” and the extreme rarity of Sloan members’ doing solo work, Eric’s Trip and Elevator to Hell, realistic TUNS, being perceived as ‘Halifax Pop’ artists, the Technical University of Nova Scotia, the lawn jam, why Halifax people seem to get along so well, footloose and fancy free, friendly competition, strength and talent, an influence like the Police on a song like “Mind Your Manners,” talking about the band U2, also R.E.M., The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree, the “Sunday Bloody Sunday” drum beat, Larry Mullen’s parts, filling and leaving space, scrutinizing Chris’ lyrics in TUNS and also in Sloan, self-awareness and self-consciousness, entitlement, purposeful pronouns, new stuff by TUNS will be more like TUNS, thinking about time and relationships, not a throwback, a Golden Girls analogy, too much like Sloan, hits, making music for fun, Royal Mountain Records and the self-titled TUNS LP is out August 26, a world premiere of the song “Back Among Friends,” and then Chris got the cheque.

Related links: tunsmusic.com royalmountainrecords.com vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #252: Bob Mehr on The Replacements

Bob Mehr is an award-winning music critic who currently resides in Memphis, Tennessee. He’s the chief music critic for The Commercial Appeal and has written for MOJO and the Chicago Reader among others and he has composed essays and liner notes for several album reissues, including the Grammy Award-winning Big Star box set, Keep An Eye on the Sky. His new book presents an illuminating and often harrowing look at one of the greatest American rock ‘n’ roll bands of all time. It’s called Trouble Boys – The True Story of The Replacements, it’s out now via Da Capo Press and here, Bob and I discuss the historical and contemporary music scene in Memphis, Sam Phillips and Sun Studios and Sam Phillips Recording Service, labels like Stax, Goldwax, and XL, Fat Possum and Style Wooten, Peter Guralnick and his recent book Sam Phillips – The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll, the close-knit Memphis music community, reflecting on Trouble Boys now that it’s out, the first time he heard about the Replacements, their infamous Saturday Night Live appearance in January 1986, discovering Pleased to Meet Me and becoming a hardcore ‘Mats fan, getting to interview Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson and the band’s associates over the years, the real story behind the band’s SNL experience, how their indifference to success gave them power among unsettled music industry people, demystifying the legends and myths surrounding the Replacements, wondering why they behaved the way they did, the horror of Bob Stinson’s life, how Bob saved Tommy Stinson, Chris Mars and Paul Westerberg’s own respective family struggles, framing this book around Bob Stinson’s funeral and the role Bob played as the soul of the band, the first Replacements’ reunion, their strengths and weaknesses after Bob left the band, a clearer sense of Bob’s and the band’s mental health and substance abuse issues, heavy history, damaged American families, brotherhoods and lovable losers, myth and romance, good times and dark humour, dickishness and insularity and the Replacements against the world, the lyrical communication of pain, R.E.M., Peter Jesperson, literally burning up money with fire, Slim Dunlap snarls, the true and strange story of the making of the Don’t Tell a Soul LP, lost in the woods, ‘dodgeknife’ and scaring Metallica, Chris Mars moves on, bringing Bob to life, not necessarily an authorized biography, how Paul and Tommy might relate to their band’s reputation and legacy, what Trouble Boys contributes to the story of the band, the obstacles the Replacements overcame, how they won, the band’s first reconstitution show at Riot Fest in Toronto in 2013, the crowd’s unusual collective joy at those shows, whether or not the Replacements actually broke up for good on-stage in Portugal in 2015, his book tour plans, feedback and reception from readers and people involved in this story, approval from the Stinsons, a 3 AM call from Paul about the book, being a kind of intermediary between people who don’t always communicate with each other very well, learning a lot as he went along, what’s next, the song “Bastards of Young” from the album Tim, my four year old son’s deep passion for the Replacements, and then it was time for decisions to be made.

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Related links: replacementsbook.com thereplacementsofficial.com vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #121: Dave Ullrich of Zunior & The Inbreds

Dave Ullrich is the founder of Zunior.com, one of the world’s first digital distribution services for independent music, which celebrates its tenth anniversary with various enterprises, including a new tribute album by Tony Dekker and a big festival at Sandbanks Provincial Park on Sept. 13. He was also a founding member of the excellent indie-rock band the Inbreds. Here, Dave and I discuss Allen’s Pub on the Danforth in Toronto, Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip and the Inbreds, growing up in Oshawa but making the Inbreds in Kingston, hiding your Oshawa, k-os rapping upside down, Cuff the Duke owning Oshawa, my pilgrimage to Mike O’Neill’s childhood home and memories of that episode, playing cover songs at an O’Neill Collegiate Vocational Institute battle of the bands in an outfit called the Fresh Steaming Turds, the forgettable U2, I know the R.E.M. discography pretty well apparently, loving Zeppelin and Bonzo, why the complexity and fury of punk is often equated with simplicity and rudimentary playing, sincerity in music, Proboscis Funkstone Records, the rise of cassettes, the riff-y, fingerpicking early days, luck + preparedness = success, these are the breaks, I challenge you to dislike the Inbreds, Lewis Melville, Rheostatics, Guelph, when the Inbreds turned down a Foo Fighters tour opening slot to break up, sneaking low-profile records to Dave Bookman who got them to superstars, angering the Tea Party while Foo Fighters munched on KD, a circuitous route to scooping the White Stripes, starting the prescient Zunior.com digital music delivery service 10 years ago, vinyl sales and holding a piece of wood, leveraging the spirit of indie-rock computing, Zunior platinum, the top 10 moments in the history of Zunior, suprising Rheostatics, the Zune, solar power, Egger plays live, Peanuts, Boxing Day, patron saint Stuart McLean, making commercials with Scott Cudmore and Martin Tielli, the joy of the label and Wax Mannequin, getting into e-books and working with rock writer Martin Popoff, predicting the future for music consumption, flirting with Rdio and musical curation and discovery, vinyl might have a cost ceiling, major labels are like cockroaches, the new Tony Dekker Sings 10 Years of Zunior album and how it came to be, the Zunior 10th anniversary show in Sandbanks Provincial Park in Prince Edward County on Sept. 13, the song “At the Airport” by Old Man Luedecke, and then it’s the right time to say goodbye.

Related links: zunior.com inbreds.com vishkhanna.com

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