Tag Archives: Ralph Nader

Ep. #279: U.S. Girls

U.S. Girls is the moniker of Meghan Remy who currently calls Toronto, Ontario home. Since moving there from Chicago in 2010, Remy has become a vital part of the city’s music scene and, along with her husband Slim Twig, plays in the excellent band Darlene Shrugg and runs the Calico Corp. label. She is likely best known for her stunning voice, pointed perspective, and startlingly great post-pop work as U.S. Girls, including her acclaimed and most recent album, Half Free, which is on the 2016 Polaris Music Prize short list and out now via 4AD Records. Remy and I recently caught up at Jules’ Café in Toronto’s Kingsway neighbourhood to discuss Jules Café and its wifi and its delectable croissants, just barely Etobicoke, Boxing Day 2010, Chicago and Toronto, Americans thinking about Canada and the rest of the world, facts and fiction and trust, not necessarily the news, overwhelmed by the world, free but only to consume, leaving America and loving Canada, military madness and taxes, health care, because Britain stayed and Canadian reserve, nice not friendly, Canada’s British accent, we’re smart, Toronto’s ahistorical aesthetic, many cranes in the sky, Chicago is grand, it’s hard to be America’s hat, grants and being driven to achieve, gross generalizations, the music media and scams, the regurgitated one sheet, disengaging, anti-intellectualism, being in a military family, John Cassavetes and Bruce Springsteen, cinéma vérité, Springsteen’s rise as an American superstar as he was criticizing America, Springsteen’s empathy and socially conscious gestures, her song “Damn That Valley,” why Meg doesn’t ever vote, the 2000 election and Ralph Nader and Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Party doesn’t really get it, anti-war, the shades of evil, Hillary Clinton and women, revolution and protest and duty, social media’s distracting nature, the internet is everything but still new, MySpace as a touring resource, Silver Apples and Suicide and the Shaggs, the two-piece, when Springsteen covered “Dream Baby Dream,” the Devils & Dust tour, radio on, the Beatles Anthology, Bikini Kill, dealing with male music biz crap as a woman, sound people are cranky, frustrated musicians, the average white American woman, “First World Blues,” problematic self-esteem issues in a digital age, the requisite weirdness of receiving a Polaris Music Prize nomination, the infrastructure and its usual suspects, Darlene Shrugg is the best band and a record is almost done, Simone TB and Tropics, Ice Cream, word of mouth, the new U.S. Girls record with the Cosmic Range, Onakabazien, playing live at the Polaris gala on September 19, the song “Window Shades,” Gloria Ann Taylor, and then I got a croissant.

Related links: yousgirls.blogspot.ca vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #245: Joe Casey of Protomartyr

Joe Casey is the lead singer and songwriter in an acclaimed American rock band called Protomartyr. Formed in Detroit in 2008, Protomartyr have released three full-length albums, including their well-received breakthrough, The Agent Intellect, which came out via Hardly Art Records in October, 2015. The band has been touring almost non-stop since then, including upcoming Canadian stops in Guelph, Ottawa, Montreal, and Calgary throughout May and June. Here, Joe and I discuss being back home after a long tour, Fargo and Fargo and Bob Dylan, playing inside and outside, the state of the state of Michigan, the water crisis in Flint, and Governor Rick Snyder, his dad who worked as a construction inspector for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, water plant schemes, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his appointment of Victor Mercado to head the water department, how Michigan is mostly run by Republicans at the state level, aggressively taking advantage of poor, vulnerable, predominantly black cities, why voters trust business people more than they do politicians, how touring is living in a bubble and not really travelling, Donald Drumpf and the meaningless concept of ‘President,’ Michigan’s political spectrum, Calvinists and forgettable Democrats, when Bernie Sanders won Michigan a little while ago, Ralph Nader’s 2000 election campaign and the Detroit Farmer’s Market, local politics, a Clinton/Sanders ticket, his dad’s political philosophies and humanistic beliefs, the state of Detroit, a focus on downtown instead of the suburbs, whether or not the city actually has jobs to offer the influx of younger people moving there for the cheap rent, false individualism within gentrification, saviours of Detroit, roadie-ing for Tyvek and hearing about Detroit from people who don’t live there, laze about artists, young people, and Detroit’s tax base, how he did and didn’t engage with Detroit’s musical history, Motown, the city’s relative isolation on the tour circuit, the State Theatre and the Shelter and 8 Mile, Zoot’s Coffee House, less shows and more movies, film school, bad news, don’t worry too much, comedy within the songs of Protomartyr, the Coen Brothers and Fellini, the year Protomartyr broke, media coverage and perceptions of success, working very hard, making music to sell clothing, t-shirt sales are the new charts, his stage presence and a collision between passion and indifference, learning how to be a lead singer, being a programs director at a summer camp, becoming an artist, going to see Paris but not seeing it, becoming a public person and interacting with strangers, stock answers, the way fans know artists, Dave Thomas of Pere Ubu, meeting heroes versus contemporaries, trying to record a new song under a tight deadline, perks and road managers, saxamaphone, the wisdom in playing smaller markets like Guelph, Constantines, writing again, his notebooks, the song “Clandestine Time,” and that was it.

Related links: protomartyrband.com vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #109: Jello Biafra

Jello Biafra was the lead singer of the influential punk band Dead Kennedys and has since gone on to do significant work as an actor, spoken word artist, and vocalist, as well as being the head honcho at the still busy and prolific record label, Alternative Tentacles. His first band since he left Dead Kennedys is called Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine and their new album is called White People and the Damage Done, which they’re touring behind now, including stops at Call the Office in London, Ontario on June 16 and the Opera House in Toronto on June 17. Here Biafra and I discuss things like why Nardwuar the Human Serviette and I can’t pronounce Biafra, why Jello’s name came up in discussions about the Web Fast-Lane Vote spearheaded by the FCC, Guantanamo Bay and Chelsea Manning, the concept of the new album and how it delves into kleptocracy and retroactive feudalism, greed addicts, maximum wage, why “Shock-U-Py!” shows up at the end of the new album, how Jello engages with Canadian politics and our celebrity crackhead goofs, why people should stop talking about Hillary Clinton two years ahead of the election, thinking locally, why we should stop distracting ourselves, communication, reactivating our bullshit detectors, Jello has never felt alone in his thoughts and pursuits, what first turned him onto music as a kid, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Azuma Kabuki music, garage bands, the Music Machine, the Animals and Eric Burdon, Jello used to be able to sing like Robert Plant, East Bay Ray has the Dead Kennedys master tapes, Jello has nothing to do with Dead Kennedys reissues and they seem to be muting his involvement in the band, Jello is proud of Dead Kennedys and doesn’t think the rest of the band cares about the music, Jello’s theatre background in middle school, Jello can play a mean Scrooge, acting in The Hipster Games and being typecast on Portlandia, how Dead Kennedys came together in San Francisco and the emergence of hardcore, how method acting influenced Jello’s vivid lyricism, his roles in Highway 61 and Terminal City Ricochet, Jello’s very first songs were written for Dead Kennedys, why he never played in some early cover band or something, the early D.O.A. cover band Stone Crazy, how and why the GSM is his first proper band since DKs, the Melvins wanted to avenge Jello, why he quoted the DKs song “Soup is Good Food” in the GSM song “Burgers of Wrath,” where he’s at now with the other Dead Kennedys and what it would take for him to agree to play with them again, playing DKs songs with the GSM, Jello’s getting back into spoken word performance, honouring Ralph Nader, the crippling losses he’s suffered lately, how much the Stooges meant to him, the plight of independent musicians and labels like Alternative Tentacles in the age of file-sharing, AT is doing cool stuff with reissues of records by the Dicks, Voivod, and new releases by young bands like Death Hymn Number 9 and Itchy-O, making stuff is important, why the GSM is not playing Amnesia Rockfest in Quebec this month, scams, the song “Burgers of Wrath,” and then it’s bedtime for bonzo.

Related links: alternativetentacles.com vishkhanna.com

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