Tag Archives: Royal Mountain Records

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. #268: PUP

PUP is a young, hard rock band based in Toronto, Ontario. Known for touring hard and putting on riotous shows, PUP recently released their second album, The Dream is Over, via Side One Dummy and Royal Mountain Records and they will soon be touring the entire planet for months and months. Ahead of their return to Guelph’s Hillside Festival, I met with singer/guitarist Stefan Babcock and guitarist Steve Sladkowski on Steve’s porch in Toronto, mere hours after he and his girlfriend found out they were being evicted. A dog named Jane sat with Stefan, Steve, and I as we discussed the short but already tumultuous history of PUP, which science believes shouldn’t even be a band anymore, plus Roncesvalles Avenue, as a hood, Polish yelling, gentrification, High Park and poison cities, getting out of Dodge, a sudden eviction, when Steve lived in Guelph and first met Stefan at the Hillside Festival in Guelph, tour managing Zeus, hash brownies at Hillside, Zack the drummer, time passes slowly or quickly, pacing your not-as-young-as-it-was body, a Toronto heat wave, not curbing your enthusiasm, sustainable touring, van snacks, coffee and water and beer, tiny bladders and a presumably meddling landlord, bananas and spicy nuts, unsweetened iced tea, shotgunning McDoubles, ice cream, Waffle House, green juice, stocktaking and maturity and pacing a tour, Stefan getting told “The dream is over” by a medical specialist after experiencing discomfort from a cyst on his vocal cords, the visceral response to this issue, too many shows, vocal coaches and speech pathologists, the book Bad Singer and amusia, musical training, a rock band, the description of punk to come, the mythology surrounding punk and proficiency, resisting the terms of a medical diagnosis, the rarity of success in music making and creation, artistic freedom, playing the night of the diagnosis on the first day of a seven week tour, Stefan gets help from PUP patrol, the stress of bodily harm or alteration, the song “DVP” and the gestation of The Dream is Over, jokes and rage, Canadian enunciation and producer Dave Schiffman, The Bronx album III, Americans and “about,” pointed humour, imaginary and blunt arguments, apolitical lyrics and inclusive spaces, avoiding white mansplaining, the Hillside Festival, a long tour without writing new stuff, a conceptual proposal, the song “Familiar Patterns,” and then the dream was over.

Related links: puptheband.com sideonedummy.com royalmountainrecords.com vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #118: Steve Sladkowski of PUP

Steve Sladkowski plays guitar and sings in a Toronto punk-infused pop band called PUP. Originally called Topanga, PUP changed their name ahead of releasing their first, self-titled debut album, which is out now via Royal Mountain Records. PUP plays Guelph’s Hillside Festival on Saturday July 25. Here, Steve and I discuss staining fences in Toronto, living in Guelph and putting on shows and working for the Guelph Jazz Festival, touring the U.S. with the Menzingers, single A baseball in Iowa, America is weird, this is Texas, talking to Americans about baseball, the Oakland A’s and Moneyball glitches, regular seasons are a drag, why the Skydome sucks and seeing baseball in America rules, I don’t think I like Toronto, talking to people outside of Canada about Rob Ford, playing ska-punk, Protest the Hero, the 3tards, and the Reverb, working with Dave Schiffman on the PUP record, pathetic use of potential, Toronto punk is thriving, when Weezer was wonderful, my membership in the Weezer fanclub and contributing “Mykel and Carli” to its first covers compilation, Rivers Cuomo goes back to the shack, impersonating Fucked Up at the Halifax Pop Explosion, feeling honoured to get to do cool stuff, it comes and goes, self-promotion, not needing day jobs but working harder than ever, their Polaris Music Prize nomination, the status of hard music in Canada, Peter Bradley is in Alaska, Constellation Records, forced conversation, Tanya Tagaq should win awards, PUP’s new songs, throwing down, writing songs in extreme emotional places, marrying real-life with fictional narratives, the song “Guilt Trip,”  and then it is outta here!

Related links: puptheband.com royalmountainrecords.com hillsidefestival.ca vishkhanna.com



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