Tag Archives: The Unicorns

Ep. #108: Born Ruffians

Born Ruffians are a terrifically sharp indie-rock band whose latest album is called Birthmarks. Released in 2013 via Paper Bag Records, it’s the band’s third record and found them exploring more polished pop production. On Sunday July 27, Born Ruffians are playing the penultimate Main Stage set at the 2014 Hillside Festival so I tracked down singer, guitarist, and songwriter Luke Lalonde and bassist Mitch DeRosier at Ronnie’s Local in Kensington Market where they drank and we chatted about the visceral reaction people might have when they see Constantines and/or the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat play again, hanging out together in Elora at Riverfest last summer, Shirley Temple, Ashley MacIsaac, my unwanted festival advances, how Born Ruffians set the table for Serena Ryder, if the band has hang-ups about its status in this country, Cam Lindsay does his research, Luke does an impressive array of improvised impressions, the Canadian music industry, being nominated for the ‘Breakthrough Group of the Year’ at the Junos after being around for 12 years, always being a new band to someone, drinking with your tiny baby at Ronnie’s Local, Luke and Mitch are second cousins, I own a Beatles t-shirt older than people in Born Ruffians, family ties, the weird, lawsuit-baiting restaurant that Mitch’s family owned in Midland, Luke forced Mitch to play bass after travelling through time, Steve Hamelin got inspired to buy a drum kit, musical dads, Mitch reads other people’s sad texts, getting into music on your own, the Minutemen and the Unicorns, discovering bands and punk aggression, the bold pop moves of Birthmarks, the weirdness around making Say It, losing Steve the drummer at least twice, Luke and Mitch have been drinking, Steve will play on the new record but other drummers might too, there are 150 songs written towards the new Born Ruffians song, no, there are zero new songs written, Born Ruffians killed a guy, Mac DeMarco’s friend Chas interrupts this interview, there’s a secret Makeout Videotape show happening during NXNE either on the Saturday or the Sunday, I offended Chas, the dove-eating story could’ve been way better, Hillside hat-trick, the song “Oh Cecilia,” dove’s D, and scene.

Related links: bornruffians.com hillsidefestival.ca vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #71: Alden Penner

Alden Penner is a respected and idiosyncratic singer, songwriter, and musician based in Montreal. Penner was a key figure in the influential bands the Unicorns and Clues and went on to make heartfelt, enigmatic, and questioning music in a project called Hidden Words. On Feb. 11, he quietly released a lovely new album under his own name; it’s called Exegesis and has prompted him to play at the Silver Dollar in Toronto for the Wavelength festival on Thursday Feb. 13, Montreal’s Le Cagibi on Friday Feb. 14, and the Le Pantoum in Quebec City on Feb. 15. Here, Alden and I discuss my issue understanding release dates, the fact that Exegesis is a personal compilation of sorts with at least one song that was partially conceived by Nick Thorburn when the two were in high school, the self-reflexive nature of putting this record together, Penner’s evolution as a songwriter and the distinction between his simpler and more intricate work, his earliest days learning how to play music in his teens and the impact “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” had on him and his guitar playing, jamming with his geography teacher, meeting and collaborating with Thorburn for the first time, the influence that Jimi Hendrix, Reverend Gary Davis, Elizabeth Cotten, and Fugazi had on his guitar playing, interesting guitar teachers and Syd Barrett, playing every instrument on a record yourself, the importance of band chemistry and the Avengers, the multiple meanings of the album’s title, which came to Penner in a dream, how religion has impacted Penner’s ability to find his own voice and feel bolstered by his community, the importance of self-assertion in the face of confrontation, Laura Crapo’s role in producing Penner’s new album, the mysteries of mysticism and psychic surgery, having faith, his upcoming shows, why the Unicorns must reunite to play shows and maybe even reissue Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? in 2014, the song “We Seek,” and more.

Related links: facebook.com/aldenpennermusic vishkhanna.com

alden penner

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