Tag Archives: Tusks

Ep. #115: Jeremy Gara & Samir Khan of Kepler

Jeremy Gara and Samir Khan are accomplished musicians who once played together in an Ottawa-based band called Kepler. For a good chunk of their time together, they were associated with a kind of slow-building atmospheric music that made them a nice fit to open for Godspeed You! Black Emperor for example. Their final album felt like a real departure to fans who heard its pop-oriented, singer-songwriter leanings when it was first released in 2006. The album is Attic Salt and it was just reissued by a German boutique record label called Oscarson. Here, Samir and Jer and I discuss Roncesvalles Village in Toronto, what tambourines are good for, Soho in London, England, the Rolling Stones, Monty Python’s Flying Circus at O2 Arena, how sometimes records are now commissioned by rich people, patronage, why Attic Salt has been reissued, small bands and big bands, podcast stats, tiny defensiveness, Michael Feuerstack is right, Ottawa’s pointed, smart, and possibly under-appreciated music community, Wooden Stars, Clark the band, Yellow Jacket Avenger, Snailhouse, HILOTRONS, Shotmaker, Okara, when Jeremy wrote Samir a fan letter about Samir’s post-punk band Kluane, Kepler and the Constellation Records loft in Montreal, bass is easy, Sonic Youth is easy, seeing the Cure play live when you’re 12, how Samir ended up in Ottawa after living in Winnipeg, Ottawa’s counter-culture and punk scene, the Pit in Ottawa, Sloan and murderecords, local bands stopped getting love, micromanaging the spectacle, I still don’t know what cynicism means, how Kepler started, the change within Attic Salt, Jeremy’s impact on Kepler, rock music and the myth of progress, Kepler weren’t part of the mid-aughts indie-rock renaissance, Kepler might come back and open for Slowdive, when Jer left Kepler to join Arcade Fire, Jer really misses Kepler and wants the band to play together again, Samir sees making music for a living as a deep, meaningless, bleak pit, things get heavily nostalgic when these dudes really start pondering Kepler, old bands finally getting their due, fans not letting go of the bands they loved as kids, the internet and zombie music, Constantines, the Attic Salt reissue and its rather elaborate packaging that makes it sit weird, Slint and June of ‘44, Attic Salt outtakes that Germans can Google, nice racism, Jer is playing Hyde Park, Keith Richards no longer actually plays guitar when the Rolling Stones are on stage, AC/DC and Malcolm Young, Arcade Fire’s going on a North American tour while Samir eats dinner and works his job, Samir is always chipping away at music stuff, his band Tusks, what the crowd might be like if Kepler played some shows, Kepler should play the Hillside Festival, the song “The Bedside Manner,” the Ottawa Millionaires, Dave Draves, and then reward and respite.

Related links: oscarson.bandcamp.com arcadefire.com vishkhanna.com

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The Super Friendz’s Mock Up, Scale Down: An Oral History (Director’s cut)

The following piece was published in truncated form on CBC Music. Here’s the full version. 

In the summer of 1995, the Super Friendz released their debut LP, Mock Up, Scale Down on Sloan’s murderecords imprint. At the time, Mock Up, Scale Down seemed like another exciting document from a prolific Halifax music scene that launched Sloan, Thrush Hermit and Joel PlaskettJaleAl Tuck,Buck 65 and more into the national consciousness. But over the years, as young bands like Zeus and the Bicycles touted its influence, the record’s status has grown further.

The three-headed songwriting democracy of Charles Austin, Matt Murphy and Drew Yamada inspired legions of fans and younger musicians with their skillfully crafted, explosive, thinking man’s pop-rock balladry. Drummer Dave Marsh, with his enigmatic, occasional membership, gave them the perfect rhythmic foundation they found so elusive in an oddly Spinal Tap-ish way (no drummers were harmed in the making of this band but they sure didn’t stick around for long).

The Super Friendz played the Halifax Pop Explosion this past October. Their last release was 2003’s Love Energy and, before last month’s show, they’d been quiet for about nine years. On Friday, Nov. 16, they play Toronto’s Lee’s Palace and, to mark the return of one of the greatest North American rock bands, an oral history of their formation and first album seemed in order. This is it, here we go. Continue reading

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