Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Horrors Rock new Venue in Vancouver

I learned about primary colours in Brownies as a young girl, but on wed October 7th, that term was re-defined for me by The Horrors @ Venue. This was the first time I had seen them as the headliner, and I was pleased to see such a diverse crowd, all there for the same reason. After all, when a noisy opener you're often greeted with a mixed reception.

Venue is indeed an evolution from it's former carnation, The Plaza Club. Reminiscent of the late Richards on Richards, with it's wrap around 2nd tier audience area, none of which went to waste as the crowd filled in nicely after the opening act Japanese Motors. Venue had a somewhat confused face lift, blending industrial aesthetic with old world elegance. But with music venues Dropping like flies ( Richards, The Cobalt, Sweat Shop, Emergency Room, Peanut Gallery) I'm glad this prime space is operating once more.

Opening with the first track off their most recent release, Primary Colours, The Horrors slid into their first song with Tom Cowan setting the tone on the synth. Cowan played bass on their debut album, Strange House, but he and Rhys Webb swapped duties for Primary Colours, something they did frequently through out their performance. In their second song, Three Decades, singer Faris Badwan seemed to be conducting drummer Joseph Spurgeon as he loosened into his preacher like theatricality.

My only criticism is that more tracks for their debut album Strange House would have been welcome. Finally making an appearance in their closing two encore choices.

Set highlights were the rolling Scarlet Fields and Gloves. Also of note was a Suicide cover as their first encore, not surprising, given their 2009 cover of Shadazz, released by Blast First Petite as part pf their tribute to Alan Vega. For this song alone, Webb and Cowan teamed up on keys and synth. Full set list below.

Mirror's Image
Three Decades
Primary Colors
Do You Remember
New Ice Age
Scarlet Fields
I Only Think of You
I can't Control Myself
Who Can Say
Sea Within A Sea

Suicide Cover: Ghost Rider
Sheena Is a Parasite

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's been a while

My apologies for falling off the face of the earth! I've been rocking out, and I hope you have too!

Tonight Japanese Motors open for the Horrors at Venue and I'll be writing a review for BeatRoute Magazine. It's going to be a sick show, and I'm curious to see how Venue differs from it's former carnation The Plaza Club.

Peep their myspaces:

Tomorrow night there is heaps to see:

Plus Perfect, The Tranzmitors and Hard Feelings (one of my personal favorite Van punk bands) @ Honey Lounge

New Model Army, Nim Vind and Spectres @ The Rickshaw Theater

Junior Boys and Circlesquare @ Venue

Much more this weekend, including Roger Daltrey! check out for all your concert info.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Interview with Brooke Gallupe of Immaculate Machine

On May 19th, Immaculate Machine played their second to last date of their recent North American tour supporting their new album, High On Jackson Hill.  I met Brooke after sound check at the Biltmore Cabaret for a brief interview.  At one point he makes sounds to describe his early experiences with the guitar and I attempted to transcribe them onomatopoeia style, but don't miss watching the interview, just click on the post title.  

SW I'm here with Brooke Gallupe of Immaculate Machine, how are you doing Brooke?

BG  I'm great thanks!

SW  Thanks for chatting with me.

BG  Yeah, I'm a little exhausted after a bit of a tour so I may not make any sense, but I may!  So it'll be our surprise.

SW  We'll see what happens

BG  Yeah

SW  Your band name is taken from a Paul Simon lyric from "One Trick Pony".  Were you drawn to it thematically?

BG  Um, I mean the story of any band name is usually a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey kinda thing, you just never know what you're going to end up with and ours was a bit like that.   I'm a Paul Simon fan for sure, but it mostly just sounded nice, I have to say.  That's all you can hope for in a band name I think.  

SW  I agree, it's got a great ring to it.

BG Thank you.  Good, success!

SW  So your band mate Katherine Calder found out that she is the niece of A.C. Newman of The New Pornographers.  How did that discovery come about?

BG  Well her mother was adopted and found her birth family later when Katherine was in her late teens I guess, and her birth family included Carl Newman.  So that's basically the story, and then just because the music scene is so small here and in Victoria, we ended up playing a few shows with various members of The New Pornographers and then we went on tour with them and they had Katherine sing with them and then she became a part of that band, actually.

SW  And she wasn't on this tour because she was recording with them?

BG  No she's actually dealing with a family illness.  So yeah, it's sad... and we've missed her on tour for sure but the show must go on, right.

SW  I'm really sorry to hear that.

BG  Yeah, I know. It's a sad story for sure. She'll be with us tomorrow in Victoria, but she's stuck at home pretty much.

SW  Well I wish her all the best.

BG  I do too.

SW  Moving forward to your new album,  High On Jackson Hill, you record
ed it in your parents house.  Why did you choose that location and how did it impact the recording?

BG  Well I wanted a natural feeling sound, somewhere we could be relaxed and spontaneous about the whole recording process.  So I managed to convince my parents to take off to Mexico for a couple weeks while we turned their house into a recording studio.  So there ends up being a lot of personality in the recording, I think.  You can hear the kids at the elementary school screaming during recess in some of the songs.  We miked the bathrooms, the kitchens, you can hear the sound of my car outside revving, we miked that. There's a lot of character that you wouldn't get in a recording studio.

SW  Sounds like life?

BG  Yes.  We recorded life!

SW  Well you're very talented!

BG  Yeah I know, we finally got it!  We represented all of life in that one album.  It took a lot of work, but there it is.

SW And Colin Stewart from Hive Studios produced it, how was working with him?

BG  It was amazing.  He's really flexible I mean he had the same idea as me about wanting to make a natural sounding album, and not worrying about getting everything perfect.  We wanted to make something that was fun and spontaneous basically.  And when you find a good producer, it's someone that's good at coaxing your strengths out of you... he really did that with me, so I was happy to work with him.

SW Thanks fantastic.  Do you think you'll work with him again in the future?

BG Oh god, I hope so yeah! The scene being as incestuous as it is, he and Katherine Calder, my band mate, are dating.  So he's happy to have a chance to come to Victoria too!

SW  That's so funny!  It is a small world

BG  Yup!  Welcome to the music scene, where everyone is dating everyone else... or in a band with them.  

SW Tell us about the relatively recent line up change your band has seen.

BG  Because Katherine has been unavailable, we've added a couple people to take her place or to fill in for the times when she's not going to be able to be there.  And we also just wanted to be able to get a bigger sound.  We've been used to doing a hundred things at once.  You know, trying to play all the guitar parts at once while singing and playing four different things on the keyboards while singing and we wanted to loosen up a little.  It's sort of the same story as the album, we wanted to give ourselves more space to be creative, so we added a couple members.

SW  Flesh it out a bit.

BG  Yes.  I mean it's always rocky playing with new people at first but we're ten or fifteen shows in now and I think it's really coming together and I'm really excited about it!

SW  That's awesome!  I'm excited too.  Lets talk about your musical background, you joined for first band at age 11?

BG  Yeah, that's right.  One of my much cooler friends in grade six had an older sister that convinced him to start a band, so I joined the band to play our elementary school talent show and I didn't know anything about guitar so we had to write songs based on that.  So we wrote a song where everyone else plays "da na na na na" and I went "diooooo"(mimics sliding his hand down the strings) and that was my first show.  

SW  Hahaha, that's brilliant!

BG  Yeah, so from there I became hooked on performing and playing music in general so I did jazz guitar lessons for a couple of years, I did operatic vocal lessons oddly enough

SW  WOW!  And also punk and soul, is that correct?

BG  Yeah, that's right!  I covered a lot of genres in my time.

SW  You certainly did.  Do you have a tale from the road for us?

BG  Our most recent story is being robbed in New York City.  It's not as exciting as it sounds, there wasn't like a musical gang or switch blades or anything.  I had my bag stolen at the bar we were playing at and realized that it had my passport and ALL of our tour money in it.  So I was a bit dumbfounded for a couple of days and cancelled my passport and everything like that. And then, as it happens, they turned it all in!  So we got it all back, but before I found this out, I did a couple interviews, one with my hometown daily paper and they ran kind of a sob story for us about how we lost all our money.  So when I found out it had been recovered I was like "oh...uh oh!" 

SW  And everyone was feeling so sorry for you!

BG  I know!  I got used to the pity, I began to enjoy it.  And now what am I going to do, they're going to find out I'm a fraud!

SW  That's so ironic, and it's such a cliche-- you got robbed in New York!

BG  Yeah, I know! What country bumpkin I am.

SW  Well I'm the same kind of country bumpkin, I grew up in Victoria as well.  So you're based in Victoria and were born there, what is it about the West Coast that keeps you here, and could you see yourself working elsewhere?

BG  You know, I've actually thought about that a lot.  And there was a point where Immaculate machine moved to Toronto for a couple of months to get our feet wet in the big city and we didn't do anything. Or we did too much, possibly.  We didn't actually get any music playing done because we were too busy going to see all of the exciting things that are happening in Toronto.  And it's sort of a different pace, and it's about keeping up with the current trends and stuff like that.  That's something I really like about Victoria, actually, it's isolation.  You do what you do, and there's lots of time to do it because there's nothing else going on.  And this album, I never know when I'm recording it, but in retrospect I can see that this album was about exploring being at home.  Our previous album, Fables, was about themes like being on the road and the various hi-jinx and trouble you can get into being on tour-- that kinda thing.  This one is more about what it's like in Victoria.  Exploring the nuances of my immediate surroundings. So that progression has been kinda neat.

SW  That's really cool.  I'm interested to see how that plays out in your live set. I've never seen you guys live before, I'm really stoked!

BG Great, well I'm excited to play too!

SW One final question: You're well versed in the music scene here, do you feel that there is a particular sound evolving in the West Coast?

BG Yeah, I don't think anyone would claim to belong to it, I certainly wouldn't call myself a West Coast sounding band.  But when you put it all together, there is undeniably a certain sort of sound:  A bit more about hippy grooves and stuff like that ; Whether you're playing heavy rock or jam music, the tempos are a little slower, the rhythm's a little more fluid, that kind of thing.  But that's obviously a total generalization, but I was trying to embrace that on this album, actually.  I'm sure that anyone who's followed Immaculate Machine will notice that there's more mid tempo (songs) with more flowing structures less stop and start kind of stuff.  

SW Yeah, I could see that.  Kinda like the rolling ocean, to be honest.  

BG  So without deliberately doing it, we end up singing a lot about marine imagery and stuff like that.  We've got "Come On Sea Legs" and "Broken Ship" and all of these nautical themes.

SW  Well when you're meditating on Victoria, how can you not reflect on the ocean, you're surrounded by it.

BG  Yeah exactly!  It's part of us whether we like it or not.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Interview with METRIC

The Telus Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler BC has drawn high profile acts for many years and this year was no exception. So on Friday morning, I made my weekly pilgrimage up the Sea to Sky to Whistler to take in the last weekend of the festival and interview the Toronto based headliners, Metric.

Entering their "green" room at the Pan Pacific I immediately encountered Jimmy, Joules and Josh hanging out. In the few minutes we chatted pre-interview it became clear that their good nature is intact and unaltered by their growing success. This is not, however, some great stroke of luck. Metric's DIY approach to distribution and manufacturing has amounted to a hand picked network of individuals they choose to work with. Their involvement at the ground level with their music, the business and, as a result, their fans, has surely contributed to their strong sense of self and commitment to keeping it real.

We discussed David Lynch's Inland Empire as a muse for Haines on her songwriting for Fantasies, their "campfire test" for Fantasies (if you can't play the song with just vocals and guitar or piano, it didn't make the cut) which led to the radio partnered acoustic portion of their tour. As we discussed each person's potential for self realization and power for change, Haines said "People think they are looking at walls when they are looking at doors". BAM.

Opening their set a brief sound check melding seamlessly into Twilight Galaxy, Metric then launched into the inadvertent yet irrepressible single Help I'm Alive. They played to a colourful crowd of skiers and boarders, with more riding down into skiers plaza throughout the performance. Viewers crammed the edges of patios protecting their beer with one hand, shading the sun with the other for a glimpse of the irresistible Emily Haines.

Haines' delivered clear vocals with heart that soared above the quieted crowd, floating through the village and up the mountains. It wouldn't be a Metric show with out Haines grabbing the tambourine, and shake it she did. Compared to their performance at Pemberton Music Festival, this show was lower energy. Haines didn't jump, stomp or head bang as much as I have seen in the past. However, conviction, focus and intensity replaced frenzy. That cohesive quality is where Fantasies diverges, for me, in their discography. It's likely that their "campfire test" contributed to the flow of the album in their efforts to create songs that are less complex in chord progressions allowing them to build the sonics over a strong, yet simple foundation. My single criticism is that Joules' rhythm levels could have been higher, but when you're playing an open air show, it's difficult. Their signature synths pushed the rhythm and kept the crowd moving through a killer set. More highlights include Sick Muse and, my personal favorite, Satellite Mind.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Interview with Andy Cabic

Sunday night concerts. These frequent occurrences typically strike fear into my 9-5 heart; the exception to this conundrum is Vetiver. Their easy going folk wraps you in a soft blanket and asks for little but your ears. Having never seen them live, I was thrilled to discover they booked a date at the Biltmore as part of their N.A tour supporting their 4th album Tight Knit, their first release with Sub Pop.

Never before has a musician offered to do

their interview with me prior to sound check, so I was taken aback when Andy Cabic strolled up and sat down beside me, gear unloading behind us. "We have a bout 20 minutes if you want to chat now" he said. Cabic is as gentle as his music. In a plush red velvet booth we discussed Tight Knit, Things of The Past, Sub Pop, blogging and more. I've met only a handful of people who posses the skill of making you feel like a life long friend at first meeting, and Andy Cabic is one of them. Many artists would write you off for a discography error, but (when I made one) he gently corrected me and moved forward without judgement. Of particular note was the motivation behind their 3rd album, Things of the Past, which was to test a new combination of musicians in the studio, prior to writing new material... thereby ironing out the kinks A practical, pragmatic idea; I wouldn't be at all surprised to see an increase in cover releases. I'm a huge now a fan of Cabic as a musician and as a human being.

On to the show, Sun Wizard were first to take the stage. They are a local Vancouver band comprised of good friends: Ben Frey, James Bull, Frank Lyons, and Malcolm Jack. Colourful personalities with an even more colorful sound. This happened to be their second live to date and they killed it! With two vocalists crooning in two very different styles from opposite sides of the stage, Sun Wizard sounded like the very demarcation between the Beatles, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. Upbeat, folky, melodic tunes that got people dancing with good vibes. They played for about an hour, my anticipation of Vetiver battled my desire to continue to listen to them as I wondered how their sound will grow and change in their continued collaboration. Their aesthetic was a fragmented mosaic of influences resulting lack of a cohesive quality...but rendering a dynamic collection of sounds and perhaps that's their thing! Check out Sun Wizard and another local band Adelaide live at the Railway club on May 15th.

After reading that Richard Swift is one of Cabic's favorite songwriters, my intrigue and anticipation for his performance spiked. This was the final night of Swift joining Vetiver, he had toured with them for the first leg of their N.A. jaunt, and on this evening his set was quite unique. The day before he lost his base player to a stomach bug that had previously claimed Vetiver's drummer, Otto Hauser. But the show must go on, and Swift pulled off a solo performance tremendously! I caught up with him backstage after his set, and while he expressed frustration at being backed into his first solo performance in years, he was pleased to hear that I, like the rest of the crowd, gave him props for carrying the performance with all the gusto and charisma of someone surrounded by a full band. KUDOS!

My backstage jaunt between Swift and Vetiver's performance had a purpose. As a token of my appreciation, I have begun giving musicians a bottle of my favorite thing... The Naam's Miso Gravy; the condiment equivalent of crack. I had forgotten to bestow it post interview, so I rushed back and while Vetiver was tuning, timidly popped on stage and motioned to Otto that this was for Andy. "For me?" he asked, "No, for ANDY" I specified, red in the face. Andy had now taken notice of my presence, so I apologetically explained that I had brought this and neglected to give it to him. He recognized the bottle for what it was, "that's so nice, Sarah" I put it in the green room and hurried back to the crowd to claim a spot for the show. I didn't want to miso-bomb anyone!

With the gravy safe backstage, and myself in good position, Vetiver began to play. I was thrilled to hear the same Vetiver I had come to know and love through my head phones playing in front of me. The "Tight" in Tight Knit may or may not allude to their flawless live show. The audience was quieted, subdued. Closing my eyes, it was as if I was alone in a room with Cabic and his minstrels playing solely for me. This, of course, is not the case, but I believe that every audience member could recount the same perfection and intimacy. Their music is so soft and "easy" that one song seemed to blend into another in a seamless web of travelling music. All the while making you feel fucking great! So intensely did I enjoy their performance that I forgot entirely to keep track of a set list, my apologies. They opened with Rolling Sea, the first track off Tight Knit Highlights include Sister and Everyday (the latter featured in my interview) both off Tight Knight, and You May Be Blue and Idle Ties from To Find Me Gone.

I hope that Vetiver returns to Vancouver soon, and that Andy managed to sneak the miso gravy over the boarder!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Interview with Glasvegas

I had only a few minutes with Rab Allen (lead guitar and backing vocals) and Paul Donoghue (bass guitar, backing vocals) of the Scottish band Glasvegas. With a late arrival to the venue and prolonged sound checks I raced through as many questions as I could and grabbed a quick hug from James, Paul and Rab before they were whisked away for their final sound check.

Lack of time did not impact the ease with which they greeted and spoke to me. While positioning ourselves to maximize lighting, Rab offered his leg as my seat for the interview. I hopped up for second and we all had a laugh. I wouldn't conduct an interview on my subjects lap, but I could not have placed a better ice breaker if I tried.

We covered a range of topics, including Producer Rich Costey; how he sought out the band prior to their deal with Columbia and offered to do their album for next to nothing... that is until they signed with Columbia and his fees adjusted to their budget. Rich's ear, instinct and passion in approaching Glasvegas early on are potential reasons for their decision to work with him on their next album. That, and the fact that their debut self-titled album is killing it.

When I asked about their recording experience for A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like A Kiss) in a Transylvanian church in Romania I learned nothing of the recording process, but rather that Paul had been chased up a tree by a rabbid dog or two. It was sideways enough that I thought he must be putting me on.

That's the beauty of airs of pretenses. They are who they are and they're singing about what impacts them. Much of James' lyrical content draws from social problems in Glasgow and their delivery can be described as nothing but straight up. Playing from the heart, singing from the heart as they are. Case in point: when the founding drummer Ryan Ross left the band for the US in 2004, James recruited Caroline McKay. He used to frequent the shop she was working in to chat (never buying a thing) and convinced her to join the band. I was hoping to speak with her directly, my curiosity about surviving as the only woman in the band grew as I spent more time with the lads. A bunch of absolute cheeky monkeys with girls on the brain. Sexually charged allegories aside, I wouldn't have changed the dialogue for anything, as you'll see I was in stitches.

They opened with "Geraldine", one of their most widely known singles in Canada, about a social worker who left her job to follow the band. Hearing hundreds who knew the lyrics well enough for James to step back and allow the crows to carry the song was superb; my fears that Glasvegas are a secret too well kept in North America were put to rest. James provided little commentary throught the performance, except to say that they had been to Vancouver a few times before and he "fucking loves it!" Set highlights include "Flowers and Football Tops" and my personal favorite, "It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry". Closing with "Daddy's Gone", a morose outlook on childhood in a single parent family and probably their most famous single in Scotland, James was the last to reluctantly leave the stage, lingering in the adoration of the crowd. The stage remained lit with a pusling white lights and a steady screech of distortion and noise held strong for at least 4 minutes. The "noise" punctuated the end of the set in a powereful way; Galsvegas is done...exclaimation point!

**click on the article title to view interview for now, video will be uploaded shortly**

Thursday, April 9, 2009

White Lies and Friendly Fires at Richards on Richards

I've been paying more attention to the Richards on Richards web site since the reality set in that it will be torn down to make way for condos in September. From the two tiered intimate layout, to the lived and loved in graffiti smothered back stage rooms, bands and fans are facing a great loss in Vancouver.

Lamentations aside, I noticed that NME was presenting a double Brit bill, darlings White Lies and Frienly Fires at Richards on Richards on April 8, 2009. I was intrigued. Once I began to dig, I was blasted by a media blitz of excitement surrounding both bands, White Lies in particular. From Rolling Stone to SXSW to David Letterman all of North America was lifting their ears and sniffing the breeze from across the pond where White Lies debut album charted at #1 in the UK in January 2009. References like Joy Division and Ian Curtis, Interpole and Echo & The Bunnymen (to name a few) flew past me as I raced towards the realization that this could be what I have been looking for.

White Lies and Friendly Fires had been trading headlining throughout their North American jaunt. On this occasion, White Lies would take the stage first. Opening their set with Farewell To The Fairground, my expectations were demolished as Jack Lawrence-Brown's pulsing, if stripped drum line took control of my feet and held a firm grasp until the last note. The crescendo of this song, culminating with a building of repeated lyrics "Keep on running, there's no place like home" written by Charles Cave (bass, backing vocals) and sung with all Harry McVeigh's (vocals, guitar) force, demonstrated their understanding of tension, taking us for our first ride down the rabbit hole of white lies. From that moment on I was only partially aware of track names, or how long they had been playing for, the intensity was overwhelming. The lighting design mirrored the moody post- punk aesthetic with bold white lights pulsing, pushing the bigger moments. It was the perfect pairing.

McVeigh's reputed likeness to Ian Curtis in his vocal stylings, well justified; this is a difficult thing for me to write, let alone believe... to label me a Joy Division fan is a gross understatement. Other set highlights include the deliciously atmospheric To Lose My Life, the dark tale and deep organ synths of Unfinished Business, and the pop gallop From The Stars. There was a brief delay half way though due to Jack's ferocious stomping. He explained after that he has a nasty habit of blowing out the kick drum mic. I think it's a barometer of his passion and prowess; or perhaps he needs a more sophisticated mic. Closing with Death, they left the stage with no encore. This might've been due to McVeigh's sore through he'd battled earlier in the tour. The truth is, my appetite for them had become insatiable and no amount of encores would've sufficed.

The white lies are the result of an evolution from the former band "Fear of Flying". Playing together since youth, the band was a developmental project, influenced heavily by brit pop and lacking substance which they began to explore in the fall of 2007 with Unfinished Business. In October of 2007 they posted on their myspace "Fear of Flying is DEAD... White Lies is alive!" and with that they re-routed towards the matured dark sound that rock has been waiting for. I can not put it any better than this, "White Lies are the glowering, glistening, moody, magnificent, cheekbones-of-granite, stone cold future of Rock."

White Lies Set List

  1. Farewell to the Fairground

  2. To Lose My Life

  3. E.S.T

  4. From The Stars

  5. A Place To Hide

  6. Unfinished Business

  7. Fiftey On Our Foreheads

  8. The Price of Love

  9. Nothing To Give

  10. Death

After the frenzied stage re-organization, Friendly Fires came charging out of the gates when they took the stage. Only acutely familiar with them prior to the show, I was delighted to find myself enrolled in experimental pop 101, instructed by Friendly Fires in the art of spontaneous combustion. Lead singer Ed Macfarlane travelled the stage in a spirited dance, inviting the audience to shed a few layers... of pretenses AND clothing. With at least 4 simultaneous cow bells, instrument swapping and Macfarlane descending into the thick of the crowd sporadically throughout their performance, Friendly Fires topped off a phenomenal evening of music.

Macfarlane's command of the stage resembled no one that I have ever seen. The combination of his care free dance moves and vocal conviction encouraged each person in attendance to dance like no one is watching...and we did! He wore black slippers with a gold fox's head emrbiodered on the top. They are one of two pairs of slippers he reserves for performance, he later told me. We mused over the significance of the fox's head, I thought it was an homage to Peter Gabrielle's beginnings in stage theatrics when he came out in a red dress and fox's head. Macfarlane was reminded of a good old chap sitting in front of the fire with his pipe. I suppose he wins, given that they are his slippers.

I thought it was curious that they opted to put the drum set on the main stage area with all theur gear tightly organized. The richards stage isn't large to begin with, why cute your pace by a third? As the set went on members began trading places and instruments in a seamless dance where the music did not stop. Insert "ah ha" moment pertaining to my earlier observation. A hiensight observation: I would have rather had Friendly Fires open and White Lies close. After the intensity of white lies, I felt that Friendly Fires lacked substance, of no fault of their own. These bands have two very different sounds, White Lies hit me like a tranquelizer dart full of all my musical buttons instead of poison. Hats off to Friendly Fires, I danced non-stop and enjoyed chatting with them afterwards. Lovely people.

Friendly Fires Set List
  1. Lovesick

  2. Jump In The Pool

  3. Skeleton Boy

  4. In The Hospital

  5. White Diamonds

  6. Strobe

  7. Photobooth

  8. On Board

  9. Paris

  10. Ex Lover
A special shout out to Malcolm and Sealed With A Kiss, who presented this show in conjunction with NME and consistently bring amazing music to Vancouver AND got me into the sold out show that has claimed many, irretrievable. Find them at

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Interview with George Stroumboulopoulos

Friday March 27th was one of the best days of my life. Dramatic, I know, but when you have the opportunity to meet with your career icon in your medium, in the perfect setting... well it doesn't get much better.

I had been trying to set up the interview for a few days... with no clear answer I was on the edge of my seat with my questions prepped when I received a txt from Strombo, "hey SW, it's G S how's it goin?" My colleague Alexis will verify that I jumped 5 feet in the air.

My DOP, Patrick Henry, and I picked Strombo up in Pat's truck, headed to the seawall and got down to business. The interview went relatively smoothly. In terms of our dialogue it was natural, fun, energetic. We came across a few fans of Strombo (big shocker) and halted the interview so he could say whad up. We also passed by a large commercial shoot. Now THAT was funny. Here we are, with our shot-gun mic, wire dangling below the frame and Pat walking backwards ever so carefully for 35 minutes plus... this other shoot had at least 20 people involved, a mountain of cables to power up all of their gear, I think they even had a Krafty truck. I laughed feeling mildly embarrassed for my short comings, but I though "they may have the gear, but we've got the guy".

Interviewing the interviewer is great in some ways, tricky in others. Once or twice he turned the questions on me, which was cool, but in one instance he was speaking so quickly that I hadn't understood the question. Oops! In addition, his responses were lengthy (I think I asked a question once every 2-5 minutes) which is great for me, challenging for Pat when he tried to cut it together. We have so much content that we will cut and post a second instalment of the interview. This will focus more on music, the Junos and the guests they feature on his show The Hour. Which, everyone should watch. Every night if you can!

After the interview Pat, Strombo and I went belt buckle shopping for him on Granville. He was looking for a Black Flag belt buckle and also picked up a sparkly Eazy E buckle. We then grabbed Alex Liu, producer and director, and Erik Hughes of Moneen and all piled into Pat's truck. This was perhaps the best part of the day. Picture Erik in the covered cab of the truck, strombo and I in the fold up seats tucked behind Alex and Pat who were the only ones sitting in proper seats up front. It was like an industry clown car as we piled out in front of Tojo Sushi (the inventor of the California Roll). Of course, when you're with Strombo you get great service anywhere, but we were treated exceptionally well at Tojos. After an amazing meal and a few hours of great conversation we were all given gifts from the restaurant. Each of us received a different colour promotional toenail clipper. Probably THE most random promotional item for a restaurant but I appreciate the Strombo souvenire. Mine is pink:)
George Stroumboulopoulos is one of the most legit, funny, intelligent and down to earth people I have met. He spoke to everyone who stopped him that day (at least 30 people) with the same courtesy and attention whether it was a former exec at Sony BMG or person struggling with rehab. I already respected him more than any other as a media personality, now I have the utmost respect for him as a human being. Watch The Hour on CBC and listen to the Strombo Show on the radio ( for your local station)!

Interview with Warren Spicer of Plants and Animals

I can't express how much I love Vancouver's Biltmore Cabaret and it's staff.  I was ecstatic to discover that one of my favorite Montreal indie bands, Plants and Animals, would be playing there!  I landed the interview a mere two days prior to the sold out show... it was a frantic search for a DOP and editor with which to do the piece.  Luckily for me, Sheldon Pearson was on hand to save the day!

We arrived at the Biltmore on a (surprise, surprise) rainy evening on March 18th, but we managed to shoot our intro as an external with just enough light and shelter.  The sound check for P&A was underway and we had to maximize every second.  Opening act, DRM HLLR, would have to begin their sound check immediately afterwards.  My stress increased when the P&A sound check went 30 minutes over schedule.  Picture me, pacing around the dance floor, sourcing the best lighting option (this time we didn't even have a bounce sheet) and trying to be visible enough to remind Warren Spicer, lead singer and guitar player, of our presence.

Once they finished, we jumped right into the interview and, to my relief, it was as natural as chatting with a friend!  Warren was down to earth, engaged and fun.  Great Interviewee.  One funny moment was when I asked him "Can you describe your music for us in your own words?" and he replied "I try not to."  Now this is what I had imagined he might be feeling, but I had expected him to try... instead the conversation divulged into the challenges of fans and critics striving to categorize a sound... to put it in a box.  That's one of the better lessons I have learned in interviewing.  Success isn't that the subject responds how you might like them to, but that they are being themselves, that you are able to follow them and, if you're lucky, they'll meet you half way.

The interview was over in a flash (translation: 7 minutes or so).  As DRM HLLR began to strum their guitars I said, "well I guess that's all the time we have!"   I thanked Warren for his time as Sheldon and I rushed to the office behind the bar to squeeze in our VOs before the sound check was in full swing.  We just made it, and I was elated!

DRM HLLR did a wonderful job getting people on the floor and dancing, which is not an easy feat for an opening... particularly for an instrumental band.  I was impressed with their songs and stage presence.  Each well crafted (and ironically titled) piece took me on a journey of highs and lows with lots of built in stops.  You could never relax into the assumption that you understood the song and knew where it was taking you.  Full of surprises!

P&A more than lived up to their reputation.  I hadn't previously seen them live and their energy was outstanding.  It was hard to understand such a voluminous sound coming from a three man band!  By voluminous, I don't mean loud (although they were that too) but rather full, almost choral.  Warren's vocals are so strong, his sore throat that he was battling was undetectable.  Each of the members have incredible stage presence.  They concluded their set with Bye Bye Bye, but it began in a way that the audience couldn't initially detect it... although, I had bet my new friend Sarah that it they would close with that song!  When Nick began strumming the harp just before the climax the crowd went so wild that he hung in the moment strumming away, which threw Warren as to when to come in and gave us all a giggle.  This is why I love live music more than anything else in the world!!  Nick told me later that he had received a few tips on how to dramatically play the harp from an actor... it payed off!

After they left the stage, the audience screamed so relentlessly that one member of DRM HLLR who was watching from stage left, approached the mic and simply said "come on boys".  Almost immediately, they returned with one final song that ran around 7 minutes long.  SENSATIONAL!  

I tried to get my hands on a set list unsuccessfully, and was too wrapped up in the moment to make notes.  But here is the interview with B Roll of the performance, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Franz Ferdinand @ The Commodore Ballroom

It was raining in Vancouver on December 9th as I approached the entrance of the Commodore Ballroom. While fumbling around for my contact number, Bob Hardy (Bassist for Franz Ferdinand) arrived and buzzed up.  Announcing "Franz Ferdinand" when asked who he was with, I wasted no time riding his coat tail up the stairs where the sound check was under way.  A few journalists were scattered around the fringes of the dance floor striving to be simultaneously visible and out of the way.  I was one of 5 or 6 press teams patiently waiting for their 15 minutes with members of Franz Ferdinand; a feeling of every man for himself crept over the room as the sound check had already run over by 20 minutes.

I watched on with envy as the "24" team fitted singer Alex Kapranos with a wireless LAV and set up their three point lighting kit. Damn:  wouldn't it be nice to be working with more than a shot-gun mic and a bounce sheet (to be held by my future sister-in-law, Jana Morton).  One day.  "What I lack in gear, I make up for in interview prep and charisma" I told myself over and over again as we checked our lighting and shot.  Finally, it was our turn with Alex and, as luck would have it, Paul Thomson (drummer) arrived just in time to join us.

Off to a running start, I ask a question in earnest which made them laugh.  Oh well, you can't script an organic dialogue, so I took that energy and ran with it.  Kapranos is a seasoned pro in an interview.  I knew this before hand, having watched many interviews online, but I was not prepared for him to literally grab the mic and pass it back and forth between myself, Paul and he.  "Seems like you're doing my job for me" I jabbed, and he handed back my cherished weapon of mass destruction.  I had control once more.  From then on the interview flowed in a natural, dialogic way: my initial nerves gone, candid responses... the way an interview aught to be.  Until I was distracted by their tour manager Rebecca standing behind my DOP, Patrick Henry, giving me the "wrap it up" hand motion.  Unfortunately this ensued for my final two questions and left a sour taste in  my mouth.  But it's a small thing to fret, having just completed my biggest interview at that time.  So, shaking off the bad vibes, I headed home to change into my favorite pair of electric blue shiny tights and prepared to dance!!

And finally.. show time.  The opening act, Nardwuar and The Evaporators, treated the audience to an unforgettable performance.  It was not for their music that they will be remembered, but rather the head to toe spandex outfits (at least I was not alone) and partial nudity.  Quite the dichotomy.  That's all I can say about that, except that I had fun.

I watched from backstage right as Franz took the stage and commanded the audience with little effort... we were ripe for the taking after the spandex experience.  My first time seeing Franz live, I was pleased to enjoy a group of musicians who clearly knew what they were doing.  Ironically this would also become my single criticism as the set went on: the lack of spontaneity and liveness that comes out of the occasional fuck up or jab at another band member.  That was, until Kapranos began crowd surfing while playing his guitar! And just like that, they had me once more.  I rocked hard to their new tracks from Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, particularly Ulysses.  Closing their final encore with "This Fire" they left us all aflame. 

I tried to get backstage post show. HA!  Fucking forget about it.  Live Nation is as tight as they come.  Not to mention Rebecca with her iron fist refused to sign my performer releases.  Ah well, you can't win em all.  I did get a great interview and saw a kick ass show.  At the end of the day, that's all that matters.  So please enjoy!

Set List

1. Bite Hard
2. Michael
3. Matinee
4. Live Alone
5. Walk Away
6. Do You Want To?
7. Take Me Out
10. What She Came For

11. Turn It On
12. Fallen
13. Outsiders
14. This Fire

Franz Ferdinand Interview