28 August 2008

A little late for a summer song...

...but a great song none the less. Empire of the Sun "Walking on a Dream". This is all that's available from these guys right now. The one song. I hope the rest is this good. A mad 80's vibe in that chorus. This'll be my last post from Los Angeles. For now. Next, Toronto!

And please, have a look at this creepy girl.

15 August 2008

Two weeks to go.

So, as of right now I am two weeks away from returning to T.O. Mixed emotions. I am trying to cram as much stuff in as possible. Anyone who might be interested in grabbing a drink when I get home, please message me. It may not feel like I have been away that long, but it feels like forever to me.

Someone mentioned the band Archers of Loaf today and it reminded how much I love "Web in Front" I hadn't seen the video until five minutes ago and what a weird one it is. If you can explain it to me, I'd love to...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

06 August 2008

Black Postcards

Been reading Dean Wareham's Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance. A great and easy read. And by easy I don't mean simple. It's so easy because it's fascinating. I myself have never researched the history of any of Wareham's bands (Galaxie 500, Luna, Dean & Britta) and to hear the story straight from the source cuts out any risk of false information found on the web. Granted this is Dean's story not everyone elses.

Luna: This Time Around

Galaxie 500: Tugboat

Dean & Britta: You Turn My Head Around (Back Numbers is a great album for those that don't already know.)

30 July 2008

Bad ass Bill Withers

Listened to some Bill Withers on the road back from Lake Arrowhead today. It's always the right time for BW. Everyone one of these guys is as cool as ice, but if that bass player were any cooler he'd be a bass playin' freezer.

29 July 2008

The best dressed man in Hollywood.

When the ship goes down, you better be ready.

What a day. I say 29 miles away from the epicenter of an earthquake is also exactly as close as I ever want to be to one. I went from feeling incredibly dizzy to realizing it was the earth moving in a split second. And I was out the door.

At first I thought "OK, OK. What do I do...stand in a door way." But then I realized I'm on the sixth floor. A door way won't do much good if the floor under your feet is also the roof over someone's head. So I, along with maybe 20 people, took the stairs and met up outside.

One guy, a former marine, was watching a war movie at the time. "Man, I've been to Afghanistan. I was like, going for my uniform before I realized what was going on."

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't sure my heart was going to stay in my chest. "Oh fuck, oh fuck!" is exactly what I remember saying aloud while I put my hands out in front of me and tried to figure out what to do.

The people that gathered around clearly were not from California. Most people stayed in the building like nothing happened. I think the old man in the apartment next to me may have got up from his lazy boy to grab a beer. That's all he could muster. Ah well, he's old school, he was willing to go down with the ship.

15 July 2008

Keeping Up Appearances

What you are witnessing at the moment, is me working through a slight case of writer's block. I'm hoping by the time I have finished with this entry, I'll have it sorted.

Usually what I do when stuck is read. Until I become inspired. And that is what I did this morning. The last issue of The Believer John Brandon author of Arkansas had a piece that discusses his complete lack of life skills. He describes perfectly how it feels to be seen as someone who lacks any ability to look after themself. He writes, "If you ever want someone to believe you are wholly void of practical life skills, tell them you're a writer". I haven't read Arkansas, but I will. OK, that's enough about Mcsweeney's for now. 'Though I love them (it?) so.

I have been cooped up in my L.A. apartment purely by choice. Trying to force words on to a screen. Not exactly ideal. I find myself nursing a mild case of A.D.D. nearly every day. The internet is the cause of it. It doesnt help that i have almost no furniture and everything is beige.

One thing I have learned, not so much recently but in the last little while, is that Skype is a mighty useful program. Not only does it allow you to connect with the people you miss the most, but it enables you to miss them while staring them in the virtual face. If you don't have it, get it, and add me.

Interning at The Sound Of Young America has been pretty great so far. Although the pressure I put on myself is exhausting. The job doesn't demand too much but, I seem to have a knack for making things difficult for myself. That has always been true. But I am getting over it...slowly. Aside from the obligatory administrative duties that all interns are subject to, I am also able to sharpen my interviewing skills. One thing I love to do, is talk to people. But I have yet to feel comfortable doing it with a mic in my face, or even experience it for that matter. Hopefully you'll be hearing me soon.

I eventually want to post the odd movie here...you know...less like a vacation video and more like a here have a look and listen to the music that goes with it. But I have heard more than once, talk less, do more. So. Here is where I shut up.

I'll leave you with this. I was introduced to these guys (not actually) by Jesse, my boss, the other day. I give you iNternets Celebrities.

05 June 2008

Dispatches from South Lucas & 7th.

Day One: Get down, lay down.

Sunday June 1st: Atlanta to L.A.

Today was full of surprises. Not one of them was good.

I arrived at The Commodore (my home for the next three months) on S. Lucas Avenue in Los Angeles, California to glorious weather. The building is eleven stories high and contains many more tales than that. I am just another number.

The lemon yellow sun hung in a cloudless sky, casting a long shadow on the entrance of the building. I walked past a rough looking character smoking a cigarette. I was invisible to him. Above the buzzer was a sign that read “Affordable housing available”. I looked back at the guy, who was now looking back at me.

After a quick phone call, Dennis the landlord came to greet me. He was at once cheerful and welcoming. He informed me of a few minor boring details and took me on a tour. First stop was the laundry room. After pointing out the change machine and various vending machines he told me that I didn’t have to worry about my clothes, “The camera’s are on 24 hours a day, it’s very secure” he said. That was ok, I thought. Next stop was the elevators. “Your key card-,” oh yeah, I was given a key card, “must be swiped before you push your floor, you cannot go to any other floor than your own, it’s very secure” he said again. Now I wondered, is it a really safe building, or a really shitty area? Or is it both?

The building looks pretty good, I have to admit. My initial fears were quickly quashed. We stood outside my room as Dennis fiddled with the keys. There was barely enough time for me to anticipate what lay beyond the door. Before I knew it, he swung the door open. I didn’t take a step. I was expecting some gaudy furniture in a small room. I got the small room part right, but there was not a single piece of furniture. For weeks before hand, I thought the apartment was furnished. “I am paying 800 bucks a month to squat?!” I thought to myself.

“So, the rooms aren’t furnished?” I asked. “Oh…oh, no.” Dennis suddenly realized what I was getting at. “Sorry.”

After the initial disappointment wore off, things didn’t seem so bad. The room was more than clean. Fresh paint, new carpet and linoleum and a decent sized bathroom with a kitchenette seemed to make everything a little better.

I walked around the new neighborhood and tried to wrap my head around where I was living for the next three months. I couldn’t, so I bought groceries instead.

The first thing I bought, I am altogether sad and excited to say, was a box of Cocoa Pebbles. In my short sightedness, and still reeling from the furniture debacle, I forgot plastic utensils. Too far (and too lazy) to turn back, I continued home.

I stood over the sink, thinking about the shit sleep ahead of me, while eating Cocoa Pebbles with my hands. That was dinner my first night in L.A.

The dinner and sleeping conditions joined forces and brought me the worst nightmares I have had in years. Cockroaches and money worries. Jesus H. Christ. Scary shit, right? Half awake I saw critters scurrying about. Half asleep I wondered how the fuck I was going to pay my bills. Someone should make a movie about that shit. Hey wait a minute…

12 April 2008

A recently found image from my soon to be forgotten con-ed past.

The patience of The Saints is finally paying off.

I walked into the band room upstairs at The Mod Club and right into a discussion between members of The Saint Alvia Cartel and The Reason. It was about money and the lack thereof. Proving that even while enjoying a decent level of success sometimes bands still have to worry about where the next meal is going to come from.

I was supposed to spend the day with TSAC, possibly as an unofficial seventh member. Tagging along as they went from one interview to the next. That’s how it played out in my mind. Rock star for a day, minus the fame and adoration of course. But unanswered calls to vocalist Ben Rispin’s misplaced cell phone changed the course of my day. So there I was, near show time enjoying the fruits of the room backstage, a semi-cold beer amidst discussion of a lifestyle I’ll never know.

After a few more minutes of road stories, the room slowly emptied as The Reason was soon due on stage. I spoke briefly to TSAC guitarist/vocalist Rob Pasalic, but not wanting to miss the action, Pasalic soon followed.

Keyboard player Brandon Bliss entered the room, smiling, but concerned that the band van was going to be towed from the lot across the street. After a quick introduction, he and guitarist/vocalist Greg Taylor were off to find a place to park that wouldn’t financially strain the band any further.

Eventually bassist Greg Fisher, Rispin, and drummer Matt Richmond filtered back into the room, and had a seat.

“It has been a huge fuckin’ week,” said Rispin with a hint of excitement. He’s is referring to the fact that over the previous seven days, they’ve been told of an Exclaim reader’s poll nod, a Juno nomination for rock album of the year, a Canadian Music Week award for best Punk/Hardcore act, and a Canadian Indie Music award.

The Juno nomination seemed to catch the band off guard. “We were invited to the press conference,” says Richmond. “But we were like ‘I wonder why?’”. “We kind of thought we were invited to get shamed,” laughs Rispin.

The news of the week definitely boosted morale within the TSAC camp. It’s evident in the energy of the moment, but Fisher was quick to give credit to the people that helped get them to where they are. “I think the Exclaim reader’s poll thing is as equally as fucking cool as the Juno, ‘cause that…“. “That’s people writing in,” Rispin quips. The guys in TSAC come from a long D.I.Y. history that relies on a solid fan base, and they have never forgotten that. Not even now.

During the short tour with The Reason , the guys were also informed that they would be playing in what is arguably the best music festival in North America, SXSW on March 15th, “We’re playing the Alternative Press “Bands You Need to Know” stage,” said Rispin. All of this comes on the heels of a freshly inked deal with Side One Dummy Records.

“It’s early 2008. We’ve got a worldwide deal, and a Juno nomination. All in all it’s been a pretty good fuckin’ year so far,” said Rispin. “So far, so good,” added Fisher.

As the guys talked about recent band developments, the early evening set time drew nearer. Richmond, is on his feet pacing the room, stretching and getting into the proper headspace. The muffled sound of The Reason permeates through the walls and the crowd reaction swells. Rispin changes into his “gig-fit”, basically a different t-shirt, and Fisher sits contemplating what’s ahead.

“It’s really tough at this point to say what’s going to happen in the immediate future. Long-term, definitely touring the states, and over seas. We just don’t have exact times and days,” said Fisher. "Side One Dummy has been talking about an April release for the record, but until that is finalized we don’t know.”

With only a few dates written in ink in the coming months, the guys have plenty of time to speculate where they will be down the road. It’s an exciting time to be a member of TSAC. But with all off the excitement there is a feeling that the guys want just a little stability. “You get nominated for all of these awards, but it’s always going to be a struggle,” said Rispin. “It’s an uphill battle until you can pay your rent and then some.”

It all sounds so tough but don’t cry for them just yet. These guys have been doing this a long time and to them, it’s worth it. “We do it because we love it,” said Fisher. “Not because we figure we’re going to make a million dollars or anything. Yeah we do make sacrifices and we struggle like, yeah we got a Juno nomination but you can’t put that on a plate and eat it.”

Intrests Include: Long walks in the (Belle)woods.

There are many lines that divide a music scene even within similar genres, but sometimes those lines intersect bringing bands together, as is the case with Toronto’s Bellewoods.

Chris White, Dylan Green (Raising the Fawn), Scott Remila (Raising the Fawn, Violet Archers), Paul Watling (ex-Diableros), Erik Anersen (Great Lake Swimmers), and Peter Garner (Lion) make up the band. With Rachel Shaw providing harmonies in the studio.

The project was born outside of the city a few years ago says Green.

“Chris and I knew each other from St. Catharines and had been interested in working together in some musical respect. The timing never really worked out until about 2 years ago when we started recording and working out the songs that would eventually become Bellewoods.”

Things progressed from there.

“Once we had more material, we were looking for people to play with us, and it took about a year to actually round up the right dudes for the job.”

The band has been steadily working on their live show, getting comfortable in their new setting. They’ve done a few laps of Ontario opening for bands such as
A Northern Chorus, Nordic Nomadic, The Coast, and Tusks. But they have done so at their own pace.

“Things are relatively lax, because business-wise, we don't really have any commitments like a manager, label, agent&#8230that sort of thing,” says Green.

Over the past few months Bellewoods has been focusing on their first record.

“We're recording with our friend Jamie Bunton of Ohbijou. He has a studio in the west end of Toronto,” says Green. “It's nice to work with friends because there's a lot less pressure...less nerves in the studio.”

There may be less pressure but it’s the speed they take an issue with.

“The recording is going a lot slower than we'd like it to mainly because we all have jobs or school to deal with on a day to day basis, so that leaves evenings and weekends to make music and it's very hard to try and co-ordinate 7 people's schedules in a timely manner,” says Green. “We're all excited about how it's sounding, and we're definitely close to finishing.

Things may have taken a while to get going, but the extra time taken is producing results. And the fact that the process is almost complete is creating some energy in the band.

"I think we're all getting a bit restless and eager. We've all reached a level where we are comfortable, and excited to be playing in a band together,” adds guitarist Paul Watling. “The songs are really coming together and the reality of having a finished album we're all pretty stoked on is not far off.”

The wait shouldn’t be too much longer as the album is slated to come out sometime this year says Green.

“We'd like to find a label to release it, but if nobody's biting, we'll do it ourselves.”

“Then they'll all come crying to us,” jokes Watling.

Bellewoods is a result of bands meeting through various connections. And when they set out to tour they will likely cross paths with many other bands from this city, forming new friendships. But before they do they’ll need to figure out transportation. Green politely quips.

“If you would like to donate a van to us, we would graciously accept.”

06 January 2008


I have been hunting for my pen for hours. I have left my house only to return and continue the search. I was out! Why didn't I just buy another one? No, I have one. But before I can use it, i have to find it. 

I have looked in the same three drawers, the same backpack, and on the same shelf half a dozen times. I have become so preoccupied with finding it, that I have forgotten what it was I wanted to write down. 

It was probably some banal detail of this grey Sunday. Not even worth the search. Oh well, back to it...

Story ideas. Very, very short story ideas. That's what it was. I could have typed them out had I not let them become obscured in the details of a different task. But important just the same. 

This pen contains no magic. It cannot preform miraculous feats. It has never once come to my rescue, no matter how much I plead. But it does have my attention. And there is no clear reason why. 

I'm afraid of what this exercise says about me. Do I want to look closer at what it might mean? I don't have the necessary skills, nor do I own a microscope. Figuratively or literally. Well, OK figuratively, but it's broken, literally. Isn't it obvious?

I am drifting into boredom here, blabbering on and on. So I will stop.