In The Know...Interview w/ The Rural Alberta Advantage

>> Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Earlier this month, rustic pop threesome the Rural Alberta Advantage released their much-anticipated second album, Departing.

Thematically darker and more sparsely arranged than its predecessor, Departing is the RAA doing what they do best: writing engaging and honest narratives about family, heartbreak, and relocation.

And as on their debut Hometowns, the songs are brought to life by Nils Edenloff’s earnest, nasally delivery; keyboardist Amy Cole’s charming fills and vocal harmonies; and Paul Banwatt’s adept yet playful drumming. Building on what they accomplished with their debut, the band sounds more certain, more comfortable with their percussive folk-rock sound (see: 'Tornado '87' and 'Stay').

I recently caught up with Amy Cole on Sunday afternoon and asked her about the band’s unconventional three-piece live set-up, Departing being seen as a companion piece to Hometowns, and the highly amusing video to “Stay”, the first single off the new record.

Catch the Rural Alberta Advantage live this Thursday at the Pyramid.

PoS: First, I wanted to ask you about the band’s songwriting and recording process. Did it change at all for this second album?

Amy Cole: Somewhat because when we recorded Hometowns, we had already been playing the songs live for quite awhile. This time there’s a few songs that we haven’t played live or we haven’t played them live in the way they ended up being recorded, so it was definitely a different approach to that extent.

At the same time, the way we write songs has always been the same. Nils will come up with an idea – he’ll have a melody on guitar or some lyrics or something – which he’ll bring to practice. And Paul will usually work out the rhythm – he’ll figure out what kind of drumbeat will go with the song. And then we’ll all get together and tear it down, build it up, and see what works best. In that respect, the process was the same as Hometowns.

But, it was a little bit different because we had less opportunity to work the songs live. There wasn’t really a deadline for Hometowns whereas this time we really wanted to record at a certain time and get the record out by a certain date.

PoS: There are no guest musicians on Departing with every single instrument and sound coming straight from the three of you, correct?

AC: That’s very true, yes. For the first record we were just creating the songs as we go and we’d say, “Oh, it’d be really cool to have a horn section in the song,” or “let’s add a cello.” This time the songs are a really, really accurate reflection of the three of us and what we do. We were really aiming when playing the songs live to make them sound like the record. Just like it’s really three people playing the songs.

PoS: And I guess this setup allows you to reproduce your sound a lot more authentically in a live setting.

AC: Yes, exactly! Not often, but sometimes there’s a case where someone will go, “Where’s the cello line in ‘Don’t Haunt this Place?’” This time, ideally, nothing is missing.

We’re more confident in what we did this time around. This first time we had never tried recording music before and we just sort of when in and asked, “What should we do? How should we make these songs?” This time we’ve really honed our identity. We know who we are. We know what we do. And that’s what we tried to make happen on this record.

PoS: Speaking of the band’s three-piece identity, I’ve seen you play live in Winnipeg before twice and if I remember correctly there’s no bass guitarist. Have you ever entertained added a bass guitar?

AC: Actually, we’ve solved the bass issue! *laughs* I now have a Moog Taurus 3 set of bass pedals, so in additional to my other instruments, I’m playing the bass pedals. It works as a bass guitar.

We didn’t want to add another member since we’re really happy as a three-piece. This has been a really effective solution so far, and people seem to be really happy with the low end now. And we’re really happy now since this has been a problem we’ve been trying to solve ever since we’ve started. You know, not having a bass player, especially when you’re playing a larger room, makes it really hard to get that low end happening, that kind of rumble in you chest that is awesome. With the bass pedal, we’ve fixed that issue.

PoS: Where was the album recorded?

AC: The album was recorded in a studio in Toronto, the same place we recorded our first record. Our producer Roger, he produced Hometowns too, moved to a different building, but it is the same studio, so we did the same thing as last time. We recorded it over three-four months – I would say over evening and weekends because we all have jobs and other obligations still.

PoS: Did you say you all still work?

AC: Yeah! Paul is in school, Nils has a day job, and I do free lance stuff. We all do other stuff besides being in the band. So, when we were recording, we all had other things on the go, and that’s kind of the process for this album.

PoS: I read that Nils is an avid fan of old pianos/instruments. Is this true? Were some of these used in the recording of Departing?

AC: I guess so, yeah. He does have a music room with various cool instruments. On the road he picked up a custom 88, a kind of electric piano, this huge huge piano that we would never tour with because it’s enormous. It sounds really great, and we did use it on Departing. It’s on almost all of the songs. I’ve even tried to mimic the sound of that with my own small portal keyboard.

PoS: I’ve also read that Departing is thematically a companion piece to Hometowns albeit a little darker. Is this accurate?

AC: Departing is definitely a companion piece to Hometowns. We’re continuing the themes we started with in Hometowns and also concluding them. It’s sort of a book end to letting go of this idea of leaving home. And, of course, there’ll still probably be Alberta references in future songs, but the subject matter probably isn’t going to be the same. We wanted to conclude, and that’s why we ended the record with “Good Night.” It was always the idea to start with “The Ballad of the RAA” and end on “Good Night,” which is what we did on Departing. We definitely see these records as two parts of a whole.

PoS: So then is track sequencing important to the band?

AC: Yes! Track sequencing is really, really important, especially to Nils. He’s a really big fan of an album being a whole piece of art rather than just picking single songs off iTunes. He likes the process or experience of someone listening to an album all the way through as a whole and really getting a sense of what we’re trying to say through that. He took a long time sequencing this one, as he did with Hometowns.

PoS: I was watching the video for “Stamp” earlier and thought it was absolutely hilarious. Who directed the clip and who came up with the idea behind it?

AC: Our friend José Lourenço from Toronto directed it and came up with the concept. We thought it was really good and actually the boy in the video was one of the assistant engineers on Departing, which is a really weird coincidence.

PoS: Who wrote the fans' interior thoughts?

AC: The director, Jose, did. He’s a writer too.

PoS: They seem remarkably accurate.

AC: *laughs* We’ve heard that from a lot of people. We have a couple of fans that come to a lot of our shows and one of them wondered “is this about me? Am I the one in the video?”


Interested in winning a cd copy of the RAA's Departing? Courtesy of the Vos Factory and Paper Bag Records, I have one for giveaway. To enter, simply shoot me an email (on the right hand side) by Monday, April 4th @ 8 p.m. CST with the subject line "The RAA's Departing CD Giveaway" and your name in the email's body. I'll draw the winner randomly and contact shortly thereafter.


In The Future...Slayer/Zombie @ MTS Centre; Potential Death Cab Date? (Please!)

For the first time in almost 12 years, Slayer is teaming up with Rob Zombie for a North American tour (w/ Exodus). This includes a stop at the MTS Centre on July 27th.

On May 6th, the Lo Pub hosts a FemRev benefit show featuring The Blowholes, Ian LaRue and the Heartbeat City, and Salinas. All proceeds go to FemRev in support of them hosting the RebELLEs PanCanadian Young Feminist Gathering in Winnipeg from May 20-23.

Singer-songwriter Sam Bradley is at the WECC on May 16th.

And finally, charm-pop quartet Death Cab For Cutie have recently announced a North American tour in support of their new album, Codes & Keys (street date: May 31st). As of now, this does not include a Winnipeg date. However, there are two full days between their Minneapolis show (May 21st) and their Edmonton date (May 24th), so you never know. Time for a Facebook campaign?


In Photos...Diamond Rings, PS I Love You @ The Lo Pub

>> Sunday, 27 March 2011

Diamond Rings, PS I Love You
The Lo Pub
Friday, March 25, 2011
Winnipeg, MB

PS I Love You

Diamond Rings

All photos by Sarah Gofflot


In The Know...11 Questions w/ Sandman Viper Command

>> Friday, 25 March 2011

Known for their engaging, tight live sets, the uniquely named Sandman Viper Command are currently bringing their fuzzed-out garage pop sensibilities across Canada.

This includes a pair of shows for the guys (Rob Janson, Daniel Reardon, Aaron Harvey, Matt Damon Meyer) in Winnipeg this weekend: the first at the Standard tomorrow evening, and the second a free in-store gig at Music Trader on Sunday afternoon, round 2 p.m.

I caught up with the band and threw 11 questions their way. Together, or as indicated, the young rockers shed light on their first-ever concerts, tv shows they’re currently following, and the one piece of equipment that is absolutely necessary to their live show.

11 Questions…

1. Where are you right now?

We’re currently in Thunder Bay right now, which is a first for all of us.

Let’s talk music…

2. What are some albums that completely changed your life?

Big Shiny Tunes 2, Abbey Road - The Beatles, Tragic Kingdom - No Doubt, Bleed American - Jimmy Eat World

3. Of the records you own, which has the best cover art?

There Goes The Neighbourhood - Joe Walsh

4. What was the first concert you attended, and how old were you?

Sharon, Lois, and Bram when I was 4. They sang a bunch of songs I may or may not have remembered from television.

I went and saw Fred Penner when I was 3, and I recently got the opportunity to meet him at Sneaky Dees during CMW.

5. What’s one piece of equipment absolutely essential to your live show?

Were a pretty straight forward rock 'n roll band so we can get by on very little, given that we have atleast; a guitar, and something to bang on. Really, the only thing we absolutley need are robs vocal chords....aaaanndd our voodoo pygmy witch-doctor. He helps us out a lot more than one would think.

6. What is your favourite music video?

Inca Roads - Frank Zappa

And some hodgepodge…

7. What tv shows are you currently following?

CPAC, Top Chef.

8. What book(s) are you currently reading?

Wake Up - Jack Kerouac, Waiting for Godot - Samuel Beckett, and Essex County - Jeff Lemire

9. What’s one film you can watch over and over again?

Starship/Super Troopers

10. What’s your current ring tone?

The Entertainer.

11. And finally, would you rather have the ability to fly or turn invisible?

The ability of flight is the obvious choice, as you can just fly into the clouds and you've become invisible. Plus, only spies and pervs require the ability to become invisible.


In The Know...Interview w/ The Dodos

>> Wednesday, 23 March 2011

It's safe to say there’ve been some significant changes in The Dodos’ camp since they played the Winnipeg Folk Festival last summer.

Their touring vibraphonist has been replaced with a guitarist; they’ve reunited with erstwhile producer John Askew (who appeared on their first two releases, Beware of the Maniacs and Visiter); and, most notably, they’ve recently released their fourth offering, No Color.

No Color is the ramshackle-pop pair at their best. The thunderous, West-African-influenced percussion of drummer Logan Kroeber and the technically proficient finger-picking / furious strumming of Meric Long weave together into a product that's rhythmically loose and playful, melodically bright, and sonically undeniable.

I caught up with lead singer/guitarist Meric Long recently over the phone, and asked him about the band’s lineup changes, the influence of 90s guitar riffs on the record, and how indie superwoman Neko Case came to contribute backing vocals on the new release.

Painting over Silence: How did the band’s approach to writing and recording No Color differ from the previous three releases?

Meric Long: The only way in which it changed is that we sat with the songs a little longer and played the material live a lot more, before recording, than we’ve had in the past. The songs probably went through more changes. We gave ourselves a lot more time to figure things out and not rush things, like we had in the past.

PoS: How long did the album take to complete from conception to finished product?

ML: We starting writing songs in February, maybe March (of last year) and then we recorded in August and finished that in October. So, two months of recording and six months of writing, touring, and performing the songs in their early form.

PoS: For No Color you reverted back to a duo and reunited with producer John Askew for this album. What did you decided to pare down the lineup as well as continue working with John? 

ML: I talked to John awhile ago about doing some recording. At that point, we weren’t talking about doing another record, we were just talking about getting into the studio and having fun. We’ve done two records with him and he’s really fun to record with. The more we talked about it, the more it became apparent that both of us were on the same page with what we wanted to do with these recordings, so we booked as much studio time with him as possible.

Paring down to a duo happened while we were recording. We went in, actually, to make this record as a trio, and we recorded vibraphone parts because we had been performing the songs as a trio with the vibraphone. Over the process of recording, we just sort of started taking stuff off and the more we took off the vibraphone, the more we liked the way it sounded without it. By the time the record was done we didn’t have any vibraphone on it, so it didn’t make sense to have a vibraphone player anymore. *laughs*

We wanted the record to have an aggressive sound and the vibraphone was contrary to that. It’s just the nature of the instrument, really – it blankets everything in all these weird overtones and makes everything seem softer.

PoS: Indie diva Neko Case provides some judiciously used backing vocals on No Color. How did this collaboration come about?

ML: We toured with the New Pornographer over the summer – we did two months with them – and we sorta became friends that way. She came out and song on a couple songs while we performed, so it seemed natural to see if she wanted to come record. Luckily she had some free time and wanted to do it. She was real generous with her time.

PoS: It’s funny because when I originally read about the album’s release date on the Internet, I kept reading “featuring Neko Case.” But when I listen to the album, I sometimes forget she’s even on it.

ML: Yeah, we tried to downplay her appearance as much as possible when the record came out. She was in the studio for two days, doing mostly backup stuff, and we didn’t want to mislead people; but, I guess when Pitchfork or whoever got wind that she was on the record that sort of became the headline.

PoS: I also read somewhere that the guitar on this album was heavily influenced by 90s riffs, specifically the handiwork of head Smashing Pumpkin Billy Corgan. What is it about 90s riffs and Corgan’s playing that intrigued you?

It was sort of reverting back to my childhood, to a place I had forgotten about. I actually started out on the electric guitar and the first songs I learned were by 90s bands like Nirvana. I’d learn all their records, rip out all the tablatures, and read all the books. I’d learn the solos to Pearl Jam songs and all that stuff. I’d forgotten about this because once I started playing acoustic, I really got into that and focused just on that.

When we were recording and it came time to do some overdubbing, I knew I wanted to try a lot of electric guitar on this record. And the more I tried it, the more I sort of stumbled upon Billy Corgan’s guitar tone. It wasn’t intentional – I was just sort of messing around with the pedals and started laughing because it reminded me of his playing. We sort of used that as a reference for the rest of the recording time. When we ran out of ideas, we said “ok, time to get out the Billy Corgan guitar.” Part of it was funny, part of it was nostalgic, but a lot of it was really exciting because we thought it sounded really good over what we were doing.

PoS: Finally, after the current tour, which I believe caps off in Glasgow, what’s the next move for The Dodos?

We have one more tour right after that – we’re going to be hitting the east coast for two, three weeks, and then probably take a break. Do a little more touring. Maybe start recording more.

We have a new guitarist in the band that’s really sparked my interest in messing around with more electronic sounds and nerdy guitar stuff. We’re probably going to dive into that. I feel like it’s time for us to go and do our homework, so when it comes time to do another record, we’ll come back with something new. I feel like we’ve maxed out what we’re doing, and there’s definitely a feeling that we accomplished something that we really wanted to on this record sound-wise.

Catch the Dodos live at the West End Cultural Centre this Friday w/ Reading Rainbow.


In Winnipeg Music News...Timber Timbre @ The Park Theatre; Kid Koala @ The WECC

>> Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Mark then highlight and underline this one on your calendar: Timber Timbre performs at the Park Theatre on May 26th, touring in support of his much-anticipated second effort, Creep On, Creepin’ On. Look for the new album on April 5th via Arts & Crafts.

DJ/Turntablist Kid Koala returns to Winnipeg for a date at the West End Cultural Centre on April 21st; joining him on the bill is local hip-hop act Magnum KI.

Whilst on the subject of the WECC, singer-songwriter Hayes Carll plays there on May 29th.

Rapper Tech N9Ne drops by the Pyramid on May 16th.

Finally, some bad news for those secretly hoping one day for a pre-Machina Smashing Pumpkins all-original-lineup tour (ie - me):  July 4th sees a still-active A Perfect Circle (Maynard, James Iha, et al.) return to Winnipeg for a show at the Centennial Concert Hall.

And now, back to dreaming…


In Features...White-Hot Diamond Rings

>> Monday, 21 March 2011

Since his debut album Special Affections dropped this past October, glamour demi-god Diamond Rings (aka John O’Regan) has been one of this nation’s hottest musical acts.

But the songs populating Special Affections weren’t always the way we know and hear them.

The bulk of the record was written over a year, in two phases. O’Regan originally penned the songs on an acoustic guitar with the intention of performing them exclusively for friends at private events. And this is exactly what he did for a winter until deciding the songs needed flat-out reimagining.

“I wanted to reconceptualize (the songs) in a way that was a little more populist and exciting and engaging,” he explains over the phone from his hotel in Vancouver. “So that’s when I started teaching myself rudimentary electronic music production.”

This self-directed apprenticeship eventually led him to Special Affections: a warm and enveloping set of lyrical electro-pop numbers galvanized by O’Regan distinctive baritone and knack for writing highly personal, idiosyncratic tales.

The buzz surrounding the debut coupled with his incomparable, glammed-out one-man live show eventually earned O’Regan the opening slot on Swedish indie-pop sensation Robyn’s North American tour. And O’Regan took full advantage of this coveted opportunity.

“I haven’t played consistently to that many people before in my life,” he admits. “It really forced me to reevaluate the way I perform and the way I compose my music. It was a positive thing.”

For O’Regan though, this prime opening slot wasn’t just a chance to introduce Special Affections to large, unfamiliar audiences. It also allowed him to watch and learn from one of the world’s pre-eminent live performers each night as she took the stage.

“I’m always trying to grown and develop and improve,” says O’Regan. “Getting to watch an artist who has been doing this for quite sometime, night in and night out, was a real privilege. Hopefully I can put all that experience to good use.”

The experience O’Regan gained on tour with Robyn is currently being harnessed on his co-headlining tour with PS I Love You, another Canadian band whose stock has been rising exponentially since the fall.

“We both kinda started out making music together. Diamond Rings was new and when I put out my first 7 inch, they were on the B Side. I really believe in them as artists, and the feeling is mutual, so it only made sense…that we team up.”

And once the tour winds up, O’Regan plans to return home to Toronto for some much desired downtime. But only a few days worth.

“I want to keep working hard and improving, so I’ll be right back at it.”

Catch Diamond Rings this Friday night at the Lo Pub w/ PS I Love You and the Cannon Bros.


In Winnipeg Music News...The 2011 Folk Festival Lineup

>> Saturday, 19 March 2011

M. Ward

Keeping with the tradition of announcing the lineup on a Saturday in March, the 2011 Winnipeg Folk Festival lineup dropped this morning on the festival's official site.

Some highlights of the roster include national folk-country treasures Blue Rodeo, an acoustic Tegan & Sara, the recently reunited Jayhawks, African blues sensations Tinariwen, M. Ward (aka "Him"), Polaris shortlister Dan Mangan, and Tim Robbins and the Rogues Gallery Band. Yes. THE Tim Robbins.

If the reaction by those I follow on Twitter can be used as a litmus test though, the response to this lineup is certainly different than it was to 2009's all-star lineup. Instead, whatever enthusiasm that's out there is mostly drowning in a mix of cheeky insouciance and flat-out disappointment.

More people (including me) are excited about tonight's super moon.

What's your reaction to the lineup? Who are you excited to see? Who were you hoping would be a part of this year's five-day folk-a-thon? Attending the whole event? Or maybe just the odd day?

See the full list below.
  • Andy White
  • Annie Lou
  • Beoga
  • Blackie & the Rodeo Kings
  • Blind Pilot
  • Blue Rodeo
  • Caladh Nua
  • Caracol
  • Caravan Palace
  • Charlie Parr
  • Christa Couture
  • Chuck et Albert
  • Chuck Prophet
  • Connie Kaldor
  • Crooked Brothers
  • Dan Crary
  • Dan Mangan
  • David Wax Museum
  • Dawes
  • Dirk Powell
  • DJ Hunnicutt
  • Fairfield Four
  • Frazey Ford
  • Funky METERS
  • Galant, tu perds ton temps
  • Ganga Giri
  • Green Fools Theatre
  • High Strung
  • Imaginary Cities
  • Jaune Toujours
  • Joy Kills Sorrow
  • Kat Danser
  • k.d. lang and The Siss Boom Bang
  • Little Feat
  • Lucy Wainwright Roche
  • M. Ward
  • Marco Calliari
  • Matt Andersen
  • Melissa McClelland
  • Mighty Popo
  • Minotaurs
  • Mountain Man
  • Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens
  • New Country Rehab
  • Oh My Darling
  • Omar Souleyman
  • Ordo Sakhna
  • Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band
  • Puppet Folk
  • Ray Wylie Hubbard
  • Samantha Crain
  • Sarah Jarosz
  • Scott Nolan
  • Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
  • Shane Koyczan and the Short Story Long
  • Spiro
  • Tegan & Sara
  • The Be Good Tanyas
  • The Del McCoury Band with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band
  • The Jayhawks
  • The Once
  • The Secret Sisters
  • Tim Robbins and the Rogues Gallery Band
  • Tinariwen
  • Tom Fun Orchestra
  • Toots and the Maytals
  • Trampled by Turtles
  • Trout Fishing in America
  • Twilight Hotel


In Winnipeg Music News...Les Jupes' New Video; No Sleigh Bells?; Anvil @ The Albert

>> Friday, 18 March 2011

Local indie-rockers Les Jupes have a very fun and up-close-and-personal new video out for “One Solemn Oath” off their debut record, Modern Myths.

For those who haven’t been reading this site’s comments: Exhibit A and Exhibit B suggest that Sleigh Bells is not coming here with Neon Indian. Which completely sucks.

Legendary metal act ANVIL will fry synapses at the Albert on Tuesday, May 24th.

Canadian crooner Matt Dusk plays McPhillips Street Station on April 12th.

And finally, add Calgary rockers Deadhorse to the April 30th bill at the Lo Pub, also featuring Gobble Gobble.


In Winnipeg Music News...Jimmy Eat World @ Garrick; Ash Koley @ WECC

>> Monday, 14 March 2011

My lunch hour is quickly evaporating, so just a couple quick notes for now:

Anthemic rockers Jimmy Eat World will be at the Garrick on May 26th. Ticket sales get underway on Friday @ 10 a.m.

Ash Koley is at the West End Cultural Centre on March 26th.

Speaking of the WECC...Reading Rainbow open for the Dodos on March 25th at the WECC (thanks to Dave for the heads up).

And finally, The Luyas drop by the Lo Pub on April 3rd (thanks to anon for the info).


In Winnipeg Music News...Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings @ The Garrick; The Provincial Archives @ The Provincial Archives

>> Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Acclaimed Soul/Funk group Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings will be at the Garrick Centre on May 20th, as per Rob Williams of the Winnipeg Free Press. No ticket info available just yet.

Add The War on Drugs to the Destroyer show going down at the WECC on April 13th.

And Departures to the Braids-headlined bill at the Albert on April 2nd.

In pretty unique tour news, Edmonton pop-folk band The Provincial Archives have booked a cross-Canada tour where they’ll perform concerts at, well, select provincial archives. This includes a date at the Manitoba Archives Reading Room on May 14th in the evening.

Look for Imaginary Cities to announce upcoming shows in Christmas Town, Gotham, and Caprica City.


In Winnipeg Music News...The Ribbon Rail Review @ Lo Pub; Face To Face @ WECC

>> Monday, 7 March 2011

Via Rail continues they’re very cool and pretty green partnership with Canadian indie acts. Starting March 23rd, Woodpigeon (above), The Phonemes, and The Mountains and the Trees will be touring across Canada together by rail, performing daily sets for passengers as well as evening concerts at selects stops. Alliteratively dubbed the Ribbon Rail Review, this tour includes a date at the friendly neighbourhood Lo Pub on April 6th.

Speaking of the Lo Pub, Edmonton's Gobble Gobble play there on April 30th.

And Saskatoon-based  indie-folk act Slow Down, Molasses drop by on March 19th.

Reunited SoCal punk rockers Face to Face are the West End Cultural Centre on Monday, May 2nd with brothers-in-arms Strung Out. Tickets go on sale this Friday.

Back in December Winnipeg’s favourite blues-rocker Romi Mayers recorded, in a single take, a live album consisting of all new material, and the end product, Lucky Tonight, finally sees the light of day this April 26th. Mayes will also be performing tunes off it at Times Change(d) on June 23rd as part of the annual, loosely defined Jazz fest.

The City Streets return to town for a gig at the Albert on March 29th in support of their newest EP, Peacemaker (street date: tomorrow).

And finally, local hip-hop duo Rebel Yell is holding their official cd release party at the Pyramid on my most favourite of holidays: April Fools Day!


In The Know...11 Questions w/ Hot Panda

>> Thursday, 3 March 2011

Like a lot of ambitious Canadian bands, Edmonton foursome Hot Panda are no stranger to touring and promoting their music in the flesh. The quartet are currently out and about in support of their sophomore release, How Come I'm Dead?, an unabashedly whimsical record that makes their genre-evading styling even harder to classify. There's a disparate art-rock track; a blast of psychedelic post-rock; a playful hip-hop track; and even some bouncy and melodic indie-pop numbers. And what makes How Come I'm Dead? work is that the members of Hot Panda are, well, talented enough to pull off all these sounds and styles and clearly have a lot of fun doing so.

I recently caught up with vocalist/guitarist Chris Connolly and asked him 11 questions. Discussed: the most underrated band in the nation; why he brings his own microphone everywhere; and who would win a fight between Stewart and Colbert.

Catch Hot Panda this Sunday at the Lo Pub.

1. Where are you right now?

Sitting in my living room on a sunny winter day in Vancouver.

2.What are some albums that completely changed your life?

Pulp - Different Class
The Strokes - Is This it?
The Beatles - White Album
Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat
Mercury Rev - Desserter Songs
Belle and Sebastian - Tigermilk

3. Of the records you own, which has the best cover art?

Some Girls by The Rolling Stones.

4. Who is the most underrated Canadian band at the moment?

Nickelback? But seriously The Wet Secretes! What a party!

5. What’s one piece of equipment absolutely essential to your live show?

Gotta be the microphone. My own microphone, I get grossed out at sharing microphones with other people.

6.What is your favourite music video?

I love that UNKLE video for Rabbit in Your Headlights. Or may Setting Sun by the Chemical Brothers.

7. What tv shows are you currently following?

Mad Men, The Office, Deadwood, Breaking Bad, Big Love, 30 Rock, Daily Show...

8. What book(s) are you currently reading?

I Drink for a Reason by David Cross.

9. Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert?

In a fight? Stephen Colbert, he's got a way longer reach.

10. What’s your current ring tone?

It just vibrates. I'm all business.

11. And finally, would you rather have the ability to fly or turn invisible?

Easy. Fly. Next question. Wait. It's over. Easy.


In Winnipeg Music News...Hawksley Workman @ The WECC; NOFX @ The Burt

>> Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Great news Hawksley Workman fans: the prolific indie artist is playing an intimate solo show at our beloved West End Cultural Centre on Friday, April 8th. The closeness comes at a price though, as tickets will set you back $35 plus fees and what not. The presale kicks off tomorrow at 10, and the password is milk.

Punk icons NOFX return to Winnipeg on June 27th for a date at the Burton Cummings Theatre.

The inexhaustible septuagenarian folk-rocker known as Gordon Lightfoot plays the MTS Centre on December 2nd.

Vancouver-based folk-pop foursome Behind Sapphire swing by Exchange Community Church on March 29th.

Cancer Bats are at The WECC on May 5th.

David Lindley and Adrian Legg team up for a show at The WECC on April 5th.

And finally, awesome news: resident soul/pop twosome Imaginary Cities are now opening for every single date of the Pixies North American tour. Rightly earned!


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