Friday, May 20, 2016

The Rebel Spell outtakes: in which we get creepy, plus more on Alien Boys

 Todd and Elliot by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

There's more to come on the Rebel Spell - the band is done, as of this weekend, but there's a Todd Serious tribute album in the works, Travis and Lexi Marie have both written songs about Todd, and most intriguingly, there is apparently enough footage for a documentary film - some 500 hours, taken mostly from the Last Run tour, along with interviews that Erin did with Todd on the veggie oil bus and vintage footage of the band courtesy of Chris Rebel (who has reconciled with them after a period of being on the outs; he'll be around tonight, apparently, and will sing a song or so, as will Erin, whom I've never heard sing before). I have no more time to transcribe the conversation I had at Lanalou's with the band, but there were a couple of outtakes from the Westender piece that are already typed up that need to be read...

...for instance, when I asked what they make, now, of all the weirdly prescient foreshadowing of Todd's death on their final album? The record is called Last Run, to start with, and their final tour the Last Run tour - though as Serious himself explained to me in a past interview, that was only because they expected their veggie oil bus to conk out soon.

Song after song, however, like "Hopeless" and "I Heard You Singing" have Todd singing about "leaving": "it hurts to be here/ but I can't leave," or in the latter song, hearing the call of nature to abandon the so-called civilized world but being "too scared to leave."

It kind of reminds me of Keith Moon on the cover of Who Are You?, sitting on a chair that reads "Not to Be Taken Away," or the Lynyrd Skynyrd Street Survivors cover, that shows the band in flames, shortly before half the members died in a plane crash.

And, I mean, it's a bit chilling - and I'm sorry if this upsets anyone - that there's a line in "Let's Roll a Storm" about being "smashed to bits" at the bottom of a cliff (Travis pitches in when I mention this that that line was actually the contribution of a good friend of his, and that it's more about a jump than a fall, but it's still disturbing in hindsight).

I can imagine Todd's impatience with the question, but I have to ask the band: it all gets a bit creepy, doesn't it?

I am relieved that his bandmates all chuckle and nod at my question, because I expected them to kinda slap me upside the head. 

"No, a lot of the songs have taken this weird angle," Elliot admits. "Even in 'Breathe,' where he says 'it never gets easy/ unless you give up/ and if you do, you won't know/ because there's nothing after death.' Y'know, when we were recording it, that just seemed like an atheist fuckin' lyric, but for him to die half a year later... a whole bunch of the songs and lyrics..."

"The album cover," Erin says, nodding.

"...in 'Bring Em In,' off an earlier album," Elliot continues, "he sings about the pain of being around for such a short time, and the immortality you seek by being a part of something more...? It's weird. Most people in their creative pursuits would not drop so many references to the brevity of life."

Elliot can't but think how "pissed off" Todd would be for dying from a stupid mistake. "And talking all this heavy handed stuff about him being a role model - he was also just a fun guy who was our friend. And it's been weird rehearsing, along with the loss of Todd as a friend, we've also lost this band that we put all this energy into, and it's like, the three of us are still here, the bass drums and guitar are still there, and we're still killer, we've fuckin' played hundreds of shows together... and rehearsing, it just sucks, because even though there's some anger and sadness in some of the songs, to me, overall the experience of the band was a lot of fun, and the experience of playing a show is like - all of our favourite thing. It's super weird to get together and jam, and 'well, that was fun, but where's that guy?'"

As for life after the memorial... are the members of the band planning anything new after this weekend?

Travis says that he's "just continuously threatening to start bands all over the place but nothing has come to fruition yet." 

Elliot tells me he feels "like I'm in, like, six half-bands, but no big things... it takes a long time, and for me at least, this made me want to not play music for a little while. It threw something in that wheel."

Erin agrees that she was definitely burned out for a bit there, too, but as it happens she's the only member with a new project in the works. "We're probably going to start gigging at the end of June. Elliot's going to record our album or demo or whatever. We're called Alien Boys." 

Are you all girls? 

"Yep! Their intent was to be a D-beat band, but I don't know if that's what we really are, but that was the genesis of it. When Todd was alive, I told myself that if the Rebel Spell ever ended, that was it for me, I would not be in a band again. But I just fell into it. It's a lot of work, y'know, a lot of stress - but I'm taking it a lot easier this time around."

Looking forward to tonight's show a lot! Didn't get to transcribe much of Travis' part of the interview (he said about one word for every hundred of Elliot's, or twenty of Erin's; he's gotta be one of the most quiet, attentive drummers out there, mostly just sitting and listening to his friends). He's written a song about Todd, though, "Solemn Eyes," which can be heard on their bandcamp page. And he gets the last word: that tonight "is gonna be a riot, that's for sure."

See you there.

1 comment:

Mike Dirtstein said...

Hey, I saw there was a mention of a possible Rebel Spell documentary in the works. I don't know if you're in contact with anyone who knew that be involved with the project, if it's happening, but if you/they're interested I have an audio file of an interview I did with Todd Serious during the last a Rebel Spell tour at a show in Hamilton, Ontario.

I posted the text of the interview on my semi-active(ish) blog here: https://noproductivity.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/todd-serious-i-still-hear-you-singing/

Feel free to drop me a line if you, or anyone else, is looking for the audio of it.