Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Iron Road Re-Ruin Part One: My Iron Road Story, with the Little Guitar Army

This is the first of several pieces pertaining to the upcoming three day event known on Facebook as the Iron Road-Reruin: the Festerval, commencing this Friday at Pat's Pub with a show from Authorities, Strugglers, Sexy Decoy, Slip-Ons and To the End (event page here). More to come!


Confession: I never went to any gigs at Iron Road studios. Their peak period coincided with a singularly gig-unfriendly time in my life, when I was marooned out in Maple Ridge, and going to a gig meant finding a place to crash in Vancouver and importuning on friends (which I did sometimes, and thanks to anyone whose jamspace or extra room I slept in!); or else, since I'm a lifelong non-driver, catching a bus which left the city early enough for me to get the last bus out of Coquitlam back home, which generally meant leaving venues about half an hour into the headliners' set, which wasn't much fun. I did see a few shows that way - using both the crashing option and the leaving early option - but never any at Iron Road (not even Channel 3, whom I love).

I did, however, with Erika Lax, have a Little Guitar Army experience there. They were one of at least two bands, the other being Piggy, that had jamspaces at Iron Road. It was a bit weird: it took place back in May 2011, when Linda and Nick were still in the band, and I was still pretty new to being in a relationship. I was unclear what Mike at the Straight had planned for the LGA (you remember the Straight cover story that ran? This was a few weeks before that). The LGA had a CD coming up (and CD release show) and a new manager, who was anxious to make sure there was press coverage. So on two occasions, I met the band, once at Iron Road, where Erika took photos and brief videos (here and here) of them, packed in their storage locker, rehearsing, and I got some input from various members, and once, a few days later, at a house, where said manager had organized an interview. Cal was absent for much of it, having had some, uh, troubles with the law the night before; whereas Linda, very much present, got really enthusiastic in talking about her acting career, which isn't what I was there to write about. It turned out, in the end, that my questions were in vain, because Mike, it transpired, wanted to do the piece himself. So the entire thing was sort of a waste of everyone's time.

Highlights of the yet unpublished interview did included Tony talking about how the little guitars were great for his small fingers; Bert disavowing any political content in the band's lyrics, or even interest in using music as a vehicle for politics; and, once he arrived, learning that Cal and I had been at the same Blue Oyster Cult concert back in the 1980's (we also had some digressive, odd asides at Iron Road with him about things about the relative lack of nutritive value to rabbit meat). I also recall Sonny Dean talking enthusiastically about a Pakistani warrior kicked ass in some Marvel movie then in theatres (Thor?).  I believe I was present when Femke van Delft took the insert photo for their CD cover, too, and that Erika also took photos of the band posing for that insert. The only real memory I have of the Iron Road space from the day I visited, besides how packed the jamspace was (and how cool the Piggy banners looked) was that there were New Model Army posters decorating the walls, with hand-lettering from me, from a past gig that proprietor Dave Bowes and I had conspired to make happen at the Rickshaw, back during the first incarnation of the Skinny.  

Anyhow, the following photos bring back that whole experience, a  bit, and include a few shots of the Little Guitar Army at Funkys, from around the same time period. This was a great band - I know people who dismiss them as having been just a gimmick, but their songs and stage show kicked ass in a spectacular, improbable, and memorable way. I still don't really know what happened to them - Bert Man told me that it all fell apart "quite spectacularly one afternoon" but would go into no further detail. No one seems to talk about them anymore, though - so I suspect it left a bad taste in a few people's mouths. But their music and some other evidence survives.

Here are some of Erika's best photos....








(Tony Bardach, arriving late to rehearsal!)















(Not a great photo, but hey, isn't that Eddie Dutchman?)

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