Saturday, December 09, 2023

Angry Snowmans, Murray Acton, and NO FUN at Christmas: seasonal fun for weird old punks

Angry Snowmans at the Waldorf, Dec, 8, 2023. All photos but the David M selfie by Allan MacInnis, not to be reused without permission, unless you are in the photo, in which case, fill your boots

Being friends with David M. (founder and still frontman of NO FUN, the Beatles of Surrey) means that I have learned to appreciate a good Christmas-themed punk show. How can one not love (rude, funny) NO FUN originals like "Christmas is a Sad and Lonely Time," or their slightly altered seasonal covers, like the Subhumans' "Slave to My Dick" festively re-interpreted as "Slave to My Gifts"...?

But what are the odds that two distinct bands would have their own Christmas-themed version of that Vancouver punk classic? Check out "Slave to St. Nick," by Angry Snowmans, riffing on the same song. Fun, eh? (People in the dark about the Angry Snowmans' name are probably unaware that there is a punk band called Angry Samoans. The Samoans and the Snowmans have no other overlaps that I'm aware of; it's just another of the many Yuleish repurposings, or Christmasizations, if you will, of things punk that the Victoria-based Snowmans perpetrate).  

The lonely disco ball waits for the music to start while creating the illusion of snowfall (?). 

Despite a week-long cold, presumably caught at that Dead Bob show, I was able to do some productive "local-level" music journalism in the run up to the show last night. For instance, it was to my great pleasure that I established that not only does David M. (pictured below) know the music of the Angry Snowmans, but that Ty Stranglehold, singer of the Angry Snowmans, knows and is a "huge fan" of NO FUN at Christmas (so he tells me on Facebook; and for the record, I do think that NO FUN at Christmas is among the punkest of things that M. does, even though David M. will purportedly safety pin you if you call him a punk, and NO FUN's music is usually not very punklike at all. But songs like "Folk Christmas," their re-seasoning FEAR's "Fuck Christmas" add to the punk spirit, and originals like "The Turkey Song" are punk in all important regards except the musical one). 

I mean, it figures that Stranglehold and M. would have encountered each other, but I'm still pleased; I don't know if the connection has been officially made in public elsewise. Let it be done, now! A new fact of local music lore, unearthed and otherwise unremarked upon! 

First openers were called Stale

It is, in fact, one of two significant contributions I have made in the last year to the scholarship around NO FUN, the other being confirming a rumour (long heard and wondered at by David M) that Murray Action, of the Dayglo Abortions and Lummox (whose "Put the Cunt Back in Cuntry" was played as house music last night) used to cover NO FUN's "Mindless Aggression," one of their best-known, most-heard songs, since it appears on the esteemed Vancouver Complication, which is where Acton encountered it (again, he told me so on social media). This was actually in the days before the Dayglos, when Acton was helming a band whose name seems inconsistently given as the Sick Fucks or the Sickfucks, whom you can hear via Supreme Echo's essential All Your Ears Can Hear release.  "I still love that song to this day," Murray told me. "I love the first Vancouver Complication comp in it's entirety. That album had a great deal of influence on my late teens and more or less put me on this road to ruin that I travel to this day."

The Angry Snowmans sign my new copy of What We Do Is Festive

As an aside, note that you can get "Mindless Aggression" and others of NO FUN's greatest hits on the album NO FUN's Greatest Hits, which is cheapest to purchase in digital form on NO FUN's first bandcamp page, but can also be purchased on vinyl via the US label Atomic Werewolf. It is not cheap, let it be known, but it is being made, I believe, on a print-on-demand basis and sent from Europe or something. 

I have been hanging onto M's own sample copy until such a time as I could write about it.  In point of fact, many of my favourite NO FUN songs are not on it, because I tend to go for M's more obscure gestures, like "Ambivalence (Gets Me)," off Snivel. I do love two of the songs that are on it with special fervour, namely "To Hell with the Past" and "Paisley Brainbolts of the Mind," about the apocalyptic inner life of a passive-aggressive, drug-usin' hippie, but many of the other songs on this album, by virtue of being concert staples at NO FUN shows, have been heard more by me a bit more frequently than by your average casual consumer of things NO FUN, and I have come to feel about them the same way as a deep diver might feel, when seeing the Blue Oyster Cult, about "Burning For You." I love "Burning For You" but would rather hear almost any other song off the BOC's first five studio albums played in its place in concert or representing them on a comp; I know they WILL play it, and I will enjoy it, but deep divers kind of have to grin and bear such concessions to necessity. Similarly, I have loved all the songs on NO FUN's Greatest Hits at one point or other, but by virtue of having heard them vastly more than most people, I could list a dozen NO FUN songs that I would rather hear than "Mindless Aggression," "Ream Me Like You Mean It," and "Me & Warren Beatty (and Mick Jagger)" (great though these songs may be). Songs I like better and would better have on vinyl would include the non-COVID-themed original version of "Oh To Be on Heroin," "Can I Please Take the Drugs Now?," "Groovy Daddy" and the aforesaid "Ambivalence (Gets Me)," all off Snivel: "Not in Your Town," "Snog," "No Orchestra Required," and "Jah Seh (Veni, Vidi, Vici)," off 1894; "These Are the Names of the Folks I Hate," "The Communist Boys" and "Allez Vite Les Twist" off The New Switcheroo, and especially "The Awful Truth" off Ghost Paper Boy in Robin's Gay Trailer Park. That last is probably the most significant omission from the LP, since it remains on M's sets and he clearly likes it plenty still; it gets played live a lot more than "It Came from Heaven" (an important song for NO FUN, but not as good as "The Awful Truth") or a few other songs on the album. I would bet other NO FUN associates (Pete Campbell, David Dedrick, Kent Lindsay, or even the late great Lester Interest, were he available for comment) would have their own ideas about the songs they'd most like, what their own version of NO FUN's Greatest Hits might look like. Hell, for me, all of 1894 and Snivel would suffice (may they see vinyl release eventually). 

But the album isn't called "Allan's NO FUN Favourites." So to heck with me! The vinyl is impressively made, a labour of love, nice and thick, with a great cover photo, given a matte presentation, and with superior mastering compared to M's own 2015 digital version of the album. It also has a pleasing, unique smell, which I would go re-experience now that I might describe it, except I'm still a bit plugged up with this cold (but yes, I sometimes sniff my records, especially new ones, which habit I got into thanks to the unique stink of the ink on Crass Records, back in the day; I'm not sure if they still smell the same, but like the smell of the shitwater leaking down from the "old Cobalt" ceiling, it is a smell that, while not in itself normally what you would call "a good smell," has very pleasant associations for me. Note that there is nothing unpleasant about the smell of NO FUN's Greatest Hits. It does not smell like shitwater, even shitwater I grew fond of). 

As for sonic matters, I'm not an audiophile, don't have audiophile equipment, and can offer no in-depth observations about the quality of these recordings, but I have now listened to the album from start to finish and can honestly report that it sounds great to me, given the limitations of my ears, brain, and stereo equipment. I am going to order a copy of it for myself as my Christmas gift to M... it's gonna cost something like $80 Cdn with the shipping, but I love the idea of buying something for Christmas, the act of doing which is the gift, while the ownership remains with me. And then I can give him his own copy back! Merry Christmas!

Anyhow, while M. remained un-Waldorfed last night, this added level of knowledge (that Ty Stranglehold is also a NO FUN fan) and a slight improvement in my cold (combined with six reassuringly negative COVID tests) made it essential that I get out to see the show myself. I wore a mask, and avoided getting near Wendy (who needs no further illness at the moment), save to offer her an extra hoodie that I'd packed (she was complaining on Facebook that she was cold, but by the time I showed up, hoodie in hand, had solved that problem, apparently borrowing some fake furs; she declined my offer). To think, when I first saw the announcement of the show, it was Night Court I was keen to see! 

An Angry Snowman watches Paul is Dead

But that was before I realized that the Snowmans were fronted by Ty Stranglehold, whom I have some history with; we were writing about the Subhumans at the same time, at one point, and Chris Walter hilariously once mis-identified me at a show and inscribed a book that I was buying to Ty (which I then made him cross out and fix; it prompted some bemused conversation between Ty and myself, the next time I ran into him at the Cobalt: "We don't even look alike," Stranglehold observed, "except that we're both white and large.")

Sadly, the night proved a bit too much for me, in my depleted state. I was a bit worn out by the two opening acts, both offering different flavours of west coast punk, with Stale reminding me of muscular grunge served with a generous sprinkling of Afghan Whigs, and Paul is Dead ("It's Paul McCartney, dude, fuckin' Google it") reminding me more of South California punk by way of Grant Hart. Or something like that, I dunno. They were both decent bands, just more than I needed, and not quite as playful as either the Snowmans or Night Court (who ended their set on a cover of ABBA's "S.O.S.," as is heard on Humans; I shot some vid of their originals, here. I love that they have a bat-themed song that seems to intersect with the song David and I wrote together, but they did not play it last night, presumably because they want me to come see them again sometime; I guess I shall!). 

Thanks to the un-announced addition of a fourth band, there was no way I would end up seeing the whole Angry Snowmans set, which indeed I did not, leaving, exhausted but happily satiated, after "Ebenezer Uber Alles," which I guess they played around 11:30, given that I got back to Metrotown after midnight. I would much have preferred the advertised three-band bill, or even just two bands, but... well, whatever. I guess the priority was to sell alcohol for as long as possible. And while I enjoyed the Snowmans immensely, the somewhat unruly crowd was shouting down Ty's between-song patter ("Shut up and play a song!"), which (the patter, not the shouting) I would actually have liked to hear more of. They seemed more interested in moshing enthusiastically to the band's estimable covers, like they couldn't have cared less about the inherent wit of the lyrics or the various seasonal alterations. Ah well. The high points, for me, were "Wrecked XMas" (a hilarious riff on X's "Los Angeles," off What We Do Is Festive, which the band actually had vintage vinyl of) and a nod to Victoria's own Nomeansno, "Eight Deer One Sleigh on One Run," which they played at full throttle and punctuated at the mid-song break with a complete performance of their very silly rewrite of Minor Threat's "Seeing Red." The band was tighter and faster than I thought they would be, based on various videos I had perused on Youtube, which don't entirely capture how solid they are live and in person. They're actually an estimable punk cover band; the wit is just a star atop the tree. By the way, Ty confirms that their material is all cover tunes; there were some songs didn't recognize, but that's just because they dive even deeper into punk than I do. If we look at my vid from last night, obviously "Bright Lights" is the Clash's "White Riot," but I had no idea that "Fruitcakes" was Agent Orange's "Bloodstains."

You have a few chances to see Angry Snowmans on the island this seasn -- in Nanaimo, tonight, and on December 16th in Victoria; go see NO FUN at Christmas on December 22nd at the Princeton. May there come a day when Ty Stranglehold, Murray Acton, and David M. share a stage somewhere! A consummation devoutly to be wished. 

I have nothing further to say, but here is a whole whack of photographs that I took last night. I won't be blogging all that much between now and Christmas -- I have other trees to decorate. Maybe I'll see you at Keithmas or something? (But I'm gonna let myself off the hook for reporting about it; excited to see what Art Bergmann will do, but I'm going as a concert attendee, not as a writer, if I can help it). Or perhaps we'll cross paths at the Princeton on December 22nd, for NO FUN at Christmas? Either way... Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Of Blu-ray Bronzing, The Getaway, Roger Donaldson, and... Angry Snowmans?

To pick a slightly arbitrary starting point for this weekly update: we were in the mood for a nautical mutiny film, so I tried showing my wife the 1935 Mutiny on the Bounty. She doesn't enjoy classics as much as I do, and the ones she does gravitate towards are the ones that have a naturalistic, contemporary feel to the dialogue. She enjoyed Rebel Without a Cause, enjoyed Sunset Boulevard. But she wasn't really liking Mutiny, which, great as it is, has that "old movie delivery," where the actors are very visibly actors reading lines in front of a camera; she can't lose herself in the illusion of it, just sits there on the outside of it and eventually falls asleep.   

Such was the case the other night. When I noticed her starting to droop, I turned the vid off and suggested that we go to bed, and start over the next night with the more recent version -- the one with Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson, which I hadn't seen in some time. She went for it. 

We loved it. 

This got me on a brief Roger Donaldson kick. I had paid no attention to his cinema, wasn't really aware of him as a filmmaker until The Bounty, which is a surprisingly good-looking, subtle film, with a screenplay by Robert Bolt (best known for A Man for All Seasons but also noteworthy for The Mission and a couple of David Lean films, including a co-write on Lawrence of Arabia; The Bounty began life as a Lean project, we learn). Rather than make a cartoon villain out of Bligh -- great as Laughton is, he's a cartoon character for the first half of the earlier film, only attaining some richness after the mutiny takes place -- the film gives a fairly balanced portrait. It motivates Christian and the men quite amply, but without needing to make a villain of anyone; instead, the villain is a much more complex thing, involving class and work and hierarchy and civilization itself. What warm-blooded man, offered the chance to live in a tropical paradise in a state of natural freedom (very much represented by the Tahitians in the film, who are viewed through rose-coloured glasses), would choose instead to set to sea for a year to bring breadfruit across the world, to feed slaves at a plantation in Jamaica, for what meager wage was on offer? Only someone motivated by the rewards of position -- a ship's captain, maybe wanting to prove himself; or perhaps the truly loyal followers of the man, the stiff-necked social climbers aware of the position they've attained and craving more (Daniel Day Lewis inhabits this role quite nicely in the Donaldson film). The sailors, unmoved by such considerations, though not in themselves dishonorable, taste a different life in Tahiti, and crave it. You can't blame them, but you also can't blame Bligh. It's a nicely nuanced film, worthy of revisiting.

...So who the heck is Roger Donaldson? I had really enjoyed another Laughton update he did, No Way Out, the Kevin Costner/ Gene Hackman/ Sean Young/ Will Patton/ CHRIS DESJARDINS cold war spy thriller. It's very crisp, very entertaining, and pays interesting homage to the film it remakes, The Big Clock, in that it has the basic plot of that movie (a man investigates a murder that his boss was involved in, but has to avoid his own role being uncovered) but differs dramatically on almost all other counts. It's a great little thriller but even moreso if you're a Flesh Eaters fan; Chris D. is really great in it (though the real star of the show is Will Patton, sinking his teeth into a really juicy character part). 

Anyhow, scanning the IMDB for Donaldson, I saw that he had directed a couple of other films I enjoyed (the Bay-of-Pigs-themed Thirteen Days and his New Zealand domestic drama Smash Palace, which I saw as a kid on pay-TV, I think; it was the early indy success that had kickstarted his Hollywood career, his next theatrical feature being The Bounty). But among his films, there were also a couple that I thought were steaming piles of cinematic shit, with the worst probably being Species, an uninspired, kinda misogynist Alien knockoff that tries to situate the alien as a sexually empowered female on the dating scene (she takes human form). I had rolled my eyes at it in the theatre, but had actually snagged it on the cheap on blu-ray not long ago to see if the years had been kind to it. Now I was motivated to see it: how can a filmmaker capable of something as mature, beautiful, and thoughtful as The Bounty churn out a piece of crap like Species? Did it have any redeeming features that I'd failed to notice when I saw it first run?  

The short answer is no, but there are a few moments (the kid with the tongue!) that made me sit up and smile, and it sometimes fun to watch the talented cast struggling with the half-hearted cheese in the screenplay. Forest Whitaker acquits himself well, as does Alfred Molina; there's an early role for Michelle Williams, too (her third film role, age 15). Ben Kingsley knows he's slumming and gives one of his stiffest performances ever, while Michael Madsen -- what can one say? Only Tarantino has used him well, apparently understanding his old-fashioned-tough guy/ Robert Mitchum qualities and knowing how to exploit them by putting the right kinds of lines in his mouth. He's reasonably well-cast in species, in fact, playing a gun-for-hire who cleans up government messes, and he delivers exactly what can be expected from the role, but therein lies the rub: expectations on Species seem to have been low all-round (even HR Giger's creature designs aren't that impressive). Madsen does get the single witty line in the screenplay, about how Kingsley's character doesn't get out much. Otherwise, the most curious aspect of revisiting the film was the extreme contrast between the lush, Lean-like cinematographic splendor of The Bounty -- it's gorgeous to behold -- and the lame b-movie assembly of Species. The same filmmaker, you say?

I blame John Armstrong for what comes next: I re-watched The Getaway remake, also a Roger  Donaldson Hollywood job, because Armstrong had told me that the Al Lettieri role (from the Peckinpah movie) was played by Joe Spinell. Who doesn't love Joe Spinell? And how perfect it would be, to have him subbed in for Al Lettieri?



Imagine my disappointment to discover that Joe Spinell was five years in the ground when this movie was made, and that the actual role of Rudy was played by... 

Yep: Michael Madsen in a mullet! He's pretty good in the film -- it's a part that suits him, and he gets to have some fun with being a sleazy but understandable tough. His scenes with Jennifer Tilly (repping Sally Struthers) have some spark to them and his haircut is consistently entertaining to wince at, so it's really quite unfair that I spent every single scene he's in trying to imagine Joe Spinell in his role. Spinell> Madsen, as far as character actors go, but then, Jennifer Tilly>Sally Struthers... you can't but sit there making comparisons, to make the movie more entertaining, because, y'know, it's a story you've seen told better before (The Getaway is probably my favourite Peckinpah film, in fact). Baldwin and Basinger have nothing on McQueen and McGraw, and Donaldson disappointingly ignores the very dark denouement of Jim Thompson's novel to just offer a straight-up imitation of the earlier film, with only a few differences early on. Which is a bad idea; if you're going to remake a film by a master, you want to do something different with it, like the obvious move of filming the (downbeat, bleak, and horrifying) actual ending of the novel, where Doc and Carol escape to a Mexican town that is a pay-to-enter hideaway for bad people, which Tarantino riffs on in From Dusk Til Dawn, even giving it the same name, El Rey. There they fall to mistrust and scheming and seem poised to kill each other at any moment. It's about as grim as Jim Thompson gets -- and he can get pretty grim!

This is a far cry from the romantic happy endings both the film adaptations offer, with Slim Pickens and Richard Farnsworth, respectively, gleefully helping the couple on the run escape the claws of justice. I love the Pickens scene, but Farnsworth is also great, so much so I couldn't fairly say which one I preferred; I wanted to compare the Donaldson ending with the original, so I dug out my copy of the Peckinpah blu-ray, put it into the player and...

It wouldn't load. Examining the disc, which I'd bought new at a HMV on Robson around 2010 or 2011, I could see that it was weirdly discoloured. This is my first discovery of a form of disc rot called bronzing -- a sort of brown halo creeping in from the outer edges of the disc. While environmental factors CAN be an issue -- if your discs are stored in a damp/ humid environment, for instance, which mine are not -- the real issue is that chemicals in the disc can degrade over time. Other than a copy of The Yakuza on DVD, I've been very lucky when it comes to disc rot, but how upsetting to know that this film -- which I probably paid close to $30 for, and only watched once or twice -- had simply degraded over time on the shelf to the point of being completely unplayable. Not even the menu will load! 

I've written Warner Brothers, and somewhat to my surprise, am being told that a replacement disc is possible (I've explained that I have no receipt to show them; why would I, when the disc was purchased ten years ago and worked fine at the time?). It might take a few weeks. I guess Peckinpah can wait awhile... 

Anyhow, I now want to see a few other Roger Donaldson films. I might start with an early New Zealand offering of his, which happens to be on Tubi -- Sleeping Dogs. I'm being told The Bank Job is a decent heist thriller, as well, but I don't have it around. But before I get to any of that...

...I'm going back to bed. I caught some sort of cold at the Dead Bob show, it seems. Which is how I happen to be watching so many movies, of a sudden - I've had three sick days this week, and am pleased to have another one stretching before me today, as my cough turns productive. Who wants to be coughin' up frogs at work?

By the way, I did review the Dead Bob show -- but I donated it to Germany's Ox Fanzine. It will do more good in Germany than it would here. Fantastic band, though. 

Oh, by the way, Night Court (whom I still haven't seen) opens for (the Buzzcocks-meet-the-Jam Ontario band) Tommy and the Commies tonight at the Black Lab, and tomorrow for (festive punk humourists) the Angry Snowmans at the Waldorf. I'd thought of doing both shows, but I feel pretty shitey at the moment, and I wouldn't want to spread my illness to others; I think I might give it one more night, and hopefully be recovered enough for the Snowmans gig. They have the perfect bandname: if you don't get it, you probably won't get them, either! 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Of Nomeansno, Toronto Hardcore and Going All The Way: Adam Kates tells A Tale of Two Cities

With a few Dead Bob shows coming up this week (and Nomeansno reissues taking place via Alternative Tentacles, who have recently announced Wrong preorders), I've been helping a friend on a project, putting a Nomeansno interview (with Rob Wright and Andy Kerr) into the world from a cassette that has gone (mostly) unheard and unpublished since 1989. It's a pretty great interview, recorded at a peak period for the band: Nomeansno had, in the months prior, released Small Parts Isolated and Destroyed and The Day Everything Became Nothing and -- in trio form of Rob Wright, John Wright, and Andy Kerr -- were gearing up to go into the studio to record Wrong, their most famous album, which would come out in fall of that year. It's quite a delightful listen; Rob and Andy seize on Adam's questions and run with them, perhaps stoked on the energy of the upcoming show, interacting with each other as much as with him (John, fronting Dead Bob at the Pearl tonight can be heard loading into the venue and may contribute a small quote or two, as well -- it's not always easy to tell those Wright brothers apart based on voice alone!)

Rob -- who retired from rock in 2015 -- is not doing too many interviews these days (though we gather that he did speak to Jason Lamb for the new "oral history" of Nomeansno, due out in January; you can also read my old interview with him here). So this is your chance to hear him tip his hat as a bassist to Lemmy Kilmister, to explain what "Small Parts Isolated and Destroyed" is about, and to talk about the early history of Nomeansno... 

...but more to the point of this article, here's your chance to meet the man who conducted the interview, Adam Kates. 

Adam was writer/ editor of a 1980s Toronto zine called Going All the Way, which featured articles on both hardcore bands and skateboarding. Only two issues were produced; the Nomeansno interview was for a planned third issue, but things fell apart before it could see print (pictured are recent reprints that Adam has made; Adam doesn't have much of an internet presence, but occasionally does check into Facebook if you want to reach out to him to acquire copies or catch up; and yes, he was on hand to see Random Killing, featured in issue #1, when they opened for the Dayglo Abortions a few months ago, and gave them a copy of the zine they are in!). 

Later, Adam would move to Victoria, where, among other things, he interviewed Dave Dictor of MDC for Offbeat, then to Vancouver, where I first met him at a Grant Hart show at the Lamplighter back in 2005; we'd later meet again at a Bob Mould show -- here he is showing Mould his Hüsker Dü tattoo. 

Adam's a sincere enthusiast for punk rock, though we don't overlap in all things, since I was exposed mostly to Vancouver and California punk here on the coast, while in Toronto, besides local acts like MSI (More Stupid Initials, as photographed by Adam below), he was seeing touring bands from New York, Detroit, Boston, Chicago, and so forth. We met a couple of weeks ago over dinner at the Sunrise on Commercial -- an unpretentious, under-rated Italian restaurant -- to talk about Adam's history and some of the bands he's caught and/or shot (photos of Adam are by me; photos taken by Adam were cleaned up with the help of Bev Davies. Thanks, Bev!). 

MSI in Toronto by Adam Kates, not to be reused without permission

AM: Tell me your entry point into punk and hardcore? Did you start with British punk? 

AK: The Brit punk bands never really impressed that much. I picked up a couple of records by GBH, "Give Me Fire," and the street punk band the UK Subs, "Another Typical City Involved in Another Typical Daydream," but other than that, as soon as Chronic Submission came out with that tape, Empty Heads Poison Darts, from Toronto, that's when I got into hardcore. There's a broad distinction to be made between punk music and hardcore music -- between anarchist punk and street punk and UK 82 punk. There's a big distinction. 

AK (continued): And I'm not a big punk lover. But I've been for years, since I was about 15, involved in the hardcore scene. One of the first shows I saw was probably at the Ukrainian National Federation Hall on College Street in Toronto, and it was Die Kreuzen, DRI and Dr. Know, back in 85. That was a great show. I went down with a couple of buddies; we all grew up in North York. That was my first show, and that was a great show, a very good show. I really got a lot out of DRI's Dealing With It -- that was the album they were touring. Dr. Know were touring This Island Earth [which kicks off with a DOA cover!], and Die Kreuzen from Detroit [actually Illinois, then Milwaukee], they were a great post-hardcore band. 

 Lifted from this blog)

AM: So you weren't a punk before that? What started you on punk? 

AK: I got into it gradually. I had a neighbour when I was about ten years old who would play Led Zeppelin and Genesis, and I was big into KISS in that time period, and there was a radio station called Q107, and they used to play Teenage Head and the Ramones. And that's how I gradually got moreso into the punk side of rock and roll, rather than the arena rock side like KISS.

AM: Hang on a second, there was a radio station in Toronto playing Teenage Head and the Ramones?  Vancouver radio was not doing that. Was this like, a college station or commercial radio?

AK: It was commercial radio. By that time, Teenage Head was big, with Frantic City, and... I'm 53 now, so how old would I have been in 1980? I was about 13 in '83. I started listening to music when I was just a kid; my parents played me Rubber Soul by the Beatles, and I'd heard "Heartbreak Hotel" by Elvis Presley. I even saw Presley on television in 1975, before he died. I was enamoured by that stuff. 

AM: But it sounds like you weren't prepared for hardcore. 

AK: No! Absolutely not. I was not prepared for hardcore. It was a very, very volatile place to be for a 15 year old kid. I remember Brian Taylor who worked at the Record Peddler at that time, he was working the door [at the DRI/ Die Kreuzen/ Dr. Know gig]. He was in Youth Youth Youth (listen here), a real punk mentor, just like Joey Keithley of DOA here in Vancouver. And probably the same age as him, now, or maybe a few years younger. And I remember the guy who ran the Record Peddler, Ben Hoffman... it was an extraordinary place. Every kid in the city, from Oshawa to Hamilton, from Lakeshore to Barrie,  would come to downtown Toronto to hang out there. 

AK (continued): And as I remember, that was an extraordinary show. At that time DRI and Dr. Know were on Metal Blade, a kind of metal label. This Island Earth, the lead singer, Kyle Toucher... I think he does animation now. I think the other guy's name was Ismael... Later on I ended up seeing Dr. Know again in Vancouver. And Die Kreuzen went on to put out October File, Century Days, and a few other records in the post-punk area, if you will. It was the beginning, for me: to make new friends, when I was 15 or 16, and the beginning of, y'know, seeing bands at Ildikos at Bloor and Bathurst, which had all ages shows every Saturday/ Sunday. I saw Youth of Today there, Jones VeryFire PartyNegative GainNomind... it was a real special place. I remember one of the first shows I went to there, I went with one of my friends, Yared Grinstein, and he played in Urban Surf Kingand a band called MSI (listen here). I remember that we'd wanted to go see Gang Green (probably one of two shows they played at Ildikos/ The Bridge/ Starwood, in 1986), they were a great skate punk band from Boston. It was a great time for hardcore music, the second wave...

AM: If we can go back a bit to DRI. I remember I had Dealing With It! when it came out, and I loved some of the songs on it. It was a bit intense but songs like "Soup Kitchen" or "Nursing Home Blues" really worked for me. But I was really pissed off with Crossover when it came out, because it was too metal...

AK: I disagree with you! They were never meant to be a metal band. They were influenced by metal music, but they were always hardcore or crossover.

AM: But I never liked crossover, is what I'm saying. I had so much prejudice in me against metal at that time that even bands that I later came to love, like the Bad Brains, or SNFU, or the Dayglo Abortions, when they started showing traces of metal in their music, it put me off. I turned my nose up for many years. That wasn't a thing, for you?

AK: See, when I first discovered downtown Toronto, I was about 13 years old. I was allowed to go to downtown Toronto when I was about 13. I grew up about half an hour away, in the Jewish neighbourhood of Toronto on Bathurst street. And I went downtown with a friend one day, a neighbour, and he brought me to the Record Peddler on Queens Street, and that was my beginning with independent record stores. I remember Brian Taylor had a Mohawk, and it was just a different cultural experience for me. And at that time, I was listening to Venom and Black Sabbath! A lot of metal stuff. I didn't have any prejudice towards metal, but I very quickly got out of it and heavily immersed myself in hardcore. 

AM: But you continued to listen to metal?

AK: Not much. 

AM: So there was a bit of a tribal thing that happened here, a tribal division. I don't know Toronto, but in Vancouver, the metalheads would beat the punks up... 

AK: That never happened in Toronto, as far as I know. 

AM: Good to know! Anyhow, tell me more about the Toronto hardcore scene...?

AK: There was Larry's HideAway, they played punk music... I was not old enough to go. A lot of my friends turned 19 before me, they saw Hüsker Dü during the Zen Arcade period (note: there are some really cool photos of that 1985 gig here). And there was the DMZ on Queens Street; the Goofs [AKA Bunchoffuckinggoofs] used to play there... they may have had all ages shows. The Goofs were a lot older than us, they had their little house in the Kensington Market. I have never been to a Fort Goofs show... But I remember distinctly the first club I was interested in going to was Ildikos/ The Bridge/ Starwood, on Bloor Street, in the Annex area. I don't know what Ildikos' first name was -- it may have been Doug; but he ran this joint, and it was literally every week, we'd see a hardcore show, all-ages-bands, MSI, the Goofs... 

AK (continued): And at that time period, I wanted to know how to do a fanzine properly, so I got fanzine called One Solution by a guy named Morgan Gerard. I wrote to him and he sent me the directions, a prescription for how to start a fanzine. He gave me the baton and I went from there; and I had help from a friend named Simon Harvey. Simon started a record label in Toronto, Ugly Pop Records. It was the longest running underground record label in Toronto. He came out here and stayed about two years, then went back to Toronto. And I got some help from a guy, Dave Petretic, who did a fanzine called Intense

AK (continued): What I ended up wanting to do with the fanzine, the politics of the fanzine and the whole structure of it, basically was to bring people -- youth -- together. I thought of the name. Later in life, I found out there was a Baby Blue movie [a City TV softcore porn program] called Going All the Way, but I didn't know about the coincidence, that's not where I got it from. I thought the name, Going All the Way, would reflect on the spectrum of politics, from extreme politics to politics that are kind of lethargic in a way, and the meaning is to separate the two and find out what Going All the Way means to you. I was very very very influenced by bands like Uniform Choice, Instead, and Youth of Today, because they were bringing in a new sound, not like generic hardcore. It kind of grew out of reggae music, with mosh parts to it. And they were bands that objected to using drugs.

I was never big on using marijuana. I experimented with it, like all youth do, but I got out of it very, very quickly. There wasn't a whole lot of drugs in the scene back then, for kids, except marijuana. Most of us were not involved with it, other than drinking alcohol, if we were of age. There was also the Siboney Club, the Rivoli, and the Quock Tai (spelling?) The Siboney was in the Kensington Market, and Quock Tai was in Kensington Market. A lot of punks gravitated to the Kensington Market, right around Chinatown and the old Jewish neighbourhood in Toronto. It's a very bohemian place, today as we speak...

And at that time period, I remember, there was another band called D.O.G. that I interviewed. Now, it's very sad for me to talk about this, but... Dave Petretic called me up one day on a Sunday afternoon; I was at home at my Mom's. And he said, "I've got some bad news." "What, did somebody die?" ...and sure enough, Scott, the guitar player of D.O.G. [for Death of Gods] was run over by a drunk driver and killed instantly. That was the first time where I actually dealt with death. It was quite an ordeal for me to deal with something like that, and the people from Mississauga were in shock about his death. His parents were in grief. 

AK: I didn't know Scott personally but I knew he was into Agnostic Front; I guess they influenced Toronto's hardcore scene to some degree. I remember seeing them at the Apocalypse Club on College Street. They were so scary and so extreme, I ended up staying for two minutes and I walked out. Later, I ended up interviewing Roger Miret, when he was with Roger Miret and the Disasters -- a very nice guy -- and I met Vinnie Stigma when they played here in Vancouver on West Broadway, in a club. They're very nice guys. They've been through a lot of adversity in their lives; it's very unfortunate. I don't think anyone I know in Toronto who was affiliated with the hardcore scene had that much adversity. I met a few people, but not too many.

After that, I put a second edition of the fanzine. This was 1986, 1987. It looks so beautiful! People take it for granted, they think it's so easy to do a fanzine, but actually... it's tangible, it's in your hands, you can feel it. It's a very good thing. And I was the CEO. I paid for it. I put out a poetry book with a close friend name Spencer Mack, but it doesn't fall into the category of Going All the Way. It wasn't music-related at all. 

AM: Who else was involved?

AK: There was myself, Dave Petretic, Simon Harvey... I have to thank Morgan Gerard for helping me; Glenn Salter, Stephen Perry... there were a lot of people. The second issue was more intense. I got Dag Nasty interviewed, D.O.G.... like I said, there were better fanzines that came out, but  what can you say for a 17 year old kid? I did my best!

Anyways, getting back to the politics, I never got into extreme politics -- extreme straight edge, extreme drinking... We were influenced by a lot the women on the scene who were into feminism. A lot of the women in the Toronto punk scene, really really, without them, you couldn't have had a very good punk scene. There was Jill Heath, there was Lou-Ann Voskins, there was Fran Grasso -- she used to come to shows. She helped put out the two books, Tomorrow is Too Late, which I have, by Derek Emerson, Shawn Chirrey and Simon Harvey, and I have the heavy metal book they put out, Eve of Darkness. I have a lot to say about those people; they're very great people, and I'm totally sorry that I never got involved with [those books], but that's the way the situation was at the time; I didn't get involved on the internet so well, I couldn't get involved. But they did such an amazing job. I believe that Derek got an award for putting out that book, and was in NOW Magazine. You saw it. It's a beautiful book, it's just as good quality as Blush did with American Hardcore

AM: How many copies of the zine were produced?

AK: I must have put out a few hundred at the time. Don't forget that I was a kid and I didn't have too much money! But I did have jobs at the time.  I worked at a movie theatre, the Carlton in Toronto, and I saved up my money. I think the inspiration that I got from my parents helped me. My Mom was really interested in the music of the 1960s; she was into the whole jazz music scene. And she was a bit of beatnik growing up. And my Dad used to take me on drives to Buffalo, New York. We ended up going to a record store called Home of the Hits. I used to get my Descendents t-shirts and Bad Brains t-shirts there, and he would get a schnapps... it was very nice! 

And I had friends who used to go Ohio. And the Bad Brains came to Buffalo. Oh! I've got a Bad Brains show to talk about. 

The Bad Brains came to Toronto in 1986. It was the I Against I tour with HR, God bless him, he's still alive today. All the guys in the Bad Brains are very nice men; I got to meet them later in life at the Commodore Ballroom. Very lovely men, and the greatest inspiration. So much happened to me in that time period. I was with a friend called Paul Morris; he was in the Sons of Ishmael. And we were outside of the Masonic Temple on Yonge Street, where the show was taking place. And even at that time, I think it was fourteen, fifteen, maybe even twenty bucks for a ticket to see the Bad Brains. And we just stayed outside, looking at the tour bus the whole night. It was so painful, because those guys were the essential Gods of hardcore. It was a lot of money for young kids; I was about 16. 

I'm also a big fan of Hüsker Dü, but I got into the Bad Brains before I got into  Hüsker Dü. And we know that the Bad Brains -- I don't want to say anything, but they were on the same record label as  Hüsker Dü, but they weren't the closest of friends. And, listen, people say things they don't mean, and mean things they don't say. And unfortunately I think one of the members of the Bad Brains said something to Bob and Grant, and it wasn't very nice. I'm not going to mention it, but... everybody's entitled to a mistake in their lives. And from what I hear, it almost cost them their career. A lot of people took it seriously, what they said, but those two bands remain two of my favourite bands, to this day, Agnostic Front,  Hüsker Dü and the Bad Brains. Bob Mould is another rock god, he's a great guy. You had the pleasure of interviewing him, and I had the pleasure of getting his book signed. He's an extraordinary man; I don't think most people could do what he's done in one lifetime. 

AM: Did you ever get to see  Hüsker Dü?

AK: No. They played at RPM many times in Toronto, they played at Larry's HideAway... I was just not old enough to see them. And that was an amazing time in my life; I was involved in skateboarding, and New Day Rising was extraordinary. I used to skateboard to it, and that was the first introduction to introspective alternative rock, emo-core hardcore, the progenitors of emo-core, and absolutely, they influenced the Washington DC scene, Hüsker Dü... I became a lifelong fan ever since, The only member I have yet to meet is Greg Norton; he's in a band called UltraBomb right now, and tours around. I can assure when he comes to Canada, I will be there to see him to shake his hand, because he's an extraordinary jazz musician and hardcore musician and alternative rock musician.

AM: Tell me about Grant Hart. You had some interaction with him?

AK: I did. He was a very nice man, and I think we're all sad that he passed away. And every song that he played that night, I recognized; even his solo stuff and Nova Mob, which was all about William S. Burroughs stuff. A lot of punks were very literate people. And we ended up talking outside, and Randy Rampage was speaking to him, saying, "let's go to a beach," or something like that. He was so nice, Grant Hart. He gave me a CD of some of his solo stuff; he had a record called All of My Senses, which had all of his folk music and electronic stuff. It was just extraordinary, extraordinary, extraordinary... I'll emphasize that 500 times. They never wanted to stay pigeonholed in the hardcore scene, the members of Hüsker Dü. They were an experimental band. That was a great time when I photographed and met Grant Hart. He came another time to Vancouver, at the time when the hockey riots happened, and he played at the Biltmore. Unfortunately, I was working at the time, but I came downtown and they'd had a very severe hockey riot, because the Vancouver Canucks lost. Oh my God, I was gonna commit suicide because of that!

No, I'm just kidding. I'm not a hockey fan whatsoever, people. But I really think they took it a little too seriously, this city. But I would have seen him regardless, even if there was a riot...

And then sadly, a few years later, in 2018, he passed away. I think he was about 58 years old; what did he have, cancer? He was about ten years older than me. I think Bob was born on the same month as me -- he was born on October 16th, I was born on October 27th. But do you know what, getting back to what I was saying about Hüsker Dü and the Bad Brains, there were a lot of kids that used to skateboard at the time to Hüsker Dü and the Bad Brains. They didn't really care: there was no real distinction between skate rock, bands that were like JFA and Agent Orange. And what's the band from Calgary?


AK: No, I'm thinking of... Beyond Possession. They were instrumental in helping the western Canadian hardcore punk scene; I remember listening to them on Thrasher compilations... quite extraordinary. 

AM: If we could talk about a couple of your photos... Soulside is a band that I don't know much about. 

AK: They were on Ian Mackaye's record label, Dischord Records. Soulside kind of bridged the gap between alternative rock and hardcore music; they played a bit of a mid-tempo hardcore sound, as we know it today -- post-hardcore music. Bobby Sullivan, the one with the dreadlocks, sang. The octaves were interesting. I saw them once at the Quock Tai in Toronto. They  played at another venue, which I don't remember. I do remember seeing them at the Quock Tai when they did their Trigger tour. Extraordinary. 

Washington DC's Soulside by Adam Kates, not to be reused without permission 

Washington DC's Soulside by Adam Kates, not to be reused without permission

AM: The photo of yours I remember, there's what looks like a skinhead moshing?

AK: There were no skinheads there. That was probably John Rankin from MSI. I will talk about MSI; they were all friends of mine. John was the lead singer. We would always go to a place called Exit Sound Studios on Bloor and Ossington and watch them rehearse. Nice guys! Derek Emerson, Paul Morris, Tim Alchin, Glenn Salter -- I saw him in the early 2000s. And later Yared Grinstein ended up playing drums for them, when Tim Alchin moved to New York City. But Tim was a great drummer; I remember him passing out at one of the shows right beside the El Mocambo, at the Fallout Shelter. They played with a band from London Ontario called the Nunfuckers, and it was so hot inside the club that Tim ended up passing out. We were all scared! They were a great band, MSI.

AM: Were you moshing?

AK: I did, but I wasn't the best mosher. I was a very skinny guy! And stage diving was dangerous, it was a very risky thing. They did that at a time before they called it moshing or stage diving. The whole scene was new and scary at the time. It was not like it is today. The Vans Warped tour co-opted it and changed everything. It became like the NBA for hardcore, basically; punk rock became like a big sports arena. It's very big now, it's very commercialized. I'm not a follower of commercialized punk and hardcore. 

I even have a picture here of Simon Harvey, in the back cover of Going All the Way #2, with Rob Gitzy (spelling?), and they're moshing. And I have the little blurb, "Those who dance are thought mad by those who don't hear the music." I put that in there. Quite clever for a 17 year old! 

AM: Is that your photo?

AK: Yes, it is. I'm really proud of that one. 

AM: So when did you move to Victoria?

AK: I moved to Victoria in November of 1992, spent seven years there in the punk scene, saw 
Assück at the Fernwood. I think they played at the Fernwood... a lot of bands played Victoria, but it wasn't for me. Victoria had nice people but was too small-townish for me. It's kind of a Sleepy Hollow kind of town, kind of the London, Ontario of the BC. 

AM: At least it's not Hamilton.

AK: What's wrong with Hamilton!? Hamilton is a great city. Teenage Head came out of Hamilton. Problem Child came out of Hamilton. 

AM: I'm joking, I'm joking. I saw Nomeansno in Hamilton, actually, But I remember hearing people in Hamilton call it "the armpit of Ontario." 

AK: It's part of Toronto, but what's the difference. But I ran into a lot of people from Toronto who liked Victoria. One of the guys from Sons of Happy lived there. Another woman who ran a garment shop on Queens Street ended up opening a garment shop on Yates Street or View Street... I don't remember her name. 

AM: Tell me about interviewing Dave Dictor? 

AK: Dave Dictor is an interesting man. MDC were the most anarchistic punk/hardcore band to come out of America. I had an interview that they did at CFUV, the campus community radio station at the University of Victoria. They'd come to the anarchist festival in Toronto, many years ago, and Dave was there; he was with, I think, the drummer's son. I think the drummer did hard time in San Quentin -- I think in the interview he mentions that. I remember listening to Millions of Dead Cops, their first album, and Smoke Signals, and their 7", as Multi-Death Corporations, do you remember that one?

AK: "Chicken Squawk." They were a great band! Kudos to them. And didn't they put out a parody of Donald Trump?

AK: I would love to hear that. The guy tried, but he failed as a president. 

Adam's Dave Dictor interview from Offbeat

Dave Dictor of MDC, by Adam Kates (bev was unavailable so this one isn't cleaned up as well!)

AM: What were you shooting with, by the way?

AK: It was an Argus with a 35mm lens. It was just a basic, automatic 35mm, but boy I got some good shots. I got it from my uncle... Three consecutive decades that camera lasted me!

AM: Very cool. Finishing off, just to be clear, the Nomeansno interview took place when they were on tour in Toronto, not in Victoria, right? 

AK: No, no. That was in Toronto at the Soup Club, run by William New of Groovy Religion. He was an older youth who ended up opening up the Soup Club; he was the bartender and manager at that time. And boy, that was one of my favourite clubs in the city, right at the corner of Queen and Bathurst. The Soup Club was a great place for youth that didn't fit in, like myself. I saw Failsafe there, Urban Surf King... a lot of people don't even know about them. They played one night at the Soup Club. Nobody knows about them?

AM: They're a skate band?

AK: Yes! They were all friends of mine. Jake and Sean Ravi and Yared Grinstein, he played drums for them, and then they went onto MSI. I have photos! Nobody else took photos of that band.

AM: Were you following Nomeansno at that point?

AK: Yes, I was very involved with Nomeansno. I'm glad that I interviewed Andy and Rob Wright -- I didn't interview his brother. Massimo Panzino helped on that one, but he was in the background. He put out a fanzine called Ignorance is Bliss

AM: What happened to the third issue, that the interview was done for? Why didn't it come out?

AK: Lethargy! Brain lock. 

AM: What else didn't get published?

AK: Bliss never got published. Swiz never got published. But they're with me, they're in my heart. And it meant a lot to me, interviewing these bands. 

Thanks to Adam Kates for the interesting conversation. Any other Toronto-to-Vancouver hardcore enthusiasts planning on going to the Dead Bob show at the Pearl are welcome to say hello; Adam's going to be there, as will I. Enjoy Adam's interview with Rob and Andy here. Nomeansno are gone; long live Dead Bob!