Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Farewell, Nomeansno, Huzzah Invasives: Byron Slack and John Chedsey interviews

Nomeansno 2005, provided by John Chedsey, not to be reused without permission

John Wright doesn't much feel like talking about No Means No right now. Understandable, because he has, "with a heavy heart," announced on Facebook the retirement of the long-lived prog-punk band, which formed in Victoria in 1979, released their first album, Mama, in 1982, and attracted a worldwide following over the next three decades, with a particularly ardent fan base in Germany.

Wright's post continued on Facebook, saying that "a hiatus became a long hiatus and a lingering hiatus has become a permanent one. Thirty-five years and countless miles, a couple thousand shows and many more beers, a bunch of tunes and sweaty hoards of great fans, I can't say thanks enough to everyone."

Still, there are a few left lingering, like, is everyone in the band healthy? Is the relationship between brothers/ bandmates John Wright and Rob Wright okay? Will there be no reunion show? (Did DOA, long ridiculed locally for breaking up and then reuniting, playing farewell shows at every juncture, ruin the idea of the farewell show for the band - even though, until recently, that was just a DOA Urban Myth?).

John Chedsey - longtime webmaster at Nomeanswhatever.com and sometimes Hanson Brothers referee - is willing to fill in a few blanks. There's nothing at all acrimonious about the split, he assures readers. And "everyone in the band is in good health these days," which is good to know (we'd like No Means No to at least be able to enjoy their retirement).

Chedsey continues: "Rob in particular has been taking much better care of himself pretty much since before his son was born in 2009. He started seeing a physical trainer, lost weight and changed his diet. The brothers' relationship is also solid. My guess would be that John is a tad disappointed NMN is retiring but since Rob's reason to leave music is to be a full time dad, it's hard to criticize that decision."

John Wright will  be working on Compressorhead, the all-robot band project he has been writing and singing for; Tom Holliston also has solo projects in the works, and Rob Wright has long been rumoured to be puttering at electronic music, though there is no word as to whether that will ever see the daylight.

Meantime, Chedsey has also opined, on the Nomeanswhatever.com discussion forum - a relatively disinformation-free source of Nomeansno news - that he has personally chosen Invasives as "the next great Vancouver trio featuring brothers," adding that "Nomeansno was the bass version, Invasives are the treble version." Certainly I've noticed that on one of the so-called, tape-free "mixtapes" on my phone, "Living Your Life Like It's Somebody Else's" - my favourite Invasives song - makes a killer follow up to "The Day Everything Became Nothing" (try it sometime). One of the two brothers mentioned, Byron Slack, did a brief email interview with Alienated in Vancouver to discuss the passing on of the torch, as it were (they must surely get plenty of jokes about "Taking up the Slack" so I'm going to let that opportunity pass).

Invasives play Lanalou's on Wednesday, then continue with a Fraser Valley tour. 
Invasives provided by Byron Slack (Hans, Adam, Byron, I think!). 

Allan: We must begin with a question not about Invasives. Would you share your thoughts about Nomeansno's retirement, any favourite Nomeansno stories, songs, moments...?

Byron: Nomeansno, what can I possibly say? They created absolutely amazing music and are really incredible people. Always encouraging and helping. The focus was always on the DIY ethic and doing things well and smart. They had us open on more than a few tours after which I may have seen them live upwards of 60 or 70 times. I watched every single show and always wondered how they could do some of the things they did, literally in awe. Then after the show we'd go drink beers and giggle. Over time they became good friends even asking me to sit in on the drums for a Hanson Brothers tour and a handful of Nomeansno Clones The Ramones shows. A serious pinch me am I dreaming moment.

Am I sad that I might never see them command a stage again? Yes. But did they leave me with 30 years worth of crushing tunes? Yes they did! Some of the best in my humble opinion.

 "Living Your Life Like It's Somebody Else's" is such a great song that I worry that the band will burn out on the expectation of playing it and drop it from their set, like Bison finally did with "Wendigo." Am I in danger? Can you tell me about that song? (I realize it is not exactly new!). I don't want to denigrate your other material, but holy hell is that a great song!

Well thank you, It's a pretty new song compared to some of the older tracks we play, I think we all enjoy performing it and it's still challenging. I definitely understand what its like to get tired of playing a song but that one is still fun. That song was one of the last to come together for the Robot Stink album and my concern was that it was going to be too pop. But after recording it we all thought, hey that's pretty good. Sugar sweet darkness.

Are you working on new material? Debuting new songs? Tell me all about them...? When will the next full-on Invasives release be?

We will be doing a mix of our whole catalogue, some old some new, we did our best to mix it up and have some of the music off "Shorts" that came out about a year back. We have been working on a new record and are hoping to get in the studio early next year. We have some really great demos for an albums worth of material, you haven't heard the last of us yet. One new song might pop up in the set on any given night depending on what mood we are in.

Shorts is a weirdo little album! It kinda reminded me of Mike Watt's last opera. I confess to being puzzled by it a bit! There are a few songs I was really getting into, and then as soon as the hook sank, THEY STOPPED. It kinda gave me blue balls, if you know what I mean... I guess liked it best seeing it played live as one thing. Where did the idea come from to do that album, and do you still play it in your set as a unit?

We break it up now and utilize the songs as salt and pepper throughout the set. It was something I always wanted to do and always wished bands that I loved would do, just out of curiosity. There were other things at play at the time and the need to do something completely different was calling. It was really fun to make and it's really fun to play. All Recorded in one day. Someone keeps making the joke that we need to one day re-title the album "Slacks" and rerecord it as a full length. Har Har.

You have some great titles - Robot Stink, Desk Job at Castle Dracula, Embracing Evil... where did they come from?

I write the lyrics and titles for the releases, but Adam and Hans definitely edit me, I just keep bringing stuff to the table until they are like "that's cool". Robot Stink was something that Han's kids were saying that Adam thought was funny, we didn't have a record title at the time and it fit into the over all theme well so we were like lets use it!  

You also have amazing album covers. I think Desk Job at Castle Dracula is one of my favourite local album covers ever. What's going on in that cover? Why is Dracula so fat?

Jordan Bent did the art for our last two full lengths, we always admired his work and he would do our covers working with us on ideas that we had. For Desk Job at Castle Dracula I asked for Count Dracula as the Birth of Venus and that's what Jordan came up with. Old Boss Drac been drinking a load a blood my man, that's why he's so um ...healthy.

How far afield have Invasives toured? What was your most successful live show? What was the best bill you've played on? Any surprising or delightful fan moments?

Invasives have toured all over Canada and toured Europe several times reaching far and wide and dabbled very briefly in the states. Man, there have been so many amazingly surreal moments playing with your hero's or meeting a ripping new band, really its hard to pick. A super memorable night for me was playing in Sarajevo and no one knowing what to expect, our hosts turned out to be so amazing and we all had a wonderful time. The venue was packed, people were curious to here this weird band from Canada that no one had ever heard of. We had to play on borrowed gear because we had some border issue, and the gear that was supplied was very old and very well used. We were kinda like uh oh, but in the end it all worked out. Maybe we'll get to go back someday.

If people want to do homework before coming to the show, what should they listen to, read, or think about? What other bands will help prepare them for an Invasives show?

Listen to our music, we are on all the internet things, get ready to shake your butt in 7/4, and don't expect us to be nice people. (Kidding) we are very nice people who like to exaggerate, I have no idea if we have a song in 7/4.

What are Invasives favourite movies?

Die Hard (all of them)
Is there anything else we should say about your upcoming Lanalou's show and BC tour?

We will be playing some shows in Nov but not in Vancouver so this might be your chance to see us before 2017! Come on out and enjoy a Wednesday at Lanalou's!

Invasives by bev davies, not to be reused without permission. "Hey, wait a sec, where's Byron?"

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