Wednesday, April 01, 2020

A Noelle Chaos interview: of Chaos Disorder And Panic, the Rebel Spell, COVID-19... and a large veterinary bill for Trooper

Chaos Disorder And Panic, photo provided by Noelle Chaos

The short version: Noelle Chaos comes from Chilliwack, is involved with distributing, booking, and promoting punk rock (and other forms of music) in Vancouver, and plays in a crust-punk-meets-noise-meets-grindcore band called Chaos Disorder And Panic. In fact, sometimes she is a crust-punk-meets-noise-meets-grindcore band called Chaos Disorder And Panic. She's has long association with the Rebel Spell and bands in their diaspora. I'll go into detail below, because she is an interesting person who has had a huge and important impact on the Vancouver punk scene; but more pressingly at the moment, she has massive veterinary bills from her cat, Trooper, who is having pancreas problems. I'd been planning to write about Noelle anyhow, to promote an upcoming tour and some of the shows she is involved in, but all of that has been cancelled because of the weird circumstances we find ourselves in. However, as an alternate way of supporting the scene - and as the buddy of a cat named Tybalt, who has bad kidneys - I am happy to have a chance to send some support and money Noelle's way. I'll be donating $50 to the cause to help pay Trooper's medical bills (next payday, mind you, because this one went whoosh). If you can afford it, I encourage you to do the same. 

Trooper, photo provided by Noelle Chaos

The long version: Noelle and I have probably crossed paths a few times without knowing it. I know I caught Broadcast Zero and the Rebel Spell at the Cobalt, once, so perhaps she was at that gig, too. I'd seen her before (I guess) at the Rebels Sing tribute gig at the Rickshaw, and heard her band - a grindcore-meets-crust punk-meets-noise, bass-driven onslaught called Chaos Disorder And Panic - included on the album associated with that show (track 25, as CDP). All I know is that I kind of recognized her when I finally officially met her at a screening I hosted of Suburbia at the Vancity Theatre, which I'd timed as a sort of tribute to the Rebel Spell's frontman, Todd Serious. In addition to getting Jeff Andrew to play a short set, we played clips by the Rebel Spell, Freak Dream (an early version of their terrifying "Bash Hop" video) and an early clip of Alien Boys (I forget which, so let's show you this one, the official video for "Bender," instead). Noelle was there, sitting with members of the bands. We chatted briefly after the film.  I've since caught CDP live, and gotten to know Noelle a little (but not well). 

Freak Dream by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

Elliot Langford (formerly of the SSRI's and the Rebel Spell, now of Freak Dream) knows her better. (Incidentally, Elliot is among those who is sorta "screwed over by COVID-19" right now, because his work is all stuff he does "with people in person," so do check out that Freak Dream bandcamp and maybe buy a download to support him? He's confident he'll figure something out, but if you want to support local music, and have money left over after donating to Trooper..). Elliot writes: 
I've known Noelle for over 10 years, first meeting her through the Rebel Spell. She's a character and a strong personality, and very funny, and the more I got to know her, the better friends we became. For a few years she lived a few blocks away from me and would come over to my house to chat and tell me the latest news about her bands Chaos Disorder And Panic, Coffee Grinder and Curmudgeons, and also updates about her cat Trooper. She would also come over to do laundry. At the time, Noelle's main pair of pants was a pair of leopard print pyjama pants, but one day when she was doing laundry at my house I noticed her wearing a pair of jeans. "Nice jeans" I said to Noelle, to which she replied, "Oh yeah, well my usual pyjama pants are in the wash!"

I'd be hard pressed to think of anyone that works harder than her. She POSTERS, she gives out HANDBILLS, she runs a DISTRO, she organizes gigs, she bartends, and does most of this work thanklessly for little or no financial reward. She's an essential part of the fabric of Vancouver's punk scene - I think it's pretty much safe to say if you don't know her, it's because you haven't gone to enough local punk gigs in the last decade!

Trooper comes up in conversations a lot and I know he means the world to her, having moved around with Noelle through several crummy places before getting their nice spot now. I know because I'm pretty sure I helped Noelle and Trooper move at least once, but Trooper hated his cat carrier so he just roamed around the car while we moved! A very sweet cat for a very sweet friend who deserves our support!
One thing I ask Noelle about below is the principle that All Cops Are Bastards - which I've heard her elaborate on onstage, and which is a theme of a zine stocked in Noelle's distro:

Noelle discusses ACAB below, but I figured I'd get Elliot's two cents, as well: since it transparently isn't true that all people in any profession are bastards (pick your own example of people from horrible groups who did virtuous things - Oskar Schindler and John Rabe come to mind for me). Even if the principle is not actually true, it might be useful - like yippies and hippies telling each other not to trust anyone over 35 - as a way of protecting you from trusting "the man." Elliot writes:
As for ACAB yeah maybe you're right it's more of a protective principle - but at the same time their job is to serve laws, many of which may be unjust, to protect private property and the interests of the state/elite bla bla bla. I can't say I'm friends with any cops, and if any of my friends became cops... that would be weird. And anyhow, who wants to be the "ok well not ALL cops are bastards" guy, that's like being like "ok but not ALL men..." but yeah, it's probably more a general criticism of systematic things/ the interests cops serve, rather than saying that literally all of them are terrible people, I don't know. Anyhow there's my incoherent thoughts about that since you asked.
 Noelle Chaos by Allan MacInnis

Interview with Noelle Chaos follows below.

AM: Tell me about your history with Todd Serious and the Rebel Spell! Any cool stories - how you first encountered the band, favourite memories or songs, how they affected you... I think you said that you knew Todd when he was in Endgame? 

NC: Hi Allan, No I didn’t know Todd when he was in End Game, I met him through the Rebel Spell. However I was aware that End Game existed. I have Todd’s old bass amp that I think is from that time period. I have lots of great Todd stories I’ll talk about below.

I discovered The Rebel Spell’s music a couple of years before I became friends with them, shortly after that. Chilliwack, the town I grew up in, had a thriving underground scene. My friend Taylor used to setup his record distro at the shows he put on and that’s where I was doing almost all my shopping: distros and bands' merch tables. I’d come fish through stuff and we’d talk about bands, nerdy punk stuff, hating shopping malls, consumerism, conformity and stuff then I’d do my shopping and get myself a bag of new stuff. One day I was over at Taylor’s house picking up some stuff I ordered, and he gave me a couple of Rebel Spell CDs and said “take these as well they’re from Vancouver and I think you’d like them." I went home and listened to them and got excited. I put on Expression In Layman's Terms and "Net Worth" came on I said to my cat at the time, yes this is great and it has some claws. They hate all the same things I hate. When I’d read their lyrics and also listened to bands like Propagandhi, Leper, Iskra, Cambridge and so many others, I felt like I was actually learning about stuff and started thinking what if we stood for all these things and could create more than just noise and mayhem... don’t get me wrong I love noise and mayhem but was also inspired by the activism side of things as well.

The Rebel Spell 2012 New Year's show by Noelle Chaos

NC: Fast forward 2 or 3 years, I’d been putting on shows for a while and my generation was starting to take over and inherit the scene. I’d been going out to Vancouver to see shows at The Cobalt, and Chaos Disorder And Panic had started to take form and had played out a few out of town. The Rebel Spell had played at one of my shows I put on in Chilliwack, and I’d been to a couple of their shows so I’m pretty sure we’d all at least met. However we didn’t actually start hanging out and becoming friends until our mutual friends Broadcast Zero from Ontario came out on tour. We all hung out at shows while they were here; it would turn into a big friend gathering weekend adventure that you’d look forward to. Everyone would come out of the woodwork and spend the weekend hanging out, catching up and going to the shows together. That’s how I met everyone and became close friends - it was from our annual family gatherings. Eventually everyone became really close friends which we sometimes refer as Truth Crew or the Rebel Family.....which is basically our group of friends that we formed around that time. Both the people and the band had a huge impact on me. Not only was it one of the first local really political bands I got super into, in addition to the music being really educational and inspiring, me and some of my friends became adults and learned about the world, life about and lots of other things. It was a place where everyone belonged and was a part of the community. You could sense the positive energy in the crowd at shows and how you could see 200 people going crazy in the mosh pit but very minimal macho bullshit. My friend Jonny put it best when he said Todd was like the Master Splinter to all of us Ninja Turtles.

Noelle: The one where i'm on crutches (from a knee injury skateboarding) is taken after a show with Rebel Spell, Broadcast Zero and a few of our other friends bands

NC: Whether it was me and my friends sitting around the kitchen table asking Todd for his wisdom and guidance about our problems, his letting my band jam in his basement, his giving me my first bass amp that I still use to this day and driving us to our shows, a comfortable couch to sleep on if you needed one, taking me on fun trips when Rebel Spell would go places and I’d say I wanted to go to or how you never actually got away with anything... even if you thought you did Todd always somehow knew. Like the time me and my friend Delilah rode Todd’s bass amp down a hill (we were rolling it on a skateboard because it was heavy to catch the bus to a show and we decided it would be easier to steer if I sat on it and Delilah held on it from the back), or the time I crashed into his garage when I was learning to bomb hills on my skateboard; the time I was staying at the Rebel Spell house and locked both of us out when I lost the keys right after Todd told me to make sure I didn’t lose the keys, and I had to go get Erin to help me climb in the window; when Todd drove me out to Abbotsford for a show and we went on an unsuccessful quest for vegan food and ended up settling for peanut butter and banana sandwiches and hanging out in the car... Or the fact Todd had this way of teaching you important life lessons without you knowing he was actually teaching you something important or how almost every important life lesson I learned came from someone in that band. I probably wouldn’t be who I am now if it wasn’t for Todd, or anyone else in that band.

The Rebel Spell by Jennifer Dodds

AM: When and where did Chaos Disorder and Panic begin? I get the impression that it's less about the music for you - which is kinda brutal and straightforward - and more about being able to have a public voice? Do you have particular songs that you're happiest with (musically? Lyrically?). Has it always just been you?

NC: Chaos Disorder And Panic started in 2006, I played my first show June 5th at Hope River Lions Hall w/ Whitey, Ninjaspy and Scantily Clad. No, it’s about the music. I love playing loud crusty music and experimenting with different ideas and new ways to structure songs and having something that's mine to express ideas. When I first started Chaos Disorder And Panic I was a solo act and it was quite a bit different: I played guitar and it was artsy skatepunk and spoken word lyrics. I got bored of that quickly and it didn’t work the way I thought it was going to, so I evolved more towards noise punk.

Eventually I got bored of being a solo act after talking to my friend Sean Kilby and saying I really wanted to record with a band. Sean suggested I find a band I like and borrow their members as my backup band... Sean proceeded to offer me his band The Killed Spirits. After some plotting and scheming we decided to record an album together, Sean and I wrote a song together called "The Good Ol’ Days" about scene drama and how we don’t like it. We recorded a 5 song EP in Matt from The Killed Spirits' garage and we had a great time doing a project together. After that record I decided I wanted band members. Shortly after that my friend Colin from Batoche/ Born Of Ashes joined me on drums and we played some shows around Vancouver but due to Colin living in Vancouver and me living Chilliwack it didn’t last long. After a search for more geographically convenient band members I convinced 2 of my friends they should play in a band with me. I switched to bass, Delilah took over on guitar and Crackarz joined us on drums this is when I feel like Chaos Disorder And Panic really came to life. We did this for a couple of years and then we all started heading in different directions both with our musical tastes and our lives but this is period when a lot of the songs for Chaos Theory were written. I’ve had a few other band members since that but the main problem has always been finding band members that can tour and want to play shows on a regular basis or basically could keep up with all my ambitious ideas. I’d also been playing drums in an improv harsh noise, grind, sludge, doom band called Curmudgeons. At the time I also had a fairly casual internet band with 2 friends in far away places. I was really getting into playing crust, grind and a more hardcore style of punk. Me and the guitarist of that project were sending tracks back and forth I don’t think we ever actually finished anything but we exchanged a lot of ideas. It got me thinking while I was jamming tracks in my jamspace for that project, "Hey I could probably do this for Chaos Disorder And Panic." I played around with some ideas and consulted some folks I know who’ve done similar things. Well at a book fair in Victoria I pitched the idea to my friend Cody who plays in tons of bands and is basically the gear, recording and idea guru of Victoria. He said yeah he can do it so we made plans for me to go spend a weekend in Victoria becoming my entire band. I’ve been using that setup for 3 and a half years now. I feel like its the best of both worlds I get to have the full band sound and the freedom to chase all my music ambitions. I’d also like to stress all the instruments including the drums are all real instruments played by me. No drum machines have ever been used in Chaos Disorder And Panic.

Noelle watches Alien Boys, by Bob Hanham

NC: I do also like having platform and I think it’s important if you have a microphone and audience you should use it. I’d think about how much I learned and how I liked it when bands like Leper and Iskra would talk about what some of their songs were about and engage the audience. Or other less serious bands would tell jokes and engage the audience with their antics. I think there is a good balance of being fun and engaging the audience but also talking about the social issues in my songs.

I’m pretty attached to all my songs but some trivia facts about some of the songs. "Homes Not Games" was written for an anti-Olympics protest. It’s about the gentrification of the downtown eastside, the eviction of the Cobalt and the first wave of renovictions of low income housing and how homeless people were being rounded up and either jailed or sent out of fact I saw when they a bunch of them were dropped off the bus exchange in Chilliwack in the dead of winter and everywhere was trying to pretend it didn’t happen. Elliot from Freak Dream plays drums on the recording and completely nailed it after only 1 practice. He also plays drums on "If You’re Not Pissed Off You Probably Weren’t Paying Attention," "Rank N File" and recorded all of Chaos Theory in the living room of Thors Palace. "Breaking Point" was written by me and Delilah it’s about a close friend of ours that committed suicide after a long battle with mental illness to tell his story and deal with some of our emotions and also to express solidarity for everyone we knew that was battling mental illness and dealing with loss of important comrades.

"No Justice No Peace" is partially inspired by The Rebel Spell song "10,000 years." The first line of the song is inspired by Todd talking about writing the song and researching how far back the history police forces goes. The 2 choruses in the song NO JUSTICE NO PEACE FUCK THE POLICE and HANDS UP DON’T SHOOT are chants from protests and riots happening in Baltimore, Maryland and Ferguson, Missouri and all over the states and up here. I wanted to talk about the violence, corruption, racism and how much terrible stuff cops typically get away with. The reason all these protests and riots were happening is because cops were getting away with atrocities including murder and not having to face any kind of accountability for it... How we’re taught to just blindly respect the police and accept their authority. Just because you wear a uniform or have a badge and gun does not mean you’re a respectful person or you serve a respectable system. This isn’t just a case of a bad apples in one place, it’s part of a much bigger systemic problem.

A zine from Noelle's distro, by Allan MacInnis

NC: I know you’ve asked about this so I think this is a good place to address that since it’s recurring topic in at least 3 of my songs. The best way I could think of to explain it is this analogy. Think about for example the high school bully who picks on the poor people, anyone whose different from you or even just a different color and faces zero consequences....If anyone in the equation gets any consequences it’s the victims of the bullying. Despite all of this, high school bullies all over the place can’t figure out why some of their classmates hate and mistrust them. These aren’t things a respectable person does. If you aren’t behaving in a respectable to manner towards people no matter who you are or what your occupation is you shouldn’t be confused why they don’t trust or respect you.

I wrote "War Of The Machines" while I was watching Terminator. I’d already written the music for it and had decided I wanted to do a bit of a sci fi story about how destructive most of the wars we fight are, as I wrote the lyrics it just seemed to fit.

AM: You already explained to me in person why you release on cassette - could you explain again, for my readers? 

I’ve been releasing music on tapes for years. I stopped printing CDs because nobody wanted them, infact a lot of people these days don’t seem to even have anything to play a CD on unless they have a CD player in their car. Tapes and vinyl have been making a comeback in the punk scene. Everyone seems to have tape and record players again. I’d love to put my music out on records as well but vinyl is prohibitively expensive for a lot of smaller bands. Tapes are a really easy, cost effective alternative for bands that don’t have a lot of money. I’m also analog nerd and like the low fi you can get with them before everything became digitized. It’s really easy for a band to put out an album without a lot of resources. I have an oldschool tape dubbing setup at my house and a friend who works at a print shop who prints all my J cards and inserts. Before shows me and my quality control supervisor which is my cat Trooper sit down and do run of tapes right here in the living room. Additional piece of information this also partly how memorize new songs, in case you haven’t noticed some of my songs have a ton of lyrics to remember.

Noelle: the one with a bunch of us sitting on the front steps of a house is from potluck some of us had to celebrate what would have been Todd's birthday a few months after he died.

AM: Can you tell me about the venues you're involved with and the experience of putting on shows? Are you involved with a lot of benefits? Any stories of particularly crazy or memorable shows...?

NC: Vancouver and the Fraser Valley has lots of great venues. My roots are definitely in the all ages scene. I’ve played bars and I loved The Cobalt back in the day but bars just don’t have the same feeling as a house show or DIY space that exists because enough like minded friends got together and wanted to make a space happen. The energy that goes into creating a space so that your community has a place to play music, throw shows and gather together is a special thing. Most spaces are collectively run and every space has their own way of doing things. The common theme is to be inclusive of everyone and welcoming to the neighborhood you’re in. Most spaces always have some kind of policy about how nobody is turned away if they don’t have enough money, and welcome people who come to the spaces and attend shows to also get involved in whatever areas interest them. Others try to hire low income in their neighborhoods or communities for occasional odd jobs when required such as shopping trips for supplies, maintenance or renovations or volunteers eager to learn about the different tasks of running a show. Every space I’ve been involved with or played works hard to maintain a good relationship with the community. The biggest rules are that you treat everyone in the space with dignity and respect. Any forms of bigotry, harassment or just being a jerk is not tolerated and good way to get kicked out. I’ve seen tons of crazy stuff like the time Generacion Suicida from California played Vancouver in 2014; there was a crazy wind storm that knocked out the power to the entire neighborhood. I think we ran the show off a generator and used strategically placed flash lights to keep the space lit. There was a brief discussion shortly before the show that nobody was going to come because the city was in chaos about it.....shortly after that 200 people showed up and we were lined up out the door. Everyone raged hard it was super a fun show if I remember the power came back on towards the end of the show before the last band played and people cheered.

There was also a house show in Abbotsford where people were jumping off the couch crowd surfing and hanging off the rafters in the basement and a load bearing pillar for the room got knocked loose so we tied the couch and a chair to it. Then there's the time The Rebel Spell and The Restarts played a secret show at a house party and me and others were crowd surfing around the house. The after party from a punk fest got moved from the generator spot to a train yard. While a couple of people were hopping over a stopped train (that had been stopped for a long time) to get a better view, the train started to slowly move and people started to freak out a bit. I toured Canada on Greyhound during the wildfires of fact I could probably tell a million stories about stuff that happens when you spend 10 years doing a couple of tours a year via Greyhound.

How do you stock your zine distro? Do people bring you zines? Do you seek them out? What are some of your favourites?

The zines I stock in my distro are all either written by people I know, local folks who’ve given me stuff they’ve created or stuff I find and think it’s an interesting read. I’m not involved with any of the zine libraries at venues but many of them are stocked with stuff people bring and leave it there and are pretty welcoming to folks displaying their creations as well.

Noelle checking out a set by Spencer Jo, by Allan MacInnis

AM: Who IS the old guy in the Alien Boys t-shirt, anyhow? (The one who isn't me?). I am assuming he is someone from the community, but it's so cool that basically whoever is playing, he tries to dance to it, and usually does a pretty good job. Do you have a lot of other regulars like that? Do you get to know them, or...?

NC: I know you mean but I don’t know his name. He’s someone from the community he comes out whenever he hears about a show. He’s gets out there and dances for all the bands and has good time. All ages shows are for everyone of all ages so we’re happy he comes out and has a good time.

Yes, every space has regulars and some are people who live in the neighborhood near the venue. Some are show goers in the punk scene who come out all the venues and some folks come out cause they like events and it gives them an opportunity to do an activity with people and enjoy the music. Most venues get to know all the regulars and they also get to know each other. I think it’s great that spaces and venues are welcoming and inclusive of this.

Curious about how COVID-19 is going to affect smaller venues. How long can someone pay rent on a space that's not making any money?

All of them are currently struggling with uncertainty right now. Unless a venue has another source of income which most don’t unless you happen to be lucky enough to be attached to a restaurant or other food-primary space that is still able to do take out... no events means no income. Depending how long this continues some, spaces might not survive the COVID-19 epidemic. If you want to support local venues in your area contact your favorite spots and see what the best way to support them is. The same goes for local bands. Many bands have had shows and in some cases entire tours cancelled.

AM: How long have you had Trooper? (How old is Trooper? Do I assume that Trooper's name is NOT a reference to any local bands?) Can you explain about his health issues? Are they resolved...? Besides donating to the Gofundme, how can people help support you, Trooper, Chaos Disorder and Panic, or local venues that have closed due Covid 19 ?

NC: Trooper is 7 years old and I’ve had him since he was 6 weeks old. I got him from a family in Squamish whose cat had just had kittens. We’ve been best friends ever since. No, Trooper’s name is not any way related to the band Trooper or any other local bands. The people I got Trooper from agreed to meet me in Horseshoe Bay since there was no transit to Squamish and I didn’t have a car. I took Trooper home on the bus but it was really crowded with people who just got off the ferry, including screaming babies, and a small dog in a carrier a couple of seats over that was barking at Trooper....this could be why Trooper has always hated dogs. We got off that bus to try to catch a less crowded bus, and while we were waiting for a less crowded bus, I told Trooper “you’re being such a good little trooper, what am I to call you ?” Trooper said “meow.” I said “do you like that ? Do you want to be called Trooper” Trooper looked up at me and said “meow” I looked at him and said, "OK, lets name you Trooper." About 2 or 3 buses later we got home and I showed him around his new home and the stuff I’d gotten him. Trooper has had a couple of health scares. When he was almost 2 he had an allergic reaction to one of his shots and spent the night at an emergency vet's being rehydrated after puking so much. He’s had the occasional stomach issue and sometimes has trouble pooping, and needs his bum wiped with babywipes. Then about a week and a half ago Trooper started pacing around his litter box meowing, he would also sit and meow like he was pain and then a couple days later he started puking. I called a friend that works at a vet clinic for advice and she said to bring him into the vet. After a few failed attempts I recruited my next door neighbor to help me get Trooper in his carrier. Trooper and I flew out the door to the vet. We spent the day at the vet, Trooper had a full exam, blood tests and X-rays, I don’t even remember what else because neither me or Trooper had much sleep. The vet said Trooper had a tooth infection and an inflamed pancreas and recommended he come back for an ultrasound to see why Trooper’s pancreas is so inflamed and what else could be potentially going on.

Trooper is currently relaxing at home with lots of cuddles and spoiling. He has been put on a special prescription diet of high nutrition, easy-to-digest catfood. Although Trooper is feeling better and is starting to boss me around again, since he knows he’s the king of the house, I’m not sure if his health problems are resolved yet or not. As of today, Trooper has had his ultra sound and both vet appointments and we’re currently waiting for the results and then go from there to make sure King Trooper has everything he needs.

I’d also like to say thanks to everyone for their support, well wishes and contributions. It’s been a stressful week but Trooper is hopefully on the mend and has been a very brave good kitty.

Anyone who wants to support Trooper’s recovery can contribute to his gofundme page that a friend of mine has setup at

Thanks to Noelle for answering my questions! 

Chaos Disorder And Panic by Allan MacInnis

1 comment:

Mom said...

Just read the Interview - loved it and very truthful - Noelle is my Daughter and am so proud of her - She has worked extremely hard from Day 1 and she started with nothing - but was passionate about the music and the messages - Did not know Trooper was having health issues - Have never commented on a Blog before so might not be doing this right but I thought your questions were excellent and her responses thoughtful and from the heart. Thank you