Wednesday, August 30, 2006

An Evening with Ben Lee Opened by The Suits xl

Richard's on Richard's - Near Full Capacity
August 28/06

Obligatory superficial observations - crowd looked to be in their early 20’s. Good looking, fashionable crowd with a female to male ratio of around 60/40. One thing that stood out was the amount of blonde female fans - does Ben Lee have a thing for blondes?

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Quebec’s Suits xl opened the gig with a 7 song set with was both melodic and catchy. Consisting of three members (Sam & Felix - Vocals & acoustic guitars, and Olis on Drums). The set was amazingly loud and energetic given the few instruments involved. I wondered if there was any pre-programming involved for bass, etc.?

The Suits xl had just released their cd, ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ on August 15th and it was for sale along with t-shirt merchandise. Due to the singer’s self-proclaimed vocal restraint, they called this gig their ‘toned down version’. Well, you could have fooled me. I think they began with their song “Low’ yet the best tune they played, Play, was also one that hit the top 10 in B.C. (according to the lead singer). Excellent song. They ended their set with the song ‘Downloading’. A title that would have been confusing 15 years ago. This was a totally appropriate opening act for Ben Lee.

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Ben Lee has got to be one of the nicest performers I have had the opportunity to view and (briefly) meet. How many bands have an intro house song by Kermit the Frog? How many singers perform their entire sets with a grin spread from ear to ear?

His set-up this evening was a far cry from years ago when he was an opening act at the Commodore. His band now includes 4 others (Gowan - bass, Nic Nic - guitar, Wes - keys, and Rob - drums) Nonetheless, Lee has still retained his affable, non-affected persona, despite being in the biz for 14 years (born September 11, 1978). Most of the songs he performed were from his latest album, ‘Awake is the New Sleep’.

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As usual, the ever chatty Lee entertained the audience between songs. He began with (appropriately) ‘Begin’, and then went on to humour us by saying that it was his ‘first song and he would follow in a logical manner’. When he began the song ‘Into the Dark’, he encouraged audience participation (which was easy as the audience clearly knew all of his lyrics).

Whilst chatting, he determined that he would support Justin Timberlake’s efforts to bring ‘sexy back’ and predicted that by 2008, all of the audience would have ‘sexy back.’ He then went on to explain that he was a hip-hop fanatic, loved Jay-Z, and occasionally likes to humiliate himself in public by attempting to rap. He also went on the say that he actually saw an ad for gold ‘grills’ (teeth) at goldteethusa (only in the USA). He promptly put on his ordered grill and sang/lisped a tune.

He performed a cover of Modest Mouse’s ‘Float on’ as well as a couple of tunes from his former band, Noise Addict.

After joking that was a veritable stalking arena, which he ‘was cool with’, Ben broke into his ‘Since I met You’ song, a newbie song that can only be downloaded at present. Being a lyricist lover - this proved to be my favourite song. However, all of Ben’s songs are witty, self-deprecating, insightful, and yes, dirty.

His one regret was that his song, ‘Cigarettes Will Kill You’ never became a hit single, and he went on to perform it as though it had been. The audience was singing along and, once again, it surprised me how many knew his lyrics.

He dedicated the song ‘I ache for You’ to all the ladies and it was received enthusiastically - almost swooningly ala Frank Sinatra days.

‘I wish I was him’ had everyone bopping along to the catchy beat. Apparently this song was a satirical tribute to the Lemonheads' Evan Dando

He joked about four ladies from Montreal who were obsessed with Matthew Modine and promptly sang a hilarious song called ‘Creamy Jeans (for Matthew Modine)’ that was campy, dirty and fun.

By the time he sang ‘Whatever it is’ (after an anecdote about finally being able to juggle three balls) I had to take leave. I know ‘Catch my Disease’ was coming up, but I had seen enough to realize that Ben was in top form and performed an impressive set. Definitely a feel-good pop rock concert for 2006

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Lots of new posts on swanktrendz

Check out our website - lots of new posts to be seen.

Cheers all

Christine, et al

Resistance. Denial. Acceptance By: Sashi

Resistance. Denial. Acceptance.

Place: A coffee shop.

Time: Around lunchtime.

Date: Sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Jay: “…. and so the priest says, ‘Cassock!’ Get it? CASSOCK!” *laughs*

Kay: “HAHAHAHAH! Damn, man, that’s a good one... heheh..”

Jay: “Heheh, yeah… man, it’s good to hear ya laughin’ like that again... feels like it’s been ages...

Kay: “What you babblin’ about, fool? I am always like this….”

Jay: “Oh, come off it... you know ever since that girl dumped you, you’ve been all depressed, and sullen, and moody, and...”

Kay: “Ok, ok, I get it... ok, so I’ve been a little down… and besides, she didn’t dump me. She just didn’t want to take the relationship further.”

Jay: “What relationship? You two never even went out for one date!”

Kay: “Quit bugging me, ok. You know what I mean.”

Jay: “Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. You asked her out, she said get lost.”

Kay: “She didn’t say that, and you know it.”

Jay: “It’s all the same thing, dude. She rejected you. Placed you in the Out tray. Left you out in the trash can. Kicked you to the curb.”

Kay: “It’s not like that. She just didn’t feel the same way about me as I do her. That’s all. Life is not all movies, you know, where people just get together all the time.”

Jay: “I don’t know how you can just take this so calmly. I can’t do it. Every time a girl turns you down, it’s more than just a slap in the face. It’s a damning verdict on your own suitability as a man. They’re saying that you’re a weak, ugly, pathetic loser who shouldn’t be allowed to breed, much less be with a woman.”

Kay: “Spoken like someone with experience, eh, Jay? Heh.”

Jay: “Oh shut up. You know it’s true. I cannot believe you still see her most of the time.”

Kay: “What’s wrong with that?”

Jay: “She jilted you. Doesn’t seeing her face needle you every time? Doesn’t it make your blood boil? I’d be pissed off if I had to keep seeing the girl that shot me down…”

Kay: “Dude. That’s just you. It’s not me. Besides…. you forget something.”

Jay: “What?”

Kay: “So she turned me down. But she still remains friends with me. What does that tell you? It means I have some redeeming qualities. Maybe not enough in her eyes to be with her, but still... And furthermore, just because she turned me down, doesn’t mean I’ve suddenly stopped liking her.”

Jay: “You telling me you still have feelings for her? You’re nuts.”

Kay: “I was talking with her the other day. Just idle chit chat, rubbish stuff. I kept trying to ground out a joke or two, a witty line here, a funny remark there... I was trying so hard, and failing most of the time, and I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t think I was trying to impress her… I mean, I figured that ship had sailed… but then I knew it. I knew the reason.”

Jay: “What?”

Kay: “I just wanted her to laugh. I love her laugh. I love her smile. I love that little twinkle in her eyes when she’s happy. I love hearing her voice when she’s animated and speaking while moving her hands about... it’s fantastic. Making her happy makes me happy.”

Jay: “What’re you saying? You’re in love with her or something?”

Kay: “That’s exactly what I’m saying.”

Jay: “But dude… she’s not in love with you.”

Kay: “So? Should love necessarily be a two-way thing? I don’t think so. I am not so greedy as to require compensation for loving someone. Love is as it should be, unconditional.”

Jay: “Well, well, listen to the philosopher. You’ve been having any repetitive head injuries recently? Misplaced your marbles? Lost our mind, have we?”

Kay: “No. Listen. She knows I like her. Maybe she even knows I am in love with her. The fact is, she knows my position. I’ve put my cards on the table. No pretence, no illusion, no sneaking about. Maybe someday she’ll see something else in me, something that might change her mind about me….”

Jay: “Or maybe she won’t! You’re hoping for a happy ending? You just told me life isn’t like in the movies, remember?”

Kay: “So what? What’s the worst that could happen? She meets someone, falls in love with him, marries him, has 10 kids, and lives happily ever after. You know what? Strange as this may sound, I wish that’s exactly what happens. Of course, I also wish that that someone is me, but if it isn’t, it’s all good. You know why? Because she’ll be happy.”

Jay: “Self-sacrificing crap. If something like that happens, you’ll be consumed with jealousy.”

Kay: “Sure, maybe I will. And then after a while, I’ll come to my senses. Hopefully I’ll still meet her once in a while, and the second she laughs, or smiles, or just looks at me with those eyes, all will be forgiven. That’s how I feel. Truly. As hard as it may sound to a cynic like you.”

Jay: “So you’re just gonna stand back and take it on the chin?”

Kay: “I’ll stand anywhere. As long as she still speaks with me. As long as she still looks at me. As long as I’m able to gaze at her beautiful eyes, as long as I can make her laugh… I’ll be happy. I’ll be content.”

Jay: “Dude. I don’t know whether to pummel you into a million pieces, or shake your hand. But here’s hoping you don’t get all messed up over this.”

Kay: “So do I. Thanks for the concern. Now knock it off, you’re startin’ to sound gay...”

Jay: “What? You’re the one talking about relationships! You’re the gayer one!”

Kay: “Hahah! Dude... c’mon, I think the proprietor is getting tense... we’ve been sitting here for hours and all we’ve had is teh-tarik!”

Jay: “Heh, yeah, let’s get outta here... I gotta get my car to the workshop anyhow. What are you gonna do?”

Kay: “I’m gonna call her and tell her the priest joke... heheh.”

Jay: “Sigh... well, dude, if you’re gonna remain stubborn about her… well, at least you better get the joke right first. So, a priest walks into a bar…..”

N.B. This is a work of fiction. Yes. It. Is.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Movies, Movies by Rob Williams


Ted and I watched the dvd "Brick" last night.

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If you haven't seen Brick, it's a teen film/mystery that is done as a sort of 50s crime noir film-- though it's set in present day. It was excellent. The star, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, further proves just what an amazing actor (after his dazzling turn in "Mysterious Skin") he is. Brick is filled with great noir/gumshoe speak and incredible shots. The director, Rian Johnson, is sure to be a name to watch after this.

The Descent

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Finally a horror movie that I can praise.

Saw the movie "The Descent" yesterday-- (while Ted saw Talledega Nights-heh, heh) and it scared, creeped, and freaked the bejebus out of me! An extremely well done scare. Someone actually did it right this time.

If you don't know of the movie, it's about six women who go tunneling/exploring caves in the Appalachias and find they are trapped underground with these freaky creatures.

The movie played to so many of my (and I'm sure your) fears: claustrophobia, the dark, dirt, scary pearly white inbred mole people who live in tunnels. It was incredibly, even beautifully, shot with the use of colour and shadows and light (of the colours, the NY Times stated:

With a nod to childhood, Mr. Marshall carves out an increasingly unsettling and claustrophobic shadow world principally by keeping the lights down. He also toys with color, interspersing the white beams from the women’s headlamps with washes of green and red from their glow-sticks and flares. The ingenious palette adds to the spooky beauty of the otherworldly setting, which, with its vaultlike chambers, wavy crawlways and spiky stalactites, takes on unmistakable sexual overtones.

It was also amazingly directed (sorry for all the -ly words). The director payed such homage to classic horror films without spoofing or ripping them off-- scenes and images evoked such scares as the blood prom scene in Carrie, Blair Witch, Dawn of the Dead, and others.

It truly terrified me, I was on the edge of my seat, but still left the theater so happy and so thrilled. As the Chicago Sun Times put it:

Finally, a scary movie with teeth, not just blood and entrails -- a savage and gripping piece of work that jangles your nerves without leaving your brain hanging. And so, for a change, you emerge feeling energized and exhilarated rather than enervated, or merely queasy.

I hope that word of mouth spreads about this film, for it's really one of the funnest, scariest movies I've seen since Silence of the Lambs.


Langley Welcomes New Junior A Hockey Team - Christine Albrecht

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Langley Welcomes New Junior A Hockey Team

Today, at Newlands, Larry Campbell, Brian Burke, Mayor Alberts, Mayor Fassbender as well as other dignitaries were on hand to welcome BCHA's newest junior A hockey team, The Langley Chiefs.

Previously known as the Chilliwack Chiefs, the franchise relocated to Langley this summer, and the team is set to begin its regular season on September 9, 2006. The games will be housed in the 33-year-old George Preston Recreation Centre (formerly the Langley Civic Centre).

Be sure to show your support for this local team. At present the Owners - Moray Keith, Jim Bond, Harvey Smyl (head coach and general manager) and Heinz Hasselmann - are in the process of firming up the team's lineups.

Be sure to show your support for this team. These players are playing for the love of the game, and you are receiving NHL quality without the monetary headache!

Games schedules, tickets, and season tickets can be purchased at

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Stink Mitt/Eagles of Death Metal/Peaches Concert - Lezah Williamson

Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC
August 10, 2006 - sold out

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Now, I've been to plenty of sold out shows, but I guess some shows are more sold out than others (to paraphrase Orwell's Animal Farm). Last night's Stink Mitt/Eagles of Death Metal/Peaches show was THE MOST sold out show I've ever attended. Even before Christine and I walked into the Commodore, the buzz in the air was palpable. There were barricades down at the end of the street - whether they were originally intended for the show or not, I do not know - but they well could have been. We arrived at almost 10 o'clock - missing the entire performance of opening act Stink Mitt - and in spite of the lateish hour, the crowds out in front of the Commodore were huge. There were, quite conservatively, hundreds of people standing in line hoping to get tickets, not to mention all those who were just trolling the sidewalk, muttering to all passers-by, "Tickets? Tickets to sell?" like some down on their luck junkies. Dream on, people! You were not going to get in - that much was obvious.

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Even heading up the stars into the Commodore was an experience - hordes of people were moving up and down the stairs (the up I can understand, but down? Where were they going?). It was chaotic, it was hyperkinetic, it was pulsing with energy. All night, the washrooms had line ups out the door. Now, I don't want to get the Commodore in trouble, but I kind of think there were more people there than the 997 it allows on their permit. Trust me.I know these things.

Anyway, enough of that and on with the show, as they say... As I mentioned before, we totally missed Stink Mitt. Christine had been down at the Commodore earlier that afternoon interviewing Jesse from Eagles of Death Metal (EofDM)- so that was our excuse for being late. She had to come and pick me up, and that takes time - believe me. But on the way down to the show, we listened to EofDM's latest cd, Death by Sexy, and I got the inside scoop on the interview, so that set us in good stead for the show. The band came on just after we arrived, with frontman Jesse Hughes sporting a huge Sam Elliot-type moustache (his 'soft boomerang of love'), long sideburns, jeans and a button up shirt that didn't quite cover all his tatts. He kind of reminded me of Ponch from CHiPs - all macho swagger - but although he was all about the show, and a truly charismatic frontman, it was evident that the entire band was gobsmacked by their Vancouver reception. Hughes referred many times to the welcome at the start of the show, the huge crowd, the cheering, the beautiful women - and let me tell you, there were a lot of those in evidence.

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The night prior, Christine and I had been over at Richard's seeing World Party. There, the audience was easily 80% male. Here at the Commodore, the tables were turned; I'd roughly estimate that 70-80% of the audience was female, and most of the audience was 20ish. And that's early 20ish, not late. This was a young, young crowd. A hip, hip crowd. And they were there to boogie. The entire dance floor was moving, from the start of EofDM's set to the end. The band is well-known for its great hooks and churning guitars, and even though Jesse's falsetto was a little tremulous at times, the band was 110% there, musically.

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When they announced their last song, and played the Stones' Brown Sugar, well - it was a moment in time. They were better than the Stones. It's true. Many might consider that sacrilege, but it is the truth. And then they didn't stop after all! The band had a short conference, and went right on playing. Backstage was signalling them to stop (I think that's what the whole flashlight thing was about), but they soldiered on. For their last song, the girls standing back stage came on and started dancing with the band. Well, that just opened the floodgates right there - within moments, there were 30 more women from the audience on stage. But, unlike most shows, these people were allowed to stay on the stage and dance for the entire song - there was not the usual sight of bouncers dragging people off to the bowels of the club, never to been seen or heard from again (or, at least, that's what I've always imagined...). Truly, this was the feel-good show of the year.

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After a short break, Peaches came on, but she had a hard act to follow. I've never seen her before, but my understanding is that Peaches is known as much for her attitude as for her music. And last night was no exception. When the lights went down to signal the start of her set, all eyes were on the stage - but Peaches ended up out in the audience, balancing on a railing in the seating area while she did her first show. She started the show wearing a silver hotpants outfit and a short burkah-type veil - quite the ensemble. After the first song, she went up onto the stage to join her band who were similarly attired in '70s-type kitschy silver suits. That just set the tone for the show, which was a 70s meets the new millenium -type musical extravaganza,. It was a celebration of that time between the pill and the plague, when anyone could do anything - or so it seemed. And that was Peaches' jumping off point. She proceeded to give us a very theatrical set, complete with a groovy bicycle that Peaches rode on stage, a giant blow-up penis that sat at the drum kit and was later 'injured', and a costume change that involved one of the roadies having to come out not once but three times in order to help Peaches with a minor wardrobe malfunction. She ended up in a sequined bikini somewhat akin to what you would see on a woman in a high-wire trapezee act. Certainly, theatrical was the word of the day.

Having been out late the night before at the other show, we decided to leave a bit early. Knowing Peaches, this was probably a mistake. I'm sure she had some eye-popping grand finale that we missed, but oh well - that's life.

Tomi Swick Concert Review - Lezah Williamson

The other night Christine and I headed downtown to see Tomi Swick. It was an early show - something I was quite happy about, since I had to be at the airport to catch a flight first thing the next morning. When we arrived downtown we pulled into a parking spot, only to have some guy appear in my face the second I got out of the vehicle. He had a hard luck story - just spent $14 on a parking ticket, but now his girlfriend called and so he had to take her to the hospital (or some such thing). I've heard the same sad tale from more than a couple other panhandlers before, quite frankly. We politely declined and bought a ticket instead from the parking meter. But - the next morning, as I went to leave for the airport - flat tire. Closer inspection showed a nail. Hmmmm... Vengeance had been wrought - or perhaps it was just a coincidence? I think not...

Anyway, we got to the club and perhaps because of the early hour, there were only about 40 people in the club. The first act came up within a few minutes, and I was a bit confused for a while, having thought he said they were called 'Bach Chemist'. Turns out the guy's name is Bob Kemmis. "Thanks for coming to the wake," he said to start the show. Turns out he was a pretty funny guy, making jokes throughout. I kind of tuned out during his first song, which was pretty straight up C & W (just not my taste) - but then he spent the rest of his set morphing into a whole variety of different types of sounds: sometimes they sounded like Joe Jackson, at other times like a '70s band, and so on. All in all, I really enjoyed their set: good jokes, good tunes, and good musicianship. There were a number of songs that he sang with female accompanment, and they were great. This is a very multi-dimensional band. Go to for more.

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The headliner of the evening was Tomi Swick. Swick is a big guy; he also has a big voice. But it's not the type of voice you'd expect from a guy who looks like he does. Rather, Swick's voice reminded me of Thom Yorke's - he has that ability to take a single syllable word and stretch it out into five or six syllables. And that's not a bad thing. The more I heard of his voice, the more I liked it. It's a grower, that's for sure. His sound is quite commercial, and already he's had some real commercial success, which is pretty significant, considering before this tour, he didn't even have a cd of his own out, he was just on a compliation. But the band is able to rock the house as well, and they proved that toward the end of their set. However, my favourite moment was when Swick sang a ballad dedicated to his mother, Isa. It was one of those songs that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

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So I predict that our Mr. Swick will soon be doing very well for himself, if what we heard the other night was any indication. You can't go far wrong with a voice like that...

Beyond Hope - Lezah Williamson

The tiny town of Hope, BC, calls itself the Gateway to Holidayland. Three times in the last two weeks I have travelled beyond the confines of the Fraser Valley to savour what the rest of the province has on offer. Here is a little of what I found.

We headed north/east along the Coquihalla Highway last weekend: destination Westbank. Westbank is a town smack in the middle of the Okanagan, but it's not too well known, since it is largely overshadowed by its near neighbour Kelowna, which lies just across the bridge. Kelowna is the jewel of the Okanagan , as far as residents are concerned, so poor little Westbank has been relegated to not much more than poor-relation status; it's a place for people who work in Kelowna to commute from. But, in many ways, I prefer Westbank. Whereas in the past, Kelowna had all the history and grace of any fairly established city, today much of that has been lost to the strip malls and fast food restaurants which line the main drag for seemingly endless miles. The exception to this is the area just to the south of the bridge, in the vicinity of Kelowna Hospital. Here you will find gracious old homes lining the waterfront and funky commercial areas just beyond them. This is one part of Kelowna that I still enjoy.

But back in Westbank: the little town still retains a lot of the flavour of that of many smaller Okanagan towns, with a mix of residential and agricultural. Cherry, peach, and apple orchards are holding their own against the onslaught of housing developments. It's a short trip down from Westbank to the beaches. Fruit, fun and sun: that's what the Okanagan is known for. And if you're lucky, you might just spot the Ogopogo, cousin to the Loch Ness monster...

About 40 minutes south of Westbank is the vacation town of Penticton. Penticton occupies the area of land between the Okanagan and Skaha Lakes. It was originally an agricultural town, but today is widely known as the home of the Ironman Triathalon, and for those a little less keen, as the place to go for holidayers: camping, boating, and a whole variety of things to keep the kiddies occupied abound. We were there for one thing, and one thing only: the inner tube canal rides. You see, between the two lakes there is a canal that flows, and for a very modest price, one can float down, then catch a bus back to your vehicle. We rented inner tubes, and together with the bus trip, it cost $11 each. Or you can bring your own air mattress, inner tube, or what have you and just pay $4 for the bus. Whatever the case, it's worth it. We spent just under two hours there, and experienced complete relaxation. The current was so gentle that we were moving, but never at a speed with which we were uncomfortable. The water was crystal clear, the sun was shining, there were ducks floating past us and fish swimming under us. When we were done, I felt better than if I had gone to a spa.

Most recently, I flew up to Terrace, BC. Now, when I think of Terrace, I always picture a place that is right at the top of the province, somewhere in the vicinity of Alaska, but when you look on a map, it's only about half way up. One can drive north, through the Fraser Canyon and beyond, turning left at Prince George, but it's a trip that would take more than a day - and quite frankly, I don't have that kind of time. So I opted for the 1 hour, 40 minute plane ride. What amazed me on the plane was the number of different passport holders we saw: Germany, Barbados, Spain - and those were just the ones that I managed to peek at - there could have been more. And this all on a plane that takes only about 40 people! Terrace and its closest neighbour, Smithers, are huge draws for Europeans especially: fishing is what brings people up. Terrace is also home to the world famous Kermode (Spirit) Bear, a white black bear. It's not an albino, but a genetic mutation of the black bear. I did not see a live one when I was up there, but there were plenty of bear sightings while we were there.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Tomi Swick: Interview by Christine Albrecht

Tomi Swick broke through the music scene when his song, 'A Night Like This' was included in the Warner sampler From the Heart. People all over North America knew the tune (as it was in heavy rotation) but were not as sure who the singer was.

On August 15th, Tomi Swick released his first cd, Stalled Out in the Doorway (see link for purchase) which contains both "A Night Like This' and his latest single, 'Everything is Alright'. After much listening and discussion of the cd, my co-editor and I finally decided that Tomi uses his voice very much in the style of Thom Yorke (Radiohead)

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Swanktrendz managed to hook up with Tomi Swick on August 17/06 at 5:30 at The Red Room (courtesy Charlotte of Warners). Due to sound check, we were sequestered away in a small backstage lounge. We started the interview by chatting about his Canadian tour, the likelihood of him visiting Victoria, and the 'raspiness' of his throat. Quite the contrast to his lilting vocals during song. I asked Tomi if he had seen a singing instructor at all.

I used to think a vocal coach was a laugh - it's not an instrument - it's a muscle. My throat, in particular, my speaking voice is using my throat muscles wrong. It's like pulling a hamstring, no matter how much you want it to work, if it's not working - well, it's not working. The same with vocal chords - you got to treat them with respect.

Well then, have you ever taken formal vocal training?

Never. I'm seeing a speech pathologist right now, I'm just getting over... well I'm not even over it... well 50% over... laryngitis.

I know during the first stage of Canadian Touring, Steven of the band BOY, suffered a lot with his throat. A lot of that is different environments, but it also has to do with vocal training.

Yeah, I know BOY, I know Rolla.

Yes, the guys from BOY are great. Now, I've heard it said that if you have not had proper vocal training before the age of 35, you will not be able to hit the notes you're used to, after the age of 35.

For sure, and also vocal maintenance. For me, they are saying my vocals and way of singing are fine; it's my speaking voice that's done it. That's why I am seeing a speech pathologist. But they don't want me to take vocal lessons but rather maintenance lessons. That's my biggest problem, warming up and warming down and hydration.

Yes, warming up and warming down - that's part of vocal training.

If you take vocal lessons, then someone else is telling you how to use your own instrument which is kind of a shitty thing because your voice is so unique to you.

I was thinking more of taking vocal lessons for the diaphragm and breathing lessons.

Yes, for that, you've got to have some kind of maintenance.

Exactly, because after the age of 35 your voice is unable to learn it then. Prior to that, you have to learn how to take in air properly, warm up, etc.

I'm in the process of that.

Good, good.

I cut my appointments short to do this tour, so when I go home I've got a bunch more dates with my doctor who massages the throat to break up all the tissues and it hurts like hell.

Well, the maintenance is extremely important, and it helps the voice.


Let's visit your background - were you born in Hamilton?

Yep, born and raised. I've lived there my whole life except the two years I've lived in Burlington to attend the Cathedral. And then I just moved back.

I read that you are athletic and I assume football?

I played football, basketball, volleyball and soccer.

That's great! But no hockey?

No hockey - I played shinny though. My dad was big hockey guy, but I always loved basketball and football.

All right. Fair Enough.

I love watching hockey.

So, did all these athletics keep you out of trouble?

I was never one to really get into trouble. I got into fights and stuff, but I was never a bad kid, like stealing from people. I was never like that. It's funny, I just saw an article in the paper today (interviewer note - A Vancouver publication) and it made me look like a badass. And I am not a badass at all - I never got into trouble, maybe some mischief. I lived in one area of Hamilton until I was 14 and then I lived in a shitty area for two years. A place that had bikers and hookers and stuff. And I love Hamilton - I blow it up everywhere I go. It's my home town and I love that city. But in the paper it said 'where I live, from hookers to heroin, you can get anything you want.' I didn't mean it like that, but that's how it came out. Now I'm expecting calls saying, 'What the hell are you talking about?'

Your Mom will be phoning, saying, 'What were you thinking?'

Oh Jesus. He (the reporter) was asking me to explain the area and I just said if you want anything, from hookers to heroin, that's the place you would go.

Well every city has that - you have your good areas and bad areas. It all depends upon your perception of what equates bad. So why did you move to that area?

My Mom got a house down there because I wanted to play football at a school called Cathedral that had a wicked football team (Gaels). If you're good there at basketball or football, you can get scholarships. That's what I wanted to do. I had to be in the school's area.

So your Mom moved so you could fulfill this goal.

Yeah, my mom is amazing.

And your dad went along with this?

Ah no, they were separated.

How old were you when they separated?

Oh long time ago, I'm a legal bastard (laughing).

Ah well, good on you. Then you didn't have to deal with a father interfering.

It's funny because people always ask what my background is and Scottish comes up a lot. Then they say, well Swick isn't a real Scottish name, and I respond that Swick is my brothers' and sisters' dad's name. My dad's name was Anderson and my mom's a Finlay.

So you use your stepdad's name?

No, he was my other brothers' and sisters' dad. They just kept my name the same as my siblings for school and everything. I actually had two dads growing up. My last name is actually Finlay Anderson.

Good for your mother that she was able to support you the whole way.

My mom is a tough woman. A very tough woman.

Speaking of moms, what music was being played while you were growing up?

Music like 'The Skye Boat Song', every party would have an accordion, etc., Patsy Cline, Motown, old rock and roll like CCR. My brothers got me into rock, James Taylor is from my sister, Paul Simon from a girlfriend...

How many brothers and sisters do you have?

I grew up with 2 sisters and a brother and I have two other brothers.

And they're all older than you?

Yeah, I'm the youngest.

Then you definitely received the benefit of vast exposure to different music styles.

Two of my brothers, from my dad who was married before he met my mom, are 50 and 53 years old. My dad used to play a little constantina and he played the piano.

Did you ever take piano lessons?

I did for a little bit and I was actually all right, but I'm a 'wanna be' piano player. I would love to play the piano, but I am not very good at it. I will often write using the piano, but I am not a really good player. I wrote and played 'Listen Isa' (for my mom) on the piano, but I felt too unsure to play it for the cd. I can play it well, but I just don't.

It appears that you are surrounded by music. I noticed that you got your first guitar at 13. Who bought it for you?

My mom.

Really? Did you want it? Was it something you asked for?

I wanted a guitar and my mom gave it to me for my grade 8 graduation. It was a Kay electric guitar with a little, tiny Roland amp. And I played the shit out of it.

Are you self-taught on the guitar?


Wow, that's excellent. I have read that you have been in other bands prior to this one. What bands were you in?

The first band I was ever in was my brother-in-law's band. We opened for Jim Cutty (Blue Rodeo). Then I was in a band called Nimbus which became Red Echo which was heavy rock. We never toured, we just played around Hamilton. Then I played in a cover band for a couple of years to make money.

What was the cover band's name?

Atticus Radley. You know, Atticus and Boo Radley from 'To Kill a Mockingbird'? It was a stupid name, but we didn't care. We just needed a name and I was reading To Kill a Mockingbird.

You obviously developed a fan following as you are a well known singer in Hamilton.

Well there was only the three of us playing in this band and I think we got well known around Hamilton. People seemed to think I was a good singer. I was writing my own tunes and my girlfriend said, 'Why don't you start playing your own songs'? So I started playing them and started getting good responses.

So you're not with anyone from that band anymore?

Nope - that was it.

So when you were signed to Warners, you were essentially signed on your own?

Then I put together a band - this band has been with me for the duration.

I was wondering if this is the same band (with Andrew, Karl, Ron and Davide), that played on the cd, or did you have studio musicians?.

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These are the guys that play on the cd. There was another drummer originally, but we parted ways. I've known these guys for a couple of years.

That's good then, so you already have a feel whether or not you gel.

Well, this is... as a band... our eighth gig together.

Really? Your eighth? You're justing getting started.

Yep, we're bottom floor. We're getting in at ground zero. I don't think you'll be disappointed though. We're a smokin' band.

Where have you been playing of late - where have you come from?

We were in Calgary, then Edmonton, and then we're here tonight. We fly home to play Blue Mountain and we have all these gigs.

What's the reception been like?

Great. It's weird, I think a lot of people know the songs, but the name recognition wasn't there. We're pushing that aspect now. The reception has been great. There haven't been a ton of people at the gigs but it changes. Back in Hamilton and Toronto it is packed, but the further West we go, and after you hit Alberta and all that man-rock, after Alberta it becomes a bit softer. The last girl I spoke with said, "Going from where you were to where you are now..." and I said, 'I don't know where I am now'. I have a record deal, a label pushing the record, a great band, great friends, and a lot of support, but I have no idea if people know who I am. I have people joke around and say, "Hey rock star" and I am like, 'Huh, who me'?

You need to tell them to let you know when that happens.

Yeah, I need them to tell me when I am a rock star. Well, actually it's an adult contemporary star.

Hmm, an adult contemporary star? People might think you are in movies.

Yes, but what kind of movies? (laughs)

Exactly, that may not be a good association. I also wanted to ask you about your video for 'Everything is Alright'. I didn't associate your name at first with what I call, 'The Mannequin Video'.

Yep, Sears catalogue on acid.

Okay, so what was the premise behind that?

Well, I not a very visual, artistic guy so when the producers came to me and said, "What do you want to do, Tomi?" I had no idea. So we sent out the song to all these publishing houses, record companies and we got back a ton of ideas - most of which I hated. Guy meets girl and sees her beautiful green eyes... I'd say, "What the hell is this?" And I said no to everything.

You said no to a bad Michael Bolton video?

Yep. I said, 'No way'. Then I really liked an animated one, but it was a little out there. The label didn't think it was a good idea for the first video. They need people to just know who I am. Then we came out with this video which started off as... well... Sean Michael Turrell, who directs Billy Talent's video, wanted it to start off as an Ed Sullivan style show, with mannequins. I really liked that idea. We were to be singing that 'Everything is Alright', but it's not because of all these mannequins. I think with location and time, it ended up being the video that it is - us singing atop a house in suburbia, a surreal world, with the mannequins doing weird shit.

I remember watching and thinking - hey they've got bondage, what the...?

I said I didn't care at all if it wasn't lyrically correct. Make it something that will break the ice for my first video.

Hopefully you'll get some woman's groups outraged, or receive complaints.

But it was two guys in bondage.

It was? I missed that one. Great, more controversy. You want complaints because then everyone will want to see the video. Two guys? Hmm, well you would know - you were there.

No, I was actually on the roof looking down so we didn't see much. I think everyone will watch it and just think it is weird. It was a blast to shoot.

I wanted to ask you, in your own personal realm, which of the following deaths had an impact, if any, on you: John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Jeff Buckley, Michael Hutchance, Joe Strummer, and Dimebag Daryl. I know that Kurt Cobain's death had an impact on up and coming bands with the way they partied and toured afterwards. Excess wasn't as cool as it once seemed.

Definitely Jeff Buckley... I'd say Jeff Buckley because he went out swimming. I've partied, but I'm not a hard core drug user. Before Buckley died... well people are going to do whatever they do and you only get one chance to live and if you are going to kill yourself doing heroin, that sucks. Especially if you are a really talented person. It's tragic for anyone, but...

It's a waste.

Yes, it's a waste. I pray that it never happens to me. Jeff Buckley went out saying, 'I got a Whole lot of love'. It's tragic that he drowned, but he didn't put a gun to his head or shit like that. You know, I wasn't the beat up teenager in school, I was the captain of the football team and I didn't have those thoughts. I have a hard time identifying with guys who say, 'Oh I can't take it - I'm too famous..'

Are you saying you don't have any emotional baggage?

Oh, I've got a hell of a lot of baggage. Especially when you've got a crazy family like mine. But, I'm not going to be upset about it. I've been around guys that actually hate their life. Now, I don't hate my life, but there are things I don't like. I don't like being on camera because I am really shy, but I like doing interviews because we just talk. These guys who become so 'precious' and 'secluded' well, you know what man? If you are going to go and blow your head off, you're an idiot. I think Kurt Cobain is an idiot for killing himself.

Yes, I do too. A very misguided idiot

I was a big fan of his and that was really shitty. And then the whole Michael Hutchance thing. And it's sad about John Lennon because he didn't want to die. As for people who want to die - well I have no respect for suicide. I've been around people who've not pulled through, and it really makes me pissed. That whole situation fucked with my head for a long time. I have no respect for that - you can't take it, so you're going to kill yourself and screw up everyone who's left.

I wanted to ask you about the other members in the band and the type of music they like.

We are an extremely eclectic band in our musical tastes. I don't listen to heavy metal. I don't like 80s metal.

Oh come on, you just don't like the big hair.

Hey, I've got big hair myself. Ron is 37 Davide is 33 and Andrew, Karl, and I are 26. We are Beatles fans, Paul Simon fans, Radiohead fans, Soundgarden... You know what I mean? We're not into man-rock like Creed.

Come on, what about Van Halen? You gotta love Eddie Van Halen.

I think Eddie Van Halen ruined rock guitar.

(Interviewer bursts out laughing)

He's what we call a wanker. Listen, if you're that good, and you don't know when not to play, that's terrible. Look at me! Look at me! (Tomi imitates an Eddie Van Halen riff) I think good music is all about space and atmosphere. Some people just don't know when to shut up.

Well consider their front man.

Laughs - sorry I didn't mean to diss them.

I don't care, I don't know them.

Andrew and I have gotten a lot of people angry for saying that Van Halen was part of the demise of rock guitar.

I think that's funny - I'm going to quote you on that one.

Yeah, go ahead.

Final question, which is your favourite Beatle song (or album if that's easier)?

It's so hard. I have two songs. I love 'I Will', and 'Happiness is a Warm Gun'. 'Happiness is a Warm Gun' was a brilliant idea. It's a total mix and match. That was the start of that type of music, and it's timeless. And then there was that medley on the one side of Abbey Road.

That was one of my favourite albums.

We love that stuff. In fact we are going to do a Paul Simon cover.

Great - which one?

Graceland. We have just practised it. In Edmonton, during rehearsal, we thought let's just do this, and we did.

It's a fairly difficult piece.

Yeah, but we've got great musicians.

Okay, I'm going to let you go, to rest your throat, drink honey or whatever it is you should be doing.

Okay, thanks. It was a pleasure meeting you.

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To purchase Stalled out in a Doorway go to the first link

For Tomi's Official website go to second link.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Eagles of Death Metal - Interview with Jesse Hughes

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One of the most interesting interviews I have had in years ends up ... on a recorder with dead batteries! Bad karma or what?

Jesse Hughes was kind enough to give me almost an hour of his time while we discussed everything from childhood happenings, to American politics to the 'great beast', Aleister Crowley. I know, I know, but hey - I am guilty of going off on a tangent as well.

First the facts: Jesse formed Eagles of Death Metal after his 1998 divorce. It was a defining moment in his life as he had a lot of pent up emotion to get out of his system, and the lyrics/music came easily to him. He feels the divorce contributed to a 180 degree change in his life. He went from being a '210 pound working stiff' to a slimmed down rock star whom the young gals go wild over. (Living well is always the best revenge, Jesse.)

Although people like to think of Eagles of Death Metal as Josh Homme's creation after Queens of the Stone Age, it is actually the reversal. Eagles of Death Metal appeared on Josh's Desert Sessions, Josh just happened to like Jesse's sound enough to offer up his drumming/producing abilities.

I mentioned to Jesse that I first saw EDM in the Fall of 2003 when they opened for Placebo. I remembered thinking that they were 'not bad at all' and I also remember looking at the drummer and thinking, gosh that looks like Josh Homme. This concert was before Jesse released his 'Peace Love Death Metal' in March of 2004. Jesse said that the event I saw was the beginning of his active touring schedule.

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Jesse discussed a bit of his early life - he was 7 years old when his parents divorced; tough at the time, but fortunately he had an extended family for support.

My father was very spoiled and came from a Southern family. He was an only child and I think the time in which he was born, and the sort of mind he had, did not lend itself to longevity. He died in 1988, but my parents divorced when I was 7 and I actually had a happy childhood. My family is a tight family - four or five clans get together. The divorce was traumatic, but then I moved to Southern California and everything was cool.

Any issues Jesse needed to discuss were often presented to his Grandfather, who apparently had words of wisdom to share on every count.

I moved to California, but had had a hillbilly accent which wasn't cool. I didn't fit in immediately. I immediately did not know anyone, and I did not have any friends and I had to rely on my ability to be charming.

When Jesse mentioned school life, I immediately asked what he would say to any teens out there who feel as though high school is the be all and end all to life.

I would say, hell no! Everything for me happened at 30. I used to think school was the be all and end all, but my Grandfather said (when I was 9) ... well I am very emotional and wear my heart on my sleeve... and my Grandfather was picking my brain to figure out what was bothering me. I mentioned what kids thought of me and he said, 'You should never care what an asshole thinks'. I was one of those kids that listened to my grandparents - they were amazing people.

We then got on a roll discussing the differences between generations from the Second World War to present day.

I have almost disgust for my parents' generation because they were so spoiled. All my parents' generation - that 60's generation - wanted to do was fuck and take drugs. I think they hid behind the convenient duality of the English language of Make Love Not War, and their attitude was ... my parents suffered in the war so they spoiled the fuck out of me in the 40's and 50's and now I am a monster. I'm going to protest in the streets, and then in the 80's I will go into politics and make everything hell. When I saw everything my Grandparents went through I never understood why my parents took it all for granted. Everyone was so lost in the 60's - it was an explosive time.

Ronald Reagan's name came up in a further conversation, so I immediately jumped on the political bandwagon and threw out three names for Jesse to comment on: Reagan, Clinton, and Bush.

Ronald Reagan was one of the greatest Americans who ever lived - greatest president in my lifetime. He and Walt Disney single handedly brought about the hearings that would result in the McCarthy Hearings because of the legitimate Communist threat that existed in Hollywood. He has always been at the forefront. Walt Disney, James Stewart and Ronald Reagan filed the complaint that led to the McCarthy Hearings.

(And here I had assumed it was started by Senator McCarthy because of the U.S. Army's response to Roy M. Cohn's meddling in the drafting of G. David Schine.) This discussion then led to an examination of propaganda, and the best circles and the best format in which to release it.

Cinema is very influential. For example, the movie 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' ...

To which I cut in saying, 'I loved that book as a child - I never saw the film, but the book was brilliant.'

Watch the film and you will see what an amazing piece of propaganda it is. It is technically considered to be one of the first purely Communist-made films in America. One of the first propaganda films. There's a lot of films like that - even now we have propagandists like Rob Reiner and Michael Moore.

To my dismay, I said nahhh... does the film (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) actually follow the book?

It follows the book, but it's the manner in which it can make abstract images with words and appear concrete.

I mentioned that one of the greatest propagandists, in my opinion, was Hitler's Goebbel.

There was also Leni Riefenstahl, the one who made all the movies for Hitler. That's what Hitler referred to as the darker and more mysterious aspect of human emotion. They tapped into that emotion using cinema. That's Hollywood as well, there's no better way to tell people how to live than to use an all-star cast.

At the mention of Hollywood and stars, I had to ask Jesse what he thought about Scientology.

I think Scientology makes perfect sense in Hollywood. It's no different than when some senior Hollywood stars belonged to the Church of Satan in the 60's.

Do you mean the era of Aleister Crowley and Jayne Mansfield?

Yes. Eventually Michael Aquino, Aleister's right hand man, started the Temple of Set. All the Church of Satan was ... was a pyramid scam for power hungry people. All you're doing is getting people to work for you, then they advance you, and on their backs you advance yourself and you get into networks where you can meet more people. Scientology is obviously the next step. It's a chain, a pyramid scam. It's all financial. And the absurdity of what they believe is interesting. All because Ron L. Hubbard said, I can get people to believe anything, watch this. If you believe all the bullshit in Scientology, you need to have your head examined. I know for a fact that those people don't believe all that shit. I'm in NA, Narcotics Anonymous, and I can tell you for a fact, that 40 per cent of the people in Hollywood - who attend those meetings - have never done a drug in their life. They're simply there to prey upon someone like me, someone who is in rehab and wounded, and they will say, "Oh, but I care..."

I remember Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers saying that to live in Hollywood, you had to belong to a group - be it music, modeling, acting, religious or whatever. Everyone had their clique. There's a defining theme that you have to belong to.

I don't think there's anything wrong with that, fundamentally.

But you know what - isn't that like going back to High School? Same thing. Everyone has their clique.

Yeah, and it sucked for me, but I am still friends with some of the people who were the most vicious to me. I have always been the kid... well, my emotions and I have always had a relationship that's intellectual and academic at times.

You are more unconditional in your relationships.

Yeh, I am unconditional. I don't take things personally. The time I got locked in a varsity locker after water polo, I didn't take it personal. It sucked being in there for three hours, but I didn't take it personal, and I hope they didn't take it personal with what I did to them in return.

We discussed some of Jesse's revenge scenarios, and I learned that he got his nickname 'Devil' from his advanced algebra teacher who (after a revenge situation) referred to Jesse as the damned devil. Then there were some other aspects in his life where the moniker 'Devil' was appropriate. We then went on to discuss Aesop's fables, computing grade transcripts, journalism, dealing with difficult people, etc.

I always have to deal with difficult people. To me it is an interesting challenge to get around people. My favourite politician, Disraeli, (interviewer's note - Disraeli was the British Prime Minister in 1868 and from 1874-1880 who chose to write stories to explain his views to the average citizen) My favourite Disraeli story was that on a rainy night, he was walking down the narrow sidewalk and the gutter was full of water, and his arch nemesis walked up to him and said, 'I never step aside for a scoundrel.' And Disraeli tipped his hat, stepped into the gutter and said, 'I always do' and kept on walking. And that is an important lesson that I use all the time.

So you are essentially taking the high road, while making a point?

Just because someone is being an asshole, doesn't mean you have to deal with it. And they shouldn't even know that you are bypassing them. You can be more clever than a person by talking things up, or be more clever in silence. Give them a little charity. That's the only true charity - the charity given anonymously. And the charity of not exposing them for the asshole they are, it the most awesome charity in the world.

Jesse then got into discussing Narcotics Anonymous but felt that he didn't buy all the 'bullshit' they say. He felt that we make choices in life and you can't exchange a drug dependency for a group of people telling you what to do. He doesn't buy the 'it's a disease' aspect. So that seguewayed into exploring the aspect of choice versus victim mentality. Using past issues as crutches instead of addressing them and moving on in life.

Yeh, I don't believe in that bullshit. I went to a place called 'Promises' which, granted, is a cappuccino resort, but I get sick of people trying to blame shit on other things, or who feel they are entitled to something. You aren't entitled to anything but death when you are born. Everything else, you have to earn. You know what sucked? The dependency was my problem, but I was making it everyone else's problem, including my son and my mother and the people who depended on me to do what we're doing for a living. I could never be one of those dudes who looks myself in the mirror every morning saying, 'I can't help that I have a problem'. I'm not going to go out and shoot a bunch of kids in my high school class to get attention. There's a great Onion quote - 'Who does a girl have to fuck around here to get closure with her father?'

Then we ventured back to the music scene and specifically I wanted to thank Jesse for making "Death by Sexy' as it has made my summer a lot of fun. It is nice to listen to 'feel good' music. I also informed Jesse that he was developing a huge following, to which he responded with a modest 'thank-you'. I don't think he truly realizes how much of an impact his cd is making. We went on to talk about the 70's influences in his music, and Lux Interior and Poison Ivy playing on the cd. This conversation led to the discussion of whom to trust in the music industry with Jesse citing Josh Homme, Dave Grohl, Jack Black, etc. to be the ones he trusts.

You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. Loyalty and friendship is huge, and something that's uncommon in Hollywood. Most people in Hollywood want fame while they're there, but they want to pretend that they don't give a fuck about fame. I'm lucky that I don't have to be around that. I am one of the luckiest guys in the world that Joshua Homme is my best friend. Dave Grohl and Jack Black are the sort of men that they are - they are real men. Men of character, that keep their word. They are the only dudes I would think it is possible to do business with on a handshake. That's the kind of guys they are. When we were set to tour with The Foo Fighters, it was done on the phone and that's how it should be. The level of appreciation I have for being in this job is amazing, and to be able to do it in the way it should be done, and to have the support of people around you who want it to be done the way it should be done is like the roulette wheel coming up, winning. It's like a rock and roll lottery ticket. One day I was married square, the next day I have a couple of tattoos and I am making a record. I happened to be friends with some of the biggest rock and roll stars and now here I am in Vancouver, speaking with a lovely lady like you, and it doesn't get any better than that.

I mentioned that it was refreshing to hear Jesse appreciate his career choice because I find a lot of artists get tired of interviews, and dissecting their music to the point where they begin to withdraw. Jesse appreciates artists feeling that way, but he loves talking about his music and he loves talking about himself. We agreed that everyone needs a certain amount of vanity - not necessarily conceit - but vanity to be in the business. When we were discussing family life, he mentioned that he had a six year old.

What's your son's name?

Micah Edward Hughes. Like the last prophet in the Old Testament. On the 'B' side of our Canadian release, 'I Want you so Hard', he's playing drums on the cover of 'Addicted to Love'. He's overcome a lot of obstacles to be my son. He's definitely a mini me.'

Would you ever want to remarry?

Definitely - I want to remarry. My attitude and my experiences are the result of being burned by a girl, but I don't think there's anything better than being in a relationship. I don't fool myself that it really works, and I'm not necessarily in the right position to lead someone into believing that I would be in a relationship with them. I have girlfriends in a lot of places who I am friends with all the time - I guess I am in a weird spot because I am worried ... I love women and I really respect women, and I don't want to be the dude who's 40 years old and unable to be in a relationship because I don't have the skills anymore. I think I am designed for parenting and I think I made a great husband. I didn't choose my wife very well, and she had different motives.

We started discussing Bush and the charisma of Clinton, the tape recorder died, but I managed to wrap up the interview by asking Jesse which interview question he disliked the most.

It is always a baited question and it's always about Joshua Homme and it is designed to make me feel animosity towards him. He was a superstar first and I rode in on his coattails. Which is what I did - I rode in on his coattails.

How can you ride in on his coattails when you helped him with the Desert Sessions?

Yeah, but what is reality and what is not in the public eye? You may know that, but most fans of The Queens of the Stone Age don't know that. They think that the famous lead singer of The Queens of the Stone Age started up a side project called The Eagles of Death Metal. In fact, it was being promoted in your local paper as 'Peaches featuring Queens of the Stone Age side project, Eagles of Death Metal'. Let's just put it this way - the only way I'm ever going to get out of his shadow is if he gets out of my fucking sun. That's another one from my Grandpa. That's why I hate that question because it can put me in a situation of being misquoted - especially English journalists. It's tough because we're friends and I've never met anyone more genuinely wonderful than Josh Homme. The only reason he knew I was working on a record was when my Mother was worried about me (after the divorce) and he came around and checked in on me.

With that being said, and the rest of the interview left unsaid (due to the recorder) the interview wrapped up. Jesse was accommodating, talkative, and up front about most of the areas in his life. It was a treat to chat with him and get his 'take' on life in general. Afterwards, whilst watching his concert, I think it finally dawned on him just how popular his band was. It was nice to see him be validated in such a public forum.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Video Seriously Injured the Radio Star, who Later Died From his Wounds Shortly After Arriving at the Hospital

By: Mike Gillis

Here's a list of what I believe to be the 25 greatest music videos of all time. you should believe this too. C'mon.

{If you haven't seen any of these there's a pretty solid chance they're floatin' around this here internet somewhere. Dig in.}

Blur - Coffee & TV:

A jaunty little tale about a living carton of milk searching to find a missing guitarist in the dangerous city. He runs into a lovely female carton of strawberry milk who is sadly crushed under someone's foot. (If it were my video I would've introduced some chocolate milk cartons and tried to send a message about the growing racial tensions in some of today's cities ...but I guess they were probably trying to keep things "fun".)

Judas Priest - Freewheel Burnin':

A young boy is playing a racing game in an arcade when he discovers that Judas Priest are living inside the game somehow. The band proceed to play some lively metal, so lively in fact that lasers begin spewing forth from their guitars, flying out of the machine and filling the air in the arcade. The various headbangers who inhabit the arcade appear to be pleased with said lasers. NOTE: no special effects were used in the making of this clip. the members of Judas Priest were conjuring actual lasers with their instruments.

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Beastie Boys - Sabotage:

I do not have to explain this one. Best. Bass riff. Ever.

Michael Jackson - Beat It:

Sure Thriller was bigger, and Billie Jean had those light up sidewalks, but this video is almost perfect. Who knew you could diffuse and inner city gang war with slick dancing and spazzy leather jackets. An Eddie Van Halen guitar solo doesn't hurt either.

Leonard Nimoy - The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins:

That's correct. Mr. Spock and a gaggle of overeager preteens in technicolor t-shirts sing a disgustingly upbeat tribute to everyone's second favourite hobbit... but why?

Beck - Loser:

Flaming squeegee? Check. Star Wars helmet? Check. Leaf blower? Check. Cute girls dancing in a cemetery? Check. A windshield covered in blood? Check. Astronauts in a pickup truck? Check. etc. etc. etc.

Coolio - Fantastic Voyage:

Coolio falls asleep on his porch. Moments later some sort of "magic pimp" appears, and with one shake of his pimp cane, turns Coolio's bicycle into a phat, low ridin' convertible. the booty-shakenist beach party ever ensues. (But was it all a dream?)

Prince - Batdance:

Will someone please tell me what I'm looking at?

Nirvana - In Bloom:

Kurt and company imagine what it would be like if they were a bunch of "clean cut young men" on an old time black and white variety programme. Wearing dresses and breaking stuff ensues.

Dio - Holy Diver:

Ronnie James Dio dresses up like a barbarian warrior and threatens another barbaric warrior in the shell of a burned out church. I bet Dio was the one who burned down the church. He's evil like that.

Radiohead - Just:

I wonder what that man said to make everyone lie down in the street like that. Probably something like, "Everybody lie down". People are stupid sometimes.

Van Halen - Hot For Teacher:

This video gives the viewer an idea of how awesome it would be to go to the same high school as Van Halen. And guess what; that super hot Phys. Ed teacher... that's Wayne Gretzky's wife. For realsies.

Marilyn Manson - The Dope Show:

And seemingly out of nowhere, Mr. Manson grows some nipple-less boobs, gets kidnapped by faceless scientists and proceeds to skewer the cult of celebrity and poke some fun at the police force as well. Also, this is the only music video to visually reference Alejandro Jodorowski's 'Holy Mountain', which is the biggest, most hallucinatory mindfuck of a movie ever created. Good luck finding it.

Cameo - Word Up:

Painfully ridiculous video about a detective (played by Levar Burton) who dances and who also watches Cameo dance. Cameo is wearing some sort of 'Road Warrior meets Flashdance' type shit that involve a bright red codpiece. Word up?

Smashing Pumpkins - 1979:

Yeah. I remember doing stuff when I was a kid too.

Dokken - Dream Warriors:

The good ol' boys in Dokken wrote this tune for the Nightmare on Elm St. Film of the same name. So naturally the video is 50% Dokken rocking out and 50% clips of Freddy chasing troubled teenagers. The best part? The end, when we discover the whole video is actually a bad dream that Freddy himself is having... about Dokken! his line: "What a nightmare!....who were those guys?" Scary.

Sir Mix-a-Lot - Baby Got Back:

This is the 'Snakes On A Plane' of music videos; you know exactly what you're going to get. Or do you? Is it just me, or is there an uncomfortable amount of fresh produce for a video about girl's asses. Also: stuffed?

Foo Fighters - Everlong:

Another dream sequence video. Actually, a dream within a dream (within a dream?) video. I don't really understand what the shit is happening, but man it looks fucking rad.

Suicidal Tendencies - Institutionalized:

So this guy's just walking around talking about how shitty stuff is and how no one understands him and stuff. He seems pretty pissed off. Let's move on.

Nine Inch Nails - The Perfect Drug:

Trent cuts a killer 'stache, drinks some absinthe and freaks out in the best looking haunted castle I've ever seen. I wish I had a hedge maze and some abstract sculptures. And a sword. And whatever that electro-wheel shit is.

Snoop Doggy Dogg - What's My Name:

One time I hooked up with this chick at a bar and we ended up going back to her mom's place, because apparently mom was out for the night. While we were in her mother's bed, mother decided to come home unexpectedly and I was forced to hide in mother's closet. While I stood there, naked and drunk in the darkness, trying to block out the sound of mother yelling at daughter, demanding to know, "Whose fucking shoes are these!", I thought about this video. Specifically the beginning, where that angry father suspects that Snoop is poking his attractive young daughter. "Is that dog in there!? I want that dog outta my house!" I don't know why I'm bringing this up. The important thing is that I managed to escape and Snoop managed to sell about six million rekkids. Bow wow.

Basement Jaxx - Where's Your Head At?:

Where's MY head at? Behind this pillow, because this video is the most terrifying piece of film I have ever seen. And I honestly never want to see it again. Shit gives me fucking nightmares.

Aerosmith - Crazy:

When I was fifteen, this was the sexiest video in the world. Oh Alicia Silverstone, why couldn't we have stayed young together?

Beck - Sexx Laws:

I know Beck was already on the list, but check this shit out. A haunted kitchen! A refrigerator fucking a stove from behind! Jack Black! A space wizard! A rotating, banjo playing zebra! Tassels! This is what drugs should be like.

Guns N' Roses - 3-way tie!!! - Don't Cry / November Rain / Estranged:

Jesus, where do I even start. Let's see. Ok Axl... being naked and twitchy underground in Don't Cry? Highly unnecessary! Swimming with the motherfucking dolphins in Estranged? Double highly unnecessary! And November Rain? Axl... step away from the piano. You do not belong there. (Maybe that abandoned ship in the middle of the ocean isn't such a bad idea.)

Swank Home

Good Morning, Officer... By: MIke Gillis

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These were the first words I muttered Sunday morning after being awoken by a pair of Halifax's Finest.

I opened my eyes to see the two of them standing over me, their Chariot of Incarceration idling by the curb.

What have I done?, I thought.
Is sleeping in a crime?
Well, kind of, yes.
Especially if you're caught sleeping in on someone's lawn.
And that was certainly what I appeared to be doing.
Flat on my back.
My left arm wrapped in a surgical cast and my right elbow-deep in a mysterious bag of potato chips. The gaseous plumes of whiskey and Jager emanating from my pores were probably visible from two hundred yards away.

Had they stumbled across me during the morning patrol or had someone summoned them to take me away? Was I snoring?
As I sat up one of the officers moved forward ...."Alright, come with us."

"Na nuh occife, Im'wa jus stoppn fer a resssy poo... Imns goin home nww."

Officer: "Do you even know where you are right now?"

"Surr beh," I pointed up the road, "das werri wrk der beh."
And, through the miracle of some collapsing vortex of geography and lost information mindfuckery, I was indeed pointing to the building where I work.

Officer (skeptical as shit): "Where do you live?"

"Hollish," I pointed in the opposite direction.

"Can you make it to Hollis St.?"

"Sure beh," I shakily rise and begin staggering down the street.
They did not pursue.
And I'm not 100% on this, but I'm pretty sure I may have thanked them for rousing me before I got a nasty sunburn.

You see folks, I have this disease where sometimes I think something is a really good idea, when it is, in actuality, a very poor idea.
Like treating a stranger's front lawn like it's my personal sofa.

Another example of this would be the time I tried using my skateboard on a patch of black ice, because obviously zero friction = way easier to do tricks.
That ordeal also left me unconscious on the ground.
But that's neither here nor there.

I'd just like to say that I'm thankful for at least two things.
One: that I finally got to got to camp outdoors this summer.
And two: that the Halifax Regional Police are always on duty, out there cleaning up the streets and risking their lives, making sure no one steals the shoes of those who didn't quite make it home last night.

Godspeed, HRPD.

Swank Home

How to Get Rich - Dump the Fear

By Sashi

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If you want to be rich, first stop being so frightened [The Times Online]

Swank Home

Felix Dennis, publishing tycoon, has written a guide to becoming a multi-millionaire. All you need is thick skin, cunning - and a work ethic.

Interesting article, with enough blunt talk and liberal dashes of good old British humour.

Check out this shortlist:

• If you are unwilling to fail, sometimes publicly, and even catastrophically, you stand little chance of ever getting rich.

• If you care what the neighbours think, you will never get rich.

• If you cannot bear the thought of causing worry to your family, spouse or lover while you plough a lonely, dangerous road rather than taking the safe option of a regular job, you will never get rich.

• If you have artistic inclinations and fear that the search for wealth will coarsen such talents, you will never get rich. (Because your fear, in this instance, is well justified.)

• If you are not prepared to work longer hours than almost anyone you know, despite the jibes of colleagues and friends, you are unlikely to get rich.

• If you cannot convince yourself that you are “good enough” to be rich, you will never get rich.

• If you cannot treat your quest to get rich as a game, you will never be rich.

• If you cannot face up to your fear of failure, you will never be rich.

I always like a good read on a Monday… something to keep me going for the rest of the day.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Eagles of Death Metal's "Death by Sexy"

I have one of my top ten cds for 2006 already in my grubby little hands. For the past month I have been listening nonstop to Eagles of Death Metal's "Death by Sexy". Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme have delivered a winner.

Upon first listen, I thought they sounded like a '70s garage band. Upon second listening, the first song, 'I want you so hard' reminded me of an ELO build up with a 'Yakkity Yak' (Don't talk back) voice saying 'The boy's bad news'. The song had me dancing around in my seat during rush hour, with many wondering what the hell my problem was. Song 4 'I like to move' was reminiscent of '70s Stones. Song 5 is my favourite - Entitled 'Solid Gold', it is fun, campy and truly makes you 'sweat'. Track 10 was when I went - OHMYGAWD! Lux (Eric) Interior is alive and well and I still love him. 'Chase the Devil' is brilliant.

Then I decided to open the liner to find out if what I thought was there, was. The names mentioned were unbelievable and yes Lux Interior and Poison Ivy are there (along with Jack Black, Dave Grohl, ...)

Josh Homme amazes me - I thought he wouldn't be able to top the 'The Art of Keeping a Secret' and the 'Feel Good Hit of Summer', but then he comes out with this!! Oh Baby Duck (Josh) what are you going to do when both Eagles of Metal Death and Queens of the Stone Age are both big, at the same time?

Get ready Baby Duck - your time is now.

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The Glim Project - Interview with Marco Bieri, Lucanus Randall, and Geoff Archibald

Contributed by Christine Albrecht

After a few hit and misses, The Glim Project and I managed to get together for a followup interview after their July 14th review. (See link.)

This was not a formal, taped verbatim interview, but more a casual discussion of the band's progression.

The Glim Project is made up of four members: Geoff Archibald (guitar), Marco Bieri (drums), Lucanus Randall (vocals, guitar), and Ian (E) (bass). They formed TGP one and a half years ago, and found that indie acts aren't able to knock on doors with a demo tape for a gig. After utilizing various promoters, things began to improve and they have over 40 gigs under their belts. They are lined up as second headliners (of 11 bands) for the Revelstoke Festival on August 26th, at the Backstage Lounge on August 18th, The Media Club on September 2nd, and in Salmon Arm on October 7th - so TGP fans be forewarned. As well, they will be performing in Vancouver, during the Fall, at the various clubs about town so be sure to check their website for upcoming shows.

Speaking of clubs about town, I immediately went into my rant regarding the Georgia Straight and its diversion from showcasing local acts (as in the distant past) to ignoring anything local and focusing on the usual C-Fox shlock. Our Canadian apathy towards our indie acts is appalling and needs to be addressed, Usually the Straight comes to the rescue, but not of late. It's been a long time since I've noticed anyone from the Straight attending local gigs. Hopefully, Canwest hasn't taken The Straight over as well.

Luc writes the lyrics and most of the music with the others tightening up the final product. Of course I had to ask my staple question, "Are good lyrics born out of trauma or tragedy?" and Luc's answer was an immediate yes. I also asked Geoff, Luc, and Marco what they were listening to between the ages of 10 and 15. Their answers were surprising in that they varied so much. Answers were all over the map from The Beatles, Faith No More, Guns N' Roses, Snoop Dog, Nirvana, Korn to Tool. So how does a group with such diverse tastes gel together? It became apparent when I delved into some of their background and training.

This is no fly-by-your-seat band. Their musical experiences are vast and worthy of mention. Luc has had 15 years of piano/guitar; Ian has had bass lessons and has played with other bands; Marco has had formal drum lessons, played with a jazz band for 3 years, and Geoff has had formal piano/violin lessons and played for 6 years with the Halifax Senior Symphony Orchestra (HSSO). (And I forgot to ask him if he can play my all time favourite Saint-Saens, 'Danse Macabre'.) They came together and formed The Glim Project with the intent to play music that they wanted. As Ian once said, they would prefer (if forced to choose) a genre of Progressive Rock, which I didn't understand at the time. Now I do, given their backgrounds and the importance of accessibility. Also, progressive rock immediately says that the band knows more than three chords.

When I asked the (God forbid) question: "Would you ever consider doing a cover tune?", Geoff was adamantly insisting no, with Luc nodding. Reason being, Geoff didn't want the band being recognized for doing someone else's song well. He'd rather TGP be known for their own tunes. Fair enough, but I still believe everyone has a price, no matter what their standards are. (I am always wishing for XTC's "Dear God" to be performed in a truly angry, snarling way. Ah well.)

This band can actually maintain their standards as they are all educated and responsible enough to not rely on music as their sole income. They all have good jobs and consider TGP to be side passion. However, a lack of post-secondary education and work experience could make a band hungrier for recognition and more willing to make sacrifices. Time will tell what the future holds for The Glim Project.

As usual, I ask the band to give a nod to others they feel are deserving of recognition and the response was Incura, Rederick Sultan, and Vancouver Band Alliance.

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The Glim Project