Thursday, August 30, 2007

Freestyling the Fringe By: Baba Brinkman

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Well-Adjusted Citizens,

Today is the last day of the Edinburgh Fringe (nicely planned, I know), and tonight I will play my last of 24 consecutive shows, followed by a post-partum rest. A few hours ago I was on a different kind of stage, being presented with an impressively titled Three Weeks Editor's Choice Award including a photo and framed plaque. The biggest festival reviewing newspaper Three Weeks chooses the ten events, shows, or performers that made the fringe special each year, and this year I was one. Being selected as one special thing out of ten may not seem like a great honour, but there are over two thousand shows competing for attention at the Fringe this year.

Here is the Three Weeks review that led to the Award.

I have been rubbish (UK-ism) at keeping up with email during this festival, due to the constant welcome distractions provided. Our daily routine for the past month has been to wake up each day at around noon (or sometimes 3 pm, depending on the night before), and proceed to the local coffee shop for beverages, internet, and breakfast (I'm here right now, 4:30 pm, right on schedule). Then we prepare and hand out flyers for a few hours each afternoon, and get ready for our shows. Aaron has had about a dozen gigs at various times over the past three weeks, some at theatres and some at bars and cafés, and I have been performing The Rap Canterbury Tales every night at 8:45. When the shows are all finished around 10 pm we head out on the town for the smorgasbord of cabaret, dancing, theatre, live music, comedy, and nightclubs that are available around the city until 5 am every night, often ushering in the dawn as we walk home, and the next day we do it all again. In the (purloined) words of Jay-Z, it's a hard knock life for us.

How can I still be having fun doing the same thing I was doing three years ago? Well, this year I changed up my strategy and starting working more and more improvisation into my act, turning it into a spontaneous comedy play. For me, this has been the Freestyle Fringe. In the first week of the festival, Erik challenged me to experiment with the script every day (he said he'd die of boredom tech-ing the same exact show twenty four more times), so I have been doing my best to surprise him with new twists and improv dialogue in each show. We have also included a segment where the audience fills out short surveys in the lobby before the show, writing down phrases and words that they associate with rap and Chaucer. Then, at the end of the show, Erik projects the responses onto a screen on stage, and I extemporize everyone's ideas into a live freestyle rap as an epilogue.

The reputation I got for doing this freestyle outro in the show quickly spread to the official Fringe radio station, Festival FM, and on the fourth day of the festival they brought me in for an interview and got me to freestyle live on air. It went so well that they offered me a regular slot reading the nightly 8 o'clock news as a freestyle rap. So for the past three weeks I have stopped in at the radio station on my way to perform every evening, and they have prepared a list of the day's headlines, finding the quirkiest and most bizarre items of news to try to challenge me. Then they hand me the list of headlines and with no rehearsal or preparation I put them into rhyme live on air. This regular stunt has earned me a cult following with the festival media people, and we even brought the camera in to film one of the news sessions. You can watch the YouTube video here:

The result of all this experimentation and creative development, I'm happy to announce, has been a critical smash at this year's fringe. I was reviewed five times by various papers and websites and never got less than four stars out of five, with one five star review and two Critic's Choice picks. For those of you who are currently feeling nauseated by all this saccharine positivism, you will surely appreciate the final words of the Three Weeks review: if he wasn't so likeable, he'd be almost sickening. Erik takes issue almost every day with this affront, especially when I get on his case... "’likeable? ha!’

Here's some more of what the critics are saying:

Fest Review:

Review Review:

In a few days I'm on my way back down to Brighton and London to do some more recording with my UK hip-hop affiliates, then to Brisbane, Australia on September 6th. The Brisbane Writer's Festival has organized a writer's retreat for the week preceding their events. This entails flying all of the featured writer's to an island off the coast, where we will be put up in cabins and left to our own devices for four days in the middle of a national park. Fringe benefits.

Hope you have all had a similarly spectacular summer, and wish me luck on the hard road ahead.


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Monday, August 27, 2007

A Fine Frenzy bring their magic to Canada with Tour Dates in august and October Also: Alison Sudol makes her acting debut Christine Albrecht

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Alison Sudol of aFINE FRENZY makes her acting debut and performs on the season premiere of the hit TV series CSI: NY on September 26/07.

‘The melodies on this debut are breathless’ - Entertainment Weekly

‘Her music is haunting’ - actress Selma Blair / Interview Magazine

‘One Cell in the Sea’ is pretty and mysterious enough to draw plenty of admirers’- Paste Magazine

‘Fraught, haunted and beautiful’ - Harp Magazine

‘Her debut album could make her a big star’ - InStyle Magazine

Word of mouth is spreading quickly on One Cell in the Sea, the stunning debut from A Fine Frenzy which was released in Canada last week. A Fine Frenzy is fronted by 22-year-old singer/pianist Alison Sudol and while the songs are ethereal, the musical and lyrical vision is as thoughtful, brainy and delightful as Alison herself.

A Fine Frenzy are ending their tour with Rufus Wainwright in Canada with dates in London on August 29 and Montreal on August 31.

That same week A Fine Frenzy will be doing a private show and promotion in Toronto. Fans can also catch them live when they return to Canadian soil in October on tour with Brandi Carlile with dates in Toronto on October 9 and Vancouver on October 27.

A Fine Frenzy will also be appearing on television - first on September 10 performing on Last Call with Carson Daly and then on September 26 Alison makes her acting debut and performs on the season premiere of smash hit show CSI: NY!

A Fine Frenzy live are quite simply breathtaking and not to be missed.

Disappearing Burger Joint Blues By: Terry Lowe

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Where burgers are concerned, I’m pure Jughead: “Give me one of those, and one of those, and one of those, too.” Would I like fries with that? Yes, of course I would! And I want a milkshake, too.

My newspaper told me a while ago that Vancouver’s landmark Fresgo Inn on Davie Street has closed. Closed! Not only has it closed, it has been replaced by a performance venue/restaurant/lounge featuring burlesque acts by drag queens, oh my. Thirty years of Fresgo’s erased just like that.

At least two generations of youngsters stumbled (or sometimes tumbled) into Fresgo's at 2 AM to devour mushroom burgers and vast mounds of fries. I was one of them way back when, and my memories of Fresgo’s are all enjoyable, if somewhat indistinct. If I can’t go there anymore, where shall I go, then?

I set off for Wally’s Burgers, out on Kingsway in deepest East Van, eager for a Deluxe Wagon Burger, some fries, and a milkshake. Wally’s is a classic 1950s drive-in burger joint, perhaps the last such remaining here. I found that Wally’s, alas, is on its last legs: the vintage neon sign is being dismantled; there are no milkshakes available, and no pop machines, either. These last have been replaced by a generic Pepsi cooler.

The Deluxe Wagon burger remains, though: a wonderfully sloppy construction featuring two patties in a big bun (with condiments and secret sauce). But the amount of fries has been reduced by half, and there weren’t too many customers present. I was pleased, though, to see two guys show up in a heavily customized muscle car: a reminiscence of Wally’s hot rod past as the cool place to be.

Times change, I realize, and if we’re losing or about to lose the classic old burger joints, who is replacing them? And what’s the new approach to selling the time-honoured burger + fries + milkshake combo?

Some Googling to find Vancouver’s latest and greatest burger joints yielded a few contenders, so I applied bike tires to pavement to investigate each in turn.

Vera’s Burger Shack (various locations)

A truly tasty big burger, and a friendly method of ordering: they ask for your name, and then yell for you when your order is ready. But the location on Main Street (at 14th Ave) has appalling ambience. The only tables are picnic tables, otherwise you must sit on a stool at a narrow shelflike bar; there’s a giant-screen television dominating the room showing idiotic sports like wrestling or stock car racing; and the only beverages available are pop, juice, or bottled water. Go here only for takeout, like most other people do.

Burgers Etc (North Burnaby)

A cozy little cafe on Hastings near Gilmore, also with big yummy burgers. Table seating is available, with servers, and a standard burger with fries and a pop (no milkshakes, no coffee or tea, but they do have a liquor license) cost me $10.34. Not bad at all, I thought. A delicious burger (etc), but the music’s too loud. I’d go back if they turned the volume down and offered me some coffee. How hard is it make coffee? Or, for that matter, to make a milkshake?Hamburger Mary’s (1202 Davie Street, Vancouver)

Hamburger Mary’s has graced Vancouver's West End since 1979, serving up burgers that are 1/3 of a pound of chopped beef steak (other meats are available, along with chicken and salmon), well-garnished, and with a tasty barbecue sauce. Fries are included in the price printed on the menu, AND they have milkshakes, coffee and tea, and an outdoor patio. And a liquor license. And soup. And they’re right downtown. And they’re open til 3 AM. What's not to like here? My vote goes to Hamburger Mary’s, long may she prosper.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Back in the Saddle by Baba Brinkman

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Creative Capacities,

The prodigal son of the Fringe has returned home, to Edinburgh that is. I'm writing from a packed café on the rainy official first day of the largest and greatest arts festival in the world. I turned my back on the Fringe last year, opting instead to record my "Lit-Hop" album and stay in B.C. for the summer. But the Fringe is a forgiving family, and it looks like they're taking me back, and it's a great place to be.

I had my first preview show on Friday, and it was pretty nearly a disaster, with the redeeming factor that no one in the audience seemed to be aware of everything that was going precipitously wrong, or if they were aware they laughed it off due to my ad-libbing through it. The reason for the cock-up was the recent addition of animated visuals to my performance. We are now projecting Erik's illustrations from the book onto a screen on stage while I perform the show, and the technical logistics of mixing the lighting with the visuals and sound has been challenging, but yesterday's show was much improved for fluidity (and I had about fifty people in), and tonight the show ran like a well oiled Olympian.

If you want to see an example of the new animated tales, you can watch one of them on YouTube here.

The other action at the Fringe this year is the rise of Aaron Ross, Vancouver's next folk music hero (mark my words). Today he performed his world debut show to a healthy crowd of forty-five or so, and one hour later he had forty-five appreciative fans. We sold a pile of Aaron's CDs afterwards, and he had a reviewer in as well, so we'll see what the critics think of him next. But really it hardly matters, because the crowds are loving him, and he will be performing nearly every day for the rest of the month, seven days in a massive cathedral on George IV Bridge, four days in my venue next to Edinburgh Castle, and multiple performances at live music venues around town. On Friday Aaron opened for a rock band at The Ark (a popular bar in the centre of town), and he was so well received that they invited him back to play every week for the rest of the month. He also has spots coming up on Festival FM radio and is getting a great response from everyone who has heard his album tracks online.

Click here to see why. I have also posted additional tracks on my Lit Fuse Records site, and advance copies of Butterfly Man are now available for mail order through PayPal. Soon he will be availably digitally as well as globally, but first we have this ancient city to infiltrate.

Here's the Lit Fuse link: As for me, I'm just getting ramped up, as I perform at the Fringe every night at 8:45 pm from now until August 26th, and then fly to Australia shortly after. It's surreal to be back here exactly three years after my first foray into the Fringe, but that first time I was wide-eyed and untutored in the guerilla arts. This time I have an arsenal of reviews, albums, books, and a team of new talent to showcase (four of us from Vancouver are sharing a flat here, including my brother and Geordie, who plays bass with Aaron). Many charges have been set to blow, but a lit fuse does not make an explosion on its own, so there are no guarantees. I'll keep you updated as events unfold here at the festival, and try to stay abreast of correspondence.

All the best from the powder keg,


PS - Here's a link to Aaron's press release if you want to see how we're pitching him. And a link to my press release if you want to know how we're pitching me. And here's a link to a recent story about my flat-mate Ryan, who is the Neo-Shakespeare to my Neo-Chaucer.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dave Gahan's 'Hourglass' Scheduled for October 23 Release By Christine Albrecht

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Depeche Mode’s frontman puts out second solo effort.

Dave Gahan’s eagerly awaited second solo album is set to be released on October 23, 2007. This cd follows his critically acclaimed solo debut ‘Paper Monsters’. The opening track on Hourglass is ‘Saw Something’, a gospel sounding tune that sets the mood for the other 9 tracks. The lyrics of 'Use You’ scathingly details his disgust with people, not excluding himself.

Hourglass was produced by Gahan, along with Christian Eigner & Andrew Phillpott, both members of the Depeche Mode touring band. Gahan initially made his full-fledged songwriting debut on 2003's Paper Monsters and later wrote three stellar tracks for Depeche Mode's recent 2 million selling Playing The Angel - 'I Want It All,' 'Suffer Well' & 'Nothing's Impossible. Decidedly more electronic than his previous solo work, Gahan has swapped the guitar of Paper Monsters for his synthesizer - a sound he and Depeche Mode exemplfy.

‘For me, it's the best possible record I could make at this time. And it's gone well beyond what I expected of myself.’

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Chris Mass - Join the Chris Bike Ride Friday September 7, 2007

Reprinted article from This is Plan B

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7 pm, ride 7:15

Science World Gazebo

If you're a Chris, join us on this ride. If you're not a Chris but would like to be an honourary Chris for an evening, join us. If you just want to go for a ride, join us. Really, just come out for a ride, do you need an excuse? Come and see what it's like to be a Chris... hear your name constantly, meet as many Chris' as you can, find different ways of spelling Chris.

We're encouraging everyone to wear red, green, and/or something shiny. Name tags will be provided. Ride meets at 7pm and leaves at 7:15 sharp from the Gazebo at Science World in Vancouver. We'll go on a ride on some of Chris' favourite routes and finish in a local drinking establishment. Discover if beer is really Chris' favourite drink. Good times.

Everyone welcome.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Shaye - 4 part Mini Series Debuts Sunday, September 9 By: Christine Albrecht

Canadian Documentary Captures the Canadian Music Scene

Calgary, Alberta is the home of Shaye, E! Channel’s all-new original documentary series capturing the highs and lows of making it in the music business.

Shaye chronicles the behind-the-scenes journey of Kim Stockwood, Damhnait Doyle and Tara MacLean as they face life's everyday challenges, such as motherhood and dating on the road, while working to reach their dream of musical stardom. From filming videos to touring with the kids in tow, the pressure builds for the trio every day as they inch closer to gaining fame and fortune with the release of their second album Lake Of Fire.

From CanWest MediaWorks and Executive Producers, Ira Levy and Peter Williamson of Breakthrough Films & Television, this 4-part documentary makes its television debut September 9 on E!.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Alive & Kicking - Fine Young Cannibals By Christine Albrecht

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Although Fine Young Cannibals only released two cds - Fine Young Cannibals, and The Raw and the Cooked, their songs dominated the airwaves from 1985 to 1990.

FYC was one of Britain’s most popular bands of the eighties and their unique name was taken from an obscure 1960 film, All the Fine Cannibals. FYC consisted of Roland Gift (br 1962), Andy Cox (br 1956) and David Steele (br 1960) (Both formerly of the band, English Beat). Roland was responsible for the group’s lyrics and melodies, while Dave and Andy would add guitars/ drums etc. and arrange/ flesh out the rest of the song.

In 1990, Gift shocked the music industry by refusing, on the band’s behalf, two Brit awards, claiming the event had "become a photo opportunity for the Tory government." FYC tried to make a third album, but it wasn’t to be, especially since Gift decided to go off with a traveling theatre group halfway through recording, angering his colleagues. After languishing without an album, the band was dropped by their label in 1996. That made Gift more determined to release a solo album.

Roland Gift was/is exceptionally good looking, with a voice to match. His singing style was unique; stretching his mouth for every vowel, and rolling his tongue around every consonant, resulting in a raspy, melancholic and soulful sound. He has since done some acting and modeling, but mostly just stayed out of the limelight. Gift has his own official website and had released a self titled cd (with the help of Andy Cox) in March of 2002 to mediocre reviews. Some comments declared that The Fine Young Cannibal’s "fire was missing," and called the cd "Bacharach pop." Not the best reviews to hear after being off the charts for 12 years. (but still being productive by raising his two children).

Andy Cox, with FYC, performed in the movie The Tinmen. He has also lent his guitar/ cello/ drumming/ photography/ arranging/ producing talents to REM, Gabrielle, "Big Monster Bash", Tribute to Cole Porter, "Fairport Unconventional", Al Green, English Beat, "Gourmet de Funk", Ranking Roger, Roland Gift, and "Best of Music & Rhythm".

David Steele formed Two Men and a Drum Machine with David Steele, and had also been active as a studio backup for other artists as well as for soundtracks. He has lent his vocals/ bass/ keyboards/ drumming/ mixing/ and producing to: Loverboy, Cher, "Down to Earth", "Truth About Cats and Dogs", Motley Crue, Al Green, Annihilator, Alison Moyet, and Tribute to Cole Porter.

It appears that Cox and Steele are still alive and kicking, but Gift may require some nudging to get out there and continue pursuing his love of drama and singing.

Alive and Kicking - Psychedelic Furs By Christine Albrecht

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Gravelly voiced Richard Butler fronted the band who sung "Pretty in Pink" which was used for the 1986 movie of the same name. The band originally assembled in the late 70's, and continued until 1991. Artistic disagreements led to the band's demise. The 1980's were the glory years for the Furs; "Heaven", along with "Pretty in Pink" kept the Furs on the airwaves. In 1994, Richard created the band, LoveSpitLove, only to disband several years later. His focus is now back on the Furs.

Recently the Furs played at Endfest13 , 2004, with the likes of Violent Femmes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, X, and Franz Ferdinand which would indicate the "Alive and Kicking" moniker is appropriate. I also noticed that the Furs had an extensive tour date schedule for 2004/05. Richard has recently released (Aug/04) the song "Work it Out" (written by Vince Clark of Depeche Mode) for the children's show, Johnny Bravo.

In August, 2004, a book about the Psychedelic Furs was released, entitled "Beautiful Chaos".

There is talk that the Furs are in recording at this time (Winter 2004), and it is also rumoured that Richard was releasing a solo cd this Fall, but so far, no sight of it. The songs "Broken Areoplanes" and "California" will be two of the titles on the new cd. However, aside from 2002, no "new" cds (in other words, disregard greatest hits cds) have been released, and the other cds were deemed "reissued".

Present bandmates in the Furs are: Richard Butler (vocals), Tim Butler (bass), John Ashton (guitar), Frank Ferrer (drums) and Amanda Kramer (keyboards). Butler, (June 5, 1956) presently resides in New York with his wife and daughter and has also become a critically acclaimed painter. he performed a full touring schedule with the Furs in 2005.

Alive and Kicking - Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark By Christine Albrecht

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In the Fall of 1979, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark (also known as OMD) released their first single which contained the catchy sound of a synthesized xylophone. Here were four guys from Liverpool, Paul Humphreys, Andy McCluskey, Martin Cooper (sax, Keyboards), and Malcolm Holmes (drums), creating a unique wall of sound from minimal instruments.

The band has had at least three different music directions in its surprisingly long and varied history. First was the highly experimental and very influential Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark during the early 1980s; the ready-for-America pop OMD of the late '80s, and the Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark of the early 1990s. It is a sad statement that most music lovers only learned of the band in the mid eighties, when the movie, Pretty and Pink, put them into the spotlight. Moreso in the spotlight were Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys.

OMD's founder, Andy McCluskey noted that the band became popular in North America, just as their popularity was waning in England. England briefly showed a renewed interest when they released their fundamental (at least for their pocketbooks and for contractual obligations) "Best of" album in 1990, and they also reissued two of their other albums (Architecture & Morality, Organization) in 2003. The 1990 release was unusual as A&M has already released a Greatest Hits in 1989, but the band felt the 1990 release was better and since A&M had reverted back to Virgin, they felt a need to remaster and tidy up the disc.

McCluskey is aware that OMD has been influential for today's synthpop scene. There was a time in the late '80s and early '90s where synthpop was frowned upon, but it too is reemerging.

McCluskey feels frustrated when he thinks back to the eighties. Whenever OMD had a hit song, people would accuse them of selling out. Then when they were actually selling out, and were a hit, most people in the media had no idea about OMD's history. They just chalked us up as this fluff new pop band. McCluskey feels that, at least for a while, they tried their best to be cutting edge, ie: the song Enola Gay. "But after awhile you get stuck on a treadmill and it's hard to write good songs. You try to please people instead of trying to please yourself." People criticized the song, "If you Leave" yet McCluskey is very proud of that song and the effort that went into creating it.

By the end of 1989, OMD disbanded. McCluskey and his longtime band mate Paul Humphreys decided to go their separate ways. It was a difficult time for Andy because he was coming off a drug dependency, and was over a million £ in debt. Humphreys attempted to restart OMD without Andy, but Andy said no to the use of the OMD name. Virgin records assured McCluskey that he was the one they wanted the album from. The resulting album was entitled Sugar Tax. He purposely didn't put any names on the album so that people wouldn't realize Humphreys was gone. It was released to lukewarm ratings.

For now, OMD has been laid to rest with no chance of resurrection. As McCluskey notes "I enjoy being retired, and not having to fit into the OMD jacket.'" As for the Alive and Kicking moniker, it appears OMD is simply treading water as debts and writer's block stop any further progress.

Alive & Kicking - The Band X By Christine Albrecht

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Lately, Exene Cervenka's ex husband (actor Viggo Mortensen) seems to be getting more press than she, even though she is still prolific in her song and poetry writing.

Exene was the singer for the L.A. punk band, X, along with bandmates John Doe (Exene's first husband and bassist/singer) DJ Bonebrake (drums) and Billy Zoom (guitarist). X ruled L.A.'s punk scene and was admired by other bands struggling for recognition.

Unfortunately, X never got the accolades that less ambitious bands were later garnered.

X was formed in 1977 and worked steadily until 1988. Their first four albums were produced by Ray Manzarek and were musically edgy, and lyrically insightful. Billy Zoom left the group in 1986 for a disappointing solo attempt, and Dave Alvin from the Blasters was recruited (followed by Tony Gilkyson). They took a five year break and then returned with the album "Hey Zeus" in 1993. They officially disbanded in 1996, although they will sporadically perform (with Billy Zoom in tow).

Exene (br Feb. 1, 1956) has released two solo albums, as well as spoken word recordings and books. (One book collaboration was with Lydia Lunch) Exene's other major "production" is a son Henry (from her union with Viggo) who was born in 1988.

In 1985, Exene, John, Dave and Dj released an country punk album called "Poor Little Critter on the Road" under the name The Knitters. A tribute to this album was made with the 1999 release of "Poor Little Knitter by the Road" proving their musical importance amongst other recording artists.

Exene and Bonebrake also performed in a band called Auntie Christ, whilst John Doe moved on to solo performances and part time acting. Exene is now performing with a group called Original Sinners, self described as "big beat punk". Original Sinners, and John Doe, are touring well into 2005 which aptly entitles them to the Alive & Kicking designation.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Interview with Sean Mackin – Violin, Vocals of Yellowcard By: Christine Albrecht

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Thank you for agreeing to talk with Swanktrendz ezine. I was looking forward to meeting you as I have a few questions regarding your ability to sing, play violin, and do back flips, all with apparent ease.

Well, I am not sure about the ease part.

Who generally deals with the media interviews?

Ryan and I share them equally we split the duty, either together or apart. I am really looking forward to playing this venue I feel really good about tonight. Vancouver's been a tough town to sell a lot of tickets, so we want to make sure we give them their money's worth.

It is interesting that you were chosen to open for Nickelback. I wouldn’t say your sound is similar, yet you do complement each other.

Thank you. We do have a solid core fan base who come out to our shows, but we certainly are not breaking into the thousands like Nickelback, so this will be an interesting experience.

Now Sean, obviously - since the band's inception - there is a huge buzz about you playing the violin in a rock, formerly punk, band. And, I understand you were brought up in a classical and jazz environment. So how did you come to marry the two genres?

Yep, I was brought up on classical, with a little more jazz when I went to high school. I started doing some some improv with the violin and then began a little more of the rock side, but I had been classically trained from the age of six. So I could venture out, yet always return to the classic.

Is this career what you were leaning towards?

No. Actually I never thought I would be doing anything in music, except on an outside scale. I always thought I would be a music teacher at middle school or high school and that would provide my musical outlet.

Too bad you didn't. Canada and the US are starved for music teachers.

Yes, Music education is really a sad thing at present. But, back to my musical direction - it wasn't until I met the group of friends (that would go on to become Yellowcard) that I started playing music and playing different musical styles. I started writing songs and being part of a band, and all along we were really close friends

That makes me wonder - because the fellows in the band are so close and together constantly -how did you survive this long? The relationship is akin to family and don’t you find you treat your band mates worse than you would an outsider?

There are definitely roots of family involved. You start from there because you are intertwined so tight, and you know how to push each other's buttons. It can be horrible some times especially if someone decides to push an issue. Nowadays, we have gotten better at separating issues. It's hard when financial, business, and music are all intertwined.

I've noticed that you have been around for almost as long as the drummer, Longineu. So that means you could write the Yellowcard book - You've got all the dirt on everyone, and you have seen all the line up changes.

Well, there wouldn’t be much to write.

I was reading that the cd Light and Sound received a lot of high scores from various reviewers. Alternative Press (amongst others) rated it 5 out of 5. That must be extremely satisfying, and validating, for you as you wrote and arranged all the strings except one.

No, I wrote all of them.

All of them? I have heard that you didn't do the intro to track 8 The Waiting Game.

No the melody in the song is what Pete thought of, and then we wrote the song together I arranged the strings.

That is pretty impressive.

I am trying. Like any band from Aerosmith to anyone today - they always have string arrangements in their music. I think it is a big point of pride that we are able to do all the arranging in house. Arrangement and orchestration can be done by us, and it falls under the violin player job, I'll do it. Anything we offer on our records we can offer in a live show.

Great segueway - I wanted to ask how difficult is it to transfer your studio music to a live show? I have heard that more and more artists are relying on autotune to perfect their voices - is this the same for the instrument playing?

We definitely shy away from the use of effects and outside influences in our music. We have always prided ourselves on being the band that can do it live. Of course fatigue and emotion can come into play during our live shows and we can make mistakes. But we really embrace just being a band and being out there creating the music for our audience. There are different technological advances that help say, the Britney Spears in life, But we still have integrity and we are going to be the hardest working band, Yes, we are gong to make mistakes.

I would think the fans appreciate that.

We pride ourselves on the relationship that we have with our fans and audience rather than going up and pressing play. Sure if we lip synched, it would sound exactly like the record and it would look like us but we can't interact with the audience then.

I have heard that you are one of the hardest working bands with regards to maintaining your myspace site, keeping connected, writing back to fans. At your level of success, you don't even have to do that.

It is becoming more and more difficult, but it is important to us. Bottom line, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the fans. There are a million bands out there who they can support, and they have chosen us. We try to give kudos to our fans for allowing us to live like this.

Progression of the band - I have two sets of notes, pre Ryan Key and post Ryan. When Ryan is speaking of the band he generally only refers to music done since 2000, not anything around the beginning 1997. Is that in keeping with the music too - you don’t play any songs pre Ryan?

We don’t play anything prior to Ryan's music in Yellowcard because the earlier stuff was written by Todd Clarry and Ben Dobson and it's more out of respect than anything because it's their music. When Ryan Key joined, he was just doing guitar and Todd was singing. And then Todd left, so Ryan just took over the singing as well. He also taught me how to sing.

I noticed you are coming to forefront more and more with your vocals. I guess there won't be any more back flips from you if you have to play and sing?

I try to get them in there once in awhile.

I wanted going to ask who is behind all of your publicity decisions. You played the Warped Tour, yet also played in school cafeterias. You are playing in parking lots, and you are participating in radio contests. You are everywhere - it appears to be savvy, clever marketing.

We have a small amount of creative control but it is a cooperative thing. You have to talk with others to sign it off. Our manager is amazing.

Someone is doing some thing right because you name is heard and seen everywhere since the announcement of touring with Nickelback.

Nickelback is amazing because in an era of selling thousands of songs, they have managed to sell millions. They have at least 8 huge hits, so they are the biggest rock band on the planet. I don’t know how we got picked. Our manager mentioned it and we said that would be great. We want to play to the people that have heard of us, but we are also hoping to reach out to the people that haven't heard of us. Nickelback has been nothing but accommodating to us. We are just excited to be able to play to that many people.

With the beginning of Yellowcard, did you only plan to play a couple of songs?

In 1997 the band was very aggressive, very 'good riddance' punk rock music. With the change of the songwriting after Ryan Key came on board showed how diverse everyone in the band is. We have found parts in every song of the yellowcard song formula for the violin. At first I was part of the band, but more in a 'guest appearance' role. The response was really positive so they said, you’re in and you have got songs you’ve written, so let’s work on them. It’s important for the Yellowcard sound for me to play violin.

How do you maintain your energy level given how frenzied your playing is, on top of stage antics and singing?

My energy level is a reflection of what I get from the crowd. I was used to wearing a tuxedo and playing in an orchestra. Now with having our own show, when it's my turn to play my bit, I stand on that little island I don't have to hold back. It's a relief and it is a lot of fun.

What was a highlight - a big moment where you stopped and thought, you know what? I think we are doing okay.

I am going to say winning the MTV2 awards. We were the underdog. That was a highlight and looking back - we were thinking what the hell were we doing there in the company of all of these people? Another highlight is that we are still here. With the tour for 'Paper Walls', every day I am continually reminded that I get to do this as a living. It's pretty sweet.

Okay fun questions for while on tour. Who’s the messiest on tour?

The messiest - I would say Longineu - he takes out the back lounge like it's his bedroom. Sorry LP.

Who is ridiculously neat?

Ryan Mendez and I share this We seem to both have a little OCD. This is my spot, I know where to find my stuff. Hey who touched my ipod? Why is this over there - I didn’t put it there?

Who is quickest to temper?

For reaction and just being the sharpest is Ryan Key - Good or bad.

Who is most inclined to get a tattoo in every new city?

Longineu, I think. He used to have one artist, but lately he has started to branch out. Ryan only has one artist that he does work with.

Who likes to pester others when he is extremely bored, like a kid brother?

I think I am the most annoying one as I have all this energy. I'll start singing songs or running around heckling people.

Who is the one who generally puts his foot in his mouth without thinking before he speaks?

I don’t know - At this stage of the game we all know how to answer and when to keep our mouths shut.

It is swanktrendz's tradition to allow artists to give a shout out to other lesser know acts. Think of one or more acts who you feel are deserving of some media attention?

Anberline also from Florida - great friends of ours on the warped tour. Cities of tooth and nail. I am looking forward to what they are going to put out.

And one more, too. The Spill Canvas. Neil, our producer, just did their album They are fantastic. The singer has incredible delivery - he sings so beautifully and they're from South Dakota.

I'll be sure to note them and I want to thank you for your time, Sean.

You bet, my pleasure

Friday, August 10, 2007

Maintaining that Summer Weight Loss (10 minute routines) Christine Albrecht

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Quite a while back, I read an expired SHAPE magazine fitness article which asked its readers to submit their lowest daily exercise regime. The catch...? Contributors were to describe a 10 MINUTE routine they use that works. After the initial, What the ... ? wore off, the routines for a ten-minute workout remained, inviting us with their We are so EASY to perform, your great-granny could do this!

So as we slide into our end-of-summer state of denial (also known as We look good, so what’s another pound?) (We also surreptitiously turn our heads so as not to glimpse our expanding girth.) For variety’s sake those of us in denial of those creeping-upon-us pounds may even offer up the tried but true Sure my weight is slightly up, but don’t forget the water/salt retention ‘scapegoat’.

Well, gang - it is time to rattle our comfort zones and insert a daily physical maintenance to ensure water retention doesn’t slowly creep in to that 20 pound “oops!”. These following routines are fun, quick and use various muscle groups without tormenting them all, and great cardio is thrown in.

Swanktrendz has laid out a Monday through Friday sampling of 10 minute routines. Try it out. Stay with it for two weeks (without increasing food intake) and let us know how your experience was. (Please note, these routines require both gym apparatus and regular apparatus - feel free to alter the routines to suit your needs.)

Monday - (after warm up stretches) Do :

1 minute intense stationary riding bike,

2 minutes heavy leg press,

1 minute intense stair climbing,

2 minutes heavy arm press,

1 minute intense rowing,

2 minutes heavy hamstring lifts.

Don’t take a break during these exchanges as the heart rate needs to remain at a healthy high. Stretch out (throw in 25 crunches)

Tuesday - (after warm up stretches) Do:

1 minutes of push-ups (ladies’ form or mens’ form)

2 minutes of jumping jacks

1 minute of push-ups,

2 minutes of crunches,

1 minute push ups.

2 minutes of jumping jacks.

1 minute of pushups,

Don’t take a break during these exchanges as the heart rate needs to remain at a healthy high. Stretch out (throw in 25 crunches)

Wednesday - (after warm up stretches) Do:

1 minute of jump rope,

3 minutes of fast line dancing (approx. one song).

1 minute of jump rope, and

3 minutes of fast line dancing.

End with 2 minutes of jump rope.

Don’t take a break during these exchanges as the heart rate needs to remain at a healthy high. Stretch out (throw in 25 crunches)

Thursday - (after warm up stretches) Do:

1 minute running in place.

2 minutes of elliptical trainer.

2 minutes running in place,

3 minutes of the elliptical trainer.

2 minutes running.Don’t take a break during these exchanges as the heart rate needs to remain at a healthy high. Stretch out (throw in 25 crunches)

Friday - (after warm up stretches) Do:

2 minutes of jump rope,

1 minutes of leg extensions,

1 minute of intense jumping jacks,

1 minute of triceps pull downs,

1 minute of intense stair climber,

1 minute of hamstring curls,

1 minute of stationary bike,

and 2 minutes of rowing machine

Don’t take a break during these exchanges as the heart rate needs to remain at a healthy high. Stretch out (throw in 25 crunches)

Mix up your days, or even mix up some of the routines between days. Now you have several mini exercise routines that you can perform withoutboredom or apathy. Imagine the sense of well being you will have for as little as ten minutes a day.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Since We're Already Talking About Van Halen... By Mike Gillis

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So I was listening to Hot For Teacher during my walk home yesterday, and it hit me (for the one-thousand, eighty-fourth time) what a killer fucking rock song.

The super-insaneo drum intro; Eddie's guitar at Face Melting levels by the thirty second mark; the classroom chatter; that other guitar part, and the awesome video. It's fucking perfect.

Then I was thinking, if Hot For Teacher really were a killer rock song, what kind of killer would it be?

That's easy. Crazy ninja assassin.

But then I realized ‘No. That is incorrect.’

Ninja assassins, even the crazy ones, require a certain subtlety, a finesse if you will, to silently and gracefully slay their opponent with honor and dignity.

Hot For Teacher is more like a 6'8" two headed Rambo, wearing a neon orange shag carpet tuxedo, with machine gun arms and cherry red Ferraris for legs.

Who is also on fire.

And yells 'WOOOOOOYEAAAAAHHHHH!!!' a lot.

Yeah. More like that.

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Hot Hot Heat Performs on Jay Leno, August 8/07 Christine Albrecht

While watching the last part of Leno - I only tune in for the musical guests - I was very pleased to see Victoria's own Hot Hot Heat performing their latest tune Let Me In. This song is from their latest album, Happiness Ltd (due out in September, 2007) . The band sounded in top form, yet they weren't able to translate that bristling electricity one experiences when seeing them live.

The band is wrapping a tour with Snow Patrol tonight and will perform at Sunset Junction on Sunday, August 19th in Silver Lake, CA.

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Will USB Sticks Eventually Replace Music CDs? By Christine Albrecht

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I am oblivious to the regulations surrounding the acquisition of online MP3s. After the Napster trial, and the introduction of itunes, I became aware that major music labels, and their artists, were pulling no stops when it came to ensuring their online music was being purchased, thus hoping to end the peer file sharing and general MP3 downloading.

It wasn’t until I was watching MMM (Canada’s equivalent of Muchmusic and the U.S.’s Mtv for older viewers) when I caught a dated interview with Steven Page and Ed Robertson of The Barenaked ladies discussing their view of the arts community and its loathing of sharing/downloading music without artist compensation.

The musicians were explaining why they were releasing their latest musical venture in the usb stick format (also known as abluetooth.) This computer accessory holds a whack of information in its tiny frame. In this format, music can be shared from computer to computer depending upon where the owner wishes to listen to it. Quite an ingenious idea, and unlike computer files, this device is portable and can be uploaded, burned onto a cd, shared with a friend or ...?

To the chagrin of more militant artists, BNL points out the self defeating, waste of dollars spent tracking audiophiles ‘illegally’ downloading music to listen and share. With itunes and ipods being the trend du jour, it appears traditional cds are going by the way of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, with exception to the initial rip of the original cd.

MP3 players are increasingly favoured over CDs, however, they too have their flaws, most notably their inability to allow wireless downloads/transfers. Until ipods etc. can upgrade this problem, it appears USB memory sticks (bluetooths) are the way to go.

More and more artists (Barenaked Ladies in particular) have already released their musical ventures on USB memory sticks. This is a practical format as usb sticks are able to store more music, videos, artwork, etc. than any compact disc.

I especially enjoyed the Barenaked Ladies’ logic, (paraphrased) ... Our fans can purchase the usb stick and do what they wish with it. If that means downloading the contents onto their computer, burning a cd, or lending it out to friends, that’s their choice as they bought, and subsequently own, the music...

Will the usb stick offerings outsource cds, et el? Most certainly because of the added value to the consumer’s dollar by way of multiple uses of the stick. The bluetooth is comparable to a DVD movie because it offers both extra content and artist features. Of course, there will also be additional features that are not easily copied or pirated, hence the bluetooth must first be purchased to be fully accessed. This is the area that BNL, and others, are hoping will lure the fans/consumers to actually purchase the blue tooth music format.

This technology also shows how far behind record companies are as they struggle to keep current with fans who are already capable of utilizing the usb stick, while sabotaging attempts to disallow general file sharing. Despite record companies’ loathing of (blaming the band friendly site for lower CD sales due to illegal downloads) they are also dependent upon the site for market sampling and consumer profiling. Interestingly, is the platform preferred by upcoming bands when marketing themselves when no agent/label is stepping up to the plate. Once a band has received impressive hits, a label suddenly appears with contract in hand.

It’s time that more artists followed The Barenaked Ladies' innovative lead and remember the true passion behind making music - to share with the masses.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Border Crossing By Mike Gillis

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Guard - Do you have any identification son?

Me - Right here.

Guard - And what business do you have in the United States today?

Me - I heard you guys have awesome burgers.

Guard - Son... is that an unlicenced handgun on your seat there?

Me - Wha..? Oh, this. Haha. No, this is a fake gun.

Guard - A fake gun?

Me -Yeah, it's not real. I carved it out of hash.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thunderbird 13 Music Review By Shane Christensen

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I have to admit that I’m a sucker for hard-driving, balls to the wall rock n roll. I loved Smells Like Teen Spirit the first time I heard it because of the energy and vibe, and that’s how I feel about this British group.

Thunderbird 13 is a hard rocking outfit from Newquay, Southwest England and man, do these guys rock. The influences are obvious, but there is a definite originality to this band. So as you’re listening to the five tracks on their Myspace site, and you hear a bit of Motley Crue, Guns n Roses, even some Sabbath, you’ll also realize this is no rip off act. They do have their own sound… there’s no redundancy here… well, not too much.

The guitar playing of Goffzilla is impressive from the get go… this guy plays as well as anyone I’ve heard… (no exaggeration).

After a couple of listens I detect a bit of Slash, Tony lommi, Mick Mars, even Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing (of Judas Priest). The fact that he is the vocalist, and an impressive one at that, makes me believe that we will be hearing about this lad, in a big way, sooner rather than later.

The drummer, Fatpaul, keeps a hard driving and steady beat through the tunes without being too flashy. He adds some excellent fills and double foot work when needed. He also appears to recognize that you can get more with less… and it works very well in the context of this band’s sound.

The bass playing of Daniel Dawson is also top notch, most notably on House of Sin where his steady, thumping patter complements the song perfectly. He is a very capable and creative bass player… something all great bands require.

The tune Head n Tails sounds like You’ve Got Another Thing Coming, but that’s more from the rhythmic similarities of the main guitar riffs of both songs. As Head n Tails progresses, it definitely comes into its own.

House of Sin is a total rocker and an absolute gem at that. I picture a smoky bar with a lot of rough and tumble tattooed patrons… this song would be right at home there.

Take or Leave It enables Fatpaul to showcase his drumming talents as he masterfully manoeuvres through an avalanche of rolls and steady driving beats. I like all five songs on the site, but this one stands out for its energy and originality.

Love Junky starts with a bluesy, southern feel to it but then transforms into a riff-laden rocker and continues to go back and forth between the two. At first I thought Raine Maida (of Our Lady Peace) was a guest vocalist as the vocal similarities are that close at times.

Rock n Roll (demo) is my least favourite on the site… it is the one tune that does ring of redundancy and even appears a bit sloppy at times. But hey, it is only a demo and I’m sure with a bit of work and effort it could rise up to the standard of the other four… or provide a half decent filler for a full length album.

So if hard driving rock along the lines of the Gunners, Sabbath, Priest, and the Crue are what you’re looking for, then do yourself a favour and check out Thunderbird 13 on their Myspace site. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Thunderbird 13 can be found at Thunderbird 13.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Signs by Sashi

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Sometimes people head towards perceived destinations believing that all signs they encounter are pointing them in the right direction.

However, some people don’t really know how to read those signs. They end up interpreting them wrongly, thus mistaking the warning signs for welcome signs.

And when they do reach the end of the journey, they find themselves lost and confused, and with nowhere else to go but back from where they came.

Some of these people make further attempts at this journey, again and again, hoping against hope.

While some never take on the open road again.

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Trespassers... By Mike Gillis

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Trespassers will be:


prosecuted to the full extent of the law

charlie horsed


haunted. forever



added to "the list"


filled with childlike whimsy



filmed and later masturbated to

surprised when they meet SecuroBot

painted, dried, scraped and repainted


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