Archive for the ‘ Informant Inquisition ’ Category

Date : May 23, 2010 Under : Informant Inquisition

Prior to Big John’s recent home town show at The Bourbon, we had a chat about his risque entourage, rockabilly, his plans for 2010 and more.  Gig review and huge, high quality photoset in Renegade Rock Review Vol. 25.  Our green room conversation, below.

Weasel: After several weeks in the US, you’re now back home.  Welcome back.  Any notable tales from the road during your visit down south?

John: Everyone asks me that when I come back and there’s so many dates.  Some of the horror stories and the horrific drives.  Like, playing in a hurricane in Florida: We were onstage

Photo credit: Kris "Photo Gopher" Mayor

and actually, they’d tarped all the monitors.  We were outside and waiting for the “eye” to come over so we could do our set.  We were watching the water rise because it rained, like, I thought Vancouver rain a lot but holy shit. DeLand, Florida.  That’s where they made The Creature From The Black Lagoon. [laughs]  There’s always good people that we meet.  We toured with Reverend Dead Eye, who was awesome.   He did a one man band, sort of gospel kind of thing.  A one band band from hell… [laughs]

Weasel: Although you’ll be frequenting many places throughout B.C soon, can you please tell us more about the Pin Up Bizarre Kustom Kulture Show tomorrow, in Silverdale?

John: Yeah, I think it’s the second year they’ve been doing it.  They’re expecting a lot of cars; I think about a thousand or more.  It sounds like it’s going to be a real fun time.  It’s a one day event.  A lot of bands from Washington we played with, they got Three Bad Jacks from California playin’ with us.  It’s pretty much a west coast kind of situation.  A lot of pretty pin-ups. [laughs]

Weasel: In regards to the traveling burlesque part of your show: Do you ever have issues in certain states, countries or areas of the world with such a risqué part of your entourage?

John: Yeah, in Huntington Beach this year they wouldn’t allow the girls to dance; they said it was against their liquor license.  Although that’s Orange County and we did the show in two other places in Orange County so… They also tried to shut us down in Bismark, North Dakota.  They actually had the show cancelled and moved.  We had it moved outside city limits and they were getting political pressure.  The venue we played in eventually got shut down.  It does happen.  North Dakota’s pretty bad.  We’ve done all ages shows here.  We’ve done it on the island at The Big Time Out, we’ve done it in Holland.  We played this thing called the Kids and Billies festival.  It was last June and all these kids and their families…it was a family thing, right? [laughs]  We did the show and then the announcer came out after we were done, and we were one of the headliners, one of the last two bands.  He came out and grabbed the mic and said “Every one young kid needs to see more tits!” [laughs] It’s true, they were just there.

Weasel: Being “Gretsch” endorsed obviously accounts for a huge part of your sound, but are there other guitars used in your live set or on your most recent release, Bangtown?

John: No, I don’t think so.  Well, I have some old Kays, some acoustics and stuff.  I have a National-Dobro and I (also) play banjo on it (Bangtown).  So yeah, I used a bunch of different guitars on it but as far as electric guitar I’ve got about five or six Gretch’s and they’re all…some of them are from the 50’s and some of them are new and all have different tones.  It’s kinda just what I’m comfortable playing, you know?  I don’t really need to play a Les Paul or anything. [laughs]

Photo credit: Kris "Photo Gopher" Mayor

Weasel: I’m unsure of your awareness or concern with this subject but I’m curious what a rockabilly musician’s take is, on the scene itself.   What I mean by this is how the rockabilly scene in particular seems to be known for its share of elitism and conformity—which some may argue is the antithesis of rock or punk rock culture.  Do you recognize what I’m referring to and do you have any thoughts on the matter?

John: [laughs] Yeah, most of the “rockabillies” won’t come and see us play.  Some do, like the open-minded people do but for a lot of people—they only like their stuff traditional and if it’s not traditional they’re not interested.  And you gotta give them the credit—they’re allowed to like what they like, right?  But in Europe they call us “punk-blues”.   I know there’s a rockabilly element to what we do but it’s not rockabilly enough for the “rockabillies.” [laughs] So, I don’t know if that helps (you).

Weasel: Yeah, that’s what I was going for there.  2009 saw the release of Bangtown, along with your longest Canadian tour to date.  What does the remainder of 2010 hold in store for you and your crew?

John: 2010 is going to be… We’ve got area shows, regional shows all summer.  So, that’s Washington, B.C and Alberta.  And then September, October and November through December is one long tour.  We start in the U.S for a month and then we do seven or eight weeks in Europe and then the remaining two weeks in Canada with Intergalatic Cowboy.

Weasel: Great.  Thank you very much, John.

John: Thank you, man.

Visit Big John and The Voodoo Dolls online:  – bigjohnbates.com / myspace.com/bigjohnbatesandthevoodoodollz

Interview with Little Miss Risk of The Voodoo Dolls

Date : April 14, 2010 Under : Informant Inquisition

These boys rolled in town last Friday at The Media Club and tore the room a new one.  Their latest album Cavalcade is out now and it’s one of the best album’s I’ve heard all year.  Here’s our pre-show gab.

Weasel: Cavalcade, your third full-length effort drops this coming Tuesday, April 13th, 2010.

Chris: That’s us.

Weasel: I understand there were a lot of studio hours this time, presumably far more than previous efforts.

Scott: We did it in strange blocks, I guess.  [Acknowledged by Chris]  We were doing it when we were off of tours and we were touring quite frequently.  Every time we could throw together and go into the studio—that just built up over a year, I guess.

Chris: I would not recommend recording that way to any band, ever.  It kind of sucks.  Obviously it’s great when you’re done with it, you know?  You’re super proud of it, like this record, we are very proud of it but it’s pretty stressful to do it that way.  You kind of have your two mind frames going: being in the studio while being creative, and then you have the mind-set of “oh, I’m about to go on tour for a month or two”, then after that we’re going to go back into to the studio.  It’s kind of crazy but it worked out in the end.

[We were then interrupted by an undesirable, haggard-type who appreciated Scott’s Misfits back patch.  It was explained that we were doing an interview and he asked “Do you want to know me, man?  I’m a good singer and I play the drums.”]

Weasel: The album leaked but in a rather comical, cryptic fashion.  The word is that the band was behind that.

Chris & Scott: [Laughs] Did you hear it??

Weasel: The tunes?

Scott: The fake leak, or whatever.

Weasel: No, I read about it.

Scott: See, I think that’s more artistic than what we did on the record, so…

Chris: For sure.

Scott: To be completely honest, we’re prouder of that…

Chris: We definitely knew it was going to happen.  Everything leaks these days, it’s inevitable.  We don’t really have a problem with it because you can’t control it, so why get upset about it?   But yeah, our drummer Paul put together this fake record.  It’s pretty hilarious.  It’s like the first 10 or 15 seconds of the song or after the first vocal line of the song; it just cuts into some weird stuff.

Scott: Like, for example: a Take That song, dogs barking.

Chris: Meows, woofs.  What else is there?  Some awful…

Scott: Dave Chappelle stand-up mixed with some weird Russian guy singing “Let It Be.”

Chris: Yeah, yeah.  That was pretty rad.

Scott: Yeah, just really, really strange things.  We had to get our mind in a certain “way” [Laughs] We get high and then do this stuff.

Photo credit: Tarah "Resident Rat" Hogue

Chris: [Laughs] It worked out pretty well, though.  We have some friends that are torrent sharers so we gave it to them and they all put it up.  They were forwarding us some replies from people.  This one guy—our friend from Nebraska—wrote, when he posted it was “The drummer just dropped this off at my house.”

Weasel: Yeah, I saw that. [Laughs]

Chris: Yeah, which he did.  It was pretty funny reading some of these responses.  People were super pissed that they couldn’t download it, for free.

Weasel: I saw that; there were a lot of comments.  I looked again today.  Of the few places I looked, that [version] was the only one.

Chris: Again, we know it’s going to happen, we just figured…  Like, Paul had a blast doin’ it and he’s so proud of it and we’re pretty proud of it too—the fake record.  It was just a fun thing to do to try and combat [file sharing] as much as we could.  We knew it was going to happen anyway, so whatever.

[The nearby patron who already interrupted us, shouted “Van Halen rules!,” ensuring we all heard it and all had quite the laugh]

Scott: Fuck yeah, they do!

Weasel: The transition from your early material to the later years heard the band’s overall sound change a fair bit.  What new elements does Cavalcade bring to the table?

Chris: Uh… I don’t know.  There’s some heavier songs and some softer songs.  It’s kinda like we went not to the extremes but went a little further on each end.  We never really set out to write songs a certain way.  It’s really cheesy to say but they kinda just happen the way they do.   I’d say we’ve achieved a pretty eclectic mix of songs.

Scott: We all listen to a very eclectic mix of music as whole.

Chris: Yeah, we definitely do.

Scott: Sitting in the van you’ll hear a whole bunch of different music so you can tell that we all have different influences and we all tie them together.  And what comes out of that is the new record.  We’re all really proud of it.

Weasel: Great.  Looking at the track listing I noticed a song called “Carry The Banner” and personally the title reminded me immediately of the Pinhead Gunpowder album of the same name.

[Laughs from Chris and Scott]

Scott: You know what?  We were gonna call our record that!

Chris: And then we found out about that.  Because we never really ever got into that band.  Or, at least I personally never got into ‘em.  Nothing against them, I just never really listened to their stuff.   Who did we hear that from?  Dillinger Four?  We had Dillinger Four sing on a song when they rode to Toronto to tour.  They’re all buddies with those guys.  And, I think that’s who told us.  We were so bummed at first because we were so stoked on calling the record that.

Scott: Then we were gonna call the record Thriller but then he died.

Chris: And then we were gonna call it Friller and just make the cover us in puffy shirts.

Scott: We were just dwelling on the type of titles that had been used before. [Chris laughs].  Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band came up once.  I don’t know, I think Cavalcade’s good.

Chris: The Flatliners Comes Alive.  That was another one.

Weasel: That would have been rad.

Chris: [Laughs] Yeah, we were bummed when we found that out, for sure.  But for a song title, it doesn’t matter so we were still stoked on that.  That song in particular is deeply rooted in the theory that punk bands are basically homeless people.

Scott: Especially when you tour nine months out of the year, like we do.

Chris: Like we do every year.  Also the fact now that the times we live in are pretty reminiscent of the great depression.  Kind of all that rolled into one weird theory.

Scott: Explain what “carry the banner” meant back then.

Chris: Oh yeah, so “carry the banner” was something that homeless folks would say when they had nowhere safe to sleep at night.  If they couldn’t find a safe spot, they’d ride on a train or just sleep on the street somewhere.  And they would say “I’m gonna go carry the banner tonight” meaning they were gonna try to get out of being murdered or locked up for a vagrant charge while sleeping outside in the street.  Hobo slang. [Laughs]

Weasel: Liam from Cancer Bats lends some vocal duties on the record.  Any other collaborations we can anticipate hearing?

Chris: There’s way too many, man.

Scott: Nuno, from A Wilhelm Scream sings on a track.  We had the Dillinger Four boys come in and sing on a track.  He had a lot of good friends from Toronto…the dudes from Hostage Life came down and sing on some songs, Junior Battles.

Chris: Permanent Bastards—another Toronto band.  They just did all the gang vocals.  And the Cancer Bats just did all the gang vocals with us too, so we had a bunch of people come in and do those.  The original idea was to get Nuno—‘cause he has his own verse and was the original idea—then we got lucky with a bunch of friends’ bands that are from Toronto being home while we were recording.  Like Cancer Bats are usually on tour but they were home so they came in to do some gang vocals.  Dillinger Four rolled through Toronto which is really rare to happen, especially from them to come to Toronto, never mind anywhere.  We got really lucky and it just ended up being all these people.

Scott: We just had to feed them a lot of booze then they would come and sing on our record. [Laughs] Except for Liam, he just wanted pop.

Chris: Liam just wanted to jump around and be stoked—PMA, you know?

Scott: I think he needed pop, too.

Chris: Yeah, some soda pop.

Weasel: I did hear that track with Nuno on it and I wasn’t sure if it was him or not.  That’s a kickin’ song.

Chris: It’s funny because a lot of people we’ve talked to are like “he’s on that song?” and we’re like “yeah dude, he’s got such a distinct voice” but I guess we all have raspy voices, so to some… I don’t know.  I was surprised to hear that.  But yeah, that was awesome dude.  He was the only guy that wasn’t in the studio with us.  He was in Bedford, Massachusetts and Trevor from Wilhelm recorded it and we just sent him a ProTools track or whatever.  It worked really awesome though.  We’re so stoked to have all those guys on the record.

Weasel: No doubt, absolutely.  Besides the aforementioned act, what are some other Canadian acts (punk or not) that you guys are listening to or feel that we all should?

Chris: There’s this band, The Snips from Welland, near Niagara Falls—amazing.  They’ve been some of our really close friends for a long time.  We put out a split with them last summer on Paper and Plastic [Records].  They just put out a new EP, they’re recording on a new record and it’s incredible.  It’s hard to explain.  It’s just like “rock n’ roll,” really, I guess with some punk in there and some other stuff in there, as well.  They’re awesome, dude.  Really awesome.

Scott: I think we all listen to Junior Battles, Carpenter—a wicked band that I’m sure you guys know of.

Chris: Propagandhi—a little band from Winnipeg.  I don’t know if you know ‘em; they’re pretty cool.

Scott: Rush.

Chris: Alanis Morrissette.

Scott: Nah, she’s not cool.   I’m trying to think of other up-and-coming Canadian bands.

Chris: A band called Cavaliers and The Expos.  These are all Toronto-based bands.  Living With Lions from Vancouver.  There’s a lot of good Canadian bands.  We always discover new, rad local bands when we’re in Canada.  We tour at home very seldom which is weird so it’s cool to learn about all these new, awesome bands because there’s a lot of them.

Scott: The thing that sucks is that I’ll forget names but I’ll remember faces.  I’ll look at the flyer for the band I think I don’t know any of them but when I go see ‘em I’m like “these guys fuckin’ rule!”  Can I curse on your…?

Weasel: Yeah, absolutely

Scott: Fuck, yeah!

Weasel: Before you guys set out for Europe and the Warped Tour you are making a trek across the country with Broadway Calls and Cobra Skulls, starting your first Canadian date, tonight, here in Vancouver.  That sounds like quite the quality, as far as variety in the bands, each night.

Scott: We’ve been lucky enough to tour with these bands and you ask around Canada and no one really knows them that well, to the point that they should because they’re both amazing bands.

Chris: Awesome, awesome bands.

Weasel: Yeah, Cobra Skulls are one of my favorite bands.

Scott: Yeah, such a good band and they just signed to Fat too.

Chris: They’re our bands collective favorite bands for sure.  They’re incredible.

Scott: We just had this opportunity to bring up bands we like and think that everyone else will like, so we jumped on it, so here we are.

Chris: It’s a cool mix because we’re all punk bands but at the same time we all are a bit different, right?

Weasel: Yeah, that’s what I noticed about that line-up.

Chris: It’s cool to go to a show where all the bands are total punk rock bands but I have a better time when it’s kind of a mix.

Scott: Yeah, you’ll like to go to a rockabilly show where all the bands…

Weasel: Are a dime-a-dozen…

Scott: Yeah, like it’s cool when a band jumps on and they’re rockabilly band or a psychobilly band or a pop-punk band…

Chris: It’s the same thing, like when we started out.  We would play and every single show was like seven ska bands.  Literally every single show we’d play.  It was cool then, but now…

Scott: I don’t think it was really cool then. [Laughs]  It was tolerable then.

Chris: But once you start playing longer and longer—not like we’ve been around forever but I mean this is our eighth or ninth year as a band and it’s just fun to mix it up, ya know?  And, we’re all buddies so it works out great.

Scott: We like to keep it fresh.

Weasel: Right on, thanks for the chat.

Chris and Scott: Thank you.

Weasel: Good luck tonight, the rest of the tour as well with Tuesday’s release.

The Flatliners “Monumental” (Altpress.com exclusive)

Stream the entire, incredible record, here, right now.

…Weasel Was Here