Tour Update #4: Regina to Montreal, Kurt Cobain, Driving Forever

Hi guys

Since my last tour update we played with some amazing bands in Regina. I really enjoyed the kick ass locals The Man and His Machine, and my particular favourite for the night was Palisades from New Jersey. They put on a really well polished show, they were hard hitting and really got the crowd moving. I’m always curious how a band formed only a few years ago (they were formed in 2011) is able to accumulate over 100,000 likes on facebook, tour support, really mint-ass gear and shit. It’s definitely taken us years to get spit and polish and I have to ask myself if these bands don’t have someone doing the majority of the heavy lifting for them? Heaven knows I would love to have a little of that myself – being a DIY band means learning everything the hard way. It’s weird; there are two kinds of bands. The first you never see playing locally until suddenly they’re opening for <POPULAR BAND X> on tour with some guitar sponsorship and they are touted as being from your home city, which is curious, because you’ve never heard of them or seen them play and they definitely didn’t “rise in the ranks” because no one really knows them. These are the bands that seem to have everything us DIY bands are striving for, or at least they LOOK like they have it (read; money). The other kind of band is the kind of band you saw when you were a teenager at the community centre, or who have played with your friends band, who accumulate and grow their fan base through the process of playing shows and getting better and bigger opportunities. Although this kind of a band tends to start with less of the money and the polish, they make up for it in legitimacy, which leads to committed fans who stick with you through the years. It seems Kill Matilda is in the latter category, and it feels really good to always be growing, doing better, improving and seeing our dedicated and loving fans grow with us. I like to think that this kind of musicianship means we are participating in and growing in a national musical community. Not that it’s bad to start out at the top with lots of money and sweet gigs; that’s pretty sweet. But, each approach and strategy has it’s pros and cons.

Speaking of bands and their development, today is the 20th anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain. Here is a very interesting story of a band; unlike the two examples mentioned above, there existed a magical time in the 90s when music was still making everyone money and even bands of total junkie fuckups could become world famous. Don’t interpret what I say as derogative; I mean it in a loving sense. Kurt Cobain was a total and complete fuckup and the fact that he could become famous as a musician is to me, such an amazing crazy thing, neither good nor band, just remarkable. It could NEVER happen in this day and age. The time of musicians-cum-junkies is almost completely over because being in a band these days means almost constant work in a cutthroat industry with very little resources available for everyone. You have to be at the top of your game. It used to be, in Nirvana’s heyday, that your ethos and your art were all that was needed to bring you head and shoulders above the competition. People, and record labels, loved Nirvana’s music because Kurt Cobain had a special ability to connect with something so deep, so sad, and so primal that it connected us all to that part of ourselves. His epic unhappiness with everything earthly seemed to be conveyed through some kind of magical, beautiful, touching wormhole of emotions. In short, his voice, his words and his melodies moved us. And it didn’t hurt to have Dave fucking Grohl on the drums. But, think about it; Kurt Cobain was a self-loathing lazy junkie at the same time. He didn’t wake up in the morning, check his twitter, do all his own booking, and do all the driving on tour. He was able to exist in this pure bubble of just being an artist, a music-maker, and everything else took care of itself because the music was THAT good. Has there not been music as good or as touching since that time? No, there totally has been. But the eras of Kurt Cobains and Elliott Smiths are over; if you aren’t gonna do it for yourself, no one is gonna do it for you, no matter how good you are.

Beyond that, it also seems the musical and social pendulum has swung so far from the kind of crass self-loathing that Nirvana embodied that it’s unlikely that, at least in the next little, a band or an artist could come along and do something similar to what Kurt Cobain did. These days its not very cool to hate yourself and to sing about killing yourself. In fact, if you so much as post some sort of self-harming selfie on Instagram or Facebook, you better believe that shit will get flagged and taken down. Maybe because the playing field of how we interact with each other and our culture has been so changed through the internet and social media, and our constant interconnectedness, people can’t be so irresponsible anymore. Because that’s really what Kurt Cobain was; irresponsible. And it was cool, in his time. But imagine someone doing this today, using drugs flagrantly, being a total flail, talking about hating themselves… I feel like the collective hivemind of the interwebz would reject that person as just.. a loser. I guess what I am trying to say is that Nirvana, and Kurt Cobain, were a kind of miracle; the perfect collusion of several elements. Like an eclipse or a planet or comet that comes into view that we won’t see again for another hundred years or so. Everything had to be just right. The industry had money and was looking for the next big thing and plucked this (relatively) unknown band from obscurity (lord knows they couldn’t have done it themselves with that kind of a work ethic). The culture of the 90s, living in the shadow of the post-80’s economic boom, still privileged and rich enough to start having a vague self-hating sense of ennui played a role. People were just fresh out of the Cold War, which I think also probably gave a lot of young people a sense of gothic existentialism; only years before the threat of nuclear war was real, and frightening. Now there was nothing to be frightened of but there was a lot to hate, especially with regards to consumer culture, because people had money! All these things; economics, world events, culture… they are all related to music and what we as a society like and don’t like, will accept and not accept.

But, back to us.

Regina was followed by Brandon, big thanks to A.P.O.D. productions for hosting us! We had to immediately leave Brandon and drive through the night as far as Kenora, ON, where we crashed at a motel from 5:30 am to about noon, and then hit the road again, arriving in Thunder Bay in the nick of time around 8 pm. Seriously, why is the drive across Northern Ontario so long? How does it take 8 hours to go less than 500 kms? We pulled a repeat of the night before and hit the road right after our show to embark on the 10 hour drive to Timmins. The show in Thunder Bay was awesome; definitely check out the band Forever Dead,  a highlight for me. I also really enjoyed the Bay Street Bastards, who played a sort of combination of celtic-punk-meets-Gogol-Bordello.

We made it safely to Timmins around 2 pm after a 10 hour drive and immediately crashed out till our show. I’ve been pleased and impressed with the calibre of shows this tour; no matter where we play, and with who, people are happy and excited to hear us, they buy merch and we make friends. That’s all you can really ask for. We enjoyed a few days off in Sudbury visiting friends, a few more in Montreal, and a quick trip to Sherbrooke to play bar le Magog with Hardluck Battleground and Fate Hope Glory. Sherbrooke is a really beautiful city and always one of my favourite places to play!

Last night we returned after a too-long separation to the stage in Montreal and it was glorious, both to see old friends and familiar faces and to play for the awesome punks of Quebec. If you’ve never been to Quebec, or partied at the Death House, or been to a show, it’s definitely an experience you should try to have once in your life. It’s hard to put into words but the people and the culture of Montreal just hold a special place in my heart and Mykel and I felt really happy to be back in the ‘hood.

Next up: Sorel, Toronto, and ALL OF ONTARIO.

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Tour Update #3: THE PRAIRIES – Rum Running & Hair Dye Freezing

Hi all; apologies for the delay on this update. It comes to you from March 27th. 

We made it through the perilous frozen tundra of Alberta sans winter tires. Since my last update we’ve played Edmonton, Edson, Calgary, Red Deer & Moose Jaw and we are on to Regina tonight to open for Abandon All Ships.

The question of whether or not to winterize the van has been on our minds since Kamloops. We had plans to hook up a cheap set of winter tires in Prince George, but the morning of, we ironically became stuck in a snow bank in Burns Lake and by the time we un-stuck ourselves, we didn’t have time to stop on our way to the show in Valemount. We’ve been lucky enough to enjoy awesome road conditions despite the freezing temperatures we’ve been enduring. In Alberta it was so cold that everything in the van froze solid including my beauty products. I went to go touch up my hair only to find that the dye in the jar was so cold I had to scoop it out with a spoon like ice cream! Some of our beers froze and exploded…didn’t anticipate that. The funniest part is that as I was explaining this with dramatic flourish to our host in Moose Jaw last night he just gave me a funny look and said, “well yeah…that just, like, normal”. OH REAL CANADA. I forgot who I was talking to. My exciting story of frozen goods was pretty par for the course. He said they’ve gotten about 5 or 6 days at -50 this year.

Edmonton was a great show at Studio Music Foundation. Big thanks to the other bands Knuckledown, Betty Sue’s A Tramp & Reckless Rebels. It was probably the most legit punk show so far of the tour and we appreciated seeing some fans who drove all the way out from Lloydminster to rock with us.

We played Edson at Fat Greasy’s, what a great little venue. I mentioned to the bartender that my brother had lived in Edson about 13 years ago and he remembered him! A few other people in the bar did too. We stayed in a motel walking distance from the venue and it was one of maybe five times in my almost-eight-year relationship with Mykel that I’ve seen him drunk; I specifically made him stay at the bar and party with the locals, because he is burdened with a sense of unerring responsibility. So, when everyone else is getting shitfaced and laughing and having fun, he’s usually the one wrapping cables, double checking that we haven’t forgotten anything, and making sure we all get to where we are going safely. Any of you who added me on Snapchat got the exclusive Drunk Mykel snap!

Next up was Calgary and one of my favourite dates of the tour so far! Aside from bumping into the bagpiper (bagpipist?) from the Real MacKenzies unexpectedly (mini reunion!), we played the “Dark Carnival”, so our set was featured among burlesque dancers, stunt performers (ie, dudes with giant hooks pierced in their backs with a rope strung between them having a tug of war and a dude nailing nails into his nose) and other awesome bands. We saw lots of old friends and made lots of new fans too. BUT FUCK WAS IT COLD AND SNOWY JESUS GOD

Red Deer & Moose Jaw were small shows with nice people, and we learned that apparently Al Capone was involved in rum-running during prohibition using this set of tunnels that make an underground network in Moose Jaw. Pretty unexpectedly cool… even in the small corners of Canada that seem sleepy a darker history lurks… other than that I’m excited for our gig tonight…first time Kill Matilda has played Regina! Hold on to your fuckin’ hats, prairie people!