Books I Read on Tour: A Grownup Book Report

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After we came back from a six-month long, very exhaustive DIY tour, I kept meaning to post a blog update. Time passed and I didn’t write it, or post it. It seemed impossible to summarize the experiences we had in those six long months across America and back, playing hundreds of shows, in some kind of small anecdotes. I couldn’t find the words to write about the experience in a way that really captured what we’d seen and what we’d been through.

The thing about being on tour every day is that it means you spend the equivalent amount of time that you’d spend at work just sitting in the van. It gets hard to stay active and to stay effective in that kind of environment, and it definitely takes creativity. I started teaching myself Italian, I wrote a lot of poetry, and I read a LOT of books. So I thought I’d do what all good nerd do – write a book report!

THE LIST

If you are like me, you have no concept of the amount of time it takes to actually do something. I loaded myself down with WAY more books than I could actually find the time to read. Here’s what I did manage to get to! I read so many books that I’m going to break this book report into a two parter;

My Inventions – Nikola Tesla
The Razor’s Edge – W. Somerset Maugham
Carry The One – Carol Anshaw
The Glass Menagerie – Tennessee Williams (actually a play)
New Lives For Old – Margaret Mead
The Wizard of Oz: the First Five Novels – L. Frank Baum (actually an anthology of 5 books)
Blye – Manic Quixotic & Blyku Pop
The Disorganized Mind – Coaching your ADHD Brain to Take Control of your Time, Tasks & Talents – Nancy A. Ratey
Duino Elegies – Rainer Maria Rilke
Around the World in 80 Days – Jules Verne
Journey to the Center of the Earth – Jules Verne

There you have it; this list is made up of two found/donated books, one biography, one book of poetry, one play, two anthologies (although I only read half the Jules Verne one), various fiction books, an anthropological study and a self-help book. On to the book report!

My Inventions – Nikola Tesla

We have a cultural hard-on for Nikola Tesla right now that isn’t hard to understand (no pun intended). In the age of nerd-dom, Nikola Tesla is the ultimate figurehead. He was eccentric, a loner, a genius, a brilliant inventor, and generally unappreciated in his lifetime. I already knew all of these things when I delved into his writing but told through his own words, I learned a few additional things about Mr. Tesla. For one, he was at once humble and ridiculously egotistical. He mentions that some of his ideas or work formed the framework of another scientist’s Nobel Peace Prize but didn’t seem to mind. On the same note, he seems at times almost vainly dismissive of others because of his superior intellect, of which he is keenly aware. There were times while reading his book that I felt like Nikola Tesla is that weird guy at the party who talks way too much about himself in a pompous fashion but has no idea that he’s being a bore; then again, maybe this is just the natural way a person who lived a fairly solitary life talks. He speaks with disdain of those who taint their bodies with addiction to coffee, alcohol and the like, and pats himself on the back for the rigorous discipline with which he leads his own life. A man with no vices doesn’t have a lot to talk about with the common folk, and this seemed to be the case for Nikola Tesla. It was fascinating to read about his personal history as well as get a glimpse into the inner workings of that aforementioned brilliant mind.

My particularly favourite part was when he discussed the concept of world peace; his strategy to achieve world peace was that he thought he’d invent a kind of blimp with long electric cables that could be lowered to about a hundred feet or so above the ground, which would electrify everything underneath it. Theoretically this blimp could be flown over cities, killing everyone and everything in it as the blimp flew overhead with the cables cooking everything they touched. Tesla figured that it didn’t matter which country invented or embraced this technology first; whoever did would unequivocally be powerful enough to bend all other nations to its will – and voila! world peace!

Seriously, I’m not kidding. His solution was that whoever has the most force should just control the world, and under a one-world governance, peace would be inevitable.

Overall, a challenging but interesting read. I’m glad I took the time to learn about an important historical figure and his mostly crazy ideas.

 The Razor’s Edge – W. Somerset Maugham

I’ve been a Maugham fan since I first read The Moon and Sixpence. You’ll think I’m crazy, but I love the slow pace and formal tone of Maugham’s writing. If you’re a Stephen King fan, you probably won’t dig it. The pace of these novels gives the author the opportunity to weave complex characters, dialogue and situations, so that when the action does come to a resolution, it’s perfect. I love the formality of the style of writing as well.

in the Razor’s Edge, the story is told in a reflexive way through Maugham’s eyes (at least, Maugham as a fictional writer, perhaps). The writer-narrator chronicles the life of his family-friends; the society-obsessed uncle, his dowdy dowager sister, her eternally-youthful daughter, and her lover. Each character is constructed with care and given time to flesh out throughout the story, but the real main character is the lover, Larry. A young man who was a fighter pilot in the war and an adoptee into proper American upper-class society, Larry is looking for something more, although he can’t put his finger on what. The story is essentially Larry’s existential search for the meaning of life as told through the interactions he has with the writer-narrator. Set against an 1800s or early 1900s upper-class American and British background, this is a story about self-discovery and rebellion against society. A super, super, super good read that I would recommend to anyone who can tolerate very formal and stiffly-written literature (my fave!)

Carry the One – Carol Anshaw

This book was pretty much the opposite of how I felt about the Razor’s Edge. I found this book in one of those community neighbourhood take-a-book-leave-a-book cupboard things that you see around, so I didn’t know what to expect. The story is about some siblings and their friends/lovers who hit and kill a child while driving one night, and what happens to them after that. The story follows two sisters and one brother and their respective partners, as well as a friend who was in the car, but who serves only as a footnote at group functions.

I found this book to be lacking in substance. The subject matter could have led to a richly-woven story that drew the events of that fateful night all together for all the characters, but the author instead chose to use it as a launching-pad for the life story of these three siblings, whose lives weren’t really all that affected by the girl dying. The dead girl is utterly unimportant in the events that follow, which stretch from the immediate aftermath all the way up into the character’s middle age. It’s essentially a loose collection of random events that happen to three siblings that starts the night they kill the kid, but the book never really comes around to bring all the events back together again. As a novel, it feels kind of pointless. There is a halfhearted attempt by the author to make one of the sisters (the artist) have a kind of epiphany through artwork she’s made about the dead girl, but the girl herself, and her family, basically play no role from the moment she gets hit. Aside from a few mentions throughout the book, it isn’t clear what role the death even plays in the life of the characters. They get married, get divorced, do drugs, get sober, get promotions, become successful.. and then the book ends. There are also a lot of lesbian sex scenes for no reason. The only reason I can think for the number of sexy lesby scenes are that it’s a cheap attempt at keeping the reader entertained through the boring subject matter. Unlike W. Somerset Maugham, who can take a story with hardly any action at all and turn it into a breathtaking piece of art about the meaning of life, Carol Anshaw can’t seem to muster deeper meaning out the literal life and death of innocence. I recommend you give this book a pass and read something with more substance.

The Glass Menagerie – Tennessee Williams

I don’t have a lot to say about this book, which was actually a play. I was excited to read something by Tennessee Williams because I’m a pretty big buff for historical literature/writing, but this play didn’t do it for me. Maybe it would be different if I actually saw it on the stage but I wasn’t invested in any of the characters, all of whom I found annoying and stressful. The eventual end to the book was anticlimactic for me because it didn’t resolve anything. It’s a story about a guy who lives under his mother’s thumb and who has to provide for his widowed mother and unmarried sister, presumably in an era before women could work. The play centers around this guy trying to help his mom find someone for his sister to marry, and eventually just getting fed up and running away. Although I know this play is partially autobiographical, it irritated my feminist sensibilities. Why couldn’t the mother and the sister just get a job? And if there WAS some concrete, real reason that they HAD to depend on this guy to survive, then it was pretty shitty of him to just run off and leave them without any means to support themselves (although I also kinda can’t blame him). I don’t know. I feel like this is a piece of literature/art I would apprecaiate more if I had taken some kind of theatre or lit class where we analyzed it, but from an outsider perspective of just reading it, I don’t really get why it’s a famous piece.

New Lives For Old – Margaret Mead

I got about three-quarters of the way through this ethnography, or anthropological study, of the people of Manus. It was really the sequel to the book Growing Up in New Guinea. If you’re not familiar with Mead’s work, she’s an important historical figure in the world of anthropology, right up there with Franz Boas in terms of her work’s significance around refuting racist notions about indigenous and “primitive” peoples. But I’ll resist the urge to glorify her as any kind of a saint, because there are still a lot of inherently problematic things about white American and European people studying these so-called primitives. Although the field of anthropology has come a long way and has moved out of the realm of belonging only to white people studying the “other”, this book was written when anthropology was still a very new and more simplistic field of study.

The book was actually quite interesting because it chronicalled a really sudden social change in the Manus society. Mead had travelled to New Guinea years before and spent time with the kids from the Manus culture and was now returning to visit them as adults, and was surprised to find that there had been a very distinctive cultural shift, partially due to the presence of (French?) imperialist forces. Ethnographies are always pretty dry, so I’m sure a few of the details are blurry. It’s interesting to read about any culture you’ve never heard of and knew nothing about but I thought there were some interesting insights from Mead that might be portrayed differently by someone who wasn’t a white westerner; for example, she pretty much had nothing nice to say about the Manus people at all. According to her experience, they were petty, sullen, and generally glum. She didn’t seem to find a lot of positive aspects to their culture at all, aside from the childhood aspects of it (the children, in contrast to their sullen, stressed, and ever-offended parents, have a carefree and happy existance). I wonder if that’s truly the way the culture is or if this is Western eyes  looking for, and not seeing, what we would value and recognize as happiness or pleasantness. At any rate, it was a huge, huge tomb of a book that I couldn’t finish. Only read this book if you’ve read Growing Up in Guinea and have some reason to be reading an ethnography.

The Wizard of Oz: The First Five Novels – L. Frank Baum

So, I actually read five Wizard of Oz books, which included the Wonderful Wizard of Oz (the story we all know and love), The Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, and the Road to Oz. Not all of these books featured Dorothy as a main character, or even at all, so I was surprised to learn that the world of Oz was bigger than the characters I was familiar with. I think the only character who was consistently in all the books was actually the Tin Man, who is a way more important character than he seems to be in the movie.

L. Frank Baum is sometimes credited with writing the first-ever children’s story; the Wizard of Oz. It was written in an exceedingly simplistic, but not unenjoyable way. The book was definitely written for young children. Throughout all five books I was struck by how rich L. Frank Baum’s imagination was, and how big the world he created was when he created Oz. That being said, not all the books were equal in their quality. In at least two it felt a bit like Baum was grasping at straws to draw out the story into another book. Wizard of Oz was pretty much how we remember it from the movie, with only a few variations that don’t match up, but none of which I would say make the book any better than the movie. One interesting detail is that in Baum’s book, the emerald city is only emerald because everyone who enters it is forced to put on emerald-colored goggles, which they can’t take off for the duration of their stay inside the city. We also learn that there are four witches in total (well, three if you don’t count the one that Dorothy killed).

In the Marvelous Land of Oz, Dorothy had returned home and we are introduced to an entirely new set of characters; Tip, a young boy raised by a cruel witch, Jack Pumpkinhead, his pumpkinhead companion brought to life through magic dust; the Sawhorse (my personal favourite character), another creature brought to life through said dust; and the Woggle-Bug, an oversized, somewhat pompous insect. We are also joined by a few of our old friends, the Scarecrow and the Tinman, as they battle an army of little girls led by General Jinjur, who takes over the emerald city and turns it upside-down by making all the husbands do the cooking and cleaning while the wives run amok. It’s surprisingly forward-thinking for the times and with a cute feminist twist. I feel like Baum enjoyed a bit of mischief in his writing; characters are often saying sarcastic and even snide things to one another.

In Ozma of Oz, Baum goes next-level with a full on gender-bender as the boy character Tip becomes Princess Ozma, rightful heir to the throne of the emerald city and true ruler of Oz. Ozma and Dorothy meet and the book is a fun story of their adventures together with their gaggle of nonhuman friends, including Dorothy’s pet chicken Billina (it was a female chicken named Bill, but Dorothy thought it should be more feminine) and Tik-Tok the mechanical man.

Things start to drag a little in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. We are introduced to even more characters including Dorothy’s cousin Zeb, his talking horse Jim, Dorothy’s kitten Eureka (for some reason Toto is the only animal companion of Dorothy’s who never gains the ability to speak upon entering Oz). The story follows pretty much the same plot of the first three novels; the group of unlikely companions has to get from point A to point B and have many adventures along the way, but wind up safely at their final destination. While the first novel has an air of urgency around it (Dorothy is trapped and has to get back to her home) which makes the journey necessary, the rest of the books don’t have the same kind of urgency and the whole “group on an adventure” plot starts to get a little tiresome. In the Wizard of Oz, the various and sundry adventures they have along the way are all somehow connected to their greater goal and journey, but in the later books, Baum just starts shoving whatever random thing comes to mind without any foreshadowing or plot. I did, however, like the part where they meet a man who manufactures the sound of ruffles for dresses.

In The Road to Oz, we meet still more characters including the Shaggy Man, Button Bright and Polychrome, the daughter of the rainbow. In the first two novels, the characters like the Scarecrow and the Sawhorse were so well-developed, even for a children’s book, but by the last novel it seemed like Baum had given up trying to actually develop his characters and just started shoving more and more stuff in there in a desperate attempt to just crank out pages and words. I never really felt like I understood the mysterious Shaggy Man or his motivations, and the equally-mysterious genesis of the character of Button Bright, a lost little boy who doesn’t know where he came from, is never resolved. The last novel follows the pattern of the others; Dorothy, the Shaggy Man, Button Bright, Polychrome, and Toto (who makes a comeback) must journey to the Emerald City for Ozma’s birthday, but will they get there in time? (spoiler: they do). One nice twist is that Baum wraps up the epic set of novels and characters with a giant birthday party that features not only all the minor and major characters from the previous four novels, but also various and sundry imaginary beings such as gingerbread people and even Santa Claus himself. You know you’re pretty important when Santa Claus comes to your birthday party!

All in all, the novels were enjoyable even for an adult, but I think Baum could have cut it short after Ozma in Oz, as the characters and stories that followed didn’t really add anything to the overall franchise. The cheeky but intelligent Sawhorse, who no one really gives much mind to, was definitely my favourite, because he reminded me of Mykel. Recommended for the young at heart and those with kids. Enjoyable all these years later.

Stick around for part 2, in which I review:

Blye – Manic Quixotic & Blyku Pop
The Disorganized Mind – Coaching your ADHD Brain to Take Control of your Time, Tasks & Talents – Nancy A. Ratey
Duino Elegies – Rainer Maria Rilke
Around the World in 80 Days – Jules Verne
Journey to the Center of the Earth – Jules Verne

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How To Dye Your Hair (Discreetly) In A Mall Bathroom In 7 Easy Steps

Being a touring musician is always complicated when it comes to things like showering, staying fit, eating healthy, brushing your teeth, printing a document.. all the things that non-touring people with normal structure in their lives take for granted. But being a woman can sometimes add a few extra layers to the complexity of acting like a normal human being in public despite being essentially homeless.

Well, we are for real homeless on this tour, and since it’s such a long tour, there are certain aspects of grooming I can’t just put off “until I get home”. One of these is hair maintenance, and I have a LOT of hair. Luckily I was able to use the bathroom of one of our recent hosts to complete the hair bleaching process but I didn’t have any dye, so I had to wait for a day when we happened to be in a mall to find some. That day was yesterday. I present to you now, How To Dye Your Hair Discreetly In A Mall Bathroom – in 7 steps!

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To pull this off,  you’ll need the following:

-your hair dye of choice
-a shower cap
-a hairbrush or comb
-travel-sized vaseline
-travel-sized shampoo and conditioner
-a towel
-a toque (or hat, as Americans like to call them – so confusing!)
-a backpack to put it all in (people will look at you weird if you just carry a towel around in the mall)

 

Step 1: Assemble items and find a private or semi-private washroom

To my benefit the mall I picked was pretty swanky and in the woman’s washroom there was ANOTHER WASHROOM, like a whole washroom for disabled people with a door that shut and locked. It had its own sink so that was perfect. I would also advise you to choose a time of day that is least busy. The best is on a weekday, AFTER the lunch rush but before the 3 pm school day ends. That way the fewest number of people are likely to even come and go from the bathroom and you will be left in blissful hair-dying peace.

Step 2: Cover your hairline and ears in Vaseline

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If you’re lazy about dying your hair, like me, you usually skip this step. But damn, bitch, you on tour! You got a show tonight, you don’t have time to mess around with dye on your face and head! Slap that lube on there. I recommend using gloves to protect your hands from dye as well.

Step 3: Partition up your hair using any hair ties or bobby pins at your disposal, otherwise just do it by tossing your hair to and fro and hope for the best

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I gave up on gloves early on into the process.

PS, try not to make TOO much of a mess in the mall bathroom. I did this by mainly keeping everything in the sink, which is easy to clean.

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Step 4: Cover your whole head in hair dye, and put any/all excess dye in there. 

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Careful, well-planned and organized dying using a moderate or correct amount of dye is for people who have their own bathrooms. You, on the other hand, have clearly made some bad life choices and are frantically trying to get this done before the staff of the mall become concerned and start knocking on the door. You don’t have time for conserving dye – just squeeze it all onto your head and mush it around like shampoo. At least you’ll know that you probably won’t have any splotchy patches.

Step 5: Cover your hair with a shower cap, then cover the shower cap with a toque

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This will keep the dye from getting everywhere, the toque will keep everyone from seeing what a weirdo you are, and it has the additional benefit of added heat for dye-setting

At this point you’ll need to wait however many minutes for the dye to take. I used this time to attend to other important hygienic processes that can sometime get neglected on tour. The mall I was in was so fancy they had a whole separate “Family Room” just off the bathroom, complete with more sinks, microwaves, chairs, a TV playing Thomas the Tank Engine, and another bathroom with a locking door that was specifically for people with small children (it had one big toilet and one little toilet, one big sink and one little sink).

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Oh yeah, also MAKE SURE to clean up after yourself – don’t leave a mess!

Step 6: When the time comes, lock yourself in the bathroom again, jam your head under the tap and wash your hair out

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This was definitely the most time-consuming step of the process because most taps in public bathrooms these days are automatic, and the one I was using didn’t have particularly high pressure. Plus my hair is SUPER thick, so it took a long time to rinse out the entire 2 tubes of sparks hair dye I put in there (normally I use manic panic but I couldn’t find my color anywhere! – dammit Manic Panic, that’s why you need to sponsor me!!). Then there’s the shampooing and the conditioning. Just stick with it, you’ll get ‘er done!

Step 7: Towel dry your hair, clean up your mess and get the heck out of there!

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et voila! Before…

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And after!

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Thank you!

Hi everyone

I write this while accessing free public wifi in Bryant Park, Manhattan, NYC just steps from Times Square. We made it! The first few dates of our tour have been great, no problem, although accessing reliable internet has been a bit tricky so we’ll try our best at keeping in touch with you all.

We wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for the smashing success of our indiegogo campaign and everyone who supported us. It has been amazing to see so many people be so generous to help us continue making our music and following our hearts.

 

You! You did this you lovely people!!

You! You did this you lovely people!!

I first off want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. We had friends, fans, family and even strangers contributing to this fundraiser, and a lot of you put up with repeated requests for your hard-earned dollars from me! In the coming days we will be sending out messages to those of you who purchased things that need to be mailed, etc. For anyone who purchased vinyl please be aware that it will take a few months to get the vinyl to you as it’s a long process of pressing.

I need to  give credit to Mykel Exner taking charge and running a successful campaign He poured hours upon hours into setting it up creating content for youtube, When we first decided to launch the campaign, we had some doubts, and we had some doubters, even in our own “team”. There were those who said our ‘indiegogo perks’ were too expensive, or that we were asking for too much money. But I have to give credit to Mykel Exner for knowing our worth as a band and as  a product and believing that we could do it, even when others did not believe in us. For making sure that everything looked shiny and great and finding people to join our team  . Without his dedication to running a quality campaign I am sure that we would have fallen short, like so many other bands and Indiegogo hopefuls have before. With his hard work and your help we SMASHED our goal of $5,000 for a total of $5,607.

Because of all your love we have been able to get the van we needed to make this epic six-month journey possible. We got a 1979 GMC Vandura with beds and a stove in it… The van sat for a long time before the people we bought it off of got it in their hands and nursed it back into health with some know how, some TLC and a lot of money. We had friends and professionals look at the vehicle to make sure we weren’t going with something that would just breakdown and everyone who took a look in, around and underneath the van were astounded at its mint condition. HOWEVER… we nearly weren’t able to insure it! Something I learned about Ontario: insurance is private and many companies will straight up NOT insure a van over 20 years old. That was a nail-biter…I spent a day running around to brokerage after brokerage, panicking that I had poured all the money into a vehicle we wouldn’t be able to insure. Don’t worry, we got it sorted. Helga (the name given to our van by it’s previous owners) is safe, durable, roadworthy and will be our home until the end of February.

 

oh Helga my Helga

oh Helga my Helga

Kill Matilda fans have equipped us with the machine to keep our dreams alive and our tour a comfortable safe… Thank you so much for loving and believing in us and what we are doing out here!

 

Look how happy you made us!

Look how happy you made us!

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.

Tour Blog Update #2: Kamloops to Hinton. My Bully Died, I Caught a Cold, We Almost Lost Our Gear.

Okay, we played too many places for me to list them all in the title. 

We’ve just pulled up in Edmonton where our trailer door burst open mysteriously in the parking lot. Graham, who was driving at the time, said deadpan: “oh my god.”

“what?”

“the trailer door is open”

“what do you mean?” 

“I don’t know how I can be more literal. THE TRAILER DOOR IS OPEN”

I leapt from the van to find that the trailer door was indeed open although why we still haven’t determined. Luckily, nothing fell out. So after a bit of a scare we’re settled in at Marcus’ friends place drinking beer from Three Ranges brewery which we picked up in Valemount. I had to take a few nights off drinking after waking up hungover more times in a row than I ever have in my life so I’m happy to report my liver is ready for a bit more of the punk rock life. 

In Kamloops we played with the Real McKenzies and local band Second Day Sober. For a Wednesday it was a great turnout and we were honored to share the stage with some legit Canadiana punk. RM put on an amazing show. The next night we were hosted by West Metal Productions in Vernon, BC. I was really impressed with the strength of community I felt in Vernon. Everyone who came out seemed to be aware of or involved in the Armstrong Metal fest, or was friends with or associated with some locals bands. The overall feeling was really lovely and accepting and the afterparty in our room was a lot of fun. The ladies of Vernon and I built a pretty wicked blanket fort. 

We made our way through Williams Lake (another good turnout and a fun night of heavy drinking) and ended up in Prince George on St. Patrick’s Day. If you didn’t already know, Prince George is one of my hometowns. We’ve played here several times and always had a blast. The funny thing is that almost no one I know ever comes out to my shows, other than my best friend Tesia. The popularity we’ve enjoyed here comes entirely from the new generation of showgoers and punk rock kids and I’d say that the scene is as good as, if not better than, when I was a teenager attending shows. We played with Mediocre Minds, Crones & Jamie Bell. The lowest point was the shit-ass side roads of Prince George, which were so icy and snow-covered that we actually got stuck, nearly hit a truck and basically ruined the electrical input of our trailer by bottoming out so long and so hard on the piles of ice that took up space on every road. Luckily for us we have a lot of loving friends who came to our rescue the next day and repaired our electrical hitch. 

Our next show was in Burns Lake BC. This is my other hometown, where I spent time from the age of 8 to the age of 13. This show was of particular importance to me because other than a short visit for a friend’s wedding in 2007 I haven’t been back in a long time. I always tell people that I’m from Prince George when they ask where I’m from, because my time in Burns Lake wasn’t pleasant. Growing up as the child of two lesbian parents in a northern town of about 3,000 meant almost constant bullying, on top of what I’ve realized only as an adult was acute childhood social anxiety. I didn’t know what to expect from the show, which was being hosted at the shop of one of my peers from back in the day. 

My heart is filled with love to say that the show was awesome and everyone was rad. I think when you’re a child, and you face rejection, judgement, and hate, there’s a part of you that never recovers, a part that always craves acceptance. We had an amazing time and played with local band Azrael and Prince George metal band Kleaver who came out as well. It was really lovely reconnecting with everyone I’d seen as little children who were now all grown up. 

There is something that makes Burns Lake a place that captures my heart and it’s only from playing this show that I realized it. It’s a very small community, but being in the north, there is a disproportionately high rate of death for young people from accidents. When I think back on it, there are about seven or eight people that I knew as a child who are no longer with us who didn’t grow up. I was most struck by two of these; while speaking to a young man at the show who wasn’t sure if he knew me, I mentioned that my “moms” had owned the local general store, to which he exclaimed, “oh, the dykes!”. The way he said that brought me right back to my childhood, where the word “dyke” was as sharp as a knife. Not everyone had been so judgemental so it occured to me to ask him his last name and see which family he was from. It was my experience as a child that the kids heard it at home from their parents and brought it to school. When he told me his last name I knew immediately who he was; his bigger brother had been one of my worst bullies. When I enquired as to the status of his brother I found out that he’d since died when he was 18. As much as I didn’t have much love for that kid, I am deeply saddened to hear this news. As I looked around the room with all these young people that night, I realised that almost everyone in that room (because I knew almost all of them and their histories) had lost a brother, or a cousin, or a friend. 

The resiliency of the people of Burns Lake through so much tragedy and heartbreak makes me love my hometown. Looking at the faces of the kids I’d known, how happy they were to be rocking out with us, and how openly they accepted me after all these years heals some of the wounds I’ve carried around almost all my life. It was an amazing experience I’ll never forget and I was so glad to see family friends and familiar faces. That night we stayed at the home of some family friends that I used to babysit for, who also lost one of their sons. It wasn’t until last night in Hinton, laying in bed after the show, that I had some time to think back about this boy; I used to babysit him and his little brother, who was at the show that night. He was a really sweet little guy and the pictures all over the house of him gave me an opportunity to remember him. Two deaths; one of a kid who hated me, one of a kid I loved, both of which affected me equally. Dear Burns Lake; you broke me and you made me, I can’t forget you and I’ve always missed you and wanted your approval, and the lives of the people are deeply entwined with mine. 

We played Valemount for St Patricks day and all I can say is I’m very impressed with how hard such a small community can rock out! Hinton didn’t let us down on a Tuesday night either, though I’m sorry to say both Mykel and myself woke up with the most awful colds and Marcus and Graham had to put up with us coughing and sneezing up a storm in the van on the way to Edmonton, Now for a day off to rest and recover!

 

TIME TO HIT THE ROAD

Hi all;

In a few short days we start our #PUNK#ZOMBIE#ROCKNROLL tour. It seems no matter how well organized I strive to be or with how much structure I approach such a grand undertaking, I always end up in the same position; out of clean underwear and smelling like a homeless kid who’s misplaced their debit card. Staying on top of twenty different aspects is a hard road…being in a band is not glamorous. The saving grace is that the liquor store I frequent has a good selection of beers over 9%.

We gave up our apartment on Feb 1st in order to save money; well, I wouldn’t really call it saving. We’ve easily spent what we’d normally spend in rent money on all the things we need to be tour ready including new merch, CDs, dropcards, a trailer hitch, and so on and so forth. I want to take a moment to thank our friends Steve G and Will S for letting us crash at their houses this month, as well as all the kids at the Matador house in Vancouver.

I thought that it would only take me a few days or maybe a week or two to complete all my uncompleted projects, and that I’d have time to coast and couchsurf and practice guitar before hitting the road. I was so. wrong. I have three days left in Vancouver and I’m only now finishing all that needs be finished, the biggest project of which was the epic hand-drawn comic book I recently completed to accompany the new release. A 17-page hand-drawn and colored piece of art is a lot of work for anyone but is a special challenge for me. this month I’ve had a long-awaited, much-anticipated, badly-needed formal diagnosis of ADHD. Not a shock and not news, but a relief to finally have the validation that I’m not lazy, stupid, clumsy, or an airhead. People often say to me, “Dusty, you’re always so busy, you’re always working on something!” What probably seems like a virtue to many is a personal prison for me; I CAN’T relax. My mind is always racing, my feet are always tapping, my fingernails are always picking or scratching, my mouth is always talking. So, I can start any project with boundless enthusiasm; completing a project is another thing. ADHD has interefered with my ability to keep a job, to keep friends, to have pets (i’ll get into that another time), and to feel good about myself. To actually follow through and complete a project once the initial “brain candy” of something new has worn off was excruciating. It sometimes only came a page at a time or even a panel at a time; my poor publicist has been hounding me for weeks. The truth is that completing this comic is one of the first (personal) things I’ve done on my own in years and tied neatly with a bow. I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it if it hadn’t been for the help of doctor-prescribed medicine and the support and sometimes very strict enforcement of “work time” by Mykel.

Tomorrow we are releasing the EP of the same name and I am excited to announce that we will be providing a free download link for everyone along with a comic that I drew by hand to accompany the release. This re-release of ours features a brand-new acoustic version of “Geisha With A Switchblade” so please download it!

We’ve put out a video for our single “Law Abiding Citizen”, check it out here.

We will also be releasing a video for “I Want Revenge” on Tuesday, March 11th. We worked really hard on this video together will director Will Strawn and we are so proud of what we accomplished. I’m super stoked for you guys to see it. I want to take a moment to thank Mykel Exner for producing and Will Strawn for directing/camera op. Special thanks to Cariboo Brewing and Dead Reckoning clothing for sponsoring our video, and to Terminal City Rollergirls, Academie Duello, and Audrey Bride for being in it!

We’ve also gotten some pretty amazing reviews of the re-release. Our favourite is this review, in which the reviewer calls us “like the Beach Boys, but evil” and says that I sound like “a female Rob Zombie”. I’ll take it! Check it out here!

This review says that my vocals are perfect – best. compliment. ever. Canadian Beats says the album makes you feel empowered just by listening to it. We are super happy with how much positive press this album has been received and are excited to lay it on you all for this tour.

I’m so excited to move out of the administrative phase of the tour and into the actual rock and roll phase of the tour that I could squee and just roll around on the floor. March 6th can’t come soon enough! I can’t wait to see everyone again and to bring you all new merch and new tunes.

Below is a list of dates for our tour – any changes or updates will be posted on our facebook page and on twitter.

Feb 28 – Abbotsford, BC – Gators Pub (details)

Mar 6 – Vancouver, BC – Railway Club (details)

Mar 7 – Maple Ridge, BC – the Wolf Bar (details)

Mar 8 – Mission, BC – the Zoo (details)

Mar 11 – Kamloops, BC – Cactus Jacks (details)

Mar 13 – Vernon, BC – The Green (details)

Mar 14 – Williams Lake, BC – Overlander Pub

Mar 15 – Prince George, BC – the Croft Hotel (details)

Mar 16 – Burns Lake, BC – Private Party (message dusty@sinagency.ca for details)

Mar 17 – Valemount, BC – Log & Rail Pub

Mar 18 – Hinton, AB – Valley Zoo

Mar 20 – Edmonton, AB – Studio Music Foundation (details)

Mar 21 – Edson, AB – Fat Greasy’s Metal Lounge

Mar 22 – Calgary, AB – Dicken’s Pub

Mar 23 – Red Deer, AB – Slumland

Mar 25 – Moose Jaw, SK – 23 Main Street (acoustic show)

Mar 26 – Regina, SK – The Exchange (details)

Mar 27 – Brandon, MB – North Hill Inn

Mar 28 – Thunder Bay, ON – Black Pirates Pub

Mar 29 – Timmins, ON – Victory Pub

Apr 3 – Sherbrooke, QC – Bar le Magog

Apr 4 – Montreal, QC – Katacombes (details)

Apr 5 – Sorel-Tracy, QC – Pub O’Callaghan’s

Apr 8 – Toronto, ON – Bovine Sex Club