Why I covered Superchunk’s Cool for our Ottawa tribute to Merge’s 25th

July 17 2014 | Posted by Chris

Merge 25 Ottawa tribute is a compilation put together by a bunch of friends and Merge Records enthusiasts from Canada’s capital to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the iconic label. Thanks to Ben Wilson for the great idea and for lovingly pulling it all together. I chose Superchunk’s Cool because it was the first Merge song I ever heard. Here’s my personal story:


Superchunk Cool 7"
My Cool 7″ purchased one cold winter night

It was the winter of ’91 or ’92. I remember it was winter because I chose to spend my evening playing hockey. I was living in Montreal attending Concordia University and hockey seemed pretty much like the only thing to do on a cold Tuesday night.

Like me, my pal Colin was living at the university residence and approached me about going downtown to Les Foufounes to see a new band he read about called Superchunk.

I’ll be honest, it took some convincing. But I had recently turned down seeing pre-Nevermind Nirvana at the same venue, so you might say I was a bit skittish about repeating that life-regretting move. In those days, the cover at Foufs on Tuesdays was a dollar and they affectionately called it ‘Loonie Tuesdays’. So for a starving student, the price was right for the gamble. More on that later.

I put down my hockey stick and hockey bag and followed Colin downtown, into that dark, Montreal winter evening.

(Oh! I should remind you and provide some context here: Remember, there was no internet in those days. No ‘Let’s stream some Superchunk on YouTube before the show’. These decisions were truly a leap of faith based on word of mouth from someone who read a magazine article or heard a track on a local college station. It’s the way we rolled back then, Dear Reader. But of course if we could have, Superchunk would’ve looked and sounded like this:)





Ah, those life changing shows

What followed was nothing short of what you could call an epiphany. Superchunk were touring ‘No Pocky‘ and I watched their entire set with my mouth agape. Their pogoing energy, their volume, their corduroys, their clever catchy songs all hooked me almost immediately. And oh, that feedback. It was an elixir for my young senses.

Not only did Superchunk strike a chord that would last a lifetime that night, they injected a sort of confidence in me because they were doing exactly what I believed my own young band was trying to do at the time. It was a justification of sorts and my excitement and enthusiasm for making music was taken to a brand new high.

I bought two records that night. No Pocky For Kitty and the 45 of Cool b/w Fishing. When I got back to residence I put on the 7″ first (I had a turntable in my dorm room, natch!). I was in awe. What I saw that evening translated SO well to vinyl. I practically wore out that record in the days, weeks, months and years to come. I officially became Superchunk obsessed and pined to know more…and to see them perform again.


No pocky signatures!
No Pocky Mac!
I got Laura, Jim and Mac to sign No Pocky. Nerd, I know.



Discovering Merge the label

In those pre-internet days it was comparatively difficult to connect with people and it was even harder to research your favourite bands. Over time I learned about Merge, the label that Mac and Laura ran together to primarily release their own records. As The Stand GT (the aforementioned young band) began to tour in earnest, we started to hear more about the label and the band and also began to realize just how much people admired this e’merging’ imprint.

(I remember meeting a band from Halifax called Merge who were worried about the conflict of their chosen name. They swore they were in touch with Laura who gave them permission to keep using it. How cool! They said she was really nice and even offered to release a 7″ for them! Wow, was I envious! Or gullible. Not sure which applies in this case.)



On The Mouth

When Superchunk came back to Montreal for the On The Mouth tour, I approached Laura and gave her The Stand GT’s ‘Blur Your Cool’ cassette (*a-hem* a record that I think stands up to this day). Nothing ever came of that, though soon after I did start a nice little collection of official Merge rejection postcards. Despite them being actual ‘rejections’ it felt like the Merge folks always took the time to acknowledge our recordings. And for a young band with an artist finding his way, that meant an awful lot to me and I wore those acknowledgements as a badge of honour.


postcards from Merge
Kind (though form letter) words from Merge HQ

Merge, of course, continued to grow and release amazing records across a wide spectrum of genres. My early faves were singles from the John Reis camp like Rocket From the Crypt’s Pigeon Eater and Drive Like Jehu’s Bullet Train to Vegas. It wasn’t all loud rock though and gorgeous records from the likes of Richard Buckner, Lambchop, M. Ward and the Radar Brothers began to appear as well.



A peek behind the curtain

In 2004 some friends and I attended the 15th anniversary party the label put together down in North Carolina. The trip was an incredible peek into the world in which Merge existed and was operating. Not only did we get to see all of our fave artists perform in intimate venues like the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, we got a first hand glimpse at the small and vibrant community that was Merge.

What struck me then and has stuck with me was that very real sense of community we all strive for. It also made me realize community starts at home. Merge wasn’t doing anything different than any of my friends with local labels were doing. It was all DIY and all about good people, shared experiences and of course, great music.


merge 15 pass
My prized Merge 15 pass



Indie rock in the global village

Since then, the world has gotten even smaller. We now have friends from Ottawa who releases records on Merge. The label has become a global music force without ever ‘selling out’ and staying as true to their roots and vision as possible. They continue to be a huge inspiration for many independent artists and I feel lucky to have been able to follow their example for many years during my own winding indie music career.


My cover of Cool is a tribute of sorts to Mac, Laura, Jon and Jim. I enjoyed reworking it into something I thought would be an interesting take on such a raucous classic. My pals Kaiser and Morgan did a great job on the vocal accompaniment and I think the result sits quite nicely along my Ottawa pals and their own heartfelt tributes.

Never have I felt such a heavy weight while putting together a cover song, though. It was powerful to pause and acknowledge the influence, the passage of time, the nostalgia and the renewed realization of what this music has meant to me.

Plus, it was damn fun:



Finally, a word to my pal, longtime collaborator and brother Bandeeto Colin:

I guess you were on to something that night when you made me put down my hockey bag and follow you downtown Montreal and onto a journey that continues today.

I thank you for that, pal. The ‘Superchunk for a buck’ story never gets old.


Superchunk in Spin
Spin (or was it Alternative Press?!) article that told Colin to tell me to ‘follow the light……….’

UPDATE: After writing this post I came across a wonderful piece by Laura Snapes written for NME. It’s a terrific read and I feel really synchs nicely with my thoughts above. Cheers!

12 facts about The Stand GT’s most celebrated release, the cassette-only
Blur Your Cool

June 2 2014 | Posted by Chris

Thanks to our good pal Rob Seaton, the infamous and long lost ‘Blur Your Cool’ has been lovingly resurrected, tweaked, mastered and beaten into submission. It is now available for digital download for the first time since its release 22 years ago.

Blur Your Cool was The Stand GT‘s message in a bottle. It was a release that blew open doors for us and provided the opportunity for the band to travel far and wide, put out records around the world and meet friends we still keep in touch with today. There was magic in that tape.

We’ve compiled 12 fun facts you can read while you download it here.

#1

Blur Your Cool was released on En Guard records in Montreal, Canada, cat number ENG 014. It was only ever released on a limited run cassette.

Blur Your Cool
3 copies of Blur Your Cool remain unopened in the band’s vault.



#2

A video was shot for The Wait at Concordia University on 16mm film. Sadly it was never edited or released. Yet, anyway.



#3

Kurt Bloch from the legendary Fastbacks heard Blur Your Cool and liked it so much he offered to record the band. Our first LP, They’re Magically Delicious was recorded by Kurt at Egg Studios in Seattle as a result.

He also recorded the Mint Records 7″ EP, The Crackle Fan.

Outside Egg Studios, Seattle
Outside Egg Studios (l to r): Chris, Wally, Colin, Kurt, Doug, Zimmy



#4

Colin from The Stand GT bought Blur at Sam The Record Man in Toronto. He was soon playing the songs live.

Colin takes off
Colin catches air on tour in ’94.



#5

The tape was recorded, for the most part, at Studio 365 by Rob Martin. Studio 365 is located at 365 Beaubien St in Montreal and still exists as a practice space today. Listen carefully to the start of Cut My Hand and you’ll hear the band in the next room rehearsing.

Paul Gott from the Ripcordz sang backing vocals. (You guess which songs).

Studio 365
The doorway to Studio 365. And some random running dude.



#6

Away From Your Sway and Into Downs were recorded at an earlier session by Pierre Perrault and Andrew Frank at Studio DNA in Montreal. Sad Bunch of People is also from that session.

Sad Bunch Of People 7"
Sad Bunch of People 7″ released by En Guard 1992, Cat number ENG 008.



#7

I’d Tell You was a retake of an earlier version that appeared on a demo cassette called ‘Out Standing In The Field’. It was eventually covered by Ottawa’s Dead City Rebels.

Dead City Rebels
The Dead City Rebels 10″ ‘Rock and Roll Enemy #1′. I’d Tell You was not on this.



#8

Choke also appeared on an Australian compilation on AuGoGo records called ‘On Guard For Thee‘. It featured ‘A Collection of Canada’s Youth Gone Bad‘ including BUM, Chixdiggit, Von Zippers, Huevos Rancheros, Cub, Punchbuggy, The Smugglers, Crash 13 and more!

Dave Cooper and Pat McEown, the crack creative team responsible for the cover of Apocalypse Cow, also did this cover.

On Guard For Thee



#9

Away From Your Sway also appeared on a early En Guard comp called ‘2 Solitudes‘ which featured 50% Franco bands and 50% Anglo bands. It featured artists such as Ripcordz, Banlieue Rouge, Bliss, Velcro Soul, American Devices and Les Bons A Rien.

2 Solitudes
One of En Guard’s first releases, the compilation ’2 Solitudes’ cat number ENG 006CD. Look! You can see Wally on the cover.



#10

Jamie’s Mile was rerecorded and originally appeared on the band’s first label release, a cassette EP called ‘Another Round‘.

Another Round
Another Round, En Guard records cat number ENG 003C.



#11

Many of the songs from Blur Your Cool remain in The Stand GT set today and some of them will definitely be a part of our Ottawa Explosion 2014 show.

OXW



#12

As a bonus track, we’ve included ‘Sad Bunch Of People’ for the digital download!

As we’ve stated, it only ever came out on cassette on a limited release. Wanna release Blur Your Cool on vinyl? Get in touch with us here: campradio(at)gmail(dot)com.

So here it is, for the first time ever offered as a digital download. Stream and download Blur Your Cool!


The Stand GT announce a one-off show at Ottawa Explosion, June 12th 2014

May 15 2014 | Posted by Chris



The good folks at Ottawa Explosion asked us and we said yes.

Since we’re big fans of OXW and their DIY spirit, we’re excited to announce we’ll be joining their colossal indie rock party this year…marking our first show since October 2001.


The Stand GT
The Stand GT – Photo by Shawn Scallen


The Stand GT
Live in Winnipeg – Photo by Jon Schledewitz

For those who don’t know, The Stand GT was born out of and thrived on the same DIY, community ethic that is reflected in the values of the OXW. From our relationships with Montreal labels like OG Music and En Guard to Vancouver’s Mint, the pre-internet, indie rock days were all about community first.

This is the main reason we’ve chosen OXW as the venue to get back together, share a few laughs, drink a few beers and crank out some of the old songs.

We’re looking forward to it. Hope to see you there.

To celebrate in the coming weeks leading up to OXW, we’ll be announcing a few more surprises. Check back here, or on our Facebook page, or follow Chris on Twitter for more details.



THE STAND GT BIO:

The Stand GT have a storied underground history. The band’s legacy is etched into the wood bar railings throughout North America, their numerous record releases on many record labels are lovingly tucked into record collections throughout the world. In the pre-internet, pre-cell phone DIY indie rock world, the band held a solid, hard-touring road warrior reputation.

The Stand GT’s humble beginnings started in an abandoned chicken coop in rural eastern Ontario in the late 80s. Their first taste of wax came when they snuck a track onto the legendary “It Came From Canada series, Vol. 5″ on the iconic OG Records. It was at one of their famous ‘Voodoo BBQs’ where the band met Ripcordz leader Paul Gott and it wasn’t long before The Stand GT began cranking out 7s for his thriving Montreal label, En Guard Records….more >>

READ MORE OF THE STAND GT’s BIO HERE. >>>

Classic jam: Away From Your Sway

Into Facebook? The Stand GT page is here for your unadulterated love and liking.


The Stand GT
For those who are computer literate, this is where the term ‘cut and paste’ comes from.


The Stand GT
The Stand GT live at the Princess Theatre, Sault St. Marie, Ontario


The Stand GT
Backs against the wall, early: Inside the infamous ‘Stand Chicken Coop’. Photo by Stephanie Carpenter


Ottawa Explosion Weekend (#OXW) goes down in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada from June 12th to the 15th.
Follow the OXW web site here for all the details, including last minute show announcements.

Join the OXW Facebook event for updates here.


20 years of Kelp Records: My Journey on an Indie

May 9 2014 | Posted by Chris

Kelp Records from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada celebrates 20 years of making records this Spring and is celebrating with two blow-out bashes in Toronto and Ottawa at the end of May. Check the bottom of this post for show details.


Kelp 20 Years

Yours truly on stage with Rhume, desperately waiting for the red light to go off: At Barrymore’s in Ottawa, circa 2005.



I first joined the Kelp crew around 2003 when I was trying to find a home for my 3rd solo record ‘Decide to Stay and Swim‘.

After several releases with The Stand GT on indie labels throughout the world, I was looking for something that was part of my local community, closer to home.

That’s when I heard about a nutty little label called Kelp Records.

My first introduction to Jon Bartlett and his antics was when I heard about a ‘parade’ he was throwing for one of Kelp’s early anniversaries. Sadly, I was not around for the event, but the wacky idea stuck with me. A local indie label throwing an actual parade in downtown Ottawa? Intrigue ensued and I set out to see if this could be that elusive home I was looking for.

I felt like I had put together a great record to follow up my independently released ‘Sell Out Slow‘. I was really into the DIY spirit of the local-Ottawa-via-New Brunswick label, so I approached the head cheese with my newly minted masterpiece.

My pitch was simple: I asked Jon if he was interested in having my record fly the Kelp banner.



Check out Winnipeg’s Crossfader‘s in-depth review of Decide to Stay and Swim here.



After a spin, Jon said he liked the record. I still clearly remember his response to my inquiry: He didn’t have any financial support to offer, but “could definitely be a cheerleader for the LP.”

A cheerleader was all I really needed.

‘Swim’ came out and I promptly hit the road with Andrew Vincent who was also promoting a new Kelp release, ‘I Love The Modern Way‘.


Andrew Vincent and Chris

Andrew Vincent and Chris
AV and me on tour celebrating the release of both ‘Decide to Stay and Swim‘ and his classic, perennial Kelp fave ‘I Love the Modern Way‘. These were taken in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.
I think that beeper on the table in front of me was linked to the Kelp hotline.




Since then, as many of you know, I have been fortunate enough to release another solo record ‘A Date With A Smoke Machine’, which has garnered some very kind reviews and allowed me to further explore the more mellow side of my musical output.

As for that other side, the two Camp Radio records in the Kelp canon (Camp Radio and Campista Socialista) I would argue are some damn fine rock and roll records. I’m pretty proud of them and the fact both LPs are available on heavy vinyl with gorgeous, full-colour, gatefold covers make them that much more awesome:




Camp Radio cover
Jon reveals the spot where the photo for the cover of ‘Camp Radio’ was taken


Scott Terry
Scott Terry, the Godfather and sole Beard of Camp Radio. I took this pic in 2005 while rehearsing in the basement of ‘Arthur St.’, prepping the debut LP.


Draves
Dave Draves searching for those magical Camp Radio bass soundz. Evil bearded one holds court and “supervises”


Over these 10+ years as a part of the Kelp Zoo I’ve also had the pleasure of participating in many Kelp anniversary compilations, Kelp circus-like shows and some wacky, wild Kelp shenanigans.

I have even ran roughshod all over 2nd guitar in Jon’s flamboyant, in-your-face and rip-roaring rock band, Rhume.

(If you don’t know the ‘Live Drinking from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Boot’, ‘Whiskey Nipples’ or ‘The Great Shaker Over Ste. Catherine St. Toss’ stories, ask me about them in person sometime. For a Guinness per tale, I’ll certainly regale).


Rhume
Jon and I salute you: Rhume at Barrymores in Ottawa, circa 2005


Page and Higney
These amateur-looking pilots are me and Higs getting greased to play in Rhume for Pop Montreal in the fall of 2006.



Over the years, many folks have asked me about my relationship with Kelp.

To me, it has simply been a friendly collective of like-minded folks, supporting each other while building a community built on the passion and the love for what we do. It’s a community that has grown and flourished as a significant part of Ottawa’s rich, ever-expanding arts scene.

Putting out records independently for 20 years is no easy task. These days, most people put more value in a soft drink than a well crafted song. But when you honestly and faithfully pour your heart and soul into this stuff, it still rarely ever feels like a task at all. I know from experience.

So congrats, JB, on 20 years of crazy fun, full of crazy good times and some crazy good releases.

And thanks for offering to be my cheerleader.



So what’s your fave Kelp release? Leave comment below or tell me on Twitter here!

I’ll be joining the Kelp 20 festivities in both Toronto (Thursday May 29th at the Horseshoe) and Ottawa (Saturday May 31st at St. Alban’s Church). All the details are on the Kelp site.

Facebook event for Toronto
Facebook event for Ottawa


Oh! Christmas Tree
I’m not sure why Rhume bassist Jarrett Bartlett decided to hide behind his used Christmas tree.

My Kelp discography:

2003 Chris Page – Decide to Stay And Swim

2006 Camp Radio – Self-titled

2010 Chris Page – A Date With a Smoke Machine

2011 Camp Radio – Campista Socialista


A Promise Is Still A Promise:
Steve Adamyk Band, La-ti-da Records, The Stand GT and BUM!

April 29 2014 | Posted by Chris

It was many years ago when Adam from Punchbuggy suggested I should listen to a band from Victoria, BC called BUM. He promptly handed me a cassette and that tape existed on heavy rotation in The Stand GT van through many tours, over many years. I remember listening now-classics like ‘Your Disciple’, ‘Wedding Day’ and ‘Debbiespeak’ over and over again and pining for the day I could find out more about this mystery band from way out on the west coast.


Fast forward to Summer 2013

When The Steve Adamyk Band were tracking their latest record last summer at Yogi’s Meatlocker, Steve was kind enough to invite me over to sing on a track I’ve known intimately for almost 20 (!?) years now. I was psyched to hear he was planning to cover a BUM song, something I knew he and the boys would totally do justice to. ‘A Promise Is A Promise’ is certainly a staple of any BUM jam, whether it’s taken from the masterful ‘Wanna Smash Sensation’ LP, the Lance Rock 7” or the exciting live-in-Spain record ‘Shake Town’.


A Promise Is A Promise
My coveted ‘A Promise Is A Promise’ 7″ on Lance Rock Records



Spain Sure Got It

The Shake Town LP version is stunning and it documented how Spain was all over our local heros, celebrating what few of us already knew back home. I can still remember Grant Lawrence exclaiming to me, “Just wait until you hear the Spanish crowd singing on the chorus of A Promise!”. When I finally got a hold of the LP, I couldn’t believe it.

Just watch this live clip synched to Promise…it still gives me chills to watch a band in their prime, getting a taste of what should have been a regular reaction to BUM here in North America:



It’s well documented that the band just didn’t catch fire here in Canada and the US, despite releasing single after killer single. Spain was their stronghold and for some reason was one of the few countries to get it.

(Check out a pretty good Facebook discussion I started on the topic. I especially like Grant’s point about American record labels)


Covers Including ‘I Said Sometimes!’

A Promise Is A Promise was covered by the great Japanese punk rock outfit, Teengenerate on a killer split 7″ with BUM from the mid-90s. This one was also on Canada’s Lance Rock and came out in ’94. I would imagine this 2×7″ package is pretty rare now too:



Lisa Marr of Cub also covered Promise in a slow, gorgeous and haunting way for the Magic Teeth compilation called ‘I Said Sometimes’. That tribute record consisted of 26 (!) covers in total from bands that spanned the globe.

The Stand GT’s contribution to the comp was another great track from Wanna Smash, “I Hardly Breathe”. (True story: At the time Kurt Bloch from Seattle legends The Fastbacks actually said: ‘We were gonna do that one!’. I think it’s great he chose ‘Your Disciple’ as an alternative as most would agree that number was hand-made for his guitar wizardry!)

Here’s The Stand GT, cold ones in hand, hardly taking a breath while belting out ‘I Hardly Breathe’:



Touring West


3B Poster
One of our shows with BUM at the infamous 3B Tavern in Bellingham, Washington

The Stand GT toured a lot in those days and it wasn’t long before we crossed paths with our distant Canuck cousins. We played a few West Coast shows with BUM, most notably with Nardwuar’s Evaporators, Teengenerate and The Fastbacks. My favourite show was probably the first one with BUM though, at the legendary Crocodile Cafe in Seattle…that was the bill with the Fastbacks.

Yeah, it was awesome.


Bum
BUM live at the Crocodile in Seattle


The Stand GT live at the Crocodile in Seattle
Chris catches air in Seattle at the Croc. I can’t remember if Rob Nesbitt and I shared jeans for this show.


A Promise Is A Promise 2014

It’s awesome that Steve Adamyk has taken up the torch and done such a great job of such an iconic track. It was a huge treat for me to sing on this with Steve and be a part of yet another amazing, power pop record from the mighty Steve Adamyk Band.

I think the orange ones are long gone now, but you can still order the 7″ from La-ti-da Records out in Van City.

Support a great ‘local’ indie, and buy some records from them here.


Promise Is A Promise - Steve Adamyk


So what’s your favourite BUM track? If you have a fave BUM memory, tell us about it in the comment section below!

Oh! And finally… in case you need to hear it again (you KNOW you do!), here is the original version by BUM from the killer CLASSIC LP, Wanna Smash Sensation:





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