Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Devin Townsend Experience

Mein Traum hat treu!

I have to admit, the level of anxiety to meet Devin Townsend more than quadruples the amount I felt for meeting Jahri. Devin Townsend has been on a ridiculously productive roll in the past half decade, and I had the opportunity to explore the reasons why, as well as other things. For anyone who knows me personally, they're familiar with my love and appreciation of Devy's music. I've been into his solo work and Strapping Young Lad for as long as I could actually appreciate music enough to justify buying my own CD's. With that, I thought I might have more of a "right" to meet this musician than most people, but I'm sort of wondering what a "right" is, and I'll explain that in a bit!

So I worked all day down at the M-O-N-D-R-A-G-O-N and went straight down the street to the Garrick, snaked through the back exits... asked Gojira where Devy was, got redirected to a stage-hand named Paul, then to some other guy, and then I think I was told to just sit tight because Devin was doing a live acoustic with someone... Me nerves was rubbed right raw. And by that, I mean, I was pretty nervous. I didn't know what to expect! I just didn't want to seem like a moron, and ask a lot of the same questions he had already gotten (I always imagine that's pretty annoying, especially when you're hot shit at the moment) I hadn't thought of any REAL questions all week... not ones I knew I would ask for certain. Eventually someone came up to the seats and said the man was down there with the big hat. The hat wasn't that big, but it was Devin! We shook hands, and I had to gather back up all my faculties, because this thing we call "speech" was all of a sudden pretty difficult. I just about spilled all over the floor.

We went to his tour bus, and throughout the interview- Ryan, Brion and David were going in and out. I would not have minded talking to the gentlemen who have been accompanying and complimenting Devin's talents for the past few years, but we just let them go about their business. The interview was easy-peasy in the way that... Well.... Devin is such a relaxed character, at least at this time he was. He was extremely honest, he wasn't putting on any kind of act and he was open. Wide open. Probably more than he's ever been in a his life, and I mean this in terms of this period in his life with Epicloud, Retinal Circus and everything. He described something I was desperate to know, and that's how Epicloud differs from the rest of his discography before the quadrilogy, which is apparently the transition period for him. With his solo work before Ki, he does say he believes in peace, love and happiness but... FUCK YOU. With Epicloud, there is no sinister twist, or what he described as insecurity with his past work. He's exposed himself, laying it all out, he loves love and peace and wants to find happiness. Right on.

Want one of these awesome easy-peel oranges?! They're delicious!

So about the "right" to hang out with Devin... he made an interesting point about being a musician and how people are personally invested in it--"his" music,  which insinuates risk... "I HAVE to meet you." or "I NEED to have your next record"... it's all personal investment and it makes Devin somehow responsible for something he has no need to be responsible for. This is all in the interview which will air on Radio Active Metal on the BY THE WAY... Devin is a musician and this music, as he says, is not "his"- he merely interprets notes and uses a set of skills to manifest something that's always had the potential to be there. "That's MY riff" now sounds like a ridiculous statement of ownership. It really makes me think about what intellectual property is. By the way, I don't ever expect or necessarily want to get paid for taking pictures.

I've already used a hell of a lot of quotations, but I think I should just get to the off-interview festivities... The interview was long, and during it, it did not take me long to loosen up and not feel nervous anymore. When we went back into the venue, it was a bit of standing around watching roadies be roadies... I noticed Devin speaking with one of the stage managers- or at least trying to while a drum check for Gojira was happening... Devin had said on the bus that he was hungry and a vegetarian, but also intended to go to my restaurant if time permitted, so I walked over and offered to pick him up some food if he was too busy to. He said thanks, but that he would be walking over himself. I said I'd show him where it was and then all of a sudden, I'm walking in the exchange district with my favourite musician of all time... We talked about Winnipeg, and what makes it Winnipeg, we talked more about ourselves and it was a nice little walk. When we got in the restaurant, of course no one recognizes him off the hop. Daunted by the menu, I made my recommendations and he picked the Dragonbowl and the Southern Fried Strips. Of course I made all the food for him, because that's what I do all day. So I deliver his food and get my bearings.

I sit down with him as he gnoshes on vegan fare and he asks when I'm getting married and... we just have a nice relaxed, but personal conversation about ourselves. We talk about marriage, his and my future one, what we're learning about in life at the moment... One of the things that stuck with me is that he's been on tour since him and Tracy have been together, and that in itself has caused contention, but more so is having CHILDREN.... in the end, Devy tells me that if your spouse isn't an idiot and you are friends, that's all you can really ask for. There's a fantasy period, and then there's having kids... I took a lot away from this 41 year old man, who has made music that I've listened to through some of the most emotionally hard and wonderful periods of my life... I was able to describe this to him and I can't think of a more fulfilling feeling....

Oh! I also got Devin to try Kombucha for his first time! He thought he knew what it was, and was like "that shit is weird" so we split a bottle of Ginger Kombucha and he liked it, as he felt the probiotics going to town on his meal. He also likes comfort food, so we agreed that next time he's here, it's Liz's lasagna all the fucking way. That was a pretty excellent experience, having Devin try something new and him enjoying it, and agreeing to hang out with me again. This tour is definitely the mark of a new period in Devin's life and career, and I hope he finds his happiness. When he left to get ready for the gig... I felt like a really close friend of mine was going away for a while... but... he'll be on stage in just over an hour! Anyways, enough of my guts spilling all over the internet... here's all my stupid pictures!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wintersun - December 8th @ the WECC

First of all, I would like to thank Ruben from Union Events- you helped me immensely at the show, and I feel I owe you a sandwich. Moving swiftly forward! I knew for a few weeks at least, that I would be speaking with Wintersun. However, I did not appreciate the magnitude of how insanely awesome it would be. Talking to Jahri and possibly the other members of the band- including Kai, whom is a Finnish legend in his own right, was going to be delightful. It wasn't until I was actually making my why to the gig that I started to genuinely be nervous. I've never really been nervous to hang out with a band before- not Iced Earth, not Havok, nor Devin Townsend... Meeting the person who masterminded Wintersun really made me gittery- giddy and jittery. Would Jahri and the others be shiny, or have an aura around them? Well, kind of. More an aura of grace and professionalism, but a sense of fun at the same time. Really though, they were exceptionally cool guys. I mean, really down to earth, and in it for the fans and the music.

Anyone who saw Wintersun could easily tell they were tight, well put together and loved connecting to the audience. They really appreciate the crowd's energy and brought anything they could to help us enjoy their performance. Everyone went bat-shit-holy-fuck-euphoria-ca-razy. It was the kind of concert and performance that you really found a sense of community and love, mixed with genuine respect for the musicians. Everyone who was there adores Wintersun. I don't think I saw anyone whom I thought had never heard their stuff, and wasn't there for their set. But Eluveitie is still pretty stellar. Herdigerdi, anyone?

The crowd was all very friendly, and an unusual one from the one I usually see, but it's refreshing. Now for shameful cross-promotion! So my cohort and I totally interviewed Jahri and Jukka, as well as Anna the Herdigerdi player from Eluveitie and Kriegel. By the way, there are half a billion people in Eluveitie. Anyhow, these interviews will be run on Radio Active Metal- which I have taken a hiatus from co-hosting, but Snowy and Roch are simply awesome guys. So eventually the interviews and the show featuring them will be on the internet FOREVER! The interviews themselves were pretty interesting- especially with Jukka the bassist. It was his dream to be in Wintersun, and he really fits the bill, and his moose hat is almost as cute as my owl hat.


View the full-ish album here! More to come as I deem one of the six hundred or so pictures as worthy...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Obituary, Broken Hope, Decrepit Birth and Jungle Rot - September 19th @ The Zoo

I want to keep this write-up short and sweet, but so much mirth was had at the Obituary show. I was absolutely giddy with excitement as I walked right into the venue to meet some gear loaders I knew before the show. I could see Jungle Rot on the other side of the room, but I was too shy and excited to say anything. Bearing banana bread, I giddily went to Kickboxing to let off some excess excitement and after a thorough sweat, I was ready to go for some much needed live Death Metal.

I have never seen Obituary live, and now that I have, I could probably rot happily in the ground. But first, I want to talk about Jungle Rot- The first time I heard them was when they were here earlier in the year with Deicide. I was so thoroughly impressed with their no-nonsense groove and tone, I had to literally buy five of their CD's- well, at least to sell to Winnipeg if they missed them. Kill On Command is a fucking classic, and I recommend anything off their catalogue as far back as their first release Skin the Living. They fucking pound! But enough about their recordings, as for this time's live antics... some personnel at the Zoo or under Cory's supervision completely ruined the microphone levels and the stage was dark up until Dave Matrise had to fucking say something so they could get some lights turned on.  However, I could only care about the lights a little bit, since I was too busy moshing so much of the time. I almost never mosh, by the way. Let this be an indication as to how fucking awesome Jungle Rot are.

After their set and some time during Decrepit Birth's set, I caught up with David and offered him one of the loaves of banana bread I made, which he accepted, but only after he let his stomach settle. It was actually surprisingly difficult to get rid of that entire loaf of banana bread. We chatted for a long time, and Dave was pretty fed up with the politics of the music industry, especially in touring. Jungle Rot had no place opening, but they know they're no Obituary. He also told me that they were following the Morbid Angel tour, but they're always behind by a few days. What's the point of that? Either way, Jungle Rot said they'll be back in the studio for another album in January, and will be touring again soon after, so stay tuned for an interview with those guys!

I'm going to skip Decrepit Birth, because they're just too proggy brutal death metal for me. Does that make sense? Impressive musicianship, but nothing that captivates me too much. Keep it simple, keep it brutal is my new mantra. Now how about Broken Hope? The best fucking thing about Broken Hope was Chuck Fucking Labossier of our city was the vocalist. The man is a legend in his own right, and I nominate him to be the new mayor of Winnipeg. He represents everything that's kind of all right about Winnipeg- the metal scene, bicycle enthusiasm, good humour, dope smoking... Chuck is great and down to Earth, but fucking talented at the same time. I would say I wish he were my Dad, but Chuck is a big kid himself, in his own words, and wouldn't really be a great Dad. But he is an amazing front man. Keep up the killer tunage, sir. Go check out Eyam or Psychotic Gardening as well as wishing him luck as he tours with Broken Hope for the rest of their Canadian dates!

Now here's the interesting part... Obituary... They played everything I'm sure everyone wanted to hear... Turned Inside Out, Stinkupuss, Chopped In Half... They just really nailed it. And from my end of things doing some photography, I could really tell that John Tardy is a serious and professional vocalist. He doesn't fuck around, and he expects everyone working the gig to not fuck around either. They were a pretty amazing band to see, and Donald Tardy is a really cool guy *faints*. I am going to cut the crap now, and just post what you people wanted to see... PICTURES!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Marduk, 1349, Withered, Weapon and Hoarfrost @ The Park Theater June 10th, 2012

The Park Theater seems like a fitting arena for the black metal bonanza's that barrage Winnipeg, now that I've witnessed the raw powers of Mayhem, Marduk and 1349 at this quaint venue. Black metal has a very special grip on a lot of the "regular" metal crowd that frequents these amazing acts. Perhaps it's just me, but the moshing at these black metal shows seems to be more explosive and ruthless than other pits for death metal or thrash. I cannot tell if the energy and brutal bliss displayed by the crowd is a reaction to the exceptional stage performances by these bands, or a pre-existing excitement that coaxes the bands to display more fervor. Either way, the metal community feels as tight as ever as we all crammed together and enjoyed some quality music.

It's been a while since I updated this thing, so thank you to those who have been patient and like seeing the progress and accumulation of pictures on my blog. The War on Music restructuring and rebuilding is an excuse for not updating, but really, it's more laziness than anything. If you're the least bit curious about the shows I never wrote about, but took pictures for, they can be found here...

As for the acts, of which they were quality, our locally grown Hoarfrost opened. As usual, Ryan commands the crowd and the stage as he delivers a variety of vocal stylings to enjoy. It's always a pleasure taking pictures of Craig, and I have to wonder- is his Testament shirt like a show dress shirt? My significant other does the same thing, by wearing his Testament shirt out to shows, almost religiously. This time I didn't have the balls to run on stage and get pictures of Kyle, even though he always deserves the shots. And Darcy, stoic as ever plays like a black metal monolith with a strange seriousness that he might not be aware he displays. All of this is affectionately written in the new War on Music space on 91 Albert Street. Any Hoarfrost propaganda or merch is welcome here!

I caught on a few songs from Weapon, but from what I saw and heard, they had a solid grasp on the subtle groove of blacker metal. They were also quite passionate on stage and like the band Withered that followed after, they had an unexpected professionalism about them. It's so special to have such a solid line-up of true metal bands that give their all, whether there's 15 people in the audience or 300.

With Withered, I was thoroughly impressed. The sound was clear, the music was bangin' and everyone seemed to be enjoying everything. A fun band to take pictures of; I don't have too much to say, because all that can be reflected upon about the show should be seen in pictures... like these ones...

By the time 1349, everyone seemed ready to really get their energy out- especially with an elevated consumption of alcohol. With expertly applied corpse paint and a truly fun but brutal air about them, 1349 were to me, the highlight of the night. Hooded, painted and blissfully brooding, they played an amazing set that really got people going. Their guitarist must have thrown out at least fifteen guitar picks, because I picked up eight off the floor myself and distributed them to people. All the pictures I took were a flattering and grainy black metal and white, and I even jumped on stage for a single shot before being redirected back off stage faster than I ever have before. Seriously, no one has ever pulled me off stage, although I have been denied photographical prvilege. Here's the tasty drummer picture...

The main dish was not really Marduk, but the voracious and savage room of bipeds that used to be people before black metal got a hold of them and myself. Just like at Mayhem, the pit seemed loveless and exobitantly violent. But of course, no one REALLY gets hurt- except for that one guy at Metal Fest... As soon as Marduk's stage hands started billowing out smoke, I was fucked photographically. So all I could do was try and enjoy the energy and the metal, because taking pictures was a shit deal for the entire set. Oh well, at leas there was atmosphere created by the choking smog and dim lights. Yeah, the dim lights sucked too.

All pictures can be viewed HERE!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Resurrection of War on Music

Today we lost a friend, a place of commerce, a relaxing pit of heavy music and vinyl wonderment. A place where one could drop a few hundred bucks without having to think twice about whether it was something they really wanted, or just to hang out and chat on their lunch break. It was painted black, and yet it was such a bright spot in so many people's lives, whether they had only been there twice, or if they came every week. You could peruse the records, the CD's, the tapes... you could speak freely about your tastes in punk or metal or crust or whatever experimental jargon you loved. War on Music was a beautiful concept fueled by the interests of the Winnipeg metal and punk scenes, and by the international interests of those whom this establishment traded with.

War on Music was not just a building, it was not just a store, it was not just a space that held interesting inventory... it was a nerve center... a physical representation of a combined passion for music. A nerve center of heavy music and a brave anti-corporate endeavor. There is love and trust in what War on Music was and will be again. War on Music as a place, a store, an outlet- is not dead. It can live and breathe again, despite a fiery death that smoldered for hours and bled smoke throughout downtown.

I cannot personally ask for charity to bring this back to life, but the community at large should realize that this is important, and significant, and the efforts put into this store are bigger than itself, and hold an ubiquitous and cherished standard most hold dear. I hope that in light of this, many people can make it down to the Park Theater this evening to talk to Charley Justice or I about what might happen. I'll make a silly speech, perhaps much like this blog post, but I would really like to see a lot of faces at the venue, to not only support the bands, but to show support for War on Music. I can't bake cookies for everyone, but god damnit... some people will be getting some.

Thanks to everyone who loves War on Music and who supports my blog.

-Elizabeth Harte-Maxwell

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Metal Fest Night Two

If you were there, you just knew it was awesome. Pictures!

Yes, this is laziness.

-Love Liz

Deicide - The Pyramid Cabaret March 12th, 2012

The day of Deicide, tickets for the show were selling like hotcakes at War on Music- which is a pretty exciting prospect, all things considered. I was looking  forward to the show at the Zoo, which always offers a very metal atmosphere and good angles for pictures. Mid-afternoon, however, Cory came in asking about whether we had anymore tickets, and restocked us as well as taking his hard-earned cash. He then informed me of the unfortunate reality of the border officers being dick-faces and not accepting the work permits that the bands possessed, so the show might have to be moved. In the end, the show was moved from our beloved Zoo, to the Pyramid. You know if Cory has to change the venue the day of show, he has had a baaaaad day. Poor Cory!

Not only did the venue change, but the show time too... 9pm doors, and the show started at 9:30 sharp. Lecherous Nocturne were up first, and what a good opener! They were a generous helping of technical and impressive death metal. Their bassist James O`Neal used a Spanish guitar style of picking for the bass. Finger picking not only up, but down as well, to get the quick six-note progressions he doled out like they were nothing but the blues.  Their vocalist, Brent, didn`t do a hell of a lot of talking between songs- more just song titles then the metal began again. Sometimes that`s nice, when all you want to hear is some head-bangingly awesome metal, but in this case, it might just have been due to lack of charisma or even fatigue! After all, the bands and crew spent six hours at the border that day. Bad day for everyone. At one point, the vocalist for Abigail Williams did the vocals for a song, and it was a treat! Over all, I would recommend seeing Lecherous Nocturne, and they were generous enough to give me two of their CD`s, which I will gladly promote on Rock n` Roll Damnation and Radio Active METAL.
No faces - Just hair

One thing I can say about Abigail Williams was that they were really freaking loud. It was different depending on where you were standing, but they were the band that likely hurt my hearing the most. They didn`t sound bad, they were just cranked. Atmospheric and doomy as well as shrouded in mist, Abigail Williams played an interesting set with only three members of their expected five member group. I was not very familiar with their work, so my expectations were non-existent. They disappointed friends of mine, but personally, I thought their delivery was strong and really spoke to the doom metal fan in me that enjoys the slow glowing production of eerie sounds. For me, it was wave after wave of smoke machine and hard-hitting mysticism that I have only gotten once before with the band Russian Circles, whom also had a diminished group with no vocalist. Awesome!

 Jungle Rot was the band I came that night to witness. I had heard so many good things, and any time we had a Jungle Rot CD at War on Music, it was either sold immediately, or put on hold. I wasn't too sure of what to expect, since I had only heard a scant amount of their extensive discography- with Kill On Command being supported for this tour, and incidentally, the only one they had for sale.

So I strapped in and prepared for a death metal barrage that I was sure my ears would be delighted with. I would like to point out that Dave Matrise is a mean looking and fitting frontman for a band with such attitude and a formidably austere and aggressive sound. He looks like the war part of the band, while Geoff Bub has hair like jungle vines and they both really struck me as being exactly how this band should portray itself. I can't discount the energy James Genenz put forth on stage as the bassist, and moved around and was actually interesting to take pictures of. Jesse Beahler, former drummer of like... five other bands is the newest to the group but fits right in and plays like the rhythmic and constant beating of a war drum should. War drummer, you could say. Jungle Rot was the whole package, in terms of stage presence fitting how they sound. I was personally extremely impressed- which is why I bought five copies of Kill on Command afterwards! The whole room was booming and thrashing while Jungle Rot played. They really got the crowd riled up before Deicide took the stage, and they're the right kind of band to have supporting any old school death metal veteran band. Jungle Rot has been around since 1994, so why hadn't I heard of them before? I'm still baffled at their relative obscurity, despite their obvious strengths as a metal presence. I urge any one of you who might read this, to go pick up a copy of one of their albums, or steal it from the internet, then buy it. They're awesome, and they're the right kind of stuff to have in your death metal collection.

Ahh, Deicide... a band that has eluded my interest since I got into death metal. It's not that their sound is poor, it's just that I've never really cared for it. I'm being very honest, when I say I was excited to see the explosive crowd more than the band itself. Everyone who likes Deicide REALLY likes Deicide, and that makes it enjoyable either way. When they first started, I knew I had permission to get on stage and take pictures, but I was going to wait until there was a break before another song, so that when they started playing, I knew I had at least a few minutes of actual music to cover, just in case they abruptly stopped and I was caught on stage like an asshole. I saw that there was actual security, so that also prompted me to wait before hitting the stage. They played for about fifteen minutes before stopping, and then I made sure the security guy behind me knew what I was up to, before he deemed me dangerous and dragged me, half-nelson, off the stage. Steve Asheim is probably one of the coolest drummers I have ever photographed, and he's also wicked to hang out with- very friendly! I literally only had to go on stage once to take about five pictures of him- all of which were freaking awesome.  Without a guard rail typically provided at the Zoo, it became a pretty volatile place for me to take any pictures. When a mosh pit forms, I know enough not to try and get to the front for fear of being slammed and losing my camera. The room was getting pretty warm by the time it was half way through Deicide's set, and everyone was fairly randy and riled up. So the crowd became a swarm of moshing, violent, surly and yet angrily affectionate metalheads who came out to see some death metal bands. It was a good night, even if I don't particularly care for Glen and the gang.
Good times had by all

All Pictures found here ---->