Thundercat Brings Kendrick, Pharrell and Kenny Loggins to Fusion Project ‘Drunk’ | Exclaim! | February 24, 2017

Bass of Operations: Thundercat Brings Kendrick, Pharrell and Kenny Loggins to Fusion Project ‘Drunk’

Bass of Operations: Thundercat Brings Kendrick, Pharrell and Kenny Loggins to Fusion Project 'Drunk'
Photo: B+

In the four years since dropping Apocalypse, bassist Thundercat has appeared on over a dozen albums by other artists, including Suicidal Tendencies, Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington, Kirk Knight, Childish Gambino, Mac Miller, Vic Mensa, Ty Dolla $ign and Kendrick Lamar.

Turning to his own muse, Thundercat just released his third full-length, Drunk, on Brainfeeder, an album that veers from woozy jazz fusion to sultry grooves and smooth soft rock. “That’s why [the album] feels like ‘Wow, where did some of that stuff come from?'” the man born Stephen Bruner tells Exclaim! “I didn’t try to put any boundaries on the idea of what the album’s supposed to be.”

One of the collaborators Thundercat is most closely associated with (along with Flying Lotus) is also an inspiration. “I feel like one of the defining moments would be meeting Kendrick Lamar,” Bruner explains. “Being around him inspired me to work harder and create more. He brought me into his thought process and inside of that, it was like somebody being exposed to the sun. It blew my mind!”

Thundercat brings some guests of his own to assist on Drunk; some are predictable (Kendrick, Wiz Khalifa, Pharrell), while others a little more surprising, like AM radio heroes Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, who both appear on soft rock-inspired track “Show You the Way.”

He’s aware that high-profile guests will help shine a light on an experimental fusion project that can be a harder sell. “These artists’ names just resonate with people more, because they are bigger artists, so that was something that was intentional,” he explains.

With 23 tracks in just over 50 minutes, Thundercat manages to incorporate an ambitious stable of ideas and sounds into Drunk, exploring funk, electronic, jazz, rock and soul, all filtered though his signature six-string bass, the instrument with which he writes every song. And although he’s crafted a whole world of sound with his solo work, Thundercat still considers himself primarily a bass player.

“It’s always been the bass for me. I started out from there, but then realized the different role the bass could take on, the different influences and the different things that would come through with it, it would be based on the ‘no bounds’ thing that I would look at it with.”

Thundercat plays Toronto on February 28 and Montreal on March 1; check out the whole tour itinerary here.

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15 Overlooked Artists From Lollapalooza’s Second Stage | AUX.TV | June 2016

15 overlooked artists from Lollapalooza’s second stage

by Daniel Sylvester

June 7, 2016

Helium, Souls of Mischief, and Toronto’s Fifth Column left lasting Lollapalooza impressions.

Photo: The crowd at Lollapalooza 1992 (vialollapalooza.tumblr.com)

July 18th marks the 25th anniversary of Lollapalooza. What’s grown to be one of the world’s largest destination festivals – now based in Chicago’s Grant Park – began as a send-off tour for Jane’s Addiction, as its front man, Perry Ferrell (inspired by the previous year’s A Gathering of the Tribes tour), decided to bring along musicians from disparate genres like goth (Siouxsie & the Banshees), hard rock (Living Colour), industrial (Nine Inch Nails), gangsta rap (Ice-T), alt rock (Rollins Band) and whatever genre the Butthole Surfers may be.

But for as much as Lollapalooza’s main stage deserves celebration, the festival’s oft-overlooked second stage (launched in 1992) stands just as influential to the landscape of underground music throughout the ’90s, thanks to its highly eclectic and deftly-curated line-ups. Focusing (but not exclusively) on independent label acts, Lollapalooza’s side stage helped launch the career of many critically-lauded bands (Mercury Rev, Guided by Voices, Sebadoh, Stereolab, The Pharcyde, Yo La Tengo, Blonde Redhead, Built to Spill, The Roots, Superchunk) and a few future theatre-sized headliners (Stone Temple Pilots, Tool, The Flaming Lips, Moby).

We took a look at some of the many forgotten second stage acts (between 1992 and 1995, the years Perry Ferrell was involved) who, despite never setting the music world aflame, left a concrete impression on the adventurous and curious concertgoers who found themselves straying from the main stage.

Basehead (1992)

After a successful inaugural festival in 1991, Lollapalooza returned the following summer with an all-star lineup (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ministry, Ice Cube, Soundgarden, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Pearl Jam, and Lush) and a second stage. Right from the start, the festival got their new stage right, featuring an eclectic mix of acts with a healthy serving of hip-hop that included Cypress Hill, House of Pain, and Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E.

But it was Washington, DC group Basehead that encapsulated the true spirit of Lollapalooza. The band, led by Michael Ivey, effortlessly mixed hip-hop with alternative rock, blending guitar, piano and turntables with singing and rapping. Their 1992 debut, Play With Toys was lauded bySpin and Rolling Stone, leading to supporting slots for Beastie Boys, Stone Temple Pilots, and Ween.

After 1993’s uneven Not in Kansas Anymore, Ivey would rebrand Basehead as a Christian band, changing their name to dc Basehead and later Basehead 2.0, before putting out their last album, Rockalyptic Music in 2007.

Look People (1992)

The first Canadian band to play a Lollapalooza stage, Toronto’s Look People had the perfect sound and look to attract festival goers over to the maiden side stage. Led by Jaymz Bee, the funkified alt rocker’s wild stage show included colourful, bizarre costumes, jerky, robotic stage movements and Bee’s eternally-theatrical stage presence.

By the time Look People released their fourth LP, Boogazm (their most successful album to date), they embarked on an ambitious European tour before catching up with the Lollapalooza festival. A few months later, Look People were hired to be the house band for the CBC variety show, Friday Night! with Ralph Benmergui.

After the show’s cancellation, the band would release one more album, 1993’s Crazy Eggs, and tour North America for a final time. Bee would comfortably move into the world of lounge music with his group Jaymz Bee & the Royal Jelly Orchestra, releasing eight albums between 1995-2006, while member Kevin Hearn would join the Barenaked Ladies.

The Vulgar Boatmen (1992)

Looking back, The Vulgar Boatmen were perhaps too wholesome to play a Lollapalooza side-stage that included Porno for Pyros, Sharkbait, Sweaty Nipples, and the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow. But for a platform designed to showcase some of the best indie talent around, the Gainesville, Florida college rock band led by singer/songwriters Dale Lawrence and Robert Ray held their own.

Billed as a reunion of sorts, the release of their 1992 LP, Please Panic, marked the first set of new music from the band in nine years. Representing what popular underground rock sounded like before Nirvana changed the landscape: hyper-intelligent, thoughtful, meek and nonthreatening, The Vulgar Boatmen would stick around long enough to release one more LP, 1995’s Opposite Sex, before disbanding.

In 2004, No Nostalgia Records would release Wide Awake, a compilation covering the band’s career, prompting for Ray and Lawrence to each tour separately under The Vulgar Boatmen moniker. A 2010 documentary about the group, Drive Somewhere: The Saga of the Vulgar Boatmen, would later celebrate the works of this criminally overlooked outfit.

Fifth Column (1993)

The lone Canadian act on the 1993 edition of Lollapalooza, Fifth Column’s brand of angular, socially-active experimental rock fit in with a very loud (Primus, Alice in Chains, Dinosaur Jr., Front 242) and politically-charged (Arrested Development, Fishbone, Rage Against the Machine, Tool and/or Babes in Toyland) main stage.

The queercore trio from Toronto were three years removed from their last LP, All-Time Queen of the World, having only put out a single in the meantime (“All Women are Bitches”). Although Fifth Column were relegated to early afternoon time slots, those who made it out their way witnessed a band at the peak of their musical prowess, as they were only a year away from releasing their final and best LP, 36C.

Caroline Azar and Beverly Breckenridge would later form a friendship with Don Pyle, guesting on many of his albums with Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, Phono-Comb, and Greek Buck. In 2012, director Kevin Hegge would release the career-spanning documentary, She Said Boom: The Story of Fifth Column.

The Goats (1993)

Although they’ve recently been mentioned in underground hip-hop circles as one of the great lost rap groups of the ‘90s, the career of Philadelphia’s The Goats was short lived and largely without fanfare. With an in-your-face East Coast sound reminiscent of frat-hop groups like Cypress Hill, House of Pain, and Onyx, The Goats stood out from the pack due to their clever and socially-conscious lyrical matter.

The multicultural lineup was, in fact, fiercely political, tackling contemporary subjects such as the Gulf War, police brutality and systemic racism. After being signed to hip-hop powerhouse record label, Ruffhouse (home to The Fugees and Kool Keith), The Goats toured Lollapalooza (along with opening slots for Beastie Boys, Dog Eat Dog, and Public Enemy) in support of their well-received debut album, Tricks of the Shade.

Their 1994 follow-up, No Goats, No Glory was panned, leading to the trio’s breakup that same year. In 1999, the compilation Ruffhouse Records Greatest Hits would feature selections from The Goats’ two releases.

Tsunami (1993)

For a year that featured an unfortunately male-dominated main stage (the second half of the tour featured no female-led acts), the second stage helped make up for it, featuring Luscious Jackson, Royal Trux, Free Kitten, Scrawl, Genitorturers, and Arlington, Virginia band Tsunami.

Led by the prolific duo of vocalists/guitarists Kristin Thompson and Jenny Toomey (who, at the time, co-owned the Simple Machines record label and were also members of multiple other groups), Tsunami never positioned themselves as a female-led band, rather finding a kinship within the loose, noisy DIY sound that would define ’90s indie rock. Supporting their excellent debut album, Deep End, Tsunami would go on to release their strongest LP the following year, The Heart’s Tremolo, before putting out a singles compilation (1995’s World Tour & Other Destination) and 1997’s A Brilliant Mistake before going their separate ways.

In the early 2000s Thompson and Toomey would both go on to become directors for the Future of Music Coalition, a non-profit advocacy organization for musicians.

Unrest (1993)

As most of their contemporaries on the 1993 second stage were up-and-comers, Unrest came onto the tour at the tail-end of their eight-year career, but the Washington D.C. outfit were admittedly just finding their sound.

Much like Tsunami, Unrest’s front person Mark Robinson owned an indie record label, Teen Beat. As many of the other bands on the bill were found basking in distortion and feedback, the three-piece (including bassist Bridget Cross and drummer Phil Krauth) were bravely eclectic, moving from jangly pop to minimalist and spacious rock that featured little guitar effects.

Touring in supporting of their fifth LP, Perfect Teeth, which, like the previous year’s Imperial f.f.r.r. was celebrated by major publications likeSpin, NME, and the Village Voice, Unrest would take on one last tour (with a young Stereolab supporting them) before Krauth left to start a solo career. Robinson and Cross would go on to form Air Miami (along with two new members) releasing the critically-acclaimed album Me. Me. Me. in 1995.

The Frogs (1994)

With a line-up that included The Flaming Lips, The Verve, Guided by Voices, Stereolab, The Pharcyde and Palace Songs, Lollapalooza 1994’s second stage is usually considered the best of the Perry Ferrell years. But it was The Frogs, who played just the tour’s first six dates, that gained the most attention.

The controversial duo led by brothers Jimmy and Dennis Flemion, (who tongue-in-cheekly wrote whole albums around homosexuality and race relations), were handpicked by headliners Smashing Pumpkins to join the festival. Nick Cave and members of the Breeders were spotted watching the band from the side of the stage, leading the latter’s Kelley Deal to recruit Jimmy (along with Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach and Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin) for her band The Last Hard Men.

Playing Lollapalooza despite the fact that they hadn’t released an album since 1989, The Frogs would release six more records over the next 18 years. In the summer of 2012, Dennis Flemion was tragically found drowned in a Wisconsin lake.

King Kong (1994)

Like The Frogs, audiences were often divided over King Kong, but as the former turned people off due to their lyrical content, it was the Louisville, Kentucky group’s music that divided the crowd, which could either be described as humourous and heedless or simply as the work of ‘a bunch of musicians fucking around.’

Formed by Ethan Buckler, who was a founding member and original bassist of Slint, King Kong’s first EP, 1989’s Movie Star, would feature three quarters of his former band. Playing Lollapalooza in support of their second LP, Funny Farm, Buckler’s new line-up would employ an unholy mix of post rock, funk, and B-52s-influenced dance music.

Over their next four releases, King Kong would have trouble winning over critics, although they did find fans in Spin magazine and influential indie label Drag City, who would release most of their albums. Since 2000, Buckler has tapered down King Kong output, playing the odd show for those who took a liking to this odd (but undoubtedly one-of-a-kind) band.

Rollerskate Skinny (1994)

For Lollapalooza’s 1994 edition, a greater spectrum of acts were brought in (with the main stage consisting of Smashing Pumpkins, The Beastie Boys, George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars, The Breeders, A Tribe Called Quest, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, L7 and Boredoms or Green Day), while the second stage inventively added acts who had already gained a following overseas, including The Verve, The Boo Radleys, Shonen Knife, and Dublin’s Rollerskate Skinny.

Formed in the late 1980s under the name The Hippyshakes, the trio of Ken Griffin, Ger Griffin, and Steve Murray would recruit Jimi Shields (brother of My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields) before renaming themselves Rollerskate Skinny. Releasing Shoulder Voices, their spectacular 1992 debut, the group’s optimistic brand of shoegaze would find them supporting Smashing Pumpkins, Pavement and Mazzy Star.

After Lollapalooza, Shields would split as they were signing a deal with Warner, who released their final LP, 1996’s Horsedrawn Wishes. Members would then move on to form several groups, including Favorite Sons and Wounded Knees.

Souls of Mischief (1994)

Of all the musicians on this list, Souls of Mischief may be the only ones to release a truly classic, timeless LP; 1993’s 93 ’til Infinity. Paired with A Tribe Called Quest on the main stage and The Pharcyde and Fu-Schnickens on the second, 1994 came off as a terrific year for underground hip-hop.

Hailing from Oakland, California, the quartet would gain recognition as part of the Hieroglyphics Crew that would feature rappers Del the Funky Homosapien, Casual, and producer Domino. Although their debut was highly regarded and influential in underground hip-hop circles (in 1998,The Source magazine would name 93 ’til Infinity as one of the Top 100 rap albums of all time), Souls of Mischief would never beak through to the mainstream (though the album and its title track would both graze their respective Billboard charts).

Since their stint on the Lollapalooza second stage, the group would release five more albums as a group and a dozen solo releases, the latest being their 2014 return-to-form, There is Only Now.

Brainiac (1995)

As the first four Lollapalooza main stages celebrated mostly loud, abrasive alt rock and jazzy hip-hop, the 1995 version seemed to skew more towards the underground, featuring Sonic Youth, Hole, Cypress Hill, Pavement, Beck, The Jesus Lizard, Elastica, and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. So, for the second stage, organizers dug deeper to find engrossing up-and-comers to entertain the taste-makers who would flock to this year’s festival.

One of the bands that made the biggest splash was Brainiac, a Dayton, Ohio four-piece who melded post-punk rawness with an electropunk sheen. After their appearance at Lollapalooza, supporting their second LP, 1994’s Bonsai Superstar (which Pitchfork deemed- along with 1996’sHissing Prigs in Static Couture – one of the best albums of the ’90s) Beck and The Jesus Lizard would each take the band on tour.

While recording their fourth album in 1997, vocalist/synth player Tim Taylor died when his car crashed into a tree. Guitarist John Schmersal would later form the equally underrated Enon before joining Caribou’s live band.

The Geraldine Fibbers (1995)

With a second stage packed with bigger names like The Roots, Moby, Coolio, Redman, Yo La Tengo, Superchunk, and The Pharcyde, some of the smaller acts were pushed back into the earlier time slots. One act,The Geraldine Fibbers who were coming off their terrific debut album,Lost Somewhere Between the Earth and My Home, won over festivalgoers who traveled to the second stage early.

As the L.A. band was mostly described as ‘alt-country,’ vocalist Carla Bozulich (originally from industrial band Ethyl Meatplow, who played Lollapalooza two years prior) gave the band’s sound an undeniable edge. By the time they released their second and final LP, 1997’s Butch, experimental guitar virtuoso Nels Cline would replace Daniel Keenan on guitar, giving the band an even more abrasive sound.

A few years later The Geraldine Fibbers disbanded, as Cline would go on to perform as a solo artist before later joining Wilco in 2005, while Bozulich would release albums under her name, as well as the name Evangelista, on Montreal’s Constellation Records.

Helium (1995)

Helium were kinda like a supergroup made up from bands no one heard of. Formed in 1992, the Boston group featured Dumptruck drummer Shawn Devlin, Autoclave guitarist Mary Timony on vocals and her boyfriend Ash Bowie on bass, who would play double duty as the guitarist in math-rockers Polvo.

Putting out their debut LP, the celebrated The Dirt of Luck, weeks before hitting the road with Lollapalooza, Helium would impress audiences with their intensely complex rhythms that paired off well with Timony’s cool-as-a-cucumber vocal style. After the tour, the band would immediately join main stage headliners Sonic Youth on a theater tour, joined by Kim Deal from The Breeder’s side project, The Amps.

After releasing their equally-beloved sophomore LP, 1997’s Magic City, Helium would disband and Bowie would return full-time to Polvo, while Timony would continue to release excellent work as a solo artist, member of actual supergroup Wild Flag (featuring Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney), as well as with her own band, Ex Hex.

Laika (1995)

By the mid-‘90s, it was known that Perry Ferrell became obsessed with electronic music, launching the ENIT Festival (featuring acts like Moby, Keoki, Sven Vath and Traci Lords) to follow the final Lollapalooza he’d be involved with until 2003. So, it remained curious that there will so few electronic acts on the 1995 bill.

Besides the aforementioned Moby, the only other synth and beats-based group was London, England’s Laika. Formed by Margaret Fiedler and John Frenett, departed members of the post-rock band Moonshake (who would play Lollapalooza 1996’s new ‘Indie Stage’), Laika focused their lush, organic brand of dub-slanted trip-hop that featured synthesizers and samplers alongside guitars and Eastern percussion.

Touring for their debut LP, 1995’s Silver Apples of the Moon, Laika would move into even dancier territories for 1997’s Sounds of the Satellites. After two more albums and supporting slots for Radiohead, Fiona Apple, and Tricky, Fiedler would go on to join PJ Harvey’s backing band in 2000 as well as Wire’s live band in 2008.

Plants and Animals Push the Reset Button for ‘Waltzed in from the Rumbling’ | Exclaim! | May 2, 2016

Plants and Animals Push the Reset Button for ‘Waltzed in from the Rumbling’

Plants and Animals Push the Reset Button for 'Waltzed in from the Rumbling'
Photo: Caroline Desilets

After putting out three full-lengths between 2008 and 2012, Montreal three-piecePlants and Animals took an extended break from recording and touring. They recently broke that silence with the release of Waltzed in from the Rumbling, out now on Secret City.

“For three albums we had been touring a lot,” Matthew “Woody” Woodley tells Exclaim! “We were recording a record, putting it out, touring and then we’d come home and record another one. This time we got off the merry-go-round.”

During the four-year gap between 2012’s The End of That and the new effort, Woodley, along with vocalist and guitarist Warren Spicer and multi-instrumentalist Nicolas Basque, used their time away from each other to start families and work on various musical projects. Returning to the studio in 2015, the band spent months recording the new album, decidedly trying to circumvent the pressure they felt while recording their last album.

“There were parts of that album we weren’t fully satisfied with,” Woodley explains, “[but] we had to go through with [them] because we had deadlines to tour. We came back from that whole experience a bit drained, so this time we said, ‘Let’s reset and push our habits aside and see what happens,’ and I think the three of us are the happiest we’ve ever been with an album.”

The resulting 11 tracks find Plants and Animals putting out some of their most beautifully arranged and executed material to date, incorporating sweeping strings, robust harmonies (courtesy of singers Adele Trottier-Rivard, Caroline Desilets, Emma Baxter and Katie Moore) and a modish horn section, even bringing in celebrated Montreal composer Gabriel Ledoux to help write the album’s arrangements.

“We sent him six or eight songs that were still in sketch form and he wrote arrangements for all of them,” Woodley explains, although not all of that work fit the band’s vision. “We ultimately decided that some of the songs were too epic and grandiose and they sometimes took away from the rawness of the songs.”

It was exactly this level of honesty, comfort and freedom that Plants and Animals allowed themselves and made their return to the studio such a success, “I think we get along better and had more fun than we ever had.”

Plants and Animals start an extensive world tour on May 6; you can find those tour dates and the new video for “No Worries Gonna Find Us” below.

DOOMSQUAD Both Take and Explore ‘Total Time’ | Exclaim! | April 28, 2016

DOOMSQUAD Both Take and Explore ‘Total Time’

DOOMSQUAD Both Take and Explore 'Total Time'
Photo: Kate Young

After recording their 2014 debut Kalaboogie among the picturesque woods, hills and beaches of Calabogie, ON, just north of the Ottawa River Valley, Toronto dark psych electro trio DOOMSQUAD took to the barren regions of New Mexico to craft their follow-up LP, marking a significant change of pace for their upcoming Total Time.

“We needed to find an environment that had a really expansive horizon line,” singer and multi-instrumentalist Jaclyn Blumas tells Exclaim! “We thought that would help our ideas go further in the song. Every tone relates to something of our imagination that we’re pulling from the land.”

After renting a remote “little shack” nestled in the mountains, the sibling trio of Trevor, Allie and Jaclyn Blumas spent a full month writing Total Time, drawing inspiration from the tranquility and isolation of their surroundings.

“Part of Total Time was experiencing writing music at different times,” Jaclyn explains, “and exploring our own circadian rhythms, how to go with the flow and how to go against it. We got rid of all the clocks and we didn’t have any cellphone reception, so we wrote in the middle of the night, we wrote in the morning and we wrote in the afternoon — there was no real schedule.”

After completing the nine sonically dense and moody tracks that make up Total Time, DOOMSQUAD brought Holy Fuck keyboardist Graham Walsh to New Mexico to record the album. Returning to a studio in Toronto, the trio brought in a number of guests, including Fucked Up guitarist Mike Haliechuk, experimental electronic artist HUREN and singer-songwriter Mary Margaret O’Hara. The latter gives an unbridled vocal performance to their song “The Very Large Array,” fulfilling a goal Jaclyn says started back in the late 2000s when she and her siblings played folk music.

“She’s been a legend to us for a really long time. We made a little cassette and Mary was a customer at a restaurant where Trevor used to work and he gave it to her. She was throwing this annual Irish Day fest and she asked us to come up and sing with her. One day we asked her if she would be interested in performing on a record and she said yeah.”

What the trio wrote for O’Hara to perform on was a resulting 10-minute instrumental.

“When we sent it to her, we asked her, ‘Do you kinda want to know what the song’s about?’ and she was like ‘Nope!’ We asked her if she had listened to it yet and she was like, ‘Nope, I’m just going to do it.’ We didn’t want to chop or splice any of her takes, so what we took from Mary is just one take.”

Total Time is due out Friday (April 29) via Hand Drawn Dracula. You can see the band’s upcoming tour dates, including shows in Montreal and Toronto, overhere.

The 15 Best Musical Guests on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast | AUX.TV | April 2016

The 15 best musical guests on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast

by Daniel Sylvester

April 6, 2016

Marc Maron has interviewed a shirtless Iggy Pop, candid Kim Gordon, and humble Lemmy.

This month, WTF with Marc Maron will air its 700th episode. The success and longevity of the celebrated (and very popular) interview-based program is partly due to Maron’s unwieldy work ethic, as the New Jersey born comedian applies the same philosophy to his podcast that many of his comedy peers put into their act; log a lot of hours.

Maron has given listeners over a thousand hours of programming in just over six and a half years. It’s also given the 52-year-old host a reputation as one of the greatest interviewers of our time, and undoubtedly the king of podcasting (that title was cemented last year when President Barack Obama reached out to him to be a guest).

While there’s been some headline-stealing episodes over the past seven years – including Carlos Mencia and Dane Cook being called out for stealing jokes, Gallagher walking out after Maron accused him of having homophobic material, Todd Glass coming out as gay, and the celebrated Louis C.K. interview in which the two longtime friends worked out their collective beefs with each other – WTF has also hosted some excellent musical guests.

Aside from arena-fillers like Dave Grohl, Jack White, Maynard James Keenan, and Thom Yorke, Maron has conducted talks with artists who wouldn’t normally have a long-form outlet to speak, including Father John Misty, St. Vincent, Mikal Cronin, Ty Segall, and Stephen Malkmus. We took a look at some of WTF‘s most fascinating music-based conversations.

Nick Lowe (Episode 253, February 13, 2012)

It took Marc Maron 250-plus episodes to bring on his first real musical guest. While he previously sat down in his studio/garage with Henry Rollins, Henry Phillips, and Donald Glover, Nick Lowe was the first musician to appear on the podcast with no connection to the world of comedy.

Maron’s strength as a master interviewer lies in the genuine interest he invests in his subject, as he spent the 60 minutes pressing the normally-reserved Lowe for insight on his storied career, including his early days with Rockpile, relationship with Elvis Costello (who covered Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding”) along with his unfiltered opinions on other famous rockers.

In later episodes, Maron would often refer back to the moment when Lowe – responding to Maron’s inquiry into the dark places he must have gone to write some of his songs – quips, “No, that’s not my life, they’re just songs”.

Fiona Apple (Episode 297, July 16, 2012)

Maron’s conversation with Fiona Apple represents what makes WTF so engrossing. Although Apple was pushing her latest album at the time (2012’s The Idler Wheel…), the hour-plus talk never feels like a plug. In fact, the two rarely talk about music.

Instead, Apple speaks candidly about her childhood and her career, including her recent bouts with mental illness and depression, her appreciation for colonics and a long and bizarre aside about witnessing baby hummingbirds shit.

But what makes this episode often rank up there with the best WTF‘s of all time is Maron’s willingness to join in on the conversation, sharing his own personal battles with neuroticism and childhood loneliness, subjects he’s often too eager to get off his chest. In the end, Maron helps the listener understand the complexities that make up an artist like Fiona Apple.

Mike Doughty (Episode 311, September 5, 2012)

Maron’s conversation with former Soul Coughing frontman Mike Doughty is one of those episodes that many casual WTF listeners may have originally skipped over. But the level of scorn contained within the 50-minute episode makes it a straight-up gem.

As many of WTF‘s most interesting episodes begin with stories of less-than-perfect childhoods, Doughty dishes about his army brat beginnings growing up in military neighbourhoods riddled with PTSD-afflicted soldiers and the effect it had on him and his (later) mentally ill and homeless brother.

Telling Maron that ‘depression is a gift’, Doughty talks about his uttermost contempt for his former band, Soul Coughing, and record label, describing it all as a ‘fucked up marriage’ and explaining how the entire experience lead to severe heroin and crack abuse. Explaining that his bandmates bullied and disrespected him the entire time he spent in Soul Coughing, Doughty’s commitment to his side of the story remains nothing less than fascinating.

J Mascis (Episode 338, November 26, 2012)

Maron claims to do very little research into his subjects before interviews, which may be why he was foolish enough to bring the notably difficult and famously slumberous Dinosaur Jr. frontman J Mascis in for an hour conversation.

But Maron somehow got Mascis comfortable enough for him to reveal a ton about the early days of Dinosaur Jr. that many hardcore fans weren’t even aware of, including the fact that bassist Lou Barlow stole Kath (Barlow’s wife for over 25 years) away from him.

J’s dry sense of humour shines throughout the 60-minute conversation, which makes his sometimes harsh opinions on his band members amiable, and Maron has enough sense to let Mascis be Mascis. J’s acoustic renditions of “Listen to Me” from his 2012 solo LP, Several Shades of Why, and “Repulsion” from Dinosaur Jr.’s debut album capped off one of WTF‘s most memorable episodes.

Iggy Pop (Episode 400, June 24, 2013)

Before he interviewed Barack Obama, Keith Richards, and Lorne Michaels, Maron’s interview with Iggy Pop was known as the Holy Grail of WTF guests. Of all his conversations, Maron references his visit with Pop more than any other guest, as he likes to point out just how lucid Iggy came off, how flawless his memory was, and the fact that he did the entire episode shirtless.

What makes this episode so appealing to the listener is Pop’s level of comfort, likeable disposition, and general-purpose joie de vivre while reminiscing over his 45-year career. It also helps that Maron is a major Iggy Pop superfan, willing to help walk him through those rare moments he had trouble recalling.

Some of the best WTF episodes show the guest in a more humanizing way, but Iggy’s appearance represented just how you want your aging heroes to come off; sinewy, confident, and willing to talk.

Nick Cave (Episode 403, July 4, 2013)

Perhaps on a cocky high from his successful conversation with J Mascis, Maron invited Nick Cave into his garage for a full-length conversation. Known as one of the most prickly and moody interviews around, it took Maron a good chunk of the episode to get the Australian vocalist to warm up to him.

Besides his talk with Tool’s Maynard James Keenan (which Marc would later say that he was really unprepared for), it’s a rarity to hear Maron come off so nervous and thrown during an interview.

Once Cave clued in to the fact that Maron wasn’t asking typical interview questions, he started to open up, describing his work process (he sits in his office for eight hours a day and writes), experiences with troubled women (which Maron was more than able to relate to) and experiences with Russell Crowe (whom he wrote a batshit crazy script for with the never produced Gladiator 2). By the end of the 60-minute talk, Cave and Maron both seem to be equally relieved at how painless the whole experience ended up.

Josh Homme (Episode 431, October 10, 2013)

Maron’s conversation with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme was one of those rare WTF episodes that made headlines across the web moments after it was posted, as Homme disclosed for the first time publicly, that he had briefly died during a 2010 hospital stay.

After discussing his early days with stoner-rockers Kyuss, including throwing parties in the California desert, and commenting on how the band helped him get out of a dark place, Homme revealed that his recent touring, writing, and producing schedule led to him developing an “antibiotic resistant” staph infection. Homme would go on to say that during the ensuing surgery, he choked on a tube that doctors attempted to insert into his throat and passed away on the table before being revived by the medical staff.

Throughout this 75-minute talk, Homme seemed to demonstrate just what kind of workaholic he is in the most somber and harrowing way possible.

Lou Barlow (Episode 448, December 2, 2013)

Sebadoh leader and Dinosaur Jr. bassist Lou Barlow has always been known as the quintessential sensitive indie-rocker, so it’s no surprise that his appearance on WTF comes off just as vulnerable and exposed as you would imagine.

During his 70-minute talk with Maron, Barlow doesn’t try to hide his erstwhile (and possibly current) contempt for Dinosaur Jr. frontman J Mascis, while also calling out former Sebadoh drummer Eric Gaffney for his erratic behaviour, and freely discusses how his own meth addiction contributed to the dissolution of the original Folk Implosion.

But an offhand question about his family life leads Barlow to open up about his (at-the-time) recent divorce from his wife of 20 years, as he discusses how he went through a mid-life crisis and fell in love with another woman. The fact that the remainder of the conversation delves into issues of court-orders and alimony seemingly brings the mood of an otherwise great episode down. But with Barlow, you get the truth, warts and all.

Patrick Stickles (Episode 462, January 16, 2014)

Although Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles has been described as a difficult and often dour interview, Maron automatically bonds with him over their shared New Jersey upbringing. While speaking with Maron about his love for Led Zeppelin, his love/hate relationship with the work of William Shakespeare, and his gratitude for certain teachers and peers who helped shape his personality, Stickles comes off soft-spoken, intelligent, and thoughtful.

About an hour in to the conversation, Stickles begins to open up to Maron about his recent struggles with a depression so severe that it ended up destroying several relationships in his life. Describing a dread and hopelessness so intense that Maron – who can usually relate to guests who wrestle with a darkness – opts to sit back and let Stickles talk.

After professing that the steps he took to help treat his illness robbed him of his creativity and motivation, Stickles tells Maron that he’s abandoned his doctor prescribed treatment, leaving the listener speculating about the embattled musician’s current state.

Kim Gordon (Episode 588, March 26, 2015)

By the time the ex-Sonic Youth bassist appeared on WTF, Kim Gordon was in the middle of the interview circuit for her recently-released memoir, Girl in a Band. And although she openly discussed the elephant in the room (her 2011 divorce from Thurston Moore) in her New York Times bestseller, there’s a disarming and almost voyeuristic effect to hearing Gordon and Maron speak about her breakup.

While she goes into great detail about her renewed involvement in the visual arts scene, her appearance with the surviving members of Nirvana at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and her current dating life, the 60-minute conversation seems to always make its way back to Gordon’s heartbreak. But the fact that Kim never comes off sounding apologetic or meek when speaking of her personal life shows just why she’s always been (and continues to be) revered as a strong feminist rock icon.

Mike Watt (Episode 610, June 11, 2015)

Mike Watt’s perpetual buoyancy and zest for life is infectious. In fact, even when he speaks of the dark times in his life (and there’s been plenty) he seems more humbled than beat down. Before he talks about his childhood, his fruitful life in music or the death of his best friend and Minutemen bandmate D. Boon, Watt kicks the conversation off with a detailed description of how an abscess on his perineum (look it up… or don’t) left his body septic.

After talking about undergoing an emergency surgery that saved his life, while putting him out of commission for a whopping nine weeks, Watt immediately directs the conversation to how he became part of The Stooges’ celebrated reunion in 2003. As Maron tries to steer the conversation back to the beginning, Watt spends the next hour freely going over his life, making Maron’s job as easy as it’s ever been while showing the listener why he’s so beloved and respected in rock circles.

Laura Jane Grace (Episode 617, July 6, 2015)

By the time Laura Jane Grace appeared on WTF, she had been discussing her transition into living as a woman in several interviews and released an album touching on the subject, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, with her band Against Me! But her 80-minute talk with Maron was the longest and most in-depth public conversation she’s been a part of since coming out in 2012.

As Maron tries to suggest that her transformation was akin to a spiritual awakening, Grace shuts him down, reframing her life in the last few years in the most emotionally relatable and relevant manner possible. It’s Laura Jane’s candour that keeps the conversation sharp and engrossing, as she speaks honestly of her recent divorce, strained relationship with her father, troubles with the law as a young punk and a parasitic infection that has since hampered her hormone therapy.

Although Maron didn’t get the spiritually insightful conversation he may have been looking for, he got (along with the rest of us) rightfully educated.

Lemmy Kilmister (Episode 634, September 3, 2015)

Recorded less than four months before his death at the age of 70, Maron’s conversation with Lemmy Kilmister has been referred to as his final great interview.

With the top half of the episode consisting of a conversation with folk-rock pioneer Richard Thompson, Maron’s talk with the Motörhead frontman and bassist was kept to a scant 45 minutes in length possibly due to Lemmy’s failing health at the time, (something Marc commented on in the episode’s preamble). Although mentally, Lemmy came off tremendously sharp and in good spirits, his voice simply sounded weak and tired while reminiscing about his days with the ’70s space rockers Hawkwind, being at the forefront of the metal/punk amalgamation with Motörhead and his ‘two and a half’ kids.

From what the listener could pull from his characteristic mumble, Lemmy seemed to have left this earth with a sense of self-pride, appreciation for his peers and above all, an upright humility.

Keith Richards (Episode 639, September 21, 2015)

In a recent episode of WTF, Maron listed his top moments from 2015, ranking his conversation with Keith Richards above a visit from the freakin’ President of the United States. But regular listeners of the podcast are keenly aware of his love for the Rolling Stones, and Richards in particular.

After having Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on the program for back-to-back 10-minute segments in early April of that year, Maron traveled from his home in Los Angeles to the NPR studio in New York City (piggybacking off of his appearance on Morning Edition) to record a 60-minute talk.

Although Richards walks Marc through his career, his stories aren’t as detailed and forthcoming as they are in his 2010 autobiography, Life. Sounding both perfectly healthy and near-death, Keith comes off beyond relaxed, charming, joyful, and most importantly, remembers Marc. He even got the clean-living Maron to smoke a cigarette with him right in the studio. What some people will do in the company of their heroes.

Peaches (Episode 643, October 5, 2015)

Maron’s conversation with Peaches marked the first time he’s had a Canadian musician in his garage. Suggested to him by Kim Gordon, Maron’s lack of knowledge on the electro musician’s life and career makes for one of his most easygoing and intriguing interviews.

Bonding on their shared Jewish upbringings, Peaches talks about her early love for music, dancing, and visual arts (which she went to school for). Peaches comes off just as authentic and frank as you’d expect her to be, as she dishes on her former musical and romantic relationships, including her brief marriage to a Toronto artist.

Near the end of the 70-minute episode, Peaches talks about almost getting arrested in Toronto for wearing a prosthetic penis while opening for Queens of the Stone Age. Impressively, Maron never attempts to steer the conversation towards gender politics, staying away from the generic questions most interviewers ask about women’s role in sexually explicit art, and opting to treat Peaches with the same respect he would any of her male peers.

The Range Finds YouTube’s Hidden Emotional Side for ‘Potential’ | Exclaim! | March 22, 2016

The Range Finds YouTube’s Hidden Emotional Side for ‘Potential’

The Range Finds YouTube's Hidden Emotional Side for 'Potential'
Photo: Alexandra Gavillet

Producers working from samples to create their musical vision are hardly new. But the Range (a.k.a. James Hinton) is taking a slightly different path with his new album, Potential. Inspired by his own song “Metal Swing” (featured on his 2013 debut Nonfiction) — which finds the Brooklyn producer constructing an entire track around a sampled chorus — Potential was crafted completely from vocal snippets Hinton found on YouTube.

“There’s plenty of instrumental music on Nonfiction that didn’t have any vocals at all,” Hinton tells Exclaim! “[It has] some that do, but [‘Metal Swing’] was the most interesting, and I was like, ‘Okay, this is what I want to focus on.'”

Finding clips via the world’s largest video-sharing site “using a small set of search terms,” Hinton loops simple phrases, declarations and even freestyle raps over gooey and stately electronic beds to create “trance-like states.”

“You’re really forced to consider, ‘This guy’s looping this thing, why does he want me to hear it that much?’ and in return, you discover a lot of dual meaning and force people to consider words,” Hinton explains.

The resulting 11 tracks amalgamate into an album largely based around musical moods, brought on by his choice of vocal samples and arrangements.

“Looking back, it seems obvious that the emotions were sprouting out of the pavement, even though I was trying to contain it; the samples ended up being absolutely representative of a lot of what I was feeling. In another way, it’s ideal because other people are going to come to this record and they’re bringing their own context to it.”

Hinton’s Superimpose, a documentary about the making of Potential, also just debuted at the South by Southwest festival.

“It’s really just trying to get at that question of how, randomly or not randomly, I found these people, and what ties them together. All of these people I sort of fell in love with, I thought that they were all very kind and talented people, and the fact that it was borne out has made me less cynical because it didn’t have to be that way.”

Check out the newly shared Potential track “Copper Wire” below.

Potential is out Friday (March 25) on Domino.

15 cult favourite Canadian hometown heroes | AUX.TV | February, 2016

The Smalls

15 cult favourite Canadian hometown heroes

by Daniel Sylvester

February 24, 2016

Edmonton punk, Saskatoon jug bands, Halifax hip-hop, and so much more.

Photo: The Smalls

If you live in a large enough Canadian city you’ve most likely felt that confounding mix of pride and loss when your hometown musical heroes get “discovered.” One minute you’re buying a hand-printed cassette from the bass player after a show at your neighbourhood watering hole, the next minute they’ve been given a Best New Music certification from Pitchfork and started touring with some hip band from Brooklyn.

But what about those who never made it? The ones who stayed behind, whether it be because of a job, family, band in-fighting, or just plain bad luck? We took a look at Canada’s biggest music hubs (and a small hamlet in the Northwest Territories) to gives props to some legendary hometown heroes who just couldn’t get their names past the city limits.

The Rabble
 (Montreal, 1966-1970)

When you think about 1960s Canadian garage-rock, Montreal’s The Haunted and Toronto’s The Ugly Ducklings probably come to mind, thanks to a few minor hits and their inclusion on the Nuggets series of compilations. But there was a band who came from the same paisley scene who – in a hipper parallel universe – would have been just as celebrated.

The Rabble, a quartet from Montreal’s West Island, were simply too eccentric, omnifarious and downright weird to gain any sort of attention outside of the city. But a last minute fill-in for Cream at a Montreal music festival got The Rabble noticed by U.S. label Roulette (home to Count Basie, Tommy James, and Ronnie Hawkins) who would release their self-titled debut in 1967. After a cold reception south of the border, Montreal label Trans-World was given sole rights to put out their second, and more rationally blues rock-based, album Give Us Back Elaine! in 1968. The change in sound scared away fans of the group’s Zappa-like garage rock and The Rabble would never return to the studio.

Since then the group have become cult favourites around Canada and in 2008 Quebec label Disques Mérite reissued The Rabble’s two LPs onto CD for the first time.

Eric Stach (London, 1966-Present)

Many people aren’t aware that the mostly-conservative enclave of London (the insurance capital of Ontario, and probably not-ironically, the alleged serial killer capital of the world) has always had such a large and rich avant-garde music scene. Aside from the recently released Forest City Series, Vol. 2 collection of local experimentalists, London is also home to Canada’s wildest improv ensemble, the Nihilist Spasm Band.

Emerging from this same mid-1960s scene was Eric Stach, who immediately became an outsider the moment he entered London’s clubs, thanks to his out-there improvisational style of jazz. A single reed player, Stach released his sole solo album, 1975’s Fruit From Another Garden, with the help of the CBC, who were known to do such things back then.

Throughout the next few decades Stach would play with local musicians, forming the London Experimental Jazz Quartet and the Eric Stach Free Music Unit, who would in turn, go on to influence a whole new generation of London experimentalists like The Riderless and You’ll Never Get to Heaven.

Humphrey & The Dumptrucks (Saskatoon, 1967-1981)

The fact that a jug band from Saskatoon gained any type of notoriety in Canada is an accomplishment in itself. Starting out as an even more rural version of The Band – as all four members wrote and performed their own material – Humphrey & the Dumptrucks gained a small following in Western Canada through their persistent touring schedule that found their second LP, 1972’s Hot Spit, place within Canada’s Top 100 Albums Chart.

But these country/folk traditionalists, who weren’t afraid to add the odd kazoo or autoharp into their songs, would fail to gain the same notoriety that their folk luminaries in Toronto were enjoying at the time. After helping Regina playwright Ken Mitchell on a county musical based onOthello in 1975, the group began to focus on theatre work throughout the prairies, providing music to a ballet as well as a kid’s production.

By 1977, banjo and dobro player Gary “Humphrey Dumptruck” Walsh left the group, forcing them to shorten their name to the Dumptrucks. They would release one more LP under that name before vocalist Graeme Card broke up the band to focus on solo work. As of late there have been efforts to release some of their live recordings from the band’s early-‘70s club days.

Simply Saucer 
(Hamilton, 1973-Present)

Although Simply Saucer are now recognized as Canada’s premier proto-punk band – similar to what the MC5 and the Stooges did for American punk and art-rock – there was a time when this quartet were the pure definition of an underappreciated group.

Throughout the 1970s, these Hamiltonians built a small but fervent fan base thanks to their (at the time) novel blend of Velvet Underground-artiness with Krautrock-style instrumentation and garage rock execution. After disbanding in 1979 with only a 7″ to their name (“She’s a Dog” b/w “I Can Change My Mind”), Simply Saucer began to build a cult following that culminated with the release of 1989’s Cyborgs Revisited, a collection of songs made up from a shelved session with Bob and Daniel Lanois (one of their first recordings) and a 1975 shopping mall rooftop concert.

Cyborgs Revisited went on to find a whole new audience, getting a reissue by tastemaking Hamilton indie label Sonic Unyon in 2003, while Julian Cope and Sonic Youth began dropping their names in interviews. In 2006, Simply Saucer reunited and have since toured North America, with new and old recordings continuing to stalk the streets.

The Action
 (Ottawa, 
1977-Present)

The Action were Ottawa’s first punk band and possibly the first Canadian punk musicians outside of Toronto. They even scrawled the term ‘punk rock’ across the cover of their first 12″ EP (1977’s TV’s on the Blink) just to make sure everyone knew.

After making their name at (and, in turn, giving a raison d’etre to) Ottawa punk club Rotter’s, The Action travelled to Montreal to record the aforementioned EP, which took on the very un-punk theme of longing over a broken television set. In 1979, a planned second 12” was left in limbo after their record label, Montreco, went belly up. Their year didn’t get any better when, after their management mishandled their visas, the band was left unable to join the Ramones – the most famous punk band on the planet – on a U.S. tour.

By the time they made it to the U.S. for 1981 shows with the Stranglers and, yes, the Ramones, punk had already become passé, leading to the break-up of the band. DOA’s label, Sudden Death, would re-release The Action’s two EPs in 2009 (The Complete Punk Recordings, 1977-1978), prompting the band to reunite to and tour through the early part of this decade.

Noel Ellis (Toronto, 1978-1986)

Born in the late 1950s to reggae star and ‘Godfather of Rocksteady’ Alton Ellis, Noel Ellis’s career took shape after he moved with his father from Kingston, Jamaica’s infamous Trenchtown district to Toronto.

While his father only stayed in Toronto for a short period of time, later moving to the UK, Noel opted to stay with his aunt and uncle, finding a home within the city’s growing reggae scene. After recording a single with the Gladiators (“It Has Been a Long Time”) during his time in Jamaica, Ellis returned to the studio in 1978, this time through Toronto’s reggae label Summer Records, to release a pair of singles (“Reach My Destiny” and “Rocking Universally”) with the latter becoming a local hit, especially within Toronto’s West Indian neighbourhoods.

In 1983, Summer Records finally released Ellis’ only full-length, simply titled Ellis. The album initially failed to make an impression, but thanks to Ellis’ mix of roots reggae, early dancehall and American disco, the album would gain a cult following, eventually being re-released by American reissue label Light in the Attic in 2006.

Willie Thrasher
 (Aklavik, 
1980-Present)

It wasn’t until the release of last year’s acclaimed Native North America, Vol.1 compilation, also on Light in the Attic Records, that Willie Thrasherentered the conversation as one of Canada’s great folk singers.

Born into a Western Arctic Inuit community in the late 1940s, Thrasher grew to be one of the few teens in Aklavik to listen to rock ‘n’ roll after hearing The Beatles. Thrasher was inspired to start his own group, The Cordells, who became wildly popular in the Inuvik area and were known as the town’s first rock band. In the ’70s Thrasher became inspired to explore Inuit music and began to pen songs that were more personal and political, inspired by staggering issued faced within his own community and within the entire First Nation culture.

Touring around Northern and Western Canada, Thrasher became known as a leader in the local folk scene. He wouldn’t record a studio album until 1981’s Spirit Child and wouldn’t release another until 2009’sAsumatak – The Great Land. With the release of the aforementionedNative North America compilation, Thrasher has returned to the stage, relishing his role as ambassador for Canada’s Indigenous art scene.

Luxury Christ (Windsor, 1986-2012)

In a 1986 interview with SPIN Magazine, Gibby Haynes, vocalist and guitarist for the Butthole Surfers, called Windsor’s Trevor Malcolm “The most hated man in America.” Of course, this is complete hyperbole on Haynes’ part, but it was that level of disdain for his bass player that helped launch one of Windsor’s most infamous bands.

Created by Malcolm, fresh off his departure from the Butthole Surfers, along with vocalist Nancy Drew, Mark Gelinas, and Mark Sikich, Luxury Christ expanded on the theatricality, humour and bawdiness laid out by Malcolm’s former band. Releasing their 1993 debut, Buy Our Love, through their own Eleven37 record label, Luxury Christ became beloved in their hometown thanks to their brand of funky and sexually-charged alt-rock and high-energy performances that found the quartet often performing in the nude.

Their second LP, Problematic for the People, was put out in 1996 while the group was starting to see their core line-up change. By this time, Malcolm would go on to form the electronic duo Citywide Vacuum (with Pat Petro) and Luxury Christ’s output would began to dissipate, releasing new music in 2012 before almost completely slowing down over the past couple of years.

The Smalls (Edmonton, 1989-Present)

Although this Edmonton quintet gained perhaps the largest and most fervent fan base of any artist on this list – especially in their hometown where they’re pretty much considered living legends – The Smallsremain surprisingly unknown east of the prairies.

From the beginning, the quartet were described as punk rock, thanks to their sharp senses of humour and penchant to cover ironic tracks (“Natural Woman”, “Middle of the Road”), though their brand of blistering rock and musical prowess – including vocalist Mike Caldwell’s tremendous vocal range and their penchant for adding jazz rhythms to songs – also drew in fans of post-rock, hardcore and metal.

After releasing four albums throughout the ’90s, The Smalls played their final show inside the West Edmonton Mall in 2001. After their breakup, all four members remained in local music scene, the most notable being bassist Corb Lund, who finally obtained Canada-wide recognition with Corb Lund & the Hurtin’ Albertans. In 2014, The Smalls reunited for some festival dates in Alberta. Last year, the documentary, The Smalls: Forever is a Long Time was released through a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Hip Club Groove (Halifax, 1991-1996)

Hip Club Groove‘s connection to the ‘90s burgeoning Halifax pop scene helped the trio find an audience in the city, but it also may have also been one of the main reasons why they were overlooked during this boom.

Starting as a five piece (including members Gordski and future Ninja Tunes artist Sixtoo), the paired-down two MCs and one DJ lineup put out an EP, 1993’s Cool Beans, on local label No Records before moving over to Sloan’s murderecords for the release of their 1994 full-length debutTrailer Park Hip Hop. Although it was still a few years before Halifax hip-hop would experience its own explosion – led by Buck 65, Classified, and Ghettosocks – much of the press attributed to the city at the time would focus on Sloan, Thrush Hermit, and Jale.

After releasing one more record in 1996, Land of the Lost, Hip Club Groove would call it quits as Derek “D-Rock” Mackenzie and Brian “DJ Moves” Higgins joined uprising Montreal band Len while backing musician while Cory “Checklove Shakil” Bowles went on to join the cast of Trailer Park Boys, playing the synonymous character Cory.

Mood Cadillac (Moncton, 1996-1998)

Although the average indie-rock fan may site Eric’s Trip with starting the modern Moncton scene, hard rockers the Monoxides were actually the city’s first real rock exports. So it only makes sense that a band likeMood Cadillac, with ties to both, would become so popular within the small Maritime city.

The stoner-rock quartet (and later quintet) started out playing clubs before releasing the cassette-only release, Big Ol’ Dirty, in 1997. Recorded by Eric’s Trip’s Rick White, Mood Cadillac’s debut demonstrated just how rich and open-minded Moncton’s music scene was at the time, as their Black Sabbath-devoted sludge/stoner-rock took on elements of lo-fi and experimental rock. Before the release of their 1998 self-titled second LP, once again recorded by White, bassist Dan Dupuis left the band, only to be replaced by the Monoxides’ PJ Dunphy. Within a year, this lineup would implode, leaving members of the band to scatter off into other projects, including the beloved Blood Royal and Iron Giant.

A decade later, both albums would find re-release in digital form though a website called Out of Print Moncton alongside other hidden gems from fellow underappreciated bands like Dustbunnies, Earth AD, and Hope.

Forgotten Tales (Quebec City, 1999-Present)

Due to Quebec’s insular star-making system, there’s a number of artists who enjoy a massive following inside la belle province who are completely unknown throughout the rest of Canada. But since Quebec is one of the leading exports for metal across the globe, Forgotten Tales’ continued obscurity remains inexplicable.

Although the power-metal sextet haven’t official disbanded, they’ve been largely dormant throughout this decade, with six years passing since the release of We Shall See the Light, their celebrated third album. Anchored by frontwoman Sonia Pineault’s singularly melodic and emotive vocals (think a more operatic version of Heart’s Nancy Wilson), Forgotten Tales’ penchant for medieval themes, symphonic elements, and the presence of a keyboard player have allowed the band to distinguish themselves from their heavier, more masculine Quebec City comrades like Gorguts and Martyr.

High profile shows with bands like Cryptopsy and Gamma Ray have allowed Forgotten Tales’ fan base to expand beyond Dungeons & Dragons obsessives. But with only Pineault and bassist Patrick Vir remaining from the original lineup, it remains to be seen if Forgotten Tales can add a mystical addendum to their career.

Paper Moon (Winnipeg, 2000-2012)

The early 2000s may be looked at as Canada’s true indie rock boom – as small local festivals and record labels began to pop up around the country – giving up-and-coming acts a chance to earn a sizeable audience without having to necessarily tour across the provinces.

In 2002, Winnipeg’s Endearing Records put out One Thousand Reasons to Stay, One Reason to Leave, the debut from a young quartet calledPaper Moon. The album featured the wispy and charming vocals of guitarist Allison Shevernoha and perfectly encapsulated what Canadian indie-rock did best at the time; providing the listener with a level of musical vulnerability and incorruptibility rarely found anywhere else.

After gaining a large fan base in Japan, Paper Moon (while going through a few personnel changes) released two more albums (2006’sBroken Hearts Break Faster Every Day and 2009’s Only During Thunderstorms). After the two remaining original members, Shevernoha and drummer Chris Hiebert, decided to start a family, Paper Moon became silent as of 2012. The band’s website states that remaining and former members plan on putting out music under the name September West.

Nathan Lawr (Guelph, 2003-Present)

For over 20 years, Nathan Lawr has been (figuratively and sometimes literally) the anchor behind Southwestern Ontario’s music scene. Starting as the drummer for Royal City (whose guitarist, Jim Guthrie, would later be responsible for exposing Guelph musicians like Constantines and Gentlemen Reg through his Three Gut record label), Lawr would also play with King Cobb Steelie, FemBots, Sea Snakes and countless other groups across the GTA.

Leaving Royal City in 2002, Lawr would pull a Grohl, moving from drummer to frontman while releasing four solo LPs that would mix the lo-fi sounds of Royal City with a warm singer/songwriter feel. The fact that Lawr wasn’t afraid to cover matters of the heart and political matters in the same breath made him popular with the always-progressive music listeners of Guelph.

Lawr would go on to form the Minotaurs, a collective of musicians – often reaching up to eight players – influenced by Afrobeat rhythms and West African instrumentation. The band’s third release, Weird Waves, will be released in March, but Lawr hasn’t forgotten his roots, recently playing the drums on Bry Webb’s latest LP.

Dandi Wind (Vancouver, 2003-2008)

Lumping Vancouver’s Dandi Wind in with the early-2000s wave of dance-punk is doing the imagination and charm of this duo an injustice. Formed as a collaboration between producer Szam Findlay and vocalist Dandelion Wind Opaine, they released two terrific albums (2006’sConcrete Igloo and 2008’s Yolk of the Golden Egg) that deftly combined Findlay’s adoration for his hometown’s rich industrial music scene of the ’80s (including Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly) with Opaine’s art school, dance, and performance background.

It also helped that Opaine came from a true B.C. hippie family, growing up the remote part of the province that helped the vocalist give her live shows a free spirit theatricality. For a city who – according to some of its residents – rarely celebrates its own, Dandi Wind proved to be wildly popular within Van City during their brief existence.

As dance-punk fizzled out by the end of the last decade, Findlay and Opaine formed the more electro and funk oriented synth-pop band Fan Death, bringing in co-vocalist Marta Jaciubek. With the change, Dandi’s edgy vocal style was stifled and the trio never did find a proper audience, as Opaine departed from the group after a single album.