Canadian hard rock’n’rollers DIRTBAG REPUBLIC are back with 11 new songs filled with heavy rock guitar riffs and sleazy hooks. Opener “Main Objective” brings us right in the matter saying that “rock’n’roll will never die” in a way that could have been done by the coolest Scandinavian bands from the 00s. “Skinny” has a very welcome glam punk vibe that makes it really catchy and “Wannabees” reminds me of MICHAEL MONROE‘s solo albums. “Days Are Gone” they say but the spirit can still be found in this record since you’ll even get some QUIREBOYS piano in “Don’t Answer To No One” and a dash of TRASHCAN DARLINGS in “Tear Down Your Idols”. Things slow down a bit with “Sorry” and “Did All I Cold” but don’t worry, there’s no cheesy ballad on this record! “Superficial” will probably stay in your mind for a while, “When I Was Young” will be every HANOÏ ROCKS‘ fan’s new favourite and “Turn Back Fast” is the perfect song to end this album that shows that bands can still play sleaze rock in 2021 and do it very well! /Laurent C.
BAMBIES are a trio hailing from Montreal, Quebec in Canada. They are a trilingual, tri-national (Canada,France, Costa Rica) band influenced by 70s punk and powerpop. “Dirty Taint” takes us into the heart of the action with lots of youthful energy and a garage punk production. Songs like “Summer Soon” or “Stuck With You” stand somewhere the RAMONES and the EXPLODING HEARTS, and “Echo” and “Party” have a bit of NEW YORK DOLLS and BRIEFS thrown into them. The ’77 punk/powerpop influence can especially be heard in “Teen Engine” and in “Go Gore Boy” although a song like “Human Sake” has a big garage vibe. “Running Through The Night” is a well-crafted punk rock song and “RNR With You” offers us some crazy speed freak rock’n’roll moments. The vocals get a bit more melodic in the last song, “Moonies” and then you realize it’s already over. 12 songs you’ll love if you’re into 77 punk with a powerpop approach. /Laurent C.
Montreal-based rock’n’rollers Jonesy are releasing a new video for their anti-Record Store Day song, to be featured on their upcoming album. Here’s their statement:
“ We only have despise for that ludicrous hypocritical farce that is record store day. Very few record stores don’t play that sell out game, and most of them survived the 90’s and early 00’s because of people who don’t even shop on that day. We wouldn’t care if it wasn’t for the consequences of the thing: big delays for music that actually matters in pressing plants (nope, your expensive U2 repress doesn’t matter), and ridiculous prices on both records and press orders. Not to mention all the idiots who are after pricey collectables instead of music. In other words, Record Store Day is for losers.”
The song is from the forthcoming Jonesy 2nd LP, to be released later this year on Dead Beat Records.
We thought it would be interesting to send a few questions to Canadian 80s post-punk/dark rock influenced band ACTORS after seeing them at Berlin’s Lido. Bass player Jahmeel Russell tells us more…
How was your European summer tour?
It’s been fantastic. As of this writing we have three more shows to go in Spain before we finish. This tour’s been six weeks all together so we’ve had the chance to play more cities and country’s than the first time we came over.
When I saw you in Berlin, you said that it was your first time there. How many times have you toured in Europe before?
This is ACTORS second time over here. I’ve been over here previously with some other bands.
There was an encore on that night and you weren’t expected it, so you had to play songs that you have already played in the set. Did this happen anywhere else on this tour?
Berlin was the only city we played a song again in for an encore and that’s because we were physically forced back on stage by members of the crowd (Ha Ha). We’ve had encores at pretty much every show on this tour, we just haven’t played them because we play all of our songs in the set. The audiences excitement and energy at all the shows has been killer.
80s influences can be heard in your music, I’m thinking of KILLING JOKE , The CULT, The MISSION, The SISTERS OF MERCY, among others. Some would call it goth rock or dark rock. While dark genres are still quite popular nowadays, full drum/bass/guitar bands are getting rare. Did you have the idea of a dark rock band from the start?
Jason started this by himself but I don’t think there was ever a moment where he thought about doing it live without a band. For me there’s a certain power in live drums and bass that cannot be matched.
Considering the name of the band and the number of videos you have on YouTube, is cinema somthing you’re particularly interested in?
Yes. Cinema’s really important. It’s a source of inspiration and creativity.
Jahmeel, you often wear metal/black metal shirts on stage. For some reason it made me think about when bands I liked as a teenager were wearing band shirts that were different from their own music. For instance, I remember I got into SKINNY PUPPY because Slash was wearing their shirts. Do you get a lot of metal people at ACTORS shows, or people who come to you and talk about it?
We actually do. Speaking from my own experience with music growing up I was always drawn to dark music. I could jump between a Darkthrone and Depeche Mode record quite easily. The genre of music I listen to the most is black metal and I’ve found at most shows I meet fans of the band who are into what we do but are also into black/death metal. I love to talk about this music so it’s always a pleasure to meet fans who are into it.
Did you see Lords of Chaos? What did you think about it?
I did. It was ok but just entertainment, nothing more. For anyone really interested in what happened back then this is not the place to look.
5 of your favourite albums and a few words about them:
GODFLESH – Streetcleaner.
I got this on tape in the early 90’s. At that point I had heard a lot of the other Earache bands from that time, most of which I am still a fan of but this record really spoke to me the most. That bass tone and Justin Broadrick’s guitar playing were very influential to me. Still one of the heaviest albums ever.
Depeche Mode – Songs of Faith and Devotion.
While I would probably say Violator is my favourite album this is the one I find myself listening to the most these days. Condemnation has got to be one of the most beautiful songs ever and my favourite vocal performance from Dave Gahan.
Bathory – Under the Sign of the Black Mark
This was the first Bathory album I heard when I was a kid and it has stuck with me ever since. The main riff in Call From the Grave still gives me chills. It’s hard to pick just one as the first four albums are all mandatory.
One of my favourite black metal bands for me this is their peak. I remember buying this CD without hearing a note just because it was on the NOEVDIA label. I was not disappointed. It’s like Under a Funeral Moon x 1000. An utterly chaotic masterpiece.
Black Cilice – Banished From Time
Probably my current favourite black metal band. I enjoy all of their releases. The first time I heard them it had the same impact as when I first heard Xasthur in the mid-2000’s. Very raw and produced in such a way that makes it very unique. It’s haunting, aggressive, yet I also find myself falling into a trance listening to it. I have the new album “Transfixion of Spirits” on CD and LP waiting for me when I get home from this tour and I can’t wait to dive in. My most anticipated album of the year along with the new Teitanblood.
You’re a hard working band, so I guess you already have a lot of things planned after the European tour?
We have 10 days off after this tour then we head down to the USA for another run of dates that will take us to the end of October. In November we have two more shows in Vancouver and Seattle respectively and at that point we will have done about 150 dates in support of this record. More tour dates and a new album are already in the works for 2020.
Jonesy (Montréal, Canada) have released a new video for their song “I Just Wanna Sit On Your Face” (new unreleased version), featuring Ramona Tornado. Their debut album is out on Dead Beat Records.
In this day and age, you can easily write, record and release music when members live on different continents. Chris Damien Doll (Norway) and Sandy Hazard (Canada) have joined forces in order to write some sleazy hard rock’n’roll songs and give birth to DOLL HAZARD. They answered a few questions…
One member in Norway, and the other one in Canada, how did you manage to make this album? How much time did it take?
Chris: It really didn’t take much longer than making any other album. The technology is here and it’s easy to send files back and forth. We’ve been toying with the idea of doing something together forever, but technology hasn’t really been there before. We started talking seriously about it maybe 2 years ago and wrote all the songs in 2 months in the spring of 2016.
Sandy: Technology made it really easy for collaboration. There were times either Chris or I had an idea for a guitar riff overlay or vocal melody. We’d just record it and dump it on the cloud drive and say, hey man…when you wake up, I added a cool riff to that new song you sent me. Everything was so instantaneous due to technology. It really kept the creativity flowing without disruptions.
Did you have any precise idea about the musical direction/image before starting to work on the songs?
Chris: That’s what we started discussing first. We both wanted to make a sleazy rock’n’roll album, rather than any of the other styles of music we have been associated with in the past, but we didn’t want it to be too close to our main bands either. It took awhile for me to work out how to do that, but once the musical direction was there, it all seemed to flow really quickly. The image was never discussed, that kinda goes with the territory with us.
Sandy: I kind of thought with our collaborative influences over the past few decades that we’d come together to create a cool sound. It would be a given that our current bands would seep into the fabric of the record, but they are more like a hybrid with additional influences. We knew we wanted it to be down and dirty and in your face which I think we exceeded in spades.
How did you decide on who was going to sing this or that song?
Chris: We decided we’d roughly write half the album each and that we’d both sing lead vocals, so for the most part, we ended up singing the parts we wrote the lyrics for. As a lot of things with this process it happened organically and wasn’t really discussed. We have our own way of singing and writing and it just felt natural that the one who wrote the words would also sing them.
Sandy: Ya’, I think it was natural to sing whatever you brought to the table. Sometimes it’s hard getting the vibe across as to how you want something sung. You know how it should sound in your head, but getting that across to another person can be a challenge. We really didn’t discuss that much from what I recall. I thought it would be cool to share lead vocals on at least one song “Transatlantic Meltdown” as we thought it would cool to have that in there. Chris wrote the lyrics for the second verse after I told him what the song’s vibe/direction was about. I think the only other tune was the opening track Cat’s Got Your Tongue. Chris had music for it and asked if I wanted a go at the lyrics/melody. He really liked what I came up with and it was kind of a given that I’d sing that tune.
You both have your own bands, SUiCiDE BOMBERS and DIRTBAG REPUBLIC, do you feel that some of these DOLL HAZARD songs could have been written or played by your respective bands too?
Chris: Some maybe, but most not. There are so many projects and supergroups with all the talent in the world, who fall flat on their faces because they save all their worthwhile ideas for their main bands. We knew that if we were to write a great album, we had to focus completely on that for the time it took to write it, and only bring our a-game, and that’s what we did. With that being said, there aren’t many of these songs that would have ended up sounding like they do on the record if we didn’t both work on them.
Sandy: I think maybe Rock n Roll Prostitute and You’re in my Head could be on a Dirtbag Republic record, but honestly Chris and I contributed a lot of additional ideas to each other’s songs. He came up with lots of guitar melodies in my tunes and I contributed some guitar melodies and vocal harmonies for his tunes. He got me to dial back my drumming to make it more stock and straight forward and I pushed Chris to do more guitar work and vocal harmonies. He’s pretty bare bones and I’m more big production wise. Valentine Cards would have had way more harmonies if I had gotten my way….but Chris met me halfway. Same goes for some ideas I added to his songs where Chris was unsure. For instance the vocal overlay at the end of Sci-Fi Child was an off the cuff thing I did, but I thought it added a lot of power to close out the song. Chris wasn’t sure about that at first, then he came to like it…I think, or just gave in….ha ha ha. I got kind of stuck finishing Walk on Water and Chris came up with this killer lead guitar break that fit just perfectly and just really kicked it into another gear.
Do you have any live projects? Or will it stay a record-only band?
Sandy: Highly doubtful, maybe if we lived closer, but being 4385 miles apart kind of puts the kibosh on anything like live shows. Chris and I are also both working on new stuff for Suicide Bombers and Dirtbag Republic, so that’ll be next on the agenda. If somebody offered us a bunch of cash to put something together, I wouldn’t rule it out…but given the economy in music these days it’s highly unlikely.
Since 10 songs is the perfect format for a vinyl record, do you have any plan on releasing a vinyl version?
Chris: We’d love to, but we’d have to get a deal for that. There’s no way we can carry the cost ourselves unfortunately.
Sandy: We spared no expense in making this a killer album, so if any record companies want to do a vinyl release, get in touch with us at http://www.dollhazard.com We will promote the shit out of it. I would love to see this get a vinyl release.
Chris: I think we both really like the whole album and I can say for myself that it changes all the time. I really like Fire & Gasoline which I think is just a great kick in the face tune. No Valentine Cards is another fave, with a great melody, lyrics and arrangement. Cats Got Your Tongue is way cool, as is Rock N Roll Prostitute. Hell, I could go on… I like all of them.
Sandy: The album as a whole i’m so proud of. I love them all, but I’d say Fire & Gasoline for it’s non stop onslaught…Rock n’ Roll Prostitute for it’s message of despair for musicians…ha ha…Doghouse for it coming out so killer when at times it was frustrating for me personally and Cat’s for a great collaborative effort to kick the album off like a firecracker….Full disclosure, this may change week to week…ha ha
If I’m not wrong, you guys met along time ago on Glitzinet, right? Can you tell about it to people who have never heard of Glitzine and Glitzinet? Do you think that a place like this could still work nowadays in this Facebook groups era?
Chris: Glitzine was a web-site dedicated to Glam. It had a very strong following in the 90’s when glam was underground. There were shitloads of cool bands who pushed the envelope and did various forms of Glam Punk and Bubblegum, as well as more traditional Hard Rock based glam bands. The site had one of these old fashioned forums where people hung out and discussed music, a lot of the bands hung out there too. It was a great place and one of the only places you got information and news about the scene during the grunge era. I think Sandy and I struck up a friendship there while he was in the Mcrackins and I was in Trashcan Darlings and we have stayed in touch ever since.
I’m not sure if these type of forums are popular anymore. Glitzine kinda died with the whole glam punk scene and it seems most other old fashioned forums are gone too. At the moment it’s Facebook, who knows what will be next.
Sandy: Ya’ that’s right. I think I found Glitz in the early 2000’s and would send Mcrackins albums for them to review. Chris posted something about his band at the time Trashcan Darlings and I was intrigued so I looked them up on YouTube and found the song “Peggy Sue Is Dead” and “I Just Wanna Die (On A Chemical High)” and fell in the love with the band instantly. I think we struck up a conversation on there and when I posted some tunes from the new Mcrackins album, Chris said he really dug the stuff. We gradually became great friends over the years…sharing war stories, sending each other demos that we are working on and pooling our resources together to help each other out doing promo and magazine send outs etc. Cool thing about Glitz was I got to meet 4 different people on there when I toured Europe in 2007, which was awesome.
Some strong glam punk influences can be heard on your album. Unfortunately, the style has been dying out these last years? Any recent bands you like in that style?
Chris: When I think of Glamour Punk, I think of Ramones-type songs, Mickey Mouse voices and extreme over the top image. Great bands like Heart Throb Mob, Queeny Blast Pop, The Glamour Punks and I can’t say I have discovered any new bands, as brilliant as those, playing that kinda music lately. The last CD I bought in that style was probably the Glamour Punks CD released a few years ago. But I do listen to sleazy rock’n’roll bands with a kinda unwashed, almost punk edge. The LoveShocks from Germany is a good new band I’d recommend.
Sandy: I get really annoyed when people say there are no good new bands these days and are stuck in the 80’s/90’s and listen to same old thing ad nauseum. I have always been a fan first of music and that hasn’t stopped. I like bands with a bit more grit to them, but they need to have great melody to keep me interested. Some great sleazy bands/artists I’ve come across in the past few years are Wyldlife – Grittier version of the Biters and just killer song writers, Hunters – Fantastic new band from Finland who have a dirty Hanoï Rocks vibe. Double Crush Syndrome – Killer German band who are like a cross between early Mötley and Sweet. Hard Luck Street – Strange Gentle’s (Trashcan Darlings) new band…heavy Hanoï vibe with great catchy songs. Dr.Boogie, The Tip and WATTS all three are down and dirty Stonesy/Aerosmith groove styled bands with very hooky tunes.
There’s also some obvious 80s Sunset Strip influences as well in some songs. It seems like the style is only connected to nostalgia or parody in 2017. Do you want to show that these influences can still work without sounding too cliché or too dated?
Chris: We are just continuing the great tradition of Rock’n’Roll. Building on our influences and infusing them with our other influences and ideas. It’s always been from the heart for both of us. No nostalgia or parody in sight. To me it does seem a little like that whole parody thing has passed already. Most of the bands I know that are currently playing Hard Rock, seem to mean what they’re doing and don’t hide behind any ironic distance. I like that.
Sandy: I fucking hate those parody bands. They are basically a one trick pony, but people do like them so I guess there is a market for that thing. I honestly cringe when I see a great new band like Wayward Sons having to open for Steel Panther. I think when you’ve been around as long as Chris and I, those influences are bound to show up in your songs. A songwriter can make that genre sound dated and stale, especially if you write shit cliche lyrics. If I hear something that has shit lyrics I shut it down no matter how great the music is. It tells me the writer has no ideas of their own and took the easy way out. I think I lasted 4 songs when I heard that new Steven Pearcy album and shut it down due to the crap lyrics.
I think we have shown you can insert your influences tastefully into a modern day song and make it sound relevant and not cliche.
The intro/verse guitar riff in “Walk On Water” reminds me a lot of ZODIAC MINDWARP. You probably remember that the band was often laughed at back in the days, but their mix of hard rock/glam/punk/new wave was kinda ahead of its time when you think about it now. They were a bit in the same position as SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK in the media/popular opinion, and I know you’re a big fan, Chris! Do you think that these opened some doors and “history proved them right”?
Chris: I should have known that a Love Missile F1-11 Martin Degville shirt on the album cover wouldn’t get past you, Laur hahaha. I’m a big fan of both bands, but not sure I’d compare them. The similarities were that they both created this whole world of mystique around them. Kinda like you stepped into a different universe. As groups like Kiss had done before them. Zodiac Mindwarp, to me, was pretty much a straight ahead rock’n’roll band who got immense mileage out of Judas Priest’s Living After Midnight riff, so there weren’t really any doors to be opened there, although Tattooed Beat Messiah is a record everyone should own at least one copy of. Sigue Sigue Sputnik took it all a lot further and they were probably first, or immediately after PIL, with a lot of the stuff we see stars do today. Like branching out their brand to other products. Their image was also something that hadn’t been done before and their brand of Electronic Rock’n’Roll hasn’t been done before, or since, either and they were the first to do what U2 copied with their ZooTV tour much later. They are one of my all time favorite bands and I know I learnt a lot from Tony James. He’s such an inspiration. Lady Gaga’s been watching Martin Degville closely…. Who knows? Great band, buy Flaunt It!
Sandy: Sigue Sigue Sputnik was one of those unheard risk albums I bought when it first came out in the 80s. I should have never taken that risk. Chris has tried to get me to revisit them and I attempted with the bravest of face…but I could not get into them at all. They still sound like a bad 50’s band with a drunk guy at the bar inserting random samples into their songs. They looked really cool, but the music did not match at all what I was expecting/hoping. I’m sorry Chris…ha ha ha
Do you have any material that you haven’t used for the album? Can you imagine working on new songs?
Chris: We have one song we didn’t use, but that’s about it. The rest all turned out like we wanted and we knew we had to use them. It’s a little early to think about new songs. At the moment we are busy promoting this album, while working on songs for our main bands next records. I also have the new Ronny Pøbel album and tour starting this month, so there’s more than enough to keep us occupied, but never say never.
Sandy: Ya’ I think that was one of the first songs I sent you “Lianna”, but it didn’t make it as I think it was a bit too pop punk. I may do that down the line as I loved what Chris came up with vocally and added to the music. My current plans are tweaking a pool of new Dirtbag Republic songs for an album in 2019. My goal this year is to hopefully do a few shows and focus on getting the live thing happening. Chris and I are going to attempt to do some videos for Doll Hazard record and hope to get those rolling soon. As Chris said, we are pretty busy with our other bands, but something may happen down the road…and my door is always left a jar for Mr.Doll.
Thanks very much for reviewing our album Laur and helping to support indie Rock n’ Roll!
You can get our album here – http://www.dollhazard.com/buy-cd.html
Join our Facebook page here – https://www.facebook.com/dollhazardband
4 songs of modern powerpop made-in Canada! Whether the band mixes glammy beats to ’77 punk guitars (“Prime Time”) or purposely choses to sound Californian pop (“Cheap Leather Jacket”), OUTTACONTROLLER do it well and still manages to sound fresh! There’s also some 90s guitar touches in “You’ll Get Yours”, and a song like “Something Wild” is not that far from early POSIES. Get your copy from Jarama 45RPM Recs! /Laurent C.