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.
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.
HONEYCHAIN is a power trio from Los Angeles that bring us 2 songs on transparent yellow vinyl on Spanish record label Jarama 45RPM Recs . “Go Away” is mix of 90s alternative rock with modern girl powerpop and “Through Your Purse” sounds more like punk rock with a college rock touch. You’ll get lots of energy and good melodies on this 7″. A good one for the summer!
AUTOGRAMM also delivers two songs on Jarama 45RPM Recs. This power trio hails from Vancouver, Canada and plays synth driven punk rock reminding of The CARS or DEVO. “Bad Day” is quite catchy and “Quiero Estar Sedado” sounds like The RAMONES playing with synth. Quite fun!
The HALOS are back (in black of course, hm.)with new gutiarist Adam (that you might have seen with the new LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH or AMERICAN HEARTBREAK in the past.) I don’t know if he’s responsible for this but it seems like the Canadian band worked more on the melodic side of their punk rock’n’roll this time and I can only congratulate them for this. Produced by Jack Endino, the album starts with “Three Sheets To The Wind”, a killer song with a bass drum kick sound that will make every drummer jealous. Then the first riff of “Last Call At The Toothless Saloon” reminded me of HANOI ROCKS’ “Malibu Beach” but then turns into a raw street punk anthem. It seems like the BLACK HALOS have mixed all their different influences to make this new album, whether they are punk rock, glam or dark rock and the result is a strong, very tight record with songs that all have their own charm, you’ll even hear some piano on “Alive Without Control” and organ on “Mirrorman”, a beautiful song in which you’ll find a surprising Nick Cave touch and a brand new vocals approach from Billy Hopeless. D GENERATION also comes to mind on songs like “Darkest Corners” or “Broken”. This album is out on Liquor & Poker in the U.S and will be released by People Like You in Europe and this is definitely one of the best thing that came out in 2005 to me. /Laurent C.
ROBIN BLACK & The IRS played their very first show in Italy at the Slam! party which was taking place on a boat in Venice. That sounded fun to us so we decided to drive down to hot Italy. Since you can often read about the band on these pages, we thought that an interview would be more than welcome…
So, Did you come especially for this show?
Robin Fucking Black: Yes, we’re here for 3 days in total and we’re just gonna rock this shit out of this boat, it’s our first show ever in Italy and we’re just gonna leave this country with people talking non-stop about seeing Robin Black & the Intergalactic Rockstars.
You’re working on the new album now?
Yeah, we take a break just to come for this show and then we have a couple of shows in Canada and otherwise we’re mainly working on the new record ’til Christmas. We have Bob Ezrin as a producer who produced “The Wall” (Pink Floyd), “Destroyer”(Kiss), etc. He’s a brilliant man and he’s pushing us really hard to make an incredible record, we’re really excited.
And you have an English record label now…
Yeah, TB Records. Mark, one of the owners of the label was on a holiday in a Northern State and he saw our video on MTV and before the end of the video he decided that he wanted to sign our band. We love them, they’re great and we’ve been touring England, Scotland and Whales which was very cool. It was very good. As a band, what we do is really special, we know that there are not other bands as exciting live as we are so we knew it was going to be good and we know that every show will always be good. We play, we kick the shit out of the place and when we leave people talk about that show for a long time.
Can we expect to see you in France some day?
I believe we’re gonna be in France playing with Enuff’Z’Nuff in late October/early November. My father is French and Ky is from French Canada, Quebec and it’s really important for us to go and play France. We’re really excited by the idea of playing in Paris and around France, that would be really cool. By the time the next record comes out after Christmas, we’re going to tour all over Europe and Japan and bring the shit that we do to as many people on earth as we possibly can. People need rock’n’roll right now, there’s not many people around that really make good rock records and really put on a special rock show, so they need us to go everywhere, France needs us too.
What’s your opinion on the rock scene nowadays?
Great rock’n’roll bands almost don’t exist anymore, rock’n’roll bands that put on exciting shows, that really rock out like it means something to them almost don’t exist. We feel like we’re all alone in the world making great rock’n’roll right now. You know, it happens from time to time to hear a good song from Sweden, Germany… but, to have a rock’n’roll band of five exciting rock’n’roll guys who are gonna kick the shit out of you when you see them at night, that doesn’t exist except for us right now. But…That’s why we’re here.
What about what the media call the “new rock” scene?
I went to see The Vines and it was absolutely one of the worse pieces of shit shows I’ve ever seen in my life, they looked like they didn’t give a shit to be Toronto playing for all these people that were so exciting to see music, they looked like they didn’t give a fuck and the singer looked like he’d watch every shitty Kurt Cobain video… All these bands sound the fucking same to me, they’re all guys with nice haircuts. The Hives seem actually kinda cool and that first single of The White Stripes record, that’s a really cool fucking riff but are they a great band? Some guy and his sister pretending to have sex or whatever the fuck they do, that would bore the shit out of me. But there’s some rock’n’roll in the world and it’s good to see that people pick up a guitar, have a few drinks and rock like it means something.
Do you think that you can bring something new?
What we bring, whether it is new or not is something that is true honest passion for rock’n’roll as an important thing, as something that matters to people, to teenagers… people always ask us if we’re bringing something back, a certain attitude in rock’n’roll. If what we’re bringing back is exciting rock shows, over the top fucking excitement, catchy hooky rock’n’roll, if we’re bringing that back, if that’s something from the past, then, that it is pretty sad about the present, if you have to look for a band to “bring back” excitement, you know?
Do you think that it is because of the record industry, the major labels or something?
It’s not the fault of the major labels any more than it’s the fault of people buying records. It’s the fault of the bands who go through the motions and pretend to be in a rock’n’roll band or do it because they saw something on TV and thought that it would be really fun. Unless a band of 4 people, 5 people, 6 girls or whatever the band is altogether make something that matters, somethign that special… It doesn’t matter who the fuck some major label signs because there isn’t enough good music in the world, the have to sign shit…
Starboy: What’s the last great band you’ve heard on a major label?
Robin Fucking Black: Yeah, but even not on a major label, what’s the last great band I’ve seen? What’s the last great show you’ve seen? I can’t fucking think of it… There’s a band in Canada called Bionic,they fucking rock because what they do, they do it with honesty and passion and are committed to what they do. They believe that their music and the fact that they’re playing tonight in some club in Rome is important to some people. But most fucking band out there really could not give a shit. They want to be on the cover of Rolling Stone and they want to get rich and they want the orgasm sisters to blow them….
Starboy: but the last great show I saw was AC/DC.
Robin Fucking Black: Yeah, but why do we have to look at a band that’s been around for 25 years to point a great rock’n’roll band? The reason why AC/DC is so great is because what they do is so honest, so driven and so exciting.. why isn’t every band like that?
Have you heard The Darkness?
You know what? We like The Darkness, but we’ve never seen them live.
Killer Ky: I think that what they do is very refreshing in today’s musical climate.
Robin Fucking Black: Whether or not it’s gonna work in France, Italy or Canada, I don’t know… But, to hear a record that sounds like a bunch of guys are really fucking exciting to make a rock’n’roll record is very cool and I don’t have very much good to say about very many things but we heard that Darkness record the last time we were in England and we all really liked it.
Does the word “glam” mean anything today?
Nothing… Whatever it means, it probably doesn’t really apply to us in any meaningful way. I love glamour, I love glamourous women or parties, I’d like to be a glamourous guy.. If what we do is glam or is rock’n’roll, that’s fucking cool with me but the word “glam” means all kinds of things, all kinds of people, we’re a rock’n’roll band. The fact that we like to be pretty, be the centre of the party.. Whether we’re a glam band or not, I don’t think we care.
Killer Ky: The media usually put this thing on us.
Robin Fucking Black: There’s no such thing as glam rock in Canada, at all. I don’t know if there ever has been, maybe Platinum Blonde in the 80s, whatever that was. We’re very much left alone in Canada. Despite the fact that we are so different that the stuff that they would normally put on television, the stuff they play on the radio, are sheer force of will and the force of will of our fans in Canada made them have to play us on MTV or radio, made them write about us ’cause there’s no wuch thing as a glam scene in Canada. We’ve been able to do things ’cause what we do, we do it so well… that made us become successful at home. And that’s all we’re gona do in Italy, in France and whether “glam” is in or out or a certain kind of rock’n’roll is irelevant.. we are the best at what we do and when you do something that well people will care. To us, as long as people give a shit when we play, and after this boat is done, when they pour every fucking liquored-up fucker from out of this boat, they’re gonna walk, stumble all the way home talking about how they saw the greatest fucking band thay’ve seen in 10 years. As long as we do that, I don’t care what the fuck is in or not in.
It seems like your audience in Canada is getting bigger and bigger.
Our first record “Planet:Fame” did exceptionally well in Canada. and it got us really started. It will be almost two years by the time our next record comes out and during that period, more and more people have come across our record and more and more people got into our band. I’m very proud of our record, I think we made a really great first record. It’s brand new in England and it only comes out in Italy and it’s not yet available in France, it’s so exciting to me that people get to hear our record and really like it. We worked really hard on it and it was really important to us. And then you hear that guys in other bands like this guy from The Wildhearts or that guy from The Darkness like the record, it’s cool because you know, we know that we made a good record.
Yeah jack Really thrives on that plus we never have much time so its crash and burn as usual .Its funny though some people always say were overproduced and we all laugh !
How did you first meet Adam, your new guitar player?
We met him on one of our first American tours and he’s always been like a brother to us now he’s finally joined the family .
You just came back from a Canadian tour, how was it? You probably have a few anecdotes to share with us?
Ha Canada is always good to us as it’s our home and native land . I think the most fun we have is taking Americans like Adam ,ZEKE ,or most recently our merch girl Shauna across and introducing them to Canadian culture ! Tim Hortons /Cheese curds/snow and moose you know it’s Canada!
The BLACK HALOS are always on the road, is music the only thing you do? Or do you all have jobs that allow you to go on tour whenever you want to?
I try to write for zines and i do a radio show when I’m at home but its hard to get let alone keep a job when you’re labelled as a black halo.
Is there a difference between Canadian and U.S audiences/shows?
Yeah Canadian audiences generally like to have more fun than U.S. ones and they wear toques while U.S. audiences wear beanies or wool caps !
Who are your favourite singers/lyricists/performers?
Wow there’s way too many to list but I really dig a Canadian songwriter called Art Bergmann right now ,hmm Little Richard,Alice Cooper,the RAMONES ,Ben Weasel , Lou Reed,Jesse Malin Simon and Garfunkle,D.O.A,S.N.F.U, the ZERO BOYS ,the MISFITS ,old KISS man there’s too many.
What other Canadian bands have you enjoyed lately?
the WEDNESDAY NIGHT HEROES ,RAISED BY WOLVES ,the FORGOTTEN REBELS ,ILLUMINATTI,the REBEL SPELL, Canada got a lot of great punk rocknroll.
Somebody once said ‘punk is not dead, it just sucks now’ do you agree?
No i think its more alive than ever but that statement is so punk !hahah
When I met you in L.A, you told me how important fanzines/webzines are to you. What are your favourite ones? Do you regret the time when fanzines where only paper DIY cut and paste zines?
No its like punk stores in the mall i think its cooler to see a store selling MISFITS and FEAR shirts than another Gap type store . I still like photo copy zines but i also like glossies it’s the content that matters. I’m probably going to start writting for LOUD FAST RULES so ill say they’re my fav cause they?ll hire me um and I like PLEASE KILL YOURSELF which is a photo copy zine from Houston, Texas , I really like FAT CITY and RAZORCAKE as well ,oh and POPULAR UNO from Spain rules ,I like RUE MORGUE horror zine man I like too many it’s like music dig ’em all no matter how big or small .man that was so phallic like a mae west quote or sumthin.
What books would you advise us to read?
Well, I really like Groucho Marx’s writting see everybody always compares us to the STOOGES and though i love Lary,Moe,and Culry I?m way more of Marx Brothers fan i guess we’re kinda like a Marxist band .oh i just read David Cassidy’s biography and he makes MOTLEY CRUE look like kindergarten kids when it comes down to debauchery ,hmmm Please Kill Me is a must read but if you aint read it you’re probably not reading this dig.
5 albums that you couldn’t live without?
Simon and Garfunkle’s gretaest hits ,the RAMONES anthology ,and our three albums.
What’s next for the BLACK HALOS? A European tour in March 2006?
I’m really hoping that happenism told the gears are in motion and I cant wait !!!!! we’re starting the new year off with a date opening up for SOCIAL DISTORTION in their home town of Aneheim, CA. so i think it’s going to be a great year.