We can do better.

It has been a very long and unlikely week.

Last Thursday Nick and I got on stage at Kinetik and played the best set either of us have ever played — a 50 minute performance, but it’s the last five that everyone’s talking about.

We had a message we wanted to deliver, and we did it. And a week later, the conversation about it is still going strong. It’s funny, before Nick and I went on stage we were talking about what could happen. We thought maybe a few people might get behind it. We also thought maybe we might get booed off stage. Worse yet, we thought maybe no one would notice or care.

Seven days, hundreds of shares, and 10k+ views later, people are still talking about misogyny and racism in industrial music. We’ve had hundreds of people get in touch to tell us how much they appreciate what we did. I’ve lost count of the number of women who’ve told us that this kind of imagery is exactly why they left the scene. And if I told you how many people (men and women alike) cried when they spoke to us about it, you wouldn’t actually believe me.

So, it’s a week later. The message is as clear as I could make it. Andy and Thomas have both said their piece on it. There have been articles, interviews, and editorials. And people are still talking about what it all means. About sexism, about racism. About art, communication, and community.

What does it say about our scene, that this resonates so strongly with so many people? What does it say about the conversations we haven’t been having? And what will happen if more people continue to say: We demand better.

I hope we’ll get to find out.

Tragedy (For Us): California Dreamin

Das Bunker, Los Angeles. Some kind of crazy rivethead mecca, the likes of which I thought were all but extinct.

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We rolled into LA in the early afternoon, and spent a few hours decompressing at Rev John’s, where we were joined both by his lovable italian greyhounds, and by the darling Audra Williams, who flew out to join us on the road for a week.

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John’s hospitality was above and beyond. We all walked away happy, fed, and with a lot of Das Bunker merch. Plus, the show was killer. The place was packed, people were cheering, and it took a full five minutes to make it from the stage to the merch booth after my set was over. Yann, of course, fucked shit up old-school.

A quick jaunt to San Francisco later, we were at the Retox Lounge.

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We were worried about this show, as SF crowds are fickle and cruel creatures; but it was a smash success. Nearly everyone there told us “I don’t normally come out to this venue, but…”, and the dancefloor was moving all night.

We spent a few days off in SF (graciously hosted by Coolio and Sharon) where Scott and Yann got to relax, and Audra and I got to explore the city.

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SF is one of those places that reminds me just how small Ottawa really is. Places like 826 Valencia could never survive at home, and institutions like City Lights would never have been able to do what they did. There aren’t enough people, there isn’t any support from the city itself, and it’s nearly impossible to build sustained support for any kind of artistic enterprise.

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But I digress.

We left California for Portland, which – if i may sound like an asshole – I had no idea was so cool. Austin is the only other city in the states where I’ve seen so many amazing, indie businesses and arts/crafts.

We played at The Fez Ballroom, which is a beautiful concert hall. After a dozen converted gallery spaces and cramped clubs, it was a breath of fresh air. Scott’s opening set had people cheering from the middle of the first song on, and while it was a great show for all three of us, he kicked the shit out of Yann and I both in crowd reaction and merch sales, which is pretty awesome.

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(We also got to check out Derek’s store before we left. Verdict: Fantastic, not enough Ad·ver·sary.)

Seattle was next, where we were hosted by the lovely Jeri, who was gracious and generous, and made sure everything we needed was taken care of.

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The show itself was quiet, but a good time. We had the next day off, and Audra and I took a ferry over to Vachon where we spent a night at her friend Heather’s idyllic country home. Hot tubs make for great stress relievers after two weeks in a car, incidentally.

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One surprisingly painless border crossing later, and we were in Vancouver for the Zombie A-Go-Go. There was a line outside the door when doors opened, and by the time I was on stage the club was packed full of (remarkably well-costumed) zombies. Zombie cops, zombie flapper girls, zombie gangsters, zombie groupies, zombie fairies (what?), zombie movie stars. Zombies zombies zombies.

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Everyone was a bit worried that the crowd wasn’t going to dig the music, since so many of the people were at the club as part of the zombie walk, but it was easily one of the most enthusiastic dancefloors of the entire tour to date.

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We grabbed a quick bite to eat after the doors closed, and then it was right back in the car to make it to Edmonton for the next show. The crowd there was small, but seemed to be comprised entirely of electronic musicians who were all listening, if you know what I mean.

Audra left back to Ottawa the next morning, and after a long and emotionally numbing day at the West Edmonton Mall, we got in the car at 5am to head off to Winnipeg for yesterday’s show.

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Stay tuned!

Tragedy (For Us): Going Down

DC.

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Baltimore was fantastic. Soundcheck was a total clusterfuck, but after we got everything working, it kept working well. They had a four-projector video wall and some very talented VJs who worked very hard to make us look like we were a nightclub from the future.

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Worms of The Earth opened, which was great. Last time I saw him play was a year or two ago in Quebec City, and while I don’t remember a shirtless finale then, it worked well for Baltimore. The club was packed by the time we went on stage, and it was a killer show. The best of the tour so far, for sure.

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Next: New Orleans.

I had thought I was prepared for what the city was going to look like. Not at all. I don’t know what it looked like right after Katrina, but it’s still a disaster zone today. Families living on traffic medians, block after block looking like it has been bombed out. We were only there for an evening, but the city broke my heart.

The show itself took place in a house turned fucked-up voodoo house turned art gallery turned concert venue. The owner drove a white hearse covered in skulls and marked front-to-back with sigils. There were altars in every corner of every room, bones and offerings to appease or antagonize the loas, and a couple nine year old kids running around playing hide and seek.

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The sound system they had was completely unprepared for the kind of horrible noises we wanted to make, but they picked up a new system and brought it in for us within an hour or two, and then we were ready to roll.

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After leaving NOLA, we spent two nights driving through Texas, with pit stops in Austin and El Paso. We made a pilgrimage to The Jackalope, ate some amazing Mexican food, but with over ten hours of driving a day, there wasn’t much room for sight seeing.

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We arrived in Arizona yesterday. I have never, ever felt heat like the heat here. It was 46c when we arrived in Phoenix that afternoon, and it was 43c when we got back to the hotel that night after the show.

Yann and Scott were both loopy and twitchy from the heat, but I’d love to spend an entire summer down here.

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The club we played at had an incredible system, but we were competing with Rasputina down the street (and, elsewhere, Weird Al!) and the attendance was the lowest on the tour so far. The people that were there were enthusiastic, though. I’d rather have a dozen people watching and cheering than two dozen talking over the music. I’m looking at you, Boston.

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Yesterday was Los Angeles. Stay Tuned!

Tour Diary of The Future

I’m writing this as we drive out of NYC, onwards to Baltimore and beyond. We’re four shows in so far, and we’re about to hit a heavy stretch of driving in the next few days.

We started out in Montreal, where we had a killer show at Saphir. People were screaming, sound was fantastic, and a lot of friends (including the lovely Audra!) were there to support us.

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The next day we headed to Quebec City, where our hosts treated us like kings with an amazing burger barbeque, and let us clutter up their lovely home with all of our crap. The show was solid; not as many people were there as the promoter had hoped, but the room was still packed full of enthusiastic people, and we sold a lot of merch.

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We went back to Montreal for a few days to regroup and prepare for the rest of the tour. (The great thing about having two shows so close to home with a few days off after is that you get to see all the holes in your planning, and you get a chance to fix them.

There was a lot of ass-busting work, but there was also a chance to spend some time with new, amazing people. It was a great way to spend our last few days in Canada.

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So, after a lot of tetris magic packing all our stuff, and an uneventful-yet-incredibly-time-consuming stop at the border to process our artist visas, we were in the US, never to return.

With that said, probably we’ll return to Canada in a few weeks.

We played Boston on Wednesday and New York on Thursday.

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The Boston crew did a really great job turning a wood-panelled bar into an awesome looking electronic venue, but the crowd didn’t really turn out for it. And most of the crowd that did spent their time talking loudly over the bands. We lost money on the show for sure. We did, however, get to see some old friends, pick up a lot of new merch, and high-five each other a lot for actually making it into the US legally.

New York is always a fun place to be. The promoter put us up in a hotel in SoHo, bought us delicious pizza, and even had stagehands for moving all of our shit up and down two flights of stairs.

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The show itself was great, if a bit weird. All of my/Yann’s industrial scene New York friends who said they were going to be there never materialized (except you, Lenny – you’re a hero), but all the invited non-industrial scene people showed.

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The opening act had a really tough time. They played a lot of unstructured noisescape stuff, mixed with some really heavy broken beat tracks, and the crowd was not into it at all (which especially sucks since the promoter pushed back the start times by an hour so people would get a chance to see them). They had some great sounds but it was clearly not what anyone was expecting.

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I played both heavier and dancier than I have so far on the tour, and the crowd responded really fucking well to it. It was a fun set to play, trying to find a balance between something that the tough-crowd industrial crew would enjoy, and something that wasn’t going to alienate people who weren’t wearing all black.

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My sister was in attendance (bless her hip-hop heart),  and she told me that someone who was dancing to my set leaned over and said “this guy is just so FIERCE!” – made my fucking night.

Sadly, due to the show start time getting pushed back, by the time Yann was on stage to work his Iszoloscope magic, at least half the people who had were there for the end of my set had left. People were still dancing and really into it, but there weren’t nearly as many bodies.

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After the show, Yann, Scott and I went out for a bite of food with my sister, who took us to an awesome little diner where the other patrons provided much entertainment.

We took it easy today, and spent the day wandering around Manhattan. Some time in Central Park, some time to explore the aircraft-carrier-turned-museum U.S.S. Intrepid, and some time to eat at a crazy awesome Italian place (with no sign out front) that a sassy black beat cop recommended to us.

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…and now, Baltimore bound!

Tragedy (For Me) – First in a Series

Tour Diary, day negative three. We play our first show in Montreal on Friday. Paperwork is in hand, merch is being shipped to Boston for us to collect on our 3rd show (sorry, Montreal and Quebec City), and aside from feeling like hell from fighting off a flu, everything’s great.

I’ve got a kickass new live rig:

…and some amazing designs for all my merch (courtesy of graphic designer extraordinaire Robert Nixon):

Lace up your combats and order your earplugs, we’re just about ready to roll.