There are plenty of reasons to dislike Norway. With its abundant natural resources, one of the world’s highest standards of living, universal health care and subsidized university education, Norway is a bit like Canada’s smarter, more attractive, Scandinavian cousin. We know that if we just hit the gym a little bit more, maybe learned a new language or two, we might be interesting and popular like Norway—heck, maybe we’d even get to pick a Nobel Prize winner—but we don’t and we resent them for their accomplishments.
I meet up with Love & Electrik on a Friday afternoon on Granville Street, the main strip of Vancouver’s nightlife industry. Our destination is one of the last vestiges of a seedier, less-commercial Downtown Vancouver, a filthy arcade sandwiched in between a pizza-by-the-slice place and the Vogue Theatre. I have a bottle of whiskey and five dollars in quarters. They arrive with their entourage, managers Jeff Herrara and Aidan Wright from The Hastings Set, ready to go. We are so punk.
GWAR is a theatrical thrash metal band, formed in a former milk bottling plant by a group of art students in Richmond, Virginia in 1985. They’ve been nominated for two Grammys, seen multiple line-up changes, been shot at, arrested, sponsored by golf companies and charged at by skinheads, all the while spewing chunky fake blood, semen and vomit over adoring fans at their live shows for the past 25 years. And that is basically why they are nearly a household name. It is hard to find someone my age who is unfamiliar with the legacy of GWAR.
She answers the phone with a chirp and a lie. “This is Sally!” she says, in that cheery Swedish accent that suddenly makes the air brisk and the daylight blonde. But Sally isn’t her name. Not right now, at least. Sally Shapiro is the moniker she uses when she becomes the Italo disco princess that released 2006’s Disco Romance, an album of equal parts dreamy and dancey Eighties-inspired pop tunes. On the phone, she is but a humble office worker in the Swedish town of Lund (she’s never divulged her real name).
Never meet your idols. Something that’s been said by me (or to me) so many times in my urban second life that it’s beginning to sound like a bile-producing cliché. I’ve listened to local, professional defencemen crassly put down the quality of women in my city, I’ve nearly got in a fist fight with a certain action star’s famous “Entourage” and I’ve seen a “black eyed” rap (or “rap”) star pass out in his own throw up. In hindsight, none of these people were MY idols, they were yours, or at least they were the idols of the people whose bubbles I was respectively trying to burst.
If you haven’t yet heard of The Juan MacLean you’ve probably been sitting in a nuclear bunker waiting for shit to hit the fan or eroding in Middle America. With their latest effort, The Future Will Come, released in April on the acclaimed DFA records, The Juan MacLean are now touring, leaving kids from city to city whistling their tunes. If you like to dance to robot-tinged lyrical content and club/dance songs with actual melodies and instruments you will probably be into them.
The music industry, more than any other, is known for its constantly changing astrology. There are those few stars that have found a permanent home in the shifting constellations of music history—indelible pinpricks in the sky, whose perfectly coiffed and carefully managed images take years to arrive down on Earth. And even after they die, or disband, or otherwise go gently into that good night, their fame lingers like a beacon, their traveling reservoir of light not yet up. But more often, new artists are nothing but shooting stars. They appear suddenly and vanish just as suddenly.
One way to understand the story of Dinosaur Jr. is to consider the way of the mighty albatross. They learn to fly together, but inevitably break apart, returning to their roots only when they’ve reached maturity. Sound familiar? The band’s bassist, Lou Barlow, declares, “I wouldn’t be in this band, I wouldn’t be working as Dinosaur Jr. right now if I hadn’t gotten better at picking my battles.”
Thank you for an awesome interview! It was very good and absolutely needed. I've missed The Radio Dept. I remembering standing a bit up from the scene where they were playing in Arvikafestivalen 2003, I was 18. Every Radio Dept song was like the best sex, most profound political stance and pride. I am from Karlstad, Sweden.
Jag älskar er, Radio Dept! Tack för alla åren och tack som fan för detta!