Editorial Pissings #5 – Comfort in Sound

August 25, 2010

Editorial Pissings - Rants, raves n' randoms from the desk of Music Vice editor Brian Banks
“Rock and roll is serious and important, and on the other hand it’s absolutely meaningless. And if you can find that balance then you’re sussed.”

Okay, catch up time… It’s been a while since my last installment of Editorial Pissings – over two months in fact! It’s just been a really busy summer, what with all the amazing concerts, the amazing weather (at least here in Canada) and oh yeah, the World Cup, remember that? I don’t blame you if you’ve forgotten about it already, it was hardly a classic.

Our new website and layout – Music Vice t-shirts could be coming soon…

First things first, I hope you dig our new look. After a few hitches and some testing, our new & improved website layout went live at the start of August. We’ve had some nice feedback about the new retro look, especially the logo, which is unashamedly inspired by a certain 80’s TV show.

To go along with our new retro look, I designed a new Music Vice t-shirt and had a couple made up. I’ve worn this new tee to a few shows, including Osheaga, and a few people have even asked me where I bought it. I’m considering making this t-shirt available for sale – it’s a fun shirt, and could be a great way for any interested readers to show some love for MV. I’m looking at a few options and this might happen; as long as the tee could be made and sold for something affordable.

Pinch me… an amazing summer of music
It’s been a great summer of music and wherever you are, I hope you’ve all been able to get out to as many concerts and festivals as possible. My highlights of the summer have been Iggy Pop, Eagles of Death Metal, Pavement and Arcade Fire – but these are just the pick of the bunch, and summer isn’t quite over yet. Tonight I’ll be attending Rockstar Uproar festival in Toronto, and I’m looking forward to seeing AX7 live for the first time – I’ll also be interviewing the headliners Disturbed, so look out for that soon on Music Vice, together with review and photo coverage from Uproar.

NXNE Football glory – a victory over the Rockers and over $10k raised for charity!
In my first four Editorial Pissings I gave updates on my preparation for the charity football match at this year’s NXNE festival in Toronto. That game took place on Sunday, June 20th at the end of NXNE and I’m pleased to say WE WON! My team, ‘The World’, made-up of media and other guests, defeated the ‘Rockers’ team of musicians by winning in a penalty shoot-out after the game had ended in a draw at 2-2 after 90 minutes.

It was a really fun match. We played at Toronto FC’s stadium BMO Field and I was playing in defence at right-back alongside Olympic champion kayaker Adam van Koeverden. The World were winning 2-1 but then in the second half Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene took a shot that hit my arm and the ref awarded a penalty kick! I was gutted – it was ‘ball to hand’ and shouldn’t have been a pen because my arm was in front of my body. I had to remind myself that it was a charity match to avoid any remonstrations with the referee. Thankfully we still won the game, and hey, who else can say they’ve conceded a penalty kick to Brendan Canning?

Apart from that one dubious moment, I was happy with my own performance and it was all a great experience – definitely another postcard moment for me to write home about. Over $10,000 was raised for the charity Right To Play, which will help a lot of kids get the chance to play sport – fantastic! Thanks to those who sponsored my participation in the match and helped me to reach my own fund-raising goal.

Brendan Canning, I will have revenge!
In the aftermath of the NXNE football, I found myself well and truly hooked on playing football. I joined a recreational league and it’s been amazing fun. I’ve played more soccer this summer than I ever did through all my years growing up; Toronto has so many amazing playing fields that anyone can use – facilities like these are very rare in the UK. That NXNE game made me realise that I truly suck as a defender, but after some team training sessions I’ve discovered a knack for shooting and scoring goals. I play as a striker for my rec team and I’ve averaged a goal per game, so I’m pretty pleased with that. My team finished top of our c-oe league and last night we played a play-off match that we won 3-1, so next week we play for the championship! All this football practice means that by the time NXNE 2011 comes around next summer, I’ll be really prepared for a rematch with the Rockers and hopefully I’ll be able to avenge my Canning penalty by scoring a goal.

Music Vice editor Brian Banks surrounded by mod girls in a Bedouin Soundclash video shootMusic video shoots…hard work!

Step aside Ed Norton… my acting debut as an extra in a music video
Last Friday, I had the pleasure of taking part in a music video shoot for Bedouin Soundclash. My Friday was free and I thought it would be interesting to see a side of the music industry that I’ve never seen before. I also thought it would be fun to be part of a video shoot and see what it was all about – I was once asked out of the blue by a casting agent to play a role as an extra in a scene for the movie The Rocker, but there was a change of plans and it never happened.

The video shoot took place at Rancho Relaxo, a small venue on College Street in Toronto. I was among about 25 extras who took part in the video, with us all dressed up in retro garb with a 50’s and 60’s mods ‘n’ rockers theme. My outfit was easy… I turned up in my old leather jacket, jeans and Docs, which is standard attire for me, though not in summer. There were lots of girls and they had some amazing dresses, with everyone looking like they’d just done the Time Warp and come straight from the swinging ’60’s.

There were some really nice people at the shoot, and some had travelled from far and wide to take part in the video. There was a young guy called Colin who was visiting Canada from Bermuda – he was only 16, and because of his age he’d taken his mother along as guardian. There were other from less exotic places like Brampton and Missisauga. A few of the extras were aspiring actors and models, while the rest of us were a mix of fans and the plain curious.

The shoot was for the song “Mountain Top”. For the first part, we were upstairs inside the venue and acted as the crowd while the band performed the song again, and again, and again – not the greatest set-list ever! Rancho Relaxo is a notoriously hot venue, a fact I was soon reminded of as I stood wearing leather under all those hot lights and with dry ice smoke circling the air. We were always grateful for a waft of air when one of the film hands would fan wind in our direction with a giant board. The actual filming didn’t start till after 11am and by 3pm and over 15 takes it was time for a welcome lunch break and a chance to escape into daylight for some much needed oxygen.

For the second part of the shoot, we all walked as a group down to Kensington Market, which is a bit like a small version of London’s Camden Market. We drew attention from the people that we passed, though movie and video shoots are common in Toronto so it wasn’t anything too out of the ordinary. A camera crew from MuchMusic came along to film us for a bit. Eventually the cameras rolled in Kensington: the director told us to walk along Nassau Street behind Bedouin Soundclash, for a kind of “band and their gang” style shoot. After just one take the director said it was no good and said we looked “hokey” – we were all pretty taken aback by this and joked about our apparent in ability to walk.

So that was a wrap. I look forward to seeing how the final video turns out, and how much of the stuff from Rancho Relaxo makes it into the final cut.

Comfort in sound
We turn to music to both provide a soundtrack to the good times and as a crutch to lean on in the hard times. The ‘comfort in sound’ aspect of the latter was something I found myself reflecting on when I saw Interpol earlier this month.

Music can be a great healer but healing words only seem to come from people who have suffered a similar pain or hardship; people who have “been there”. In the hardest times, when we reach for music that is inherently real, usually it is the product of a troubled soul. Otherwise it’s just false. To me, I think of bands like Joy Division and Nirvana, and it is an absolute tragedy that the lives of Ian Curtis and Kurt Cobain were cut so short by them losing the will to cope. Before their respective deaths, both bands had already ‘made it’ and were very popular; but in death their music became immortalized, in a van Gogh sort of way, and has went on to provide music that has brought both enjoyment and comfort to millions.

The self-destruction of musicians is something that will always gather the spotlight, due to the media attention that rock stars get. Last Friday, 20 August, Charles Haddon of the British band Ou Est Le Swimming Pool climbed a telecommunications mast and then jumped to his death at Pukkelpop festival in Belgium. A statement on the Pukkelpop website read: “After performing with his band Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, singer Charles Haddon decided to take his own life.”

The death of Charles Haddon has plummeted Ou Est Le Swimming Pool into the spotlight, with the band finding new fans who had wished they’d known about the band earlier. For anyone to end their own life at 22 it could never be anything else but a tragedy.

Final thought – Finding the balance between rock ‘n roll and real life
Some of the most inspired and thoughtful comments I’ve ever heard of about the topic of musicians self-destructing were made by The Dangerfields in an interview I did with the band in Glasgow, Scotland in 2007. It was an honest and memorable interview. Band leader Andrew Griswold said that: “Rock and roll is serious and important, and on the other hand it’s absolutely meaningless. And if you can find that balance then you’re sussed.”

You can see the full interview below, with the talk of self-destruction in rock music starting from around the 5 minute mark. Stay safe.

© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice

Brian Banks

Editor and Founder, Music Vice Magazine. Writer. Photographer. Poet. From Scotland. Not Ireland. Proudly based in Toronto, Canada. Rock N' Roll Don't Pay The Rent... 

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