Vol. 21 No. 9 • March 5 - 11, 2015 In Our 20th Year Serving Greater Hamilton

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by Ric Taylor
March 30 - April 5, 2006
While his name has grown along with his work celebrating the lives of The Beatles in a slew of recent benefit concerts, Christopher Clause hopes to gain more recognition for his own original work with a new CD, Surrendering... Everything. Incorporating his Beatles and pop musical influences, Clause offers his latest Christian rock outing. “It is hard to shake off the Beatles influences, they are at the very core and fiber of my musical being,” smiles Clause on his musical approach. “I would like to think that I am a pretty good student of pop music, and I am beginning to see what makes a hook work, and what guitar line catches the ear.” Clause’s Beatles tributes continue into their third year with a McCartney night scheduled for his birthday in June but as James Street Baptist Church worship pastor, Clause has tried to bridge the proverbial gap between his church and state, or at least his spiritual and altruistic outings with the average music fan. It’s been fruitful for his efforts to help the homeless, even award winning, but Clause does have to contend with stigma. “I do believe that saying I am a Christian is politically incorrect. I mean, Tara Slone (Joydrop, Rock Star INXS) is a Buddhist and mentions it on her myspace.com page, and I do not think it is hindering her career,” muses the singer. “But we as Christians have judged where we should have loved, taken when we should have given, and worshipped ourselves and our mighty works instead of God. We have done this to ourselves, and part of my work is to encourage the church to return to its first love, and to its responsibilities. And yes, people might not think I am cool. My saviour is very cool and does not fade with the trends or the fads of the day. Someone who loved the unloveable is very cool by me.” While spirituality has been a component of pop culture from many secular artists from Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to U2 and Daniel Lanois, the religious nature of the work might sometimes be downplayed. For Clause, its always first and foremost. “U2 is a great example of Christians who live out what they believe,” notes the singer. “Bono does care about looking cool, but his call from God to love others as himself compels him to do what he does for the poor of the world, in spite of looking cool. U2’s music is worship music at the purest level: real, passionate and powerful. To me that is what the Gospel is about, a message of love, passion and power. [But] Both U2 and Daniel Lanois realize the danger of labels and I feel that they are doing a better job about sharing the Gospel than some Christian artists have in the past. “One thing I like about Surrendering... Everything is that it is real on all accounts,” he adds. “I think this album is about speaking the truth in love, calling the church to live for what really matters, and to take care of those in need. People like U2, Johnny Cash, Matt Redman, Charlie Hall, David Crowder and Chris Tomlin, artists who have done musically what resonates from their heart, inspire me. There is conviction, there is passion, there is power in the performance, things that I feel are lacking in the church today. I think there is a world that is hungering for truth and is hungering for God, and the church needs to step up to the plate and deliver the goods. It is time.” While simply having the self produced CD released was enough of a task, including many a late night session, Clause hopes to tinker with a revised version that might better reach a national Christian audience. Perhaps never more prolific or important locally, Clause is happy with whatever the outcome. “I really felt the need to get these songs out. These songs that I do feel called for the world wide church to sing,” explains Clause. “These songs may simply have been intended for James Street, or they have been meant for other churches to sing. For me, the process of creating the album has brought me closer in my journey with God, and for that I am thankful. It is my hope that the songs will be a blessing for others and a source of strength. “For me the event will be more than just a CD release party, it will be a celebration of what God is doing in our community and it will be a commissioning of the CD as well. I am proud of these songs and I hope that the people who come will enjoy them.” Christopher Clause debuts Surrendering... Everything this Sunday April 2 at 6:30pm at James Street Baptist Church with Catherine Wiebe on violin, Kris Storbeck on bass and Franz Nangle on percussion. The event is free and CDs will be on sale for $15. Science Ninja Big Ten cause raised eyebrows, from their band name to their elaborate graphic posters. The enigmatic four piece have day jobs, families and even other artistic outings, but when keyboardist Chris ‘Crackers’ Cracknell, guitarist Peter Lloyd, bassist Monica Knott, and drummer Dave Hauton come together, it’s all about the fantasy and fun of their music. With their debut CD, Shiny Red Button released this weekend, SNBT are prepared to educate locals on a wealth of under–represented art forms in the city. “I designed the characters around archetypes common to team anime,” explains Cracknell whose Ghastly’s Ghastly web comics offer an outlet for some of his drawings and the basis for the SNBT posters. “I’ve tweaked the character designs a little bit for the album art. I made Monica’s character, the hot cat–girl in the skimpy schoolgirl uniform a little more chibi–like, and Pete’s character, the hot headed ninja–kid, is now much more bishounen or pretty–boy. Dave’s character, the strong, calm, silent monk, and my character, the ‘big guy,’ have pretty much remained the same as in previous designs. Every anime team has to have one big guy, since I’m the biggest guy in the band I made myself that character.” Cracknell’s internet art is developing him into popular cult status. This past weekend saw him participate in a sci–fi horror convention alongside the likes of George ‘Sulu’ Takai and Cassandra ‘Elvira’ Peterson. Knott could easily focus on her singing in the local opera chorus. Lloyd, an acclaimed prolific author, is set to release the third in his Avatar series of books—a fantastic voyage of vampires and werewolves, sex and violence, reading like a fast paced movie script with the city of Hamilton as a backdrop. The self–published (Tower Circle) works are easily enveloping and could bring Lloyd’s creativity to a national audience. All of the members of SNBT could keep busy without the band but when they come together, it’s magic, in a quirky Square Pegs way. There’s pop song structures, an indie rock approach and operatic textures added to form a mix of all of their artistic loves and from the heady stew, out comes a Canadianized rendition of J pop, or Japanese Pop. But you don’t have to be well versed in their influences to appreciate the music of the band. “My outside endeavours definitely have an effect on the band’s Internet presence,” reasons Cracknell. “It’s been really handy being able to use the popularity of Ghastly’s Ghastly comic to promote SNBT online. We’ve even had convention organizers express an interest in having us perform at their conventions [but] there’s so many other elements fused into our style. “There is a positive cross–pollination for me between the books and the band,” adds Lloyd. “I listen to music as I write and it’s expanded what I like. A couple of the songs on the disc have direct quotes in the lyrics from my books. When it comes to getting our music, it helps if you can see the beauty in the absurd.” “I wonder if people have to get it in order to enjoy it,” ruminates Knott. “People who don’t know anime or J pop or even classical music will hear what they hear and respond on a lot of levels. [But] I hope part of what they are getting is that we really like what we are doing, that we are having fun.” With cross marketing opportunities on the Internet and at conventions, SNBT has a much larger potential audience, perhaps more so than many other locals. But while they might be able to make the band busier, SNBT revels in the common bond that brought them together in the first place. If they were nerds, they are happy to maintain that authenticity. “The people who are regulars on the website seem to respond quite well to our music,” notes Cracknell. “We’re not corporate marketed posers trying to cash in on geek–chic, we’re actually pretty much a bunch of nerds who haven’t realized we’re not 17 anymore. I think that’s what really appeals to our fans online. They can smell a fake nerd a mile away and they don’t like it.” “Chris’ comic empire is vast and reaches many strange people with strange appetites,” interjects Lloyd. “But at the end of the day we’re still a punk band,” summates Cracknell. “Our mutual common bond is we all like to drink beer, play music, and have fun and that’s about as good a reason to get together as you can get. If the posters I draw of the band were mirrors they’d carry the disclaimer, Warning: Objects may be dorkier than they appear. We haven’t got ninjas, swords, or even breasts flipping out during our shows. We have a lot of high–energy music and fun. I think the audience gets a real sense that we’re having fun when we’re on stage and it’s contagious. I think anyone who ever wished they were a Buckaroo Banzai, Blue Blaze Irregular would enjoy our show a lot.” Science Ninja Big Ten releases Shiny Red Button Friday March 31 at The Corktown with Blowfly. After a few month hiatus, Pantychrist recently returned to the stage not so quietly for an impromptu gig. When guitarist Izabelle Steele had a baby, the band could have readily decided to lose focus or become sloppy over the last seven months. Quite to the contrary, Pantychrist returned stronger than ever at a recent low– key gig that is now incorporated into a new DVD documentary, Skirting With Disaster. This weekend, the band debuts the movie with their official return to the stage. “Izabelle had been gone since the end of July, although she never missed a practice, even after we had Larry Retard filling in,” recalls drummer Patricia Reece. “She was there to help him to support us. The first show back was a really special night and a low pressure way for Izabelle to get her stage legs back.” Debuting two new songs, the gig was filmed and the footage spliced into the band documentary filmed last year by Lori Braun and Alana Cundy of Red Films for the band’s version of the flick. “We have always thought we would make a great reality TV show,” quips Reece on the prospect of a film crew documenting her band. “They had posted on some music message boards that they were searching for an all girl punk rock band. We contacted them and they came from Montreal twice and stayed a weekend both time, taking turns following around each of the band members. “It is weird to see yourself, your best friends, and your story,” she remarks on viewing the final product. “You have these people living in your house following you around and they become your friends, so when they ask you a deeply personal question you’re not really thinking, “Hey, they’re filming this and they are going to show it and it will look raw and painful.” It wasn’t hard to answer the questions but it was hard to watch the answers. “At first I found it a little sad. We all felt very uncomfortable watching ourselves answer sometimes really personal questions about kids and divorces and love. That being said I told myself the same thing I told the rest of my band mates when they felt a little exposed, it’s only the truth and there is no shame in that. The only thing that was missing from their movie was a little more live footage.” Filmed in their homes, in the streets of Hamilton and at The Underground and The Corktown, you get to witness interviews with all the members of Pantychrist including vocalist Danielle Delottinville and bassist Amy Pudjunas, as well as their families, random fans and even foes. Beer swilling, caterwauling, hanging out or chilling with the kids, it’s all there. With the raw live footage breaking up the even rawer interview segments, the mini– movie is a milestone documenting perhaps the end of the first phase for the band. With the DVD release, five new songs in the can, the return of their guitarist and a pending return to outdoor performing at Gage Park this summer, the hardcore music of the band only reflects the lifestyles of the band members. Reece and Pantychrist believe they have weathered many a storm, as a band, as friends, as moms, as women, but they’re excited about the future to come, even if at times the journey seems difficult. “We came up with the title Skirting With Disaster,” smiles Reece. “It’s catchy and true. Everything is precariously balanced. I think you get to know all of us in the time the movie runs. Nobody would expect Amy was a beaver leader, or that Izzy has assembled all of these scrapbooks on the band, or that I have a beautiful English garden. “The disaster being toyed with is that of the double life, going and playing in Toronto on a Tuesday night and then getting up in the morning and taking children to school and getting your ass to work hoping you don’t look as bad as you feel. Getting recognized on the bus by a bunch of high school boys when you have your daughters with you. It’s not a disaster but it can get a little weird at times. I think anyone who is a fan of the band will enjoy the DVD. “And this show marks our return to playing live,” adds Reece. “It’s a celebration of being back together after something that we thought could have broken us. If this band can stay committed to each other then any band that breaks up has no valid excuse. We are definitely stronger than ever. As friends we have been through everything there is. As a band we have been so lucky to find each other and find people who want to hear what we have to say. We feel grateful for every little thing.” Pantychrist play Saturday April 1 at The Corktown with The Antics Riot Brigade, Gunnar Hansen, and Hostage Life opening. Cover is five bucks. While Summerside have been on the scene for a couple of years, the Hamilton/Burlington/Oakville natives seem to have put more focus on developing their name globally. This weekend, they help debut an international tour in Hamilton that will lead them across North America and then off to Japan. “Between myself, Jay and Steve we’ve logged hundreds of shows in past local bands [but] we’re trying to be more than a local band,” offers guitarist Brad Nemeth. “We’re on pace to play over 150 shows since last April and we’re going to be on the road for the better part of 2006. This will be Summerside’s first time across North America, so we are just so pumped and ready to go.” Summerside began in late 2003 when Jay Warnock answered a poster at Sheridan College for a bass player to join ‘a melodic punk band’ led by Emil Story. With some membership changes, Warnock brought in old friend Bob Sybydlo on guitar and keyboards and Story recruited high school friend Kevin De Faria on drums, Summerside was born. Within a year they had secured a deal with a burgeoning label and the year after that, saw the release of their debut CD, Lessons On How To Detach. “Emil and myself had instant chemistry and wrote a few catchy songs,” recalls Warnock. “This line up went on to play over 100 shows within 2004 and build a decent following in the ‘905.’” In the fall of ’04, Greg Elliott of the recently created, Hamilton based Empire Music Group label, came on board. Elliot secured producer Chris Gordon (Sum 41, Nelly Furtado, Treble Charger) to record the band’s debut but in the midst of recording De Faria left the fold. Long time friend Liam Killeen (Not By Choice) initially stepped up to record with the band but then stayed along for a few months of live dates as well. In November of last year, Nemeth was added to the mix and the new line up toured with Cauterize. This past month, Killeen returned to Not By Choice full time and former Room Without A View drummer, Steve Reume rounded out the latest incarnation of the band. “Upon the release of our record this past fall, we’ve again taken the ‘905’ by storm by being the opening band for all the dates on the Cauterize tour,” says Warnack. “This tour was of all Ontario with a big local date in Hamilton at Absinthe. We rolled into the gig to see a line up of fans around the corner. Lessons On How To Detach is slick but still delivers a punch with a driving attack that remains melodic enough to incorporate three part harmonies—on vocal and guitars. It’s a sound that could easily catapult them alongside some of their pop/punk contemporaries. “I’ve loved punk rock since I was a kid,” assures Nemeth. “It’s all I’ve ever listened to, all I’ve ever really been able to relate to. But as far as the old school punk rock values go I think that’s over and done with. Labels like Fat Wreck Chords and Epitaph have grown into mammoth multi million dollar companies, which is awesome but I really don’t know what the hell punk is anymore. But all of that aside, we’re a pop/punk band, straight–up. We all like some pop and different things as well but we all love punk rock first and foremost. So we just play what we like. However it comes out, it’s Summerside music.” “This band’s genre is unlike most bands,” reasons Warnock. “We fall right in the direct middle of a few genres. We have our pop songs, our melodic songs, our aggressive songs, and fast songs. I would say we’re a pop punk/rock band. Genre isn’t a big deal to us, we respect any genre if the musicians in the band are talented.” A video with director Gavin Booth (Third Eye Blind, Switchfoot) is planned for the debut single, “Burn Me,” and with Lessons set for release in May on the Japanese Bullion Records label (The Ataris, Mxpx, Not By Choice), Summerside are set to hit the global marketplace again with the prestigious opening slot. “Now that our record is out, the game plan for the band is to tour, tour and tour,” explains Warnock. “So much has happened in the last 12 months, it’s hard to predict where we will be in the next 12. The goal for the band is to tour the world, and we feel if we keep up at this pace, we will get there.” Summerside opens for My American Heart alongside Sydney, Kiros, and The Fully Down Saturday April 1 at Absinthe. The licenced all ages event is ten bucks at the door.
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