Thought Beneath Film’s Cartographers
With the release of their debut EP entitled Detours in July of 2012, Thought Beneath Film has since found their course and is now delivering a focused musical mission statement. Brothers Brent and Brian Wirth have spent years performing and recording local bands but with Thought Beneath Film, they were making big riffs and even bigger choruses with their minds set on attracting the world’s attention. They did end up winning a national contest that would lead to signing with Maple Music but they would also dramatically change the band as well. Now shy of two years later, the latest incarnation of Thought Beneath Film releases their debut full–length album, Cartographers, but with a continued hope for world domination.
“Over the years, Brent and I have played in a lot of different bands together,” notes Brian Wirth. “Thought Beneath Film represents the culmination of all of our past experiences playing with so many different bands and musicians from such a young age. It took a long time to really develop a sound that represented who we are and I feel like we’ve accomplished that with this record. We have never really gone out of our way to write music that is radio friendly, but growing up listening to music like The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Green Day and Weezer from a young age has always led us to naturally writing songs with big guitar riffs and catchy melodies. Even more importantly, we only want to write songs that have substance, and that people can connect with or relate to in some way.”
“It’s certainly true that TBF has functioned as a predominantly two–man show for the past few years,” adds Brent Wirth. “Brian and I truly did our best to keep the door open for past members of our band to be more involved in the project, but, in complete honesty, due to their lack of drive, ambition and passion for music, they essentially condemned themselves to being sidemen. For me, music isn’t a hobby, a job, or some crazy intangible dream. It’s my life. Derek Winter has recently joined our band and, for the first time in a long time, it feels like a team effort again. Derek has done more for this project in his five–week tenure than any past members ever did during their time in the band.
When they won the 2012 edition of Slaight Music’s ‘It’s Your Shot’ competition, TBF’s direction would take shape although the band was unaware even entering.
“We didn’t enter ourselves in the contest — I think I have too much pride and am a little too stubborn to do something like that,” clarifies Brent Wirth. “My dad actually submitted us to the competition without our knowledge and when I received a call being told that we won the contest, I recall being really pissed at my dad and saying something along the lines of ‘this isn’t how real bands make it.’ With that said, I’m so incredibly grateful that he did and, at the end of the day, who gives a fuck how your music is heard? It’s just important that it gets heard. We’re not very social guys, so I don’t think our music would have really had a chance of getting out there without something like this happening. Now, I’m really proud of this achievement. The admirable thing about the Slaight competition is that it’s not some bullshit popularity contest. There’s no online voting or any nonsense like that. We’re really happy to be involved with the Slaight Music family. They’re great people that just really care about music. Unlike most labels, they aren’t just looking for some inflated, hyped–up buzz band that spells their name with silent V’s to capitalize off of. They’re just looking for bands and artists with great songs that the rest of the country needs to be aware of.”
Produced by TBF, mixed by Tom Lord–Alge, and mastered by Bob Ludwig, the recordings the Wirth brothers meticulously crafted is ready for radio and video play. Cartographers’ title track has already received consistent rotation on MUCH Loud (and a new video is in the works for “If I Could Fix You (You Know That I Would)) capturing the attention of a new breed of power pop fans that want a little meat in their lyrics. While more people are taking more note of these brash young rockers, Thought Beneath Film are ready to put their music where their mouths are with plans for a very special showcase at the official hometown release for Cartographers.
“Overall, the album is really explorative and deals with questioning everything,” reasons Brent. “The majority of the songs were written shortly after I finished university. I’ve always known that I was meant to be a musician, but I really had no direction to my life beyond that simple idea. I feel like I really figured out exactly who I am and what I want to do while writing this album. Cartographers are mapmakers and the metaphor that I’m playing off of is that we’re all essentially making maps for our own lives. I feel like culture spoon–feeds us a prescribed narrative that we’re all expected to play into and it’s such bullshit. No one should dictate your life and put a ceiling over your ambitions.
“We’re anticipating the hometown CD release show to be the most important show that we’ve played up to this point,” adds Brent. “Much like the album itself, we've really been searching to find ourselves over the past few years and I think through completing Cartographers we did. Our second full–length album is already written and pre–production demos have already been recorded. This show is going to be the first time we debut the new material, which is a drastic departure from our previous work. Beyond that, we have a lot of special things planned for the night. We’re going to be playing an extended set of 14 or 15 songs that will feature a variety of cameos. We even have a string quartet, comprised of some of our friends from the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra coming out to accompany us on a handful of songs. It’s going to be grandiose and epic: a true spectacle. I think going to a show and watching four guys clunk out some rock songs for 30 minutes has become stale to a lot of people. It’s definitely become stale to us and it’s not something that we want to continue to do. Our new mandate is to make every show an event: something truly special. And this show will be a declaration of that notion and a taste of things to come. Despite the stigma that seems to exist in this country around admitting it; we want to be the biggest fucking band in the world.”
Thought Beneath Film plays this Friday April 18 at the Casbah with Dirty Jeans and Gentlemen Spectres. Doors for the all ages/licensed event are at 8pm and $10 gets you in. Click on thoughtbeneathfilm.ca
Mother Tareka and the Greezy Steez
Syrian raised multi–instrumentalist and emcee Mother Tareka (otherwise known as Tarek Ajak) first performed saxophone and flute in jazz groups in high school but developed a taste for socially aware hip hop during university. Mother Tareka has added a distinct vibrancy and vitality to the locally hip hop scene with a couple of releases both solo and with the Unidentified Funky Objects project. But with his latest outing, Tareka decided he wanted to create a full band sound that harkened back to some of his earliest influences.
“I formed Mother Tareka and the Greezy Steez because I wanted to create a unique musical and lyrical experience,” explains Tareka. “I wanted to really hone in on intently radical, anti–misogyny, anarchist–inspired lyricism blended with a 1973 ‘greezy’ raw funk sound — the stuff that hip hop sampled in its golden era, orchestrated live. I connected with locals the Altobeelays, Haolin Munk, DJ LP, and my long time Peak Soil UFOs collaborator drummer and activist friend Drop D (aka David Prychitka). We really wanted to work with peeps that get the vision and urgency in my music, and we found just that. It’s also a dream team of all–star musicians that heard that I was forming a band and threw their hats in.
With Mother Tareka (emcee, flute, tenor sax), Drop D (drums), Scotty Mac (guitar), Tom Altobelli (bass), DJ LP (turntables and SP404 sampler), Connor Bennett (tenor sax), Aaron Hutchinson (trumpet), Chelsea Cox and Keisha Neoma-Quinn (violins), the Greezy Steez offer a thick dirty soulful funk sound inspired by artists like Aretha Franklin, The Meters, James Brown, Herbie Hancock, Curtis Mayfield, and more on their new In The Key Of The So-Called Free EP.
“The band’s vision is fusing uplifting vibes and nuanced lyrics to make empowering tracks celebrating marginalized voices,” says Tareka. “It’s a sonic big up to gender refugees, to the environmentalist activists putting themselves on the line to protect watersheds, and also a way to give you my own immigrant point of view on the excess that defines North American and European culture.
“It’s an invitation for the general dissident public to ‘upgrade their steez’ if you will, and really recognize how globally governments have do more damage than good, and have always served the interests of the rich and to act upon that, too — to re–evaluate our this so–called freedom entrenched in interlocking layers of oppression,” adds Tareka. “That and an invite to have a cathartic fun time decolonizing your body and mind. The general message of this EP is to reclaim your autonomy, recognize the ways your freedom is limited, your role in maintaining Western neo–imperialism. This music asks you to stop idolizing the fist that beats you, to call out the police as thugs serving the interest of the dominant elites. Our music is a gateway into self–awareness and asking yourself where you stand and what you stand for.”
Mother Tareka and the Greezy Steez play this Saturday April 19 at Homegrown Hamilton with DJ Kojo Chintoh and secret guests. Doors open at 8pm and $7 gets you in, or $12 with EP. Click on mothertareka.com
Tribute to Joe Strummer
While some local tribute shows are short–lived, even after eleven years, the local tribute to Joe Strummer has perhaps never been stronger. Started shortly after the former Clash singer, guitarist and punk icon unexpectedly passed away by local musician Glen ‘the Hamilton Kid’ Faulman, dozens of performers and hundreds of fans come together each Easter weekend to remember an important musical influence. The words and music of Joe Strummer course through the veins of many and the recently expanded two–night affair shows little signs of slowing down with new additions every year.
‘Lucky’ Pete Lambert isn’t a native Hamiltonian but was introduced to the Strummer tribute some nine years ago. While he’s spent a life drumming for punk and cowpunk bands, Lambert has recently moved to Hamilton, helped to spearhead the Strummer tribute and even set up a new music school with Strummer in mind.
“I met Joe Strummer in the winter of ‘84 around the time when Gaz Mayall, son of blues giant, John Mayall was starting his label, Gaz’s Rockin’ Records,” recalls Lambert. “Gaz and I would eventually form the Trojans together in ‘86, but it was Joe who lent Gaz the money to start the label. They went on to form Clash Rockin Blues promotions and Joe had a hand in many events that I played at in various bands for a couple years. I always had a bit of self–imposed nervousness around him. Not by his fault but to me, Joe was the ultimate in cool, growing up and worshiping him from afar to standing in a circle sharing a joint with him or whatever. I have to say that he was one of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet and would go out of his way to make you feel like the important person in the room. I would never want to give the impression that Joe was my best buddy or anything, but we had many conversations and hung out quite a bit. I even spent Christmas Eve at his house in Somerset one year — very nice, indeed. He was a really generous of spirit kind of guy. Spending time with him only enhanced my opinion of him as a fan and a friend.
“My group, Kensington Hillbillys, first played at the Strummer tribute in ‘05 and then again every couple years after that,” adds Lambert. “Glen contacted me wanting some ideas on how to make the tenth anniversary a special one. Next year, Glen asked if I would like to take over. This year, I’ve done just about everything there is to do and feel confident that we’ll have another successful year.”
Strummer’s songs from the Clash, 101’ers, Mescaleros and solo offer a musically vibrant mix of alt–country, rockabilly, reggae, rock and punk in its many shades. Performers on Friday include the Garburators, Bob Bryden, Martin Verrall, Evil Eyes, Strummerelos, Sam Lawrence 5, Coctopuss, the Responsibles, Sid’s Kids (with Tom Wilson and Chris Houston) and DJ Kount Brockula. Performers on Saturday include Harlan Pepper, the Human Orchestra, the Kensington Hillbillies, London’s Burning, Sons of Dad, Paddy Skinner, the Hellbent Rockers, Porcupine Miner’s Club, Sam Lawrence 5, Maklaren and DJ Prince Bianco. Each night offers four non–stop hours of heartfelt renditions of some truly great songs and with a beneficiary that’s very much influenced by the philosophies of Strummer.
“For some time I’ve had the idea of opening a music center in the east end of Hamilton in the name of Joe Strummer so last year I met with Jamie Webb, who currently runs Strummerville, the charity started after Joes passing by Pockets and Joe’s widow, Lucinda,” explains Lambert. “He’s agreed to help me as best he can after explaining my vision to him and we have recently come up with a happy medium for a name for the center. It’ll be called Garageland, after the Clash song and Strummerville will be an official advocate and help when needed. For instance, he has sent me some official Strummerville merch, which I will auction off and put the money toward the school, which will be a not–for–profit business. They will help and be involved along the way, but the idea of using Joe’s name or Strummerville in the title was deemed a little too complicated. But the very foundation of what I want to do with the school is giving back to and being a part of the community and that, I know for certain, is what Joe was all about. I want to pay tribute to him and his influence on my life by opening this, what I think of as, a community center and helping under–privileged kids learn how to play an instrument and give them a creative outlet without their families having to take out a second mortgage to afford the lessons.”
“In policy, it’s gone from strictly no repeats of any songs to ‘what’s your interpretation sound like?’ so I really love the diversity of the acts on each night,” says Lambert on programming the bands. “Since the tribute has been going for so long, some of the original bands that have been playing there all that time are still playing, but there is a new generation coming up that are also Clash and Joe Strummer fans. I’m really pumped about this new blood coming in. Friday night has always been the busiest night because those who survive the first night may not be in great shape for the next night’s merriment but it’s their loss, because Saturday night’s going to awesome this year. Both nights are well worth attending.” V
Steel City Rockers Tribute to Joe Strummer happens this Friday April 18 and Saturday April 19 at This Ain’t Hollywood. Doors open at 9pm. Click on thisainthollywood.ca