Pat Skinner stars in Fast Food Love: The Musical
One of the most interesting inclusions in this week’s Fringe Festival of theatre is an extraordinary musical featuring a local rocker in the lead role.
Pat Skinner was born with rock and roll blood in his family – his uncle Steve Skinner formed the band Slander in the ‘80s with Chris Crash and Ray Farrugia – and it wasn’t long before Pat took up music himself. After cutting his chops in Hamilton, Skinner moved to Toronto for a change of scenery and found home with the Red Light Rippers from 2003 to 2007 with the last incarnation featuring Dan Casale on drums, Stephane DeBernardi on bass and Stacy Rat on guitar making that band three–quarters Hamilton boys.
“I first started singing in punk and metal bands when I was fifteen and I slowly learned to not suck at it,” recalls Skinner. “I joined the Red Light Rippers and that really assured me that I had to be a singer on the stage. We got signed to a UK record label and got to tour with the UK Subs and my buddy Glen Matlock from the Sex Pistols. I needed to get out and I moved to Toronto but then you come back and you love it that much more. I needed to get back to my roots. It was more affordable here and I started a family. I was glad I came back because I found my community. Hamilton is my community and now as part of Fringe, I’ve found a whole new community.”
Back in Hamilton, Skinner joined the Garburators and even began projects with Chris Crash but when he was looking for a guitarist online to join the band he had with Talli Osborne, Love Dumpster, he found that whole new community with an open call for Fast Food Love: The Musical.
“We had a pretty decent band going but I felt we needed a second guitarist so I was on Kijiji.com in the musicians’ classifieds and I saw an ad for an open casting call for a musical for people who don’t like musicals,” remembers Skinner. “I thought that was pretty funny and I’ve always enjoyed musical theatre almost like a guilty pleasure so this seemed like something I wanted to try just because. I’ve acted in music videos before so I thought, ‘what the hell?’
“They gave me a list of characters to audition for and Fast Food Love is full of hilarious characters,” adds the singer. “Two in particular; a perverted fry cook and a stoner best friend of the manager I wanted to audition for because I thought they were hilarious and they were supporting roles so I felt a little less intimidated. When I auditioned, they asked me to read for the lead role. I laughed so hard when I read the piece they gave me but I must have nailed it because they called me back a week later and offered me the lead role.”
Written and directed by Hamiltonian Carly Popenko with music composed by Mercedes Moffatt and TJ Stevenson, Fast Food Love’s plot centers around Steve, the videogame–obsessed manager of the fast food restaurant, Chicken’s Hit Wings and Skinner so gravitated to the role, it was like he was born for to play this role perhaps.
“I’m really bringing it for this role,” notes Skinner. “It’s this character’s proudest moment ever to be this manager. I love my job but when I find out my star employee quits, I hire a vegetarian off the street that I fall in love with but realize that the independent restaurant is closing its doors at the end of the summer so I have to do everything in my power to keep this business open because it is everything to me. One funny thing happens after another and I just love this play because it is so funny. The songs are awesome and hilarious. They’re punchy and quick so it’s kind of like a mock rock opera and I describe it to people by saying I feel like I’m Jack Black singing Queen songs. It’s way more Rocky Horror than Sound of Music. It is just so much fun.”
While his rock band is on hiatus, Skinner is thrilled to be part of another creative community and expanding his resume and network of creative friends. The worlds of indie rock and theatre meld in this special production that Skinner believes anyone will appreciate.
“I’m so lucky because the cast and crew and Carly, the writer/director, especially is super talented and fun to work with,” says Skinner. “We are rehearsing for ten hours a week now and we just laugh so hard at every rehearsal. It’s been such an awesome experience; I kind of feel like I’ve found my thing or maybe I’m just working with the right people. They’re all such funny great people.
“I’m telling all of my friends that don’t normally go to local theatre to see this play,” adds Skinner. “No matter what, you’re going to have a clucking good time. Spend a few bucks and see some live entertainment, have a few drinks, and you’ll leave talking about this play. That’s how good it is. It is so off–kilter and ridiculous. Everyone will laugh their heads off and I get to make a big ass of myself and I love doing it.”
Fast Food Love: The Musical! happens Friday July 18 (10:30pm), Saturday July 19 (6pm) and Sunday July 20 (6:30pm) and through July 26 as part of the 2014 Hamilton Fringe Theatre Festival at the Citadel Theatre (28 Rebecca Street) Tickets are $10 at the door ($4 Hamilton Fringe Backer Button required). Click on bigbangcompany.wordpress.com
Astrid Young’s One Night At Giant Rock
Musician, composer, author, screenwriter, actor and wine expert, Astrid Young could sit and talk at length on a myriad of subjects although her family affairs are usually first broached in interviews. Daughter to famed Canadian author Scott Young and sister to musician Neil Young, Astrid has three decades of musical stories that touch upon the likes of Johnny Cash and Heart’s Nancy Wilson, the Gogos’ Jane Wiedlin and Kiss aficionados will want to know about Bob and Bruce Kulick. But for me, it was her affiliations with the likes of Tom Wilson, Bob Lanois and Kim Koren that were more intriguing. Young has developed a strong relationship with Hamilton, particularly since marrying drummer and Hamilton native Ray Farrugia, and she brings her long awaited new collection of songs to debut in Hamilton with a lot of family in tow.
Young began works on her third solo effort nearly a decade ago in Hamilton, finally enlisting Violent Femmes drummer Victor DeLorenzo to finish the production for the project. What began as an homage to a mythical object called the Integratron, has now ended up becoming Young’s new collection of songs dubbed, One Night At Giant Rock
“The Integratron is a structure in the Mohave desert just about two hours east of Los Angeles and it kind of looks like a short fat silo,” explains Young who originally was to use the name for this album but changed it due to copyright restrictions. “It was built by George Van Tassel back in the ‘40s. He claimed he was a UFO abductee and was given the plans for the Integratron from aliens. It was for human cell rejuvenation and time travel. He built this but passed away under mysterious circumstances before it was completed. I’ve been in it and it’s quite the weird little vortex of energy there. Two miles north of that and you’ll be at the Giant Rock.
“I’ve had a couple of experiences out there,” adds Young. “I saw a UFO once or twice. I’ve had some very strange experiences out there. I used to meditate quite a bit and I’m very in touch with the spiritual side of my brain. Spending a lot of time out there, it’s interesting if you’ve spent time, miles away from civilization and people, just miles of sand, rock, and Joshua trees. It gives you a certain peace and silence in your head until suddenly you get these tiny nano–glimpses of infinity or where you are in the universe. That happened for me around there and I ended up realizing everything we do, every right or left turn we take, every person we bump into in the checkout line at the grocery store; each one of those people have the potential to change your life for better or for worse, significantly or insignificantly but you never know when that moment will change your life. You have to treat everyone and everything with care because you never know how they are affecting you and you are affecting them. I’m using the Integratron, the desert and Giant Rock as my imagery for my spiritual discovery. I’m using that to illustrate the karmic stuff.”
Karma and cosmic, Young’s mystical journey of the past decade is documented in song on One Night At Giant Rock.
“I started working on this album in 2005,” notes Young. “The first song was “Integratron” recorded with Bob Lanois at the Shack in Hamilton. I had every intention of continuing doing the record with Bob but shortly after we recorded that song, my father passed away. Them my mother passed away six months later. It put a lot of my creative pursuits on hold for quite some time. It took me a long time to crawl out of that hole and once I did, I had to force myself to get out there and start playing again and pick up work on the record again. That was when I met Ray [Farrugia] – when I started working on the record again in earnest. I was doing some writing with Tom [Wilson] and he was telling me about the new band he’d put together, Lee Harvey Osmond, and that I should come down and see them. I went to see them at the Dakota in Toronto, sat in, and sang a song with Tom and that was it; Ray was all over me like white on rice. He was so sweet and very persistent. In the first six months of knowing him, I think he gave me his number two or three times but I never called him. And then one thing lead to another and he’s just great and he loves me so much. We laugh a lot and he’s an amazing drummer so that doesn’t hurt either.”
Back in 2009, Young would live in Hamilton for a few years until she and Farrugia married on October 1 2011. They’ve since moved just outside of Picton but retain their connections to the Hammer. When Young returns to perform here, she brings a lot of family and extended family making for a very familiar if not familial event for the Hamilton debut of One Night At Giant Rock.
“I’m bringing Victor DeLorenzo and Ray so I’m actually going to have two drummers, which is going to be a lot of fun. My cousin, Matthew Davies is going to be playing guitar, and another Hamilton guy, Matt King, is going to be playing guitar and bass also. I’ve been playing with Matt on and off for many years. And then I trade off guitar, twelve–string, bass and Kim Koren is going to come down to sing with me as well. She did a lot of backgrounds on the record, too. It’s psychedelic acid folk. In this world, we all seem to need to be able to label things and I think it’s a pretty decently apropos label and every show is always intimate and interactive with me. We’ll be doing a meet and greet before the show so if anyone wants to sign up for that, just go to my website.
“I like to think of it as a family affair – I love Hamilton and I hope it loves me, too,” laughs Young. “I have always had a connection. After living in Hamilton for a couple of years, it feels really natural to be there if you’re a musician.”
Astrid Young plays on Thursday July 24 at This Ain’t Hollywood with Monkey Fighting Snakes and Thompson Wilson. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Click on astridyoung.net
No King For Countrymen’s Sick And Tired
David Lindsay (vocals, guitar), Kyle Bell (drums) and Mark Morelli (bass) had already grown up on local stages when they came together as No King For Countrymen. With their latest CD in hand, Sick and Tired, the band is poised to become one of the city’s, and maybe one of the country’s, stand out up and comers.
“We've been a band for 3 years now but 2014 really feels like a new start for us,” offers Lindsay. “We stopped trying to juggle other band, life and priorities and really give the band the attention it deserves. And it shows that the more we put into ourselves, others start to believe in us too. I think we finally feel like everything lines up: we're all great friends, we believe in the music, we have a record we can stand behind, a solid live show and undying determination. That's all that really matters, the rest will follow in time.”
With a punchy and powerful collection of songs, NKFC offer contemporary touchstones like Hollerado, Said The Whale, Pup and even Hamilton’s the Reason to their sound but their influences dig deeper.
“We’re definitely into The Reason as well as Alberta’s Ten Second Epic who have certainly influenced our sound. In terms of earlier influences, we’re all into bands like Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday and Blink–182,” notes Lindsay. “Growing up in the early 2000's, those sorts of alternative/ punk bands are what got us into music and have stuck with us all these years. There’s a lot of great bands in Hamilton and we’re still discovering more and more all the time. We’ve had the pleasure of playing many shows with bands like Black Rhino Riot and Rifkin and have made many friends in other locals like Small Town Get Up, Wild Night, Gentlemen Spectres, Born Wrong, Fighting Season and the list goes on. For a long time, we were somewhat sceptical about the music scene in Hamilton but soon learned that once you really start reaching out and supporting local talent, others reciprocate and the music scene thrives; that’s how it works. And Hamilton really does have a lot going on musically if you look in the right places. We wanted [our recording] to sound like a lot of our favourite records. We like for things to sound huge and very in–your–face; we’re not to be mistaken as background music. We certainly achieved the desired result.”
Recorded at Winona’s Tapehead Records and mastered by Noah Mintz, Sick and Tired bristles with energy but the break neck speeds don’t detract from the pop sensibilities Lindsay and company put into their songs. It’s power pop with a definite indie bent but categorization of NKFC has already proven to be difficult.
“The genre debate is ridiculous these days and I'm convinced no band really knows what genre they are,” argues Lindsay. “We call it rock but it's more alternative than a straight up rock band like Monster Truck. If we call it indie, we end up playing with Arcade Fire knockoffs. We’re not punk enough and too poppy to be emo so we’re sick of trying to fit in; we’re a rock band.
“Our nightmare is being a boring band,” confides Lindsay on their stage performance. “I think we take the description of loud and in–your–face very seriously and that’s how we come off on stage. Yeah, it’s hot, sweaty, and a little crazy. We like to be sure we put on a show and even everyone in the room doesn’t like the music, the worst they can say is, ‘they were really loud’.”
No King For Countrymen play this Saturday July 19 at the Casbah. The show starts at 9:00PM and cover is $10. Click on http://nokingforcountrymen.bandcamp.com