Kevin Braiser is a name many of you may know. He's played in a couple of the most noted bands in the city over the past few years - winning multiple 'Album of the Year' nods. Now he's set up shop in Sackville studying as he always had and playing music. But faster. Folk leanings to Punk stylings our buddy Brasier breezes back into town this weekend for two shows with his band Yellowteeth. Friday at APK on a stellar bill with Odonis Odonis, the Syndrome, and Town Ship. And Saturday for an afternoon Sackville Punk show at Hot Dog. Kevin is a keen obsever and eloquent speaker and I always enjoy our talks...
Mike Bot: You arrived a couple years ago in Sackville and from what you've told me things have changed quite a bit in the music scene...
I was lucky enough to go to SappyFest within the first couple weeks of moving to Sackville. It ruled, but then when the fall started up I noticed the local scene wasn't doing anything close to what I witnessed at Sappy. We obviously had our staple musicians like Baby Eagle, Shotgun Jimmy and Fred Squire, but the college scene was lacking something. Mind you, they were great performers and good friends, but they were doing the folky-songwriter thing, which isn't anything I can really get too excited about. The Noisehounds (members of Astral Gunk) were around, but were doing more of a bluesy thing.
Starting last summer we gained access to a shed next to George's Roadhouse that we all used as a jamspace. That's when things started to take a turn. Yellowteeth formed that summer, and so did the Mouthbreathers, who we're on tour with (playing Hot Dog the day after the APK show). Astral Gunk started up in September once Joe Chamandy moved to Sackville from Montreal. The Noisehounds were getting a lot faster and more punk rock, and in late September, Josee, Lucy (from Mouthbreathers), and I started a hardcore band called Go Get Fucked. It wasn't until CHMA's Stereophonic winter music festival that we realized we completely outnumbered the folksy acts and were really starting fuck shit up. Now its a year later and Sackville has done this total 180 - Sackville is punk rock town!
Tell me a little about your band Yellowteeth that you're playing with here in London?
Yellowteeth formed last summer with just Nic Wilson and Josee Caron doing a drum / guitar thing. Evan Matthews, who plays in a lot of Sackville bands, was then added to the fold. They started playing house shows and built up a pretty good cred for being the hardest sounding band in town. Their breakout show was at the Stereophonic music festival. Everyone was blown away, including all the out of town bands from around the Maritimes. I recorded their EP shortly after that, and joined the band as a full-time member in April. Now that I'm on bass Nic has a lot of room to explore creative possibilities with guitar and keyboard and the sound is now really full.
Drummer Nic Wilson plays also in The Mouthbreathers and Go Get Fucked. He's also a really sweet visual artist.
Guitarist Josee Caron is from Summerside PEI, and last summer when she was 19 she played this thing called the Summerside Lobster Carnival Talent Competition. She shredded some Hendrix in front of 500 people, and nearly won. She's a guitar prodigy. She also plays in The Mouthbreathers and Go Get Fucked.
Evan Matthews plays in a lot of bands in Sackville, amazing drummer, super music nerd. Great guy. He's playing drums in Man Forever at SappyFest, which is a side project by the drummer from Oneida.
When we most recently convened a few weeks back you were in town managing Astral Gunk, a band that everybody who saw them loved them. Most of us devoted fans now. Astral Gunk is some next level, mind-bending, face-melting stuff. Tell us about the tour...
Touring with Astral Gunk ruled! Those guys are amazing. I recently got laid off from my job and had nothing to do so the day before their tour I asked if I could come on board as their tour manager and they were stoked about it. We did 16 shows in 16 days, most of them in southern Ontario. It was great seeing how well-recieved they were at all these gigs because it can be scary moving outside the comfort of Sackville, where all your friends come to the shows and are really supportive - because at the same time you're not sure if it's because the music is truly good or if they're just being supportive buds. The show we played at Brennan's with The Syndrome was definitely a highlight.
I have to also ask about the new Apollo Ghosts 'Landmark' album cover that your long time partner in crime 'Ace' Curti (pictured below) painted...
Not too sure where the idea came from for the collage, but she did it when she was living in Windsor. It had been around for a couple of years in our bathroom, and when Adrian (Teacher of Apollo Ghosts) was using our house as a jam space, he noticed it and asked if he could use it for their next album. Super cool that it worked out!
From here you'll be heading back to Sackville I assume? What's happening this year in Sackville for Sappyfest?
Sappy 7 is going to rule. There's more integration between the festival and the town, and the buzz from last year's Sappy has made things a lot easier. On the whole, it's a lot louder than previous years. Yamantaka-Sonic Titan, Oneida, Fucked Up, and Thee Silver Mt. Zion are some good examples of that (not to mention Yellowteeth, Astral Gunk, and the Mouthbreathers!!). There's something for everyone. Calvin Johnson is playing in the Chapel
...And here in London at the Sugar Shark on Thursday July 26th.
There's some good dance music from Southern Shores (Halifax). Canailles is a sick Jazz group from Toronto. Deloro (Jennifer Castle's new band) is playing which I'm really stoked about. Oh, and there's going to be a talk show at the movie theatre.
When you lived here in London you were a pretty active part of the local music scene. Coming back over the past couple months how have things changed do you think?
I was really young when I moved to London, I wasn't very aware of a lot of the local alternative acts when I was 18. I started a hardcore band called 'Get Down' when I was 20 and started to meet a lot of the punks and local acts that were in that scene. It kind of fell apart after the Embassy and the Wick were destroyed. After that I fell into the 33 Yale circle who were responsible for all the OH! stuff that was more active a few years back. I played in Olenka which was fun because they are all buds, but I was pretty frustrated being so young and having to play in a really reserved and tasteful way. When I play a show, or even see one, I want to go fucking nuts and participate in an atmosphere of total chaos. It's always strange backing up a musician who has a fully realized idea of what they want. We never jammed or wrote a song from scratch together, it was always just perfecting something Alex had in her mind already. After that I was in Handsome Dan which was similar in some ways but also very different. Like Alex, Dan would have the songs worked out ahead of time, but let us do whatever we wanted to add our personalities and influences to the tracks.
London has changed quite a bit since I've moved to Sackville. There's more room for louder local bands to breathe there now. I remember hearing TV Freaks and Single Mothers when I was in Sackville and thinking 'Holy shit, I wish they were around when I was living there.' The Indigenous Nudes are doing really good things too. I feel like you and Pam are also responsible for the positive changes that have been happening in London in the past year. Bringing some amazing acts in and are really close with the Weird Canada scene. And the record store rules and you're naturally good promoters because you guys actually care about the music you promote. I'm really psyched to see how things are shaping up in London. I love Sackville right now but I can see myself spending a year or so in the future back in London to get involved with the burgeoning alternative scene.
Thanks Budro, we'll see you Friday and Saturday.