London Tonight; Toronto Last Week

This is the second attempt to finish this post. Yesterday, at the Rough Trade store in Brick Lane, the internet connection just did not approve. I tried two different computers and had a very witty and well written first paragraph suddenly disappear. It was much better than this first paragraph.

We are in London and play Porchester Hall tonight. With the help of alternating pints of beer and double macchiatos, we have conquered the jet lag and I’ve been waking up feeling very well-rested and normal. Adjusting when we get back home is going to be rough. I’ve found that staying incredibly busy – as we have been, having completed an 8-hour press day yesterday, followed by an in-store performance – doesn’t allow for any fading away or moments of exhaustion. You just go, do things, do interviews, do acoustic shows. The secret (apart from the pints/coffee equation)? Drink lots of water.

You can listen here to our BBC 6 Hub session with George Lamb (this link expires in a week).

Seven days ago, we were in Toronto. Murray and I did a TV interview with MTV, and I realised during that my socks were not exactly matched. While both black, one was slightly more faded and had a textured stripe through it. I was kind of embarrassed and I don’t know if you can see but I am always touching my ankles while seated, self-conscious as the odd socks peeked out.

That was before our Thursday night Toronto show. It went well enough, but while we were playing, the venue was having their liquor license revoked. There was an odd energy in the air: between that and our nerves playing out. After a post-show sing-a-long (which seems to be our new favourite backstage pastime) we all went for Guinness pints and street meat/veggie dogs.

Although we got home after 2AM, Murray and I had to be at the CBC for 8AM Friday morning. We did Q with Jian Gomeshi: catch the podcast here. We had a 10-hour press day – literally Murray did not finish until 6PM. It was exhausting and exhilarating, and I brought Neptune by for part of the day just so we could see her.

We had time for a cat nap before heading back to the venue. Friday night’s Toronto show was incredible. The audience was great and I don’t know what it was but it was our best show yet. Murray said it may have been the best Dears show in history. The songs were near perfect…we were just gelling on stage, having fun and being into it. It’s incredible: new beginnings, new beginnings (joke for McCarron).

Only Interesting to Canadians: Federal Election Blog

This headline warranted a double eye roll: Pro-soverignty Protesters Target Justin Trudeau. Why the double eye roll, you ask? Because that’s the proper way a Canadian is to react to political activism. Papineau is our riding, so I met the young Trudeau at a neighbourhood picnic a few months ago. Well, I kind of just shook his hand since it caught me a little off guard. I was thinking about how many chips Neptune was eating and the suddenly I’m shaking hands with Canada’s “rock star” candidate. Most Americans know very, very little about Canada, let alone Canada’s politicians. But they know about Pierre Trudeau. I grew up with Chretien in office, and even though his spoken English was thickly accented, he still owned it. Fierce. Charming. Laughable. Quintessentially Canadian.

We can only hope that Stephane Dion gets drunk in public sometime soon, or, as I heard Grant Lawrence note on the CBC radio today, “gets contact lenses.” Anything to spice things up. Canadian politics is just so boring. Stephen Harper is Mr. Snoozeville himself. He also hates the environment AND loathes the arts. It’s embarrassing.

So only a few days after turning down playing at an NDP rally (because why should non-political music be aligned politically?), Dan Seligman of Pop Montreal fame emails us the following poster for our show:

I rolled my eyes (appropriately) but was perplexed: what should I think of this? The irony works on so many levels, and the posters would go up near the venue which falls in Stephane Dion’s home riding. Dan’s logic was: “Maybe we’ll get sued.” Classically hilarious.

So let’s bring it down a little, and close it out with a something educational: Oldest Rocks in the World are in Quebec. ‘Nuff said.

Don’t Steal This

In response to my blog post Playing the Record for People, CBC Radio 3 got in touch with me to talk about our approach to music listening. You can listen to the interview here, and comment, if you like, about the sad state of today’s deluded music industry.

Also, in the media, Mange ta ville on ARTv is showing a rerun of the episode “L’espace temps” that includes a performance we recorded for them. It’s showing tonight (May 21st) at 18h00 (which is in like ten minutes). Moderately interesting. Mildly entertaining.

Art Showdown: Cooking vs. Music

This past Tuesday, after the second big snowfall, I insisted that Murray accompany me to Ikea. Trips to Ikea must always be planned thoroughly: the day of the week and time of day must be carefully selected, otherwise the place is too crowded and I can’t stand being in crowded places. Our time at Ikea was, as usual, slightly satisfying but completely forgettable. At any rate, there was still tons and tons of snow on the roads, and the usually short drive home took nearly an hour.

When driving, and especially when stuck in traffic, Murray likes to listen to the CBC; he says it means he’s an adult now, and I would tend to agree, but would expand the definition to him being a “true Canadian adult.” Anyhow, Q was on, and our good friend Jian Gomeshi was interviewing a dude named Jonah Lehrer. Lehrer is the author of the recently published Proust was a Neuroscientist, a book that “…explores the oft-overlooked places in literary history where novelists, poets and the occasional cookbook writer predicted scientific breakthroughs with their artistic insights1.” . Further exploration of Mr. Lehrer’s blog immediatley reminded me that I’m not nearly smrt smart enough to dedicate myself to such a read, and while the Q interview and other reviews have peaked my interest, I’m just too impatient to collect all the facts…or perhaps I am without the desire to be 100%, fully informed, but why should I, when 79% has always worked so well?

The conversation between interviewer and interviewee took a slight tangent to cooking, where they discussed the science of cooking and the innovations of Auguste Escoffier, including the deglazing technique. At any rate, it all got me to thinking about cooking, and how the more simplistic and “old-fashioned” you cook, the “better” your food is considered. Like how some people freak out if you cut a pie crust in a stand mixer, or even with a pastry cutter: they insist that if executed properly, using your hands results in a better crust. So then why, in cooking, as an artistic form, is it better to be traditional and, dare I say, boring, where as in music, boringness and being labelled as “derivative” promises a fate worse than death? Why is a well made apple pie awlays amazing, and Jet so absolutely horrible?

That’s really harsh and I apologise but I’m trying to make a point. Do I? I’m not sure but the idea kept me awake last night and I coulnd’t fall asleep until I jotted it down. Music is so incredible and powerful and in my rummaging through the smart bits of the internet I read about Oliver Sacks, another brainy dude. Anyhow, he recenlty published a book called Musicophilia which outlines the immense and innate powers music has on the human body. And if my assumptions might, for a second, be validated, Sacks suggests that the physiological and psychological effects of music on people are deeply connected. Or as he says: “humans are a musical species.”

Bottom line? Don’t deny undeniable music. It’s essentially inhuman to be hateful of music that speaks to you. Being a discerning and critical music listener makes you a better person, and being improperly swayed by poorly written songs makes you, well, inferior? Um…yeah, maybe.

Listen to the Q Podcast here: Q: Dcember 18th

1 Publisher’s Weekly: Nonfiction Reviews: Week of 6/11/2007