Bad times, good reads

I only ever knew the Glen Campbell version of this song, which I love; the Toussaint original is quite beautiful as well.

As Clara-Swan, host of one of my favourite radio shows (Free Kick on CKUT) said on Sunday, “this was a bad week.” Starting with the deaths of Allen Toussaint and Motorhead’s Phil Taylor, and ending with the awful attacks in Beirut and Paris, it’s hard to argue.

We got to know the guys from Eagles of Death Metal a bit some years ago, when we opened for them and Peaches on two shows of their tour. We always say they were the nicest guys we’ve ever met in the music game, super friendly and supportive. So although the Paris attack would have been horrible no matter who was involved, having a personal connection like that really made it hit closer to home. My heart goes out to all the people who lost their lives, and to their loved ones. (Also, I won’t get into this, but if you’re one of those who think that the attacks in Paris got a disproportionate amount of attention or coverage, I highly recommend you check out this and this.)

But in the midst of all this tragedy, some stuff was published that you might have overlooked if you (like me) were caught up in world events.

First, I would be remiss in not mentioning that our song “Autumn Wheels” was declared a “song you need to hear” by Sean Michaels in the Globe and Mail. Needless to say, I was honoured by the kind words and flattered to be held in the company of the other artists mentioned.

Old friend Louise Philips‘ story “Panygere” was published on Columbia Journal.

Writer (and fellow veteran of the early-2000s synth rock scene in Montreal) Adam Gollner connected the dots between two of my favourite artistic genres, 19th-century French literature and early punk, for the New Yorker blog.

Finally, I was devastated earlier this year when Lee Towndrow, a longtime friend and WP collaborator, and his partner Amber Scorah lost their little son Karl. Amber wrote a powerful piece for the New York Times about the experience and the activism it inspired them to take on.

Here’s wishing the best for you reading this, wherever you are. I don’t have any solutions for the state of the world right now, except to try to be good to each other.

Musical happenings

We played two shows this summer after a relatively long period of dormancy. The shows were super fun. I want to give a big thank you to the promoters, the other artists we played with, and everyone who came out. These were the kind of shows that remind me why we do this crazy thing.

Our show at Pop Montreal was a little less triumphant. I don’t know if it was the bill of wildly disparate acts, or just the simple fact that it was a rainy Wednesday night at midnight, but we had trouble getting out a crowd. Having said that, the crowd we did get was of a high quality, with some old friends and some people who’d never seen the WP in action, and who liked what they saw.

Onstage, I had to internally repeat my mantra that it’s as important to give the same quality of show for a small crowd as a big one. I really believe that, but I sometimes feel like saying to festivals, and other promoters: if you put us in front of a big crowd ready to have fun, we will deliver. Repeatedly proven, that’s the WP guarantee.

WP live at Pop Montreal 2014, photo by Cindy Lopez via Cult MTL.
WP live at Pop Montreal 2014, photo by Cindy Lopez via Cult MTL.


Photo by Todd Stewart
Photo by Todd Stewart

I saw a number of other enjoyable shows at Pop this year, floating around ADD-style with the privilege of my artist’s pass, but the highlight didn’t happen until the final night of the fest.

On Sunday night I wandered downtown to see the Unicorns reunion. For anyone who missed it, these guys were a cornerstone of the whole “Montreal music scene” explosion (Arcade Fire’s first big US tour was opening for them)—or would have been, if they hadn’t broken up at the height of their fame.

The Unicorns and the WP shared the stage once in 2003, opening for our mutual hero Daniel Johnston. They were so new to the game that they were billed below me!
The Unicorns and the WP shared the stage once in 2003, opening for our mutual hero Daniel Johnston. They were so new to the game that they were billed below me! The poster is by Seripop.

I thought the show would be like a high school reunion, full of old-timers, but to my surprise it was mostly younger people who never had a chance to see the band back in the day. I was happy to see the guys get their due, but seeing them play songs from their only album, recorded when they were still teenagers, didn’t hold that much appeal to me. Maybe the past 10 years have gone by too quickly for me to feel nostalgia! I snuck out and biked up to Divan Orange to see Shonen Knife.

And man, am I glad I did. Their showmanship, energy and songs totally renewed my faith in rock n’ roll, as corny as it sounds. And I know everyone there felt the same way. It’s been years since I’ve seen a show where the room was so full of joy. When I think about it, it’s crazy that a band that’s been around for over 30 years, and that toured with Nirvana post-Nevermind among many other accomplishments, was playing such a small room. But what fun to be in that room.

Shonen Knife live at Divan Orange, photo by Krista Muir.
Shonen Knife live at Divan Orange, photo by Krista Muir.

Our next show is in Toronto on October 11, put on by our old friends at the Wavelength series. And our new single is coming very soon… stay tuned.

Oh, and one more plug: this Sunday, September 28, I’m super stoked and honoured to be co-hosting one of my favourite radio shows, Free Kick, on CKUT in Montreal. I’ll be digging deep into my collection for strange gems and hopefully previewing some new stuff by favourite artists. It’s from 11am-1pm on 90.3 FM in Montreal or