The new WP record is officially in the can! Details are to follow, but I can confirm that it’s a five-song EP called Old Dreams; it’s once again produced by Murray Lightburn and features longtime WP pals Stacey DeWolfe, Chilly Gonzales, Steve Raegele and my brother Nick Fraser; it will be released this fall in a (very) limited edition 10″ vinyl as well as on all digital platforms, and we will be doing some shows for the release.
2017 was the first year that I didn’t do any WP shows since 1999, or in other words, in the entire history of the WP. That feels strange. However, I did stay busy with music.
Working with producer Murray Lightburn for the third time, I recorded five new songs. They sound pretty different than anything I’ve done so far, so I’m curious to see what people will think. Murray and I did most of the music ourselves, Stacey sings on a bunch of tracks, and longtime WP cohorts Chilly Gonzales, Steve Raegele and my brother Nick Fraser all make appearances. These tunes will be released in some form in 2018, and the WP will get back on the road.
The other thing that kept me busy was the 30th anniversary tour of the Permanent Stains, the band I’ve been in since junior high school. We released an updated edition of our autobiography, Let’s Get Greasy, and did five shows in Ontario and Quebec. The tour was probably one of my favourite experiences ever. In our heyday we were notorious for being theatrical and confrontational but not very good—but today, with half the band being full-time pro musicians, I knew we could make an impact musically as well as theatrically. Some may be surprised by this, due to my reputation for haphazard sloppiness, but I actually have very high standards both for the WP and the Stains: I want to blow people’s minds. And if I may say so, I think we accomplished that this summer. But don’t take it from me…
Some of the shows were mostly for old friends, which was fun, but when we played in North Bay and Peterborough, the audience was all young people rocking out, which was super energizing. We also got to play with a bunch of really cool bands and artists, including old friends like garbageface, Broken Puppy and Just Like the Movies, but also new (or new to us) artists like Ugly Cry, Eliza Kavtion, Gamma Scum, Like a Girl, Coastal Pigs, Worn Robot and Lonely Parade. The tour was full of friendship, hysterical laughter and ridiculous stunts both onstage and off. To be able to spend that time with the band—my brother and a bunch of my closest friends—and to pull off our absurdist spectacle so successfully, was really like an adolescent fantasy come true, and I hope to work with the Stains again before too long.
While I was on the road with the Stains, I was contacted to host a panel discussion at Pop Montreal with recently reunited 90s band Royal Trux. I was familiar, if not intimate, with their music, but I was curious (and flattered) enough to say yes. Starting at that moment and continuing up until minutes before the panel, people from my close friends to the highest ranks of Pop authority warned me that the band were notoriously difficult. I figured I had to get my Nardwuar on and do scrupulous research in order to not be publicly humiliated.
In the end, the research paid off and/or the band’s difficulty was greatly exaggerated, but it was a pretty great experience—they were just funny, smart, very candid people. In addition to a nominal fee I got a festival pass out of it, which was great. I saw a number of shows, including nostalgic classic album run-throughs by pals The Dears and Besnard Lakes, a great set by Carodiario which also was apparently Maica’s last under that moniker, and a rager by the Trux themselves. The best was a NYC rapper named Quay Dash. I was on my way home from another show when I ran into my friend Roxanne aka Donzelle, who urged me to join her, and I’m so glad I did. True hip-hop, raw and real, like I hadn’t seen onstage in years.
Anyway, I’m excited to share my new music and to get performing again. Thanks for reading, and I hope to be seeing you soon!
I recently uploaded the WP’s 2008 album Hard Feelings to our Bandcamp page.
I started recording this collection of music in 2005 at the Breakglass Studio. It was completed over the next few years in fits and starts whenever I could afford to go into the studio. It was a very fun, productive series of sessions. Jace and Dave had really stepped up their studio since the Enablerdays and there was a lot of gear to work with. Our motto was “over the top.”
I initially intended it to be a series of EPs (starting with Lost Illusions which came out in ’06). And as much as I hate to use the past conditional, I probably should have. I started to get impatient with my label at the time and decided to release it as a full album, even though there are (at least) three distinct musical vibes going on that don’t always fit together.
There’s a kind of “soft rock” angle (heavily influenced by longtime WP cohort Steve Raegele)…
…a few tunes that were recorded live off the floor with the all-girl synth rock version of the WP, trying to capture our live sound at the time:
and a handful of tracks in the classic WP casio rock anthem style that we really took a lot of care to produce well, including audience faves like the title track, “Volunteers” and “Valentine” (featuring Feist), which remains the WP’s greatest hit to date for some mysterious reason.
At one point there was a fairly big American indie label that seemed to be interested in releasing it. A bunch of my friends were experiencing success at that time and I allowed myself to get a little cocky that the same might happen to me. I was setting myself up for a humbling and I got one, one that continues to this day.
But I don’t want to dwell on the failings of Hard Feelings because ultimately, I think it’s a good collection that has a lot of the WP’s best songs. As a bonus for this reissue, I threw in two tunes from Lost Illusions, long since unavailable elsewhere—“Soft Rocks” and “Creativity is Wonderful”—that happen to be some of my personal faves.
The album also has a really good package, designed by Todd Stewart and featuring original artwork by Dawn Boyd, Matt Collins, Julia Kennedy, Billy Mavreas and Joe Ollman, along with a bunch of jokes and puzzles. I was really going for a “post-CD” kind of experience, though we ended up pressing some CDs under pressure from the distributor (who since went bankrupt… but that’s a whole other story).
Whether you’re revisiting it or listening for the first time, I hope you enjoy it.
Nearly 10 years after the fact (UPDATE: actually only five years; clearly I have lost track of time), Spiral Stairs of Pavement discovered our cover of “Kennel District” and expressed his slackadaisical approval on Twitter. I was tickled.
That’d be our performance at Waterloo’s Starlight club in 2007 or 2008:
I recently found out that MySpace relaunched their latest version, but erased all the content on everyone’s pages except the music and profile picture. I found that pretty annoying. Like most people I stopped using MySpace a while ago, but I did have a bunch of blog posts up there from before this site was blog-enabled. There also used to be, some time ago, a database of all the past shows I’d done, which was helpful for the historical record. It would have been nice to at least have been notified (though, would I have opened an email from MySpace?). Oh well! I guess the bigger question is, is there any point whatsoever in updating the existing music or info on MySpace?
Through a friend I found this link to a rant about the state of the music business by a musician named James Brooks. I’m not familiar with his work, or to any of the people he refers to, but I thought it summed up the situation quite well.
Finally, I recently demoed a bunch of new WP tunes. I’m pretty stoked about getting back on the horse, releasing some new music and doing a bunch of shows for 2014. Does that seem far off? It’ll be here before we know it!
I’m happy to announce the launch of the debut recordings of my new band, Lion Farm. You can listen to the four tracks on our Bandcamp page, and download them if you so desire.
Lion Farm is the latest chapter in the long collaboration between me and Mike Foxxx, who people from back in the day in Toronto will remember as the mastermind of my old bands Rock ‘n’ Roll Bad Boy XXXpress and Seventy Whore. WP cohorts Stacey DeWolfe and Steve Raegele are also on board.
A few people have asked me whether this means that the WP is no more. For the record, the WP is not finished or even that fashionable, nebulous term “on hiatus.” Obviously, when Lion Farm is active, other projects will have to go on a side burner (especially ones with such a large overlap in band members!). But I am still writing songs and scheming up plans for the WP.
Have a listen at our page, and hope you like it. I am going to avoid cross-marketing with WP fans from here on in, so if you would like to keep up with Lion Farm, you can sign up on our Facebook page or get on our mailing list by emailing lionfarm666 @ gmail.com.