Punk/Rockabilly/Soul from Vancouver BC
Instruments: Bass, Vocals, Arranging, Knobs and Dials, Guitar details
[ Contact Info]
Past Shows (146)
Dropped out of SFU arts & film after hearing the Sex Pistols in 1978. Picked up a bass because it seemed like the easiest instrument to play & I tried playing music with a bunch of long haired losers. Came home from a depressing session having been expected to copy material by bands like Styx.
Walked in on my kid brothers playing a crappy Raven guitar, a battery operated mini piano & a drum set made from an old metal cashbox & a broken globe of the world. They were playing along to a record called "Funky Mama" by Lou Donaldson & they sounded a whole lot better than the long haired losers had with all of their expensive equipment.
So I started a band with my brothers. Went through a few singers in different incarnations that never saw the light of day, the most amusing of which was probably "Richard Rot & The Undead".
After about a year in the basement we finally played a live show as "The Acrylics" with a female singer named Rosemarie Swift. Our debut was at The Smilin' Buddha on Jan 11, 1980 backing up Popular Mechanix & Private School. Very soon thereafter we were offered the opening slot for The Ramones at The Commodore, which pissed off a lot of other local acts. The rumour was that our singer had slept with Norm Perry, of Perryscope Productions. We didn't care-it was a great gig!
We soon parted ways with Rosemarie & placed an ad in Quintessence Records for a singer. Karlin "Sex" was the only person who answered the ad (turns out he ripped it off the wall). "Insex" were born and we quickly played a number of shows around town with our new crazy singer. The most memorable of those early gigs was a showcase at Gary Taylor's Rock Room with Jayne County & The Electric Chairs, the afterparty of which involved a great deal of Gary Taylor's property being destroyed & one of us coming home in a gorilla suit.
Insex played around Vancouver for about three years, a lot of great shows with bands like Siouxie & The Banshees, Husker Du, our heroes The Stranglers & of course many gigs with DOA & The Subhumans, who were great supporters of young bands.
The finest hour for Insex was probably Hardcore '81. We were originally billed to play friday the 13th, the night Black Flag played. Our sworn enemies the Bludgeoned Pigs complained so bitterly to the organizer, Joey Shithead (we wern't "real punk") that he asked us if we'd mind taking a better spot on the next night. So we rocked the prime spot on Valentine's day & for a few months we seemed to be Vancouver's darlings. Insex did a short tour to San Fransisco, Sacramento & Reno & played in Edmonton later that year.
Insex had very little recorded output because we were so full of hubris we expected a record company to come along & foot the bill. Lesson learned: if you have good songs, get them recorded!
In 1982 we moved to England to make it big. The last thing England needed at the time was another punk band & we broke up after about 8 months of starvation & frustration.
I came back to Vancouver earlier than my other bandmates who were required to stay in England as they had run afoul of the law. The only person I had to play with was my youngest brother Bernie, who was also a bass player. He played a Rickenbacker through a Roland Jazz Chorus amp which gave him a unique, barking sound. When drummer Simon returned we formed an instrumental trio called "Danse Macabre". Two basses & drums. We were a hit at the druggy after hours parties. Paul returned & added keyboards to the sound. My girlfriend Madeleine Morris, who was singing with the up & coming electropop band Moev, decided to quit that band & join us.
Family Plot started gigging in 1983. We played a number of great shows with bands like Alien Sex Fiend, Love & Rockets, Butthole Surfers, Nina Hagen, Hunters & Collectors, No Means No & Wire. We recorded a cassette ep and a 12" album shortly before Madeleine left (after she & I split up).
We enlisted Naomi McLeod as singer & played with her for about a year before giving up in 1990.
For two years I didn't play live. Drummer Everett Raeburn & bernie joined Doug Andrews & formed Circus In Flames. My brother Paul & I recorded a wierd album of electronica that will never see the light of day.
At the 1992 Buzzcocks reunion at The Commodore I bumped into old friend Doug Liddle. We started playing together with brothers Paul & Simon, & eventually convinced another old friend, Spencer McKinnon to sing. "Swank" was born to absolutely no fanfare whatsoever.
Music was a struggle in the post Nirvana nineties. Few venues, small audiences & a general feeling of aimlessness in music.
Paul decided he was sick of playing keyboards. He picked up a guitar & only knew how to play bar chords so we had to play easy stuff. A wedding gig at a ranch was coming up so we learnt some Johnny Cash & Hank Williams songs. Everybody at that wedding danced so we decided we were on to something.
Our new direction was to sound like the Ramones doing Johnny Cash...
And not much has changed since! Swank have released three albums & one ep, played countless shows in Vancouver & travelled to Europe twice. Paul eventually left the band (to operate a floating convenience store on Shuswap lake!) & was replaced by the extremely talented David Badanic on guitar.
We have expanded our musicianship with guitarist Doug taking up banjo & lap steel, & myself learning to play upright bass. Our singer Spencer has also taken up guitar which has greatly increased our output of new material.
Swank are planning a fourth album in 2010.
I have also been involved in an electrop project called Miss Mercury in the last year, working with backing tracks & drum loops which has been a valuable experience. I am also a member of The Manglers, Canada's only Stranglers tribute band.
Recently I was asked to join one of Vancouver's original rockabilly acts, The Nervous Fellas, & we played our first gig together on New Year's Eve. I'm looking forward to playing many more great shows with these talented people in the coming years.
|The Nervous Fellas||Upright Bass / Vocals||2010-present|
|The Manglers||Bass / Vocals||2009-present|
|Swank||Electric / Upright Bass / Vocals||1992-present|
|Circus In Flames||bass|