Tuesday, 22 July 2014


There was a serious musical masterpiece I've neglected to mention that definitely deserves it's own post. In January of 1992 on my 19th birthday, I received a few gifts from Derek in the form of compact discs. One was "LIE" the album Charles Manson recorded before he ended up going to prison. I had heard a dub of it before that Derek had, but I was absolutely stoked he had found me an actually cd copy. The recordings mainly consisted of very bizarre folk music, which generally isn't my thing, but this was Charlie Manson!!! Anyone who knows me should understand my excitement. I've always had a fascination with horror, the macabre, and serial killers, Chuck being at the top of my list.

However it was the other cd Derek got me that really had me stoked, and would change my opinions and perspectives on the structure of music and song writing forever, the cd in question was "Mr.Bungle" The self titled cd had been released in 1991, and I had my eyes on it for months, which Derek clearly paid attention too. Mr.Bungle was the high school band of new Faith No More frontman Mike Patton. They had released four demos in the late 80s, which caught the attention of FNM guitarist Jim Martin, who recruited Patton as the bands new vocalist.

was so pumped to finally hear this album after months of anticipation. I popped the disc in my stereo, slapped on the headphones, and busted out the lyric sheet. Right from the get go I was taken back. I really didn't know how I felt about it. The musical structure was all over the place, rarely ever returning to parts you heard previously in the song. They also covered many musical genres within the confines of one song, and there were tons of samples from movies and old video games. 

The album was produced by John Zorn, an infamous experimental jazz legend, who better than to be the lead engineer on such a wacky project. The vocals were also all over the map, ranging from singing to screaming to growling to rapping to whispering and so on. I was completely baffled at how these guys had pulled this off. I couldn't quite fathom how they even learned to play their songs considering they were intensely structured and really had no rhyme or reason to them.

The more I listened to it, the more it grew on me, and my two favorite songs ended up being "The Girls of Porn" and "Love is a Fist" It was clearly impossible to categorize these guys. One could easily cop out and say it's "Funk Metal" but it was truly so much more. They literally covered almost every genre of music, most times within one song. As I got more familiar with their music, the songs started to make sense to me. I started learning where the changes were, and after awhile they just played out to me like any other normal song would. But they were far from normal. Anytime I played it for a friend, you could instantly see the look of confusions come over their faces.

The bottom line was these guys had some serious talent, and they had put out a truly unique one of a kind album here. Vocalist Mike Patton had beef with Red Hot Chili Peppers front man Anthony Kiedis, who claimed Patton bit his style. Mr.Bungle were making waves and had been asked to play numerous musical festivals that the Chilis were on, but Kiedis pulled some strings and had Bungle removed from said festivals.

Mike used Mr.Bungle as another outlet to lash back at Kiedis. The band played a live festival on Halloween in Detroit and announced themselves as RHCP, they even introduced the band members using names of Chili Peppers members. They went as far as to cover some of their songs too, with Patton purposely sabotaging the lyrics. They also poked fun at heroin use, which took the life of the Chili's first guitarist Hillel Slovak. Some might see this as a low blow, but the fact Kiedis' personal vendetta caused him to use schoolyard antics (we won't play your show if they play your show) was really a childish and vulgar display of power, since they could draw huge crowds and promoters wanted to cash in on that. It's almost as if he was threatened by the band, who I personally think were much more talented then RHCP.

Mr.Bungle were also infamous for their live performances, each member dressed in various costumes to conceal their identities. I believe the mystique of them made the band that much more enjoyable. They even went as far as to use aliases as opposed to their actual names. Years later a band called SlipKnot would emerge, who in my opinion blatantly ripped of Mr.Bungle, but they were definitely a second rate imitation at best.

The first image I saw of the band captivated me, the fact they didn't care if anyone know their identities impressed me. Clearly they were all about the music and not the fame, an admirable quality to say the least. The artwork in the cd book also fascinated me, images of what appeared to be an alcoholic clown struck by tragedy every which way he turned. I never did have the pleasure of seeing them live, but a few of my friends did and they collectively agreed it was an incredible experience.

The band really opened my mind musically, especially to the world of jazz, which they dabbled quite a bit into. Mr.Bungle had earned a spot in my top ten most important bands of all time list. They were truly a one of a kind and brought something to the table no one else had prior to them. 

My anticipation for a follow up album was off the charts, I just didn't know how long I'd be waiting...

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Unsane Unsung

Everywhere I turned it seemed incredible things were developing and unfolding around the scene, not just for Grasshopper, but for a lot of the bands we had became friends with and were gigging with regularly. Derek had turned me onto yet another new band, two of them for that matter, "Unsane" and "Helmet" 

Unsane were from New York, and they were a very heavy and intense band, they were also only a three piece, but they rocked that shit. Their album cover was really cool too, an image of an unfortunate person who apparently was decapitated by a train. It was a very extreme image, so naturally I was instantly attracted to it.

Unsane were coming to play Toronto, so of course we got tickets, but what made it even cooler was that our buddies The Satanatras were going to be the opening act. We were very excited for our friends, and equally excited to see Unsane live. To be quite honest I don't even remember what club the show was at, but both bands kicked an extreme amount of ass. The most impressive part for me however, was the drummer of Unsane.  His name was Charlie, and he was a very quiet eccentric type, somewhat resembling Tiny Tim. I'm talking about the musician, not the character from the classic Christmas story.

Charlie played a jazz kit, which was very small. A kick drum, snare drum, one tom, and a floor tom. However Chuck rocked that kit like I had never seen. The sound and force he omitted was equal to that of Rush's Neil Pert and his 30 plus piece drum kit. It was truly inspiring to see someone get such a huge sound from such a small kit. I was absolutely blown away by him.

Our Satanatra friends ended up getting us backstage at the show, so we got to meet, party, and hang out with Unsane. With the exception of Charlie, they were really cool friendly guys, especially the singer/guitarist Chris, who had taken a strong liking to our Canadian narcotics. We partied until the wee hours of the morning, then it was time to head out. Someone mentioned that both bands were playing in London the next night and that we should come out for the show. 12 hours later we were in London Ontario, re-experiencing the whole event once more, and once again partying backstage with the band. And yes, once again Charlie blew my mind. I don't even think I put eyes on either of the other band members during the entire set. We smoked and drank backstage until the club owner kicked us out. It was another amazing night under my rock n' roll belt.

Not long after this we learned some sad and tragic news, Chuck had died from a heroine overdose, and we were devastated. So were his band mates needless to say. It was very unjust for them, at the peak of their career, to lose a brother. They decided to look for another drummer after the grieving was done, then carried on as a band. I never knew Chuck was into Heroin, nor did I know anyone who had ever tried it, but looking back it made sense why he was so quiet and kept to himself. I was sad so see such an incredibly talented drummer taken from this planet before he even got his full due.

In the meantime (pun fully intended) the band Helmet were blowing up with their new single "Unsung" from their second album "Meantime" We had previously enjoyed their first release "Strap It On" and the new album did not disappoint one bit. However, the first time I heard "Unsung" I immediately proclaimed they had ripped off Pantera. Derek seemed to despise any type of "Metal" that had guitar solos which he called "wanking" so he immediately dismissed my statement. After all, Indy rock bands were so much cooler right? Why would they need to rip off a metal band right? Not like they grew up listening to rock and metal right? Wrong.

The next day I had a new mixtape ready for the ride to Toronto, and you guessed it, the first song on the mix was "Rise" by Pantera. I didn't say a word as it played, just watched Derek's facial expressions in my prerefferal view. There was no denying the riffs were one in the same, Pantera having written theirs first. Was it coincidence or plagiarism? One could only speculate. Either way I loved both bands and both songs, and still do. 

It wasn't long before Helmet rolled into town to perform live, and you know we had to go check it out. They were on the bill with Bad Religion, who I was familiar with but wasn't a die hard fan of. I was more into the hardcore punk at the time and was blatantly ignorant to most forms of punk music that had actual melodic singing and not rabid screaming and growling. They still rocked the roof of the place, and I grew to love them. The place in question was the Spectrum Club on the Danforth, and I don't think I had been there since seeing Epileptic Brain Surgeons open for Day-Glo Abortions. 

Helmet were really solid in concert. It's always impressive when a band can sound just like their record when they are performing live. It's also always more pleasurable when one is familiar with all the music a band has released, so all in all I enjoyed Helmet more than Bad Religion, although Bad Religion made a new fan out of me that night.

The real highlight for me on that particular evening however, was the local opening act that performed first. They were a newer band to the scene called "Trigger Happy" and I was totally stoked to see Mark from "Missing Link" and Al from "Deep End" on stage in front of me. Deep End were on Epidemic Records with E.B.S., but they had recently disbanded, and from the ashes rose Trigger Happy. I wasn't familiar with their music at all, but I was so pumped and full of energy that I was banging about through the pit like a mad man.

This was all so surreal to me back at this point in history. I was still fairly young and it was inspiring and impressive to see all my friends and the people around me doing so well in the Canadian music industry, which at the time was next to impossible to break into if you weren't a radio friendly top 10 pop band. 

There was really no telling where some of us might go...

Thursday, 10 July 2014

UPDATE 07/10/2014

Greetings readers! I haven't done a general update in awhile so I figured I would touch base with you all. First and foremost I'd like to wish you all a safe and happy summer. Speaking of summer, if you haven't noticed my posts have been a tad bit scarce, which is an annual trend if you've been following this blog since it's inception. I tend to not write very much during the summer, as I am just too damn busy enjoying it.

I have had the privilege of spending much more time with my son since school has been out, so sacrifices must be made...even at the expense of this blog. Fear not however, the posts will become more frequent as August comes to a close. I'm loving all the extra time with my little man to say the least.

On the musical front I seem to be in somewhat of a rut. The year started off very strong. I was working on the new album as well as tracks for my second mixtape. Mach Spitz and myself were working on our Street Trash project. On top of that I was partaking in yet another side project Godzilla Monsoon, AND I was also working on tracks for Prince Pauly's upcoming mixtape The Man They Could Not Hang.

If you recall, my external hard drive crashed earlier this year and I lost everything I had been working on. I am still hoping to recover all the lost data, but only money and time will tell. I also suffered serious problems with my computers, which has also put a damper on the situation. All of this has caused me to not put forth any musical contributions as of late. I have been continuing to write songs and ideas in the meantime, so once the wheels are turning again you can expect an onslaught of new material.

Until then, I thank you for your understanding and patience...now get out there and grab summer by the horns and make it your bitch! Cheers... K

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Born Winners

It had been an amazing year for Grasshopper, and an incredible summer packed to the gills of performances and partying. Our demo was almost sold out and we were gearing up to do another run of 500 with our profit money, after paying back our initial investor of course. William New, who ran the 1150 club, had become very impressed with us, to the point where we never paid for drinks and he allowed us access to the bowels of the club, where we could smoke peacefully and safely in privacy.

In fact Wiilie was so impressed with the turnout of fans we were bringing into his club that he made us a sweet offer. He offered us a gig a week for an entire month straight, that would see us as the headliners with our choice of opening acts. He also gave us any day of the week to pick, and we settled on Thursdays. I'm not sure how we came to a mutual agreement of that, but none the less, for the next 30 days every Thursday would be "Grasshopper Thursday" 

It was a success and we packed the 1150 full of people every Thursday. The most rewarding part was getting to select the bands we wanted to play with. Derek seemed to want to control all the choices, but Mike and I convinced him we were at least entitled to book one show each, to which he caved in and agreed. I really don't remember who chose what bands, but I do know 100% that Demon Barf was my number one choice, much to Derek's disapproval. I really didn't give a shit, these guys were my friends, they were good people, and they deserved a chance to gain exposure down in the city. I really can't recall the night very well but I know it was full of rock n roll hijinks and good times. The Epileptic Brain surgeons even came to see us perform, as Steve Waller was down visiting from B.C. It felt great to be performing in front of my inspirational idols, and I smashed the skins with the greatest conviction possible.

Phleg Camp was a Toronto band that Derek admired, respected, and looked up to, so naturally they were one of his picks. They were a three piece like us with a dreadlocked singer/guitarist, but they were definitely a different caliber of musicians. Their rhythm section consisting of Sean Dean on bass and Gavin on drums, were hands down one of the most cohesive rhythm sections I had ever seen in my life. They were also really friendly, cool guys, and through them we met an independent film maker named Kevin Brownfellow. Kevin showed great interest in making a music video for Grasshopper, and all it would cost us would be the price of film. We agreed, and within a week or two the project was a go.

We ran our ideas past Kev, but ultimately we gave him creative control. There were a few specific images we wanted included in the video, such as cameos from The Beastie Boys and Grover from Sesame Street. Mr.Brownfellow informed us that it was illegal to do such, but there was a great loophole he told us about. If he filmed said characters off of a playing television set, the footage was fair game to use in our video. Kevin came to a few of our live shows to get footage, and we went out for a walk one day on the beaches of Toronto to film some more stuff. We came across a large wooden cross sticking out of the ground, so Kev had an idea to film Derek looking like Jesus on the cross, while the sun set behind him in the distance. Mike and I held him up by his feet, how ironic I thought, the backbone of the band supporting the face of the band, just like on stage.

The video turned out great and we were all very happy with it. Kevin sent it off to MuchMusic and we impatiently played the waiting game to see if our video would end up in the rotation, and it eventually did. It felt amazing to watch my own band's music video on television for the first time. I can't even find the words to describe how I felt, but it was almost like a dream. 

As our video started getting more rotation on "The Wedge" another film maker from my past would soon re-enter the picture...

"BORN LOSER" Music Video