Thursday, October 17, 2013

For Once Night Only...

(Yes, the title of this blog is a pun and not a typo)

From time to time, an idea can come to you under the influence that surprisingly does become something tangible and worthwhile.

During a particularly difficult time two or so years ago, I spent many a night at a particular watering hole in my neighbourhood in Toronto with Tamara Saringer, quite possibly the most classy lady I am lucky to know. We learned of our shared affinities for music and red wine, and she caught a few Paint shows. We found some enjoyment singing songs from the film Once by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová over a bottle or three of wine on summer nights on her balcony. It was never planned, but a few glasses in, Tamara, a fabulous trained pianist, would gravitate to the piano and we'd just start spontaneously singing these songs. The lyrics connected with a lot of what was going on for me, and our voices seemed to mesh. It was something completely unlike the music I play with Paint, but similar in its immediacy and directness. We'd often sit back after a tune, take another sip of red, look at each other and say, "One of these days, we should perform this stuff live."

So Paint went off and toured, and toured some more, and Tamara went and composed the music score for Kill, Sister, Kill, which received gracious critical acclaim at Toronto Fringe 2013. When some smoke cleared and I sat down to work on Paint's 2013 itinerary, Tamara and I decided it was time to get off our laurels (which were hardly resting!), book a date, and make it happen. Thankfully, the rest of Paint agreed to take part.

We wanted to do it in the fall, particularly in October. The colours of Glen and Markéta's songs were orange, maroon, burnt and rustic, it didn't feel right to do this any other month of the year. So that was settled. And the venue, well, we had a few options, and the back room and stage at The Rivoli just had the right amount of history, energy, and intimacy. Even more of a treat, to choose artists to join the bill who we wouldn't normally get the chance to share the stage with due to the more "acoustic" (though deceptively not-so-simple) approach we were taking to the songs. So it was the highly admirable Justine Dube, The Old Salts (featuring our old friend Darren Eedens), and my dear Piper Hayes (who also performed a few miracles at Fringe this year). And to invite the lovely Brenna-Hardy Kavanagh to play violin with us, any excuse to share the stage with someone I admire.

Amidst a very busy time for Paint (with being artists-in-residence at C'est What? every Tuesday this month, preparing a music videos compilation DVD for November release, more time on the road, an IndieGogo campaign to raise funds for our next EP, and shooting a film to go along with the EP), we may seem insane for then learning an entire collection of songs for a one-night-only production with a guest pianist and violinist.

But when has anything good ever come from playing it safe?

See you next Wednesday!
The Old Salts, Piper Hayes, Paint (performing songs from Once), and Justin Dube
The Rivoli, 334 Queen St. W., Toronto
Wednesday, October 23
Doors 9pm, $10, 19+

Monday, July 29, 2013

Behind Every Band....

Well, not every band... but Paint has been lucky enough to have had some generous consulting and advising support from Matt Hughes since 2011 (during which time you may have noticed through some transition that damn near everything about us has gotten better). Matt's moving to Scotland to continue his journey into the business end of the music industry, and whilst 21st century communications mean that nothing changes really, it's probably a fitting time to acknowledge Matt's role in pulling me out right from the onset of the most difficult musical and personal times of my life. I'm forever indebted to the love, support, understanding, patience, wisdom, and insight he's given me and this band. Good luck in Scotland, my friend!

Friday, July 05, 2013

On Freddie Mercury and the Empowerment of Indians (from India)

This entry is in two parts: 1. The Preface; and 2. The Point. If you're tight for time and just want The Point, by all means scroll down to "The Point," no offence will be taken. But for those with a bit more time wanting a 360 view on the thought process that ultimately leads to The Point, then by all means indulge in The Preface. Happy reading! 

"There's always someone, somewhere, with a big nose, who knows. And who trips you up and laughs then you fall."
- Morrissey

"Don't ask me why I play this music -- it's my culture, so naturally I use it."
- Will Calhoun


We played a show once at The Drake in Toronto opening for a great up-and-coming band from France called Revolver. Everything about the night was a blast, especially when our amazing former drummer Andre Dey MacGyvered together a detached tailpipe of his car with a rope on the northeast corner of Queen and Bathurst which allowed us to get to soundcheck just in the nick of time.

Over pre-show dinner in Barrie the following night (oddly enough opening for Shortwave, where Paint's drummer Devin Jannetta came from after Andre sadly had to return to Saskatchewan), we stumbled upon a series of Tweets from someone who was in the audience at the Drake and spent the duration of our set on a rather venemous (and un-tagged) tirade of hate against us. The first irony (of many, in a non-Alanis way, I hope) is that The Drake Underground is a pretty poor reception zone, so he must have been upstairs the entire time not actually watching our set. But every element of our music, our set, and us personally seemed to bother this bloke, even when we came around after our set to greet members of the audience -- which is all fine and dandy, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and we're happy he hated us instead of being on-the-fence (love/hate is the only measure of success for a band as far as we're concerned).

Where I took issue was here: his self-proclaimed title in his Twitter bio was "rock 'n' roll Ph.D." -- now, granted he was wearing a sweater-vest to back up the claim but think about the audacity of that self-imposed distinction. Especially when we closed with a cover of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?" which I introduced as "an Elvis Costello song." This offended Dr. Rock 'n' Roll so much that he Tweeted: "It's a Nick Lowe song for fuck's sakes!"

Actually, Dr. R'n'R.... whilst Nick Lowe did in fact write the song, he wrote it while playing in his band Brinsley Schwarz. So it's not an Elvis Costello song, nor a Nick Lowe song. It's a fucking Brinsley Schwarz song. You probably didn't consider that the singer of Paint has worked in record stores since he was a teenager and played in bands since he was 12.

Clearly the Dr.'s misled elitism has overlooked the finer elements of live music performance. If on the rare occasion that we include a cover in our set, what am I supposed to do on stage, Dr.? Go through the entire etymological history of a song to stroke my musical history wang and please some Pitchfork-reading jackass (as I jokingly did the next time we played the Drake and covered "Leavin' Here" -- saying, "This song was originally written by Motown trio Holland-Dozier-Holland and performed by Eddie Holland, then by The Birds -- but not the "Byrds" with a "Y," the "Birds" with an "I," the English R&B band that Ronnie Wood played in before he joined the Rolling Stones -- then by The Who, then Motorhead, then Pearl Jam... so, you can say this is a cover whoever suits your personal politics!"), or am I just gonna blurt out the shortest and most recognizable intro possible and break into the song -- because, you know, that's why people are there to see us...?

I would have been happy to have an in-depth and respectful conversation with Dr. Rock 'n' Roll after the show but surely his ears only hearing the inner workings of his sphincter.

The point (of The Preface) is, when it comes to music, even for a self-proclaimed "rock 'n' roll Ph.D.," there is always someone who knows more than you.


With that Henry Rollins-esque sidebar out of the way, here is the actual point of this journal. As someone who does have a lot of useless rock 'n' roll knowledge floating around in his ether, but always acknowledgesthe never-ending abyss of the unknown and to-be-known, I had the audacity this past week to actually say, "How did I not know that?!?"...because it was a fact that, frankly, should have been one of the most significant that I've ever learned about life and music, which surely would have accelerated the path of my existence much earlier in life had I known it as a boy. But better now than never.

Freddie Mercury's parents were both Gujurati (from Gujarat, a state in the northeastern region of India, just south of Punjab, where my parents and entire genealogy hails from). Mercury was born in Zanzibar (now Tanzania) and lived in India until he was 17 years old. There's nothing white about him aside from his post-colonial education. Hell, he's more Brown than I am, as I was born and grew up between Vancouver and Toronto, Canada.

The kicker in all this is that my development into a singer/frontman has been a long and painstaking process, often tied up with issues of internal and external racism, growing up formatively in Kelowna, BC, where even the dirt is white. Then to Surrey, BC, where Brown kids shoot each other like it's going out of style while the police turn a blind eye. And then to the Downtown Eastside Vancouver, one of the only places in the world that white people are allowed to legitimately sing the blues -- just imagine what it's like if you aren't white!

Growing up that way, you'll get a crash course in the darker side of race relations from a young age. Getting kicked out of sports leagues for beating the crap out of white kids who called me a "Paki" over and over again, eventually finding a home amongst the outcast kids who listened to punk rock, but all the while still only seeing white men on TV in music videos. The American rock band Living Colour was a massive influence on me: they rocked harder, played better, looked better, wrote better songs, and sold more records than anyone out there. And they were all black! Not quite like me, but enough to make me want to pick up a guitar and join a band. But being a sideman of colour in a band was always more comforting than stepping in front of it. Because I still believed out front was no place for a Paki.

Eventually I started singing, but in awful funk/folk bands that I believed were "culturally appropriate" for a non-white singer, avoiding the rock 'n' roll that I loved so much, even though my education, grassroots awareness, and involvement in anti-racism efforts became severely acute as I became an adult. But I continued to be a sideman in multiple bands to avoid the racism I so openly fought against but had internalized so deep.

At last, at some point, I just said "Fuck this!" -- dropping the guitar and putting myself out front. I have Andre Dey to thank for this, fittingly enough, a black man, who saw what I was capable of doing without the anchor of an instrument hanging off me. And I never looked back. Though I still remained plagued by the underlying doubt of, "Will they ever take am Indian front man -- IN A UK-INFLUENCED ROCK 'N' ROLL BAND -- seriously?"

Putting aside the 400-year rape by the British of Indian culture, language, history, and geography (of course UK music is going to influence a Brown man)... let's look at the fact that the greatest rock 'n' roll frontman of all-time was Indian. Through and through. There was nothing white about Freddie Mercury. Not even the rock 'n' roll.

Now, I am in no way saying my talents are anywhere near Freddie Mercury's -- no one's are! But I'll be damned if I ever, ever think an Indian has no business fronting a rock 'n' roll band again. And anyone out there who's also Indian should feel exactly the same way.

Sat Sri Akaal,
Robb Johannes

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Of Malcolm X and Men...

May 19 is Malcolm X Day. I can think of almost no one, alive or dead, known to me personally or not, who has had as far-reaching an influence over nearly every aspect of my life.

From a young age, Malcolm X's life and teachings shaped and guided my sense of identity, self-image, social awareness, activist responsibility, pride, and desire to continue to reframe and redefine oneself in ideal and practice through ongoing education and experience.

Malcolm X is truly one of the most fascinating and inspiring human beings to have ever graced us mere with mortals with his presence here on earth.

As-salumu alaykum, El-Hajj Malik El Shabazz (May 19, 1925 - February 21, 1965)

Down With The Blackleg, All Workers Unite

By default, when a labour dispute is on the table, I take the side of the worker until I am convinced otherwise. Maybe it's my humble upbringing, or my experiences in unionized versus non-unionized employment, or an "always on the side of the underdog (because I usually am one)" thing... And of course, lest we forget the union (pun intended) of music and activism, which is where keeners will notice the title of this post is a lyric from a Billy Bragg song.

At the eleventh hour, right as the "May 2-4" weekend, often known as the heaviest-drinking long weekend in Ontario, was about to begin, employees of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) opted not to strike. This fact is more an afterthought to the rest of this entry, which was dreamed up as action was looming, observing the seemingly static paradigm of media bias in labour disputes.

The slant of most, if not all, mainstream media in the pending LCBO strike, was exactly what it always is: pro-corporate and anti-labour. It portrays unionized employees as spoiled, lazy, and unreasonable. The characterization of union workers as "demanding" (versus their generous "offering" employers) shapes the general perception towards work amongst non-unionized employees; the narrative goes, "Everyone else's jobs suck so much that people who are unionized should just be grateful, shut up, and take it in the keester" -- but the difference is, unionized workers actually have the power to stand up against exploitation.

The pro-corporate bias in media is never all that surprising, as mainstream media is funded by, thrives upon, and benefits from, the precise anti-worker ethos that working people have been fighting against for centuries. As an institution of influence on belief, perception, and subsequently practice, media survives on a consumer base that feels powerless. An empowered populus with the ability to say "no," and ask "why?" is a threat to corporate culture and interest. But pitting worker against worker based on union and non-union stripes is the age-old strategy of divide and conquer. Thus, a union that protects and empowers workers with the means to fight for things that all workers deserve, is immediately demonized.

Applause to LCBO employees in using the May 2-4 weekend as a brilliant strategy in negotiation. And though despite the knee-jerk response of many in not realizing beer and wine stores would have remained open, it's nice to be able to spend the weekend drinking Tanqueray and tonic in the grass.

Cheers to you for that!

Friday, April 19, 2013

@YesYoureRacist: combatting racism in America, one Tweeter at a time

Whenever awful tragedies happen in America, there's always the bigger-picture questions of how America's anger response will take shape after the horror of the initial tragedy has passed. As was the case with the war and racial profiling response to 9/11, opportunities to come together and seek common ground often take the knee-jerk route to bringing greater divisions, often on lines of race, ethnicity, and culture. Sadly, but not surprisingly, before anyone knew anything about the identities of those responsible or the Boston Marathon bombing -- before the smoke had even cleared from the blast -- racist calls from the Twitosphere to blow out "R**heads" and "Sandni**ers" were sprouting up all across middle America.

Of course, faceless (or semi-faceless) social media like Twitter should not be taken as a gauge for any sort of scientific conclusions about public opinion, but the response to the racism is where optimism on American intelligence has earned a pleasant uplift.

There is a Twitter account called @YesYoureRacist, subtitled "a public service by @LoganJames," which I suspect was initially conceived as a semi-lighthearted means to publicly shame other Tweeters who abuse their free speech rights by posting racist remarks, particularly prefaced with "I'm not racist but...." You know, another instance of culture-jamming, and using contemporary media to humoursly satire bigotry, "out" its propagators, allow those enlightened amongst to a) have a reality check; and b) fight back.

However, a lot of respect to Mr. Smith for really stepping up to the occasion amidst the ongoing tragedies in Boston, Massechussets. He has taken it upon himself (with a growing army of supporters behind him) to monitor, retweet, and respond to several racist posts in an effort to expose racists in America but also to allow enlightened members of the community to debate, confront, and challenge their racist stances. It's a noble effort, and one that deserves attention and support.

Now, the reason I'm bringing this up is not to appeal to the cynics amongst us who will look at racist tweets, throw their hands up and say, "Fuck this, I've lost all faith in humanity." Because what is truly telling, hopeful, and a sign of progressive intelligence winning, is the way that racist tweeters are getting bodyslammed by enlightened, non-racist individuals in response to their ignorance. Some even to the point of shutting down their Twitter accounts (as in the case of @KatieGiorgio, whose public shaming was seemingly the first in this wave -- and don't bother to find her Twitter by the way because she closed it. Hallelujah!). For every one racist remark, there are dozens of anti-racist retractions. Do the math.

My favorite response was when one person said something about "Chechen sandni**ers," a retraction said, "Um, Chechens are white, hun." Education by inches.

As is usually the case, the passive Tweeting racists are like most bigots and conservatives: they talk a lot from behind the iron veils of their internet connections but are hating from afar, and are not out in the community making the real world a better place, thus rendering them effectively useless. Those who are actually making the world a better place are physically on the ground getting the job done.

So genuinely, cheers America for a faith-building exercise. Our thoughts and best wishes are with you in this time of trouble.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Grow a Pair" or "Grow Up": can music do both?

A blog by Kitty Vincent called "Hey Kids, Grow a Pair: How Music Blogs Neutered Indie Rock," was put on my radar by an old friend from Vancouver today through the social networks.

It was a good read, proof that there are always exceptions to the rule, and the author herself acknowledges the irony of writing about it in blog form (as, well, I guess am I)....

I wholeheartedly agree with the community element; what makes rock scenes happen is when there are bands that support each other, go to each other's shows, and play in each other's bands, with no real "professional" goals; it's just about making great music and art with your peers. The industry is always, always playing catch-up to this. I've had real-life experiences of this both in Vancouver when I was there, and now in Toronto and its surrounding areas.

I've thought about this issue a lot lately, and talked to a lot of other musicians about it....

After Kurt Cobain died, a lot of people in the industry pretty much said, "We're not taking a risk with our money and livelihood anymore by investing into and dealing with people who are angry, emotional, sensitive, and potentially unstable again." Not the least of which, financially-speaking, may have had to do with the advent of downloading.

What they missed in the process, however, is that it is precisely those angry, alienated, real-life human beings are the ones who make the most genuine and kick-ass rock 'n' roll. And sometimes, like in Kurt's case, the commericalization of their art can result in things like, well, drugs, depression, and suicide....

Think back (or read back if you were born after 1987): after Kurt, what was considered "alternative"? It was dudes in press photos wearing touques and sunglasses, sitting in coffee shops eating scrambled eggs and toast, making music that was cleaner, safer, and more adult contemporary. Stuff that both you and your parents could listen to together. It wasn't that Black Flag record that pissed your dad off every time you put it on, that's for sure. It was, for many people, a conservative (financially and economically) response to what happened with Kurt, which simultaneously shut out a lot of the "rock," that has changed all of our lives in some way, from avenues that typically gave them a wider audience.

Moving, challenging, and genuine art (in the form of rock 'n' roll) is still out there. We tend to think we just have to dig a little harder to find it -- but chances are it's right in our backyards, our local record stores, and our local clubs. Hell, your friends may even be the ones making it.

Relish in that possibility!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

So, tell us about this punk thing....

When you start your musical life as a punk, it becomes an inseparable part of your personal, political, and social identity until the day you die. From those arduous hair-dying days as an underage kid getting snuck into bars to play punk shows with grown-ass men much older than me, the classic punk of The Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Stooges, The New York Dolls, The Clash, Television, Richard Hell and The Voidoids, all rooted in an experimental Andy Warhol-inspired art project known as The Velvet Underground (and beautifully documented in the oral history Please Kill Me) shaped me in ways that life's traditional influencers did not. It was inevitable that something punk would come out again.

Of course, when side projects emerge, so do questions about the root band. Don't worry, Paint is fine. After a year-and-a-half of uncertainty and transience, Paint has actually become the most fully functional, healthy, and productive that it's been in a long time. In fact, I would probably say that Pantifesto has emerged because Paint has become so vibrant. I'm inspired to just be a musician and be creative again.

Pantifesto had its nucleus during a particularly grueling tour, where I came up with an idea for a screenplay/cult graphic novel about a band -- a punk band -- who runs into a comedy/horror adventure on the road. Partly inspired by the realities of touring life, and partly by the slapstick comedy that is (perhaps surprisingly) a big part of who I am. Naturally, the band in the film-to-be needed a soundtrack. So it was the perfect excuse to get a punk project going.

The names of the Pantifesto members are classically formuliac as most of our punk forefathers' personas were: each band member's first name is taken from the original Ramones lineup, and their last names derive from different styles of women's underwear. Part of this is rooted in the glam end of punk, but also a reflection of the rather unGLAMourous jobs that surely every musician has had to hold down while pursuing their passion. In my case, stock clerk at a women's underwear store (amongst many others).

Nothing was really spent on the Pantifesto record. The production is crap. The musicianship is crap. But that was clearly an aesthetic choice. So, in that mindset, it's being given away for free (or by kind donation if one is so inclined)... Get it here:

Much love.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Fun With Numbers

Over the past two years, I've been working on archiving and update all of our setlists for the Tour page on our website, and linking each set to its related photo album or video playlist.

On some level, it was strange to become a fan-geek of my own band during the process, which was enjoyable, frustrating, and rather emotional in the end. Many happy and bittersweet memories of wonderful shows and beautiful moments on stage that I had forgotten about were triggered by certain songs in specific setlists. And of course, some shows and moments I would hope to never revisit again. It's hard to keep it all in focus sometimes but it all exists somewhere in the subconscious.

On an even more geeky note, it's come to light that Paint has played 167 shows since April 4, 2007. Only 15 of those were in 2007/2008 combined, and only 16 in 2009. So mostly in the last three years, especially 2010-2011.

And the number of times we have played every song that's been in our repertoire:

138 - Strangers (Paint)
126 - End of the Reel (Paint)
106 - She Leaves (Paint)
86 - If The Walls Could Talk (Paint)
76 - Home (Paint)
75 - A Gentle Art (Paint)
74 - Girl in a Frame (Paint)
73 - Madonna (Paint)
68 - Can You Hear Me? (Paint)
67 - Let Go (Paint)
55 - Jenny and Maurice (Paint)
53 - In Disguise / Chemically-Inclined (Paint)
50 - Don't Blow Me Away (Paint)
49 - Vampires (Paint)
48 - Gastown / Out of Mind (Paint)
37 - Boomerang (Paint)
36 - After (Paint)
33 - (What's so Funny 'Bout) Peace, love, and Understanding? (Elvis Costello and the Attractions)
15 - An Evening to Myself (Paint)
13 - Kids (MGMT)
13 - Leavin' Here (The Who / Pearl Jam)
11 - Blitzkrieg Bop (The Ramones)
10 - Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springsteen)
10 - Life (Paint)
9 - Stand By Me (Ben E. King)
9 - Slide Away (Oasis)
9 - Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) (The Rolling Stones)
8 - In Your Arms Tonight (Paint)
7 - World Without a Mirror (Paint)
7 - Shattered Hearts (Paint)
7 - Better Man (Pearl Jam)
7 - I Won't Back Down (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)
6 - Yellow (Coldplay)
6 - Bonfire of Vanities (Paint)
6 - Down (Pearl Jam)
5 - The Con Artist (Paint)
5 - My Empty Hands (Paint)
5 - Moral of the Story (Paint)
4 - Heroes (David Bowie)
4 - When She's Gone (Paint)
4 - Girlfriend in a Coma (The Smiths)
3 - Starman (David Bowie)
3 - I'm Afraid of Americans (David Bowie)
3 - Days (David Bowie)
3 - Rebel Rebel (David Bowie)
3 - Common People (Pulp)
3 - Anarchy in the UK (Sex Pistols)
3 - With or Without You (U2)
2 - Lost Together (Blue Rodeo)
2 - Lovers in a Dangerous Time (Bruce Cockburn)
2 - Young Americans (David Bowie)
2 - Slide (Goo Goo Dolls)
2 - King's Horses (Jet)
2 - Beds Are Burning (Midnight Oil)
2 - Don't Look Back in Anger (Oasis)
2 - The Grand Scheme (Paint)
2 - High and Dry (Radiohead)
2 - Manic Monday (The Bangles)
2 - Why Can't I Touch It? (The Buzzcocks)
2 - In Between Days (The Cure)
2 - Lovesong  (The Cure)
2 - Friday I'm in Love (The Cure)
2 - L.A. Woman (The Doors)
2 - Every Breath You Take (The Police)
2 - Free Fallin' (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)
2 - We're Not Gonna Take It (Twisted Sister)
2 - Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses? (U2)
1 - Redemption Song (Bob Marley)
1 - You Will. You? Will. You? Will. (Bright Eyes)
1 - True Love Will Find You in the End (Daniel Johnston)
1 - Easy Silence (Dixie Chicks)
1 - Heartbeat (Take It Away) (Dum Dum Girls)
1 - Can't Help Falling in Love (Elvis Presley)
1 - Suspicious Minds (Elvis Presley)
1 - Iris (Goo Goo Dolls)
1 - Live in a Hiding Place (Idlewild)
1 - Walk on the Wild Side (Lou Reed)
1 - Like a Hurricane (Neil Young)
1 - Sugar Mountain (Neil Young)
1 - All Apologies (Nirvana)
1 - Talk Tonight (Oasis)
1 - Rivers (Paint)
1 - Curtain Call (Paint)
1 - Death Row (Paint)
1 - Dear John (Paint)
1 - Ant Hill (Paint)
1 - Waiting for Somebody (Paul Westerberg)
1 - Hail, Hail (Pearl Jam)
1 - Corduroy (Pearl Jam)
1 - Off He Goes (Pearl Jam)
1 - Fall On Me (R.E.M.)
1 - It's the End of the World As We Know It (R.E.M.)
1 - Orange Crush (R.E.M.)
1 - Breaking the Girl (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
1 - Jesse's Girl (Rick Springfield)
1 - Prison Bound (Social Distortion)
1 - Interstate Love Song (Stone Temple Pilots)
1 - Dear Prudence (The Beatles)
1 - London Calling (The Clash)
1 - Learning to Fly (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)
1 - Where The Streets Have No Name (U2)
1 - All I Want is You (U2)
1 - Blister in the Sun (Violent Femmes)
1 - Say It Ain't So (Weezer)

That's 104 songs in total, though there's a core group of 18-20 that every show revolves around. That number will grow as the newest Paint songs come into the picture more. No real surprises with "Strangers" and "End of the Reel" topping the list. Of course some are a little off-weighted because they haven't been around as long.

A lot of the cover songs have been fragments, mostly things that I would improvise over the ending of "Home" with. That's where a lot of memories come from. Be it singing a Beatles or Doors tunes on the anniversary of John Lennon's death and Jim Morrison's birth; singing "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley in honour of our drummer's father passing away (Marley was his favourite artist); "Prison Bound" by Social Distortion as a celebration of the release of the West Memphis Three; and one of the most emotional was Daniel Johnston's "True Love Will Find You in the End" in light of losing some people very close to me in a short period of time.

Certain Paint songs, like the beautiful "After," sadly aren't represented well enough, because for a long time because it's quite challenging to play correctly live. Overall, the entire Can You Hear Me? record (still my personal favourite) suffers a bit in that regard; it's great now to have a lineup where everyone enjoys the entire catalogue. So, expect some of the old gems to make a comeback. Perhaps.

Honestly, I think we've played songs like "If The Walls Could Talk" and "She Leaves" more than enough. It's time for our newest songs to take their place.

This is officially the geekiest thing that's ever happened with Paint. And it probably won't ever happen again.

Enjoy! There's hours of entertainment there for many of you kind folks who have been with us over the years, and those who are new to us as well.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Show Me a Nicer Band....

I love The Cheap Speakers. And they probably love me too -- though as they are the real thing when it comes to rock 'n' roll, I doubt they would admit it in so many words publicly. Paint has had a long-standing allegiance with one of Toronto's sweetest and scrappiest indie rock bands. From having one as a roommate; to having another fill in on guitar with Paint numerous times at home and on the road; to spending time as their guest roadie; to hanging out at shows and each others' parties; I can confidently say you'd be hard pressed to find a group of gents and lady more class than Nat, Tim, and David. Their undying support of the Toronto music community is unmatched: they once came to four of our shows in a row when we played every week at C'est What? in February 2011 when we hadn't even met prior to the first show, and they still made it out to multiple other bands' gigs at the same time. Sometimes all in one night. On any given evening in Toronto, you can find at least one of The Cheap Speakers out at one of our beautiful city's many live music venues, front and centre, enjoying the show -- and of course, they pretty much know everyone at the bar. The Cheap Speakers are a genuinely kind-hearted bunch who are always legit, generous, and stand-up in a personal and business sense.

Yet at the same time, I would never mess with them. Because they're the closest thing I've seen to The Who in Toronto: four unique individuals, one no less charismatic than the next, who just absolutely rock on stage. Any of them could keep your attention both on stage with their sonic antics, and off stage with their bright personalities, unpredictable humour, insights, and striking good looks. There's no ambiguity about them: The Cheap Speakers are just straight up, a rock 'n' roll band (a sub-title we in Paint have always used for ourselves but may have to secede to The Cheap Speakers' prowess one of these days). Love The Cheap Speakers off stage and fear them on stage -- unless you're me of course, and you can get away with bear-hugging Tim between songs when he spontaneously hops on stage to sing backup with us.* But we're bromancers like that.

On March 2, 2013, The Cheap Speakers will release their new record Switches & Levers, at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. And in the spirit of community, they have invited us to join the bill. All the more fitting since when we had our Toronto release party for our latest record, Where We Are Today, The Cheap Speakers were our first choice to join the festivities. And they did with gusto.

It's going to be one hell of a night. We're all extremely proud of our dear friends. And we're not afraid to admit it!

* Thanks to our friend Joe Mac for always capturing the action on stage.