Sunday, April 06, 2014

Did that Rathburn a Little?

Erik Kolomayz's bloody bass after The Rathburns' show on April 5, 2014.

I get a lot of credit for pulling no punches when it comes to performing. In 2011, for example, after making a polite mess of a hotel room and proceeding to drag all the poolside furniture into the pool to have a feast with the band in the middle of the water at 4am, I woke up with a left big toe the size and colour of an eggplant. I taped my my toes together with gaffer tape and crammed them into my shoe in the fire exit before going out on stage at the London Music Club (Don't believe me? Here's proof at 3:51).

"The show must go on -- and will go on with 100% commitment," is something Paint is no stranger to (no pun intended). Personal crises, deaths in the family, just channel it all out on stage. This is a business,. This is art. This is performance. This is about your audience, not you.

But I must say, I walk out of every venue with my tail between my legs anytime I see a little Toronto band called The Rathburns.

My first interaction with The Rathburns, before they were even a band, was working with singer Frances at a record store. We shared an affinity for obscure Neil Young albums, and I always used to creep up behind her and smell her perfume -- which she was aware I was doing, but how could I not? Even after a sweaty slugfest on stage, she still smells spectacular.

Then all of a sudden, from out of nowhere, she was fronting this band (I didn't even show she sang at all, let alone wailed like a banshee and kicked the shit out of anything within a 10-foot radius), and the band just seemed to be coming out of the flood gates running.

I first saw The Rathburns live at the Horseshoe Tavern sometime last year, and before their set I see this dude roaming around the merch area with his arm in a sling, carrying a giant vial of prescription painkillers in his functional hand, popping these fuckers like candy. A few minutes later I see him on stage setting up the bass rig, and I'm thinking, "Seriously? Who's making the injured friend be a roadie!?!" He then carefully removed the sling, strapped on the P-Bass, and turns out he's Erik, the bass player in the fucking band.

The performance was one of zero restraint, by anyone in the quartet. Especially Erik. Complete sonic and physical annihilation.

I left the show and texted Jordan (Shepherdson, Paint guitarist) raving about what I just experienced, and how we had to play with them. So, we invited them to join a couple shows with us, including our Capsulated DVD release. We bonded pretty effortlessly, needless to say.

Cut to this weekend at the Rivoli, on the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death. The Rathburns took the stage on a bill with our friends in Secret Broadcast (who released their Adam Kasper-produced album Filthy Souls) and the Ascot Royals, who were stellar as always in their own right.

But as though they weren't "fuck you" enough already, halfway through The Rathburns' set, I saw Erik jerk his right hand away from his bass for a moment and squirm a little. Next thing we all knew, the song had ended, and his hand was a swathing mess of red. This wasn't a paper cut -- he was fucking pouring blood.

So what does he do?

He licks some of the blood off his fingers, smears the rest all over his face, walks up to Frances, smears blood on her face, they keep fucking playing.

I'm always confident that Paint can hold its own in any situation, and we do. And I almost never say this about another band, so take this to heart: The Rathburns are a band that makes me just want to pack up my shit and go home.