I am a proud Hamiltonian who lives near the stadium formally known as Ivor Wynne. I have had the chance to see a number Tiger Cats games there with my kids.
At my day job as the Pastor for The Commons (believe it or not, a number of musicians in the Hamilton Music Scene are also pastors), I spend a lot of time thinking & talking about neighbourhood and community. When I heard about the new stadium being named “Tim Hortons Field,” it got my creative juices flowing. I first wrote an article entitled “What’s In A Name?” for The Commons Blog and then the story got reprinted in the August 2013 Issue of Urbanicity.
In the article I talked about what choosing a name says about what we value as a society:
“In the grand scheme of things Corporate Naming of Stadiums isn’t so important. It isn’t a huge justice issue. I don’t want to see parks or schools getting into the world of Corporate Naming but I understand why a giant stadium is seeking out every revenue source it can find. I also understand why companies try to align them selves with buildings and events that the wider community cares about.
For me though, I would be more impressed with an organization like Tim Hortons if they paid for the naming rights and then used it to say something about what they value. Imagine…
Lincoln Alexander Stadium – We value progress, racial equality, and our history. We believe that every child that pursues an education can go on to do great things.
Bernie Faloney Field – We celebrate our sports heroes. We remember all you did on and off the field. When you moved to our city you didn’t just become a Tiger Cat you became a Hamiltonian.
Hamilton Community Stadium – We our proud of our roots and we give this stadium back to the community that has supported us for so long with all those double double purchases.
Tiger Field – We know why you’re here, it’s the same for us. Go Tiger-Cats Go!”
– Click Here to read the full article.
I was also able to use my friend Jennifer Kellner‘s amazing photo of Ivor Wynne in the article.
Jen and I sell our art/photos/merch together at the Art Crawl Makers’ Market each month, and we got the great idea of taking the article and photo even farther by creating an Ivor Wynne T-Shirt together. That shirt is today’s T-Shirt of the Week.
We will be selling our Ivor Wynne shirts (and other art) at the James Street Super Crawl on Fri Sep 13th and Sat Sep 14th, at our tent just outside Christ’s Church Cathedral in the Makers’ Market. We have lots of different sizes and they come in both Gold and Grey shirts.
Normally I don’t talk so much about my art on this blog, so to give a little 2x the Mono tie in take a listen to our song “Industrial C.” The songs is about my neighbourhood that is a both a stone’s through from the stadium and the factories. If you like the tune you can download the full “Community VS Technology EP” for free on bandcamp.
Incidentally I should also mention that many of 2x the Mono’s promo photos were taken by Jennifer Kellner.
T-Shirts have become such a staple in music and arts circles that the T-shirt is no longer just a billboard for a band or a product but rather art in it’s own right. One of my favorite pieces of T-shirt art is my “Put the Needle on the Record Tee” from Threadless. The shirt was designed by Steven Bonner. How do I know that? Well the Title of the piece and the name of the artist are printed right inside the shirt.
I love the play of the thread making up the grooves of the record, and the ink used to print the thread has an amazing texture to it so this shirt feels amazing to wear.
As a visual artist (check out my art here) as well as a musican, I also love the idea of the T-shirt being an accessible form of art. Not everyone is willing or able to shell out $1000 (or even $100) for a painting but $20 for a well thought out work of art on a Tee is a completely accessible.
I think it is important for every musician to have some tees in their closet that emphasis their bands feeling and aesthetic without referencing one specific band or style. If 2x the Mono did an interview and I showed up in a Listener Shirt, we would run the risk of just talking about how Listener has had an influence on us. Which is true, they are an influence, but so is Mewithoutyou, Eric’s Trip, His Name Is Alive, Larry Norman, U2, Johnny Cash, Transistor Sound & Lighting Co., and a hundred other bands both popular and obscure. Wearing a shirt that is a piece of art in itself helps to not get pidgin holed into one genre or one influence.
In honour of an obscure band that I don’t own a shirt from but is an influence on 2x the Mono’s live show, here is a video from Transistor Sound & Lighting Co. Transistor always had a boom box on stage playing ambient noise sounds that would fill in the sound between songs. They would also drape their gear in Christmas lights. They have had a huge influence on my live aesthetic, and they are the band that I think about when I envision what a 2x the Mono show should feel like.
When ever my wife and I travel into the USA by car we bring a very specific album with us. Our tradition is as soon as we make it across the boarder we pop in “America” by Havalina Rail Co. This tradition began in the summer of 2000 (our Taurus Wagon didn’t have a CD player so we put all our favourite CDs onto Tapes for the car), we had been married for over a year and this was our first major road trip vacation. We were traveling to Bushnell Illinois to attend Cornerstone Festival, and then going on to visit family in Saskatchewan and then head home on the Trans Canada Highway. In my mind this epic journey began with Havalina blasting stories of their own travels on our stereo.
Havalina was one of the bands that we were very excited to see at the show. They put on an amazing show (always exciting to see the stand up bass player do a back flip) but it was very evident that this band was not having the best of times. From the stage they said “This show is part of the Scorn Tour, and you can get your official Scorn T-Shirt that has our band name misspelled.” Apparently the band had just gone through a number of set backs. Their tour van broke down the record label they started (that had an amazing roster) was going out of business and now to top it off their brand new band shirts that they were so excited for was had their name misspelled on it. Hence the Scorn Shirt from the Scorn Tour. Being a huge fan I was first in line to buy my official Scorn Wear, and to talk to lead singer Matt Wignall, to tell him that he should be encouraged that so many people came to this festival to specifically see his band. Matt said “We love Cornerstone and we appreciate all our fans here, but to be honest many of our other shows no one cares about us, we sometimes feel like Cornerstone is the only place we have any fans.” Apparently Matt was deeply feeling “Scorned.”
I also remember that Matt mentioned something from the stage about even though he did liked Punk music he was frustrated that it seemed like the only bands that were making a living were punk bands. He was very sad that his band’s blend of country, jazz, folk and space rock didn’t seem to have any chance of a wider audience. As sad as that sounds, that really did seem to be true back in the year 2000. Havalina is no longer together, but they were so ahead of their time, I could see this band doing amazing in a landscape of music that is so diverse in 2013. Matt seems to have alot of his creative energy tied up in his photography right now but has also released some music in the project “Matt Death and the New Intellectuals.” I hope your feeling less scorned these days “Mr Death.”
One of the things I have always loved best about Havalina was their commitment to making concept albums (Spy Songs, American Songs, Russian Songs, or Space Love and Bullfighting songs). Each concept album had a distinct story and sound. I have tried to aspire to this same tradition by creating a couple of my own concept albums. Art Rock & Science Fiction is 2x the Mono’s album that talks about the rise and fall of Robots. Without learning from bands like Havalina I wouldn’t have been able to focus my own songwriting to tell the tale of a post apocalyptic robot war.
At one time I was the Manager of The Freeway Coffee House. One of the perks of this job was that I got to book the bands that played on Friday nights, the other perk was that I would sometimes be given merch by the bands as a thank you. 9 times out of 10 you book the bands that you know will bring in a crowd and the 10th time you take a chance on a band that you have never heard of but had such an amazing demo that you just want to see them for yourself. That is how I met Hamilton’s Kosmonaut.
I was mailed an artsy little CD called “Vostok-1.” It was very fun and well thought out. Had sort of Russian Futurist feeling to it wrapped in a Weezer infused pop sound. I took a chance on booking them and 2 brothers showed up with just acoustic guitars. I was a little surprised and worried that I had booked the wrong band but their fans showed up and ordered lots of food, and the music was great. Even acoustically the songs stood up. I tried to purchase a shirt and a CD but the brothers were so happy to have gotten the gig that they wouldn’t let me pay and gave me both for free.
I don’t think Kosmonaut is still a band but I did recently buy their self titled album from the discount bin at Dr. Disc and my 10 year old daughter heard me listening to them and she thinks they are great. She’s listened to the disc a number of times, so even if the band isn’t still around their music is still striking a chord with new listeners.
My Soviet Style Kosmonaut T-Shirt in this weeks picture still gets me lots of attention when I wear it. Some people love the retro quality and others get angry and tell me “that shirt is in very bad taste, the Soviet Union was evil, and I can’t believe you would want to wear that.” I let them know that “Kosmanaut is a good local band and it has nothing to do with politics”. This polarization of a controversial esthetic is also evidence that this little local indie rock band was hitting all the right nerves.
Here is a video of Kosmonaut playing The Freeway for the first time I booked them:
I first saw Soul-Junk in 1998 opening for Danielson Family on the Underground Stage at Cornerstone Festival. I was totally blown away by this crazy noise band that half way through their set switched entirely to glitch hip hop. It was like I found the secret love child of Sonic Youth and the Beastie Boys.
I still have very strong memories of this show, everything about it was over the top. At one point, the bass player invited up members of the audience to face him in a break dance competition. The obvious winner was the guy who got up and ripped off his artificial leg and started dancing around on one foot. The crowd instantly declared the one legged wonder the champion with their many cheers.
After the show I sadly discovered that I was totally out of money and couldn’t buy any CD’s from my new favourite band (I was a “poor” University Student who already spent hundreds of dollars on merch). I wrote down the name of their newest album (“1955”) and assumed I could get their stuff from a store when I got home. Boy was I wrong, none of the shops I used could find Soul-Junk anywhere in their systems, and back in 1998 I wasn’t able to shop on the internet yet. It was terrible, I went from store to store to store. with no luck.
Fast forward to the Year 2000 and I’m again at Cornerstone Festival, and Soul-Junk is on the bill promoting the upcoming release of their CD “1956” (on 5 Minute Walk Records). This time I had a well paying job working on the assembly line of an automotive factory. The show was amazing and I was right up front starring at the awesomeness of Soul-Junk front man Glen Galaxy, The show was again 50/50 Hip Hop and Noise but this time it was blended more seamlessly.
After the show I walked up to the merch table and said “I’ll take one of everything.” The 5 Minute Walk rep in the booth didn’t know what to do. He asked “Just the CDs? or the Vinyl and Everything?” I went on to tell him, “You don’t understand, I saw Soul-Junk 2 years ago and I had zero money, I have been trying to buy their stuff ever since and couldn’t find it anywhere. I want every thing they have ever rerecorded.” A young guy with his one CD in hand looked at me and said “That is the coolest thing I have ever seen, I wish I could do that?” I replied, “I hate my job, but it does pay well, and this is my reward for sticking with a mind numbing job that I hate.” I then gave the guy a Soul-Junk sticker.
Incidentally in that mix of CDs that I bought was one album called “8.21 a blue bunny compilation.” That mix CD had a couple Soul-Junk songs on it, in addition to a couple Sufjan Steven’s songs (if you have never heard “Women at the Well,” you need to check it out). It is always great when you get introduced to a new favorite band from your other favourite bands. The Danielson show introduced me to Soul Junk, Soul Junk introduced me to Sufjan Stevens and Sufjan Stevens eventually introduced me to Half-Handed Cloud. All bands that I love and that have expanded my musical landscape so much.
Now if I didn’t have that job that I hated, paying me the big bucks, and if I never discovered Soul-Junk, I might have missed out on years of great mind expanding music. So thank you Soul-Junk and thank you well paying crappy job!
During my time working for The Man (and hating it) I wrote a song called “I Hate the Man” summing up the experience. The song doesn’t sound exactly like any of the bands I named in this post but I think it fits nicely within the same head space, and it is definitely influenced by all these bands.
I should mention that the T-shirt in the photo this week was a gift from my wife. She ordered it so easily on the internet, just a couple years after I was so desperately trying to add anything Soul-Junk to my collection. What a difference a couple years makes in how we consume music.
I should also mention that the second Soul-Junk show I saw was also the first time I had ever seen a Kaoss Pad (A very cool piece of gear) and later in the week I got to talk gear with Glen Galaxy who happily told me all about it.
Everybody loves at least one Johnny Cash song. Even people who say “I hate country music!” will follow that up with “Except for Johnny Cash.” Today’s T-shirt of the Week is a Johnny Cash shirt that my brother Regan gave me one year for Chirstmas.
All though I didn’t become a real fan of Johnny until I jumped on the “Hurt” bandwagon with the success of the other American Recording albums, I did see Johnny Cash live when I was in high school. It was at the Toronto Exhibition. My family went to the the Ex every year. We would go shopping, eat at the international food pavilion, and watch lots of free shows (back in the 90’s there were more free big name shows happening as part of the Ex).
One year when I was looking at the list of concerts happening, Johnny Cash was on that evening. My brother and I begged my parents to let us stay late enough to see the show. My dad couldn’t believe that his two long haired, Grunge loving sons wanted to see a country concert. Really, all we knew about Johnny Cash was that he has famous and that he sounded really cool on that U2 song (Wanderer) at the end of Zooropa. My Mom chimed in that she liked Johnny Cash, and my dad relented with something to the effect of “Well I use to watch the Johnny Cash TV show, so OK.”
The show was amazing, there was so many people there. We were well in the back but had a die hard fan beside us telling us all kinds of important facts about every song sang, and every statement uttered by Mr. Cash. We were also treated to an interlude by the Carter Family. At the time that was the only part of the show I didn’t like, but later I appreciated it in retrospect after taking a “History of Popular Music” class in University. That is when I learned how influential a guitar player Mother Maybelle Carter was, and I came to appreciate the wider old time folk tradition of country music.
A couple other things I remember about that show, was that Johnny Cash told the story of why he was The Man in Black, and that he would wear black until God fixed all the injustice in the world. He also introduced a Pastor that traveled around with the band. Johnny let the audience know that if anyone was having a hard time and needed someone to talk to, that the Pastor was available for a chat.
The biggest musical influence that concert had on me was Johnny telling a story of when he started out white bands weren’t allowed to bring snare drums into the studio (producers thought it was too bluesy), so to get the sound Johnny wanted he put a piece of paper under his strings, and then he strummed out the snare part on “Walk the Line.”
After hearing that story and falling in love with that song, I started strapping on all kinds of cardboard and paper on my guitar trying to come up with new sounds.
Actually the distortion you hear in the chorus of my song “Can You Dig It” was a folded piece of cardboard from a cereal box placed under the bridge of a classical guitar. Thanks Mr. Cash for giving me the idea.
- Listen to “Can You Dig It?” by 2x the Mono. Released in 2007 on the “Stereo EP” –
Can You Dig It?
T-Shirts are a huge part of Rock & Roll. Band Logos, Clever Slogans, Cartoon Characters, and Retro Images all factor into the lives of musicians and music lovers. You want to see your Band’s T-shirt on your fans and you want to show off your own style and taste by wearing just the right shirt to the right show.
I own so many T-shirts that I can’t seem to fit them all into my 3 drawers when they’re all clean. Every one of these shirts has a memory attached to it. When I wear one of these shirts they remind me of the show it was purchased at, that band I listened to back in the day, or the friend that added another Tee to my wardrobe.
To celebrate this apparel phenomenon, The 2xtheMono.com Blog will be featuring the T-shirt of the Week each and every week (until our drawers and closets are empty).
Our first T-Shirt of the Week is a very cool Bradley Hathaway owl design. Bradley Hathaway is a poet turned folk singer who spends a lot a times singing about relationships and spirituality. I got this shirt in 2010 when 2x the Mono was playing at Cornerstone Festival. We were on one of the small generator stages promoting our brand new Art Rock & Science Fiction CD and Bradley Hathaway was on the main stage. His set was one of my favourites on that weekend and I bought this shirt and 3 CDs. Bradley was manning his merch booth himself and was trying to get me to buy his CD/Book of poetry, and I let him know I was out of money so he through the book in for free so that I could have the whole collection. When I got home I found out that the book was miss printed with a tone of missing pages. Can’t complain thought it was free, and the CD worked just fine. Indecently I love how big this design is and how well it uses the colour of the shirt as part of the design.
Over the years, 2x the Mono has been nominated for a number of Hamilton Music Awards.
- Sounds Sketches was nominated back in 2008 for best Electronic Recording.
- Art Rock & Science Fiction was nominated for best Alternative/Indie Rock Recording in 2011.
- Randell Neudorf was nominated for best special instrumentalist in 2011 as well for his Omnichord and Ukulele parts on AR&SF.
This year we are looking to submit our Community VS Technology EP for consideration. We would love to get your input on which categories you think we fit into. It is great to get recognized with a nomination but it would also be nice to have a chance to win.
Here is what you can do to help us be smart:
- Step 1: Download Community VS Technology for FREE to give it a listen.
- Step 2: Take a look at the Hamilton Music Award categories on the HMA Website.
- step 3: Leave a comment letting us know where you think our music fits in the award categories. We are thinking about submitting our project for either “Best Alternative/Indie Rock Recording” or “Best Electronic Recording.” I also think that there are some great performances on this album. Let us know what stood out to you (drums, synth, vocals, etc…). There are catagories for “Best Drummer,” “Best Bassist,” etc…
Thanks for your advice.
Got to drink some nice cold coffee on this very hot day with Trevor Pogue. Always fun talking gear with some one who appreciates synths and looping. Trevor’s video reminds me that I want to buy a Kaoss Pad.