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.