The Flatliners

Chris Cresswell, Paul Ramirez

Dine Alone Records / Rise Records
By on December 6th, 2017 at London Music Hall - London, Ontario



It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since The Flatliners have put out “The Great Awake,” the sophomore album that kicked off their careers and also laid the foundation for their friendship with Massachusetts melodic hardcore virtuosos A Wilhelm Scream.

To celebrate both these accomplishments, The Flatliners teamed up with Wilhelm to play four shows in Ontario and Quebec which will see the band playing “The Great Awake” in its entirety; and because the album shares its 10th anniversary with Wilhelm’s Career Suicide,” their pals will also do the same.

The mini tour began in London on December 6th at the Music Hall to a crowd of about 250. Before the show frontman Chris Cresswell and drummer Paul Ramirez sat down to discuss the significance of the anniversary.   Read More…

Hard Core Logo

Hard Core Logo

Al Nolan

By on March 9th, 2017 at A Random Taco Bell in Toronto



En route to a Taco Bell minutes from a rehearsal space in Toronto, Al Nolan describes the hecticness and chaos that has only recently become his life. A month ago the 47 year old punk rocker landed a gig playing the notorious Joe Dick in a theatre production of Hard Core Logo.

“It’s like being on tour. I’m eating like shit. Destroying myself to live, it’s awesome,” he laughed. “I’m loving every second of it though.”

After ordering himself a “slayer,” a seven-layer burrito, Nolan took time out of his busy schedule to explain how he landed himself in this incredible opportunity.

“Honestly I can’t even believe I’m talking to you about this,” Nolan began. “I was sitting around at home trying to figure out where I was going to get my next meal, figuring out where I was going to get my next bag of weed and now I’m here working, recreating this role that I have supposedly been method acting for about twenty five years.”

Adapted from the Canadian film based on the novel of the same name, the plot follows the Hard Core Logo band on their last epic tour in the name of a good deed – fundraising for the legendary Bucky Haight.

Hard Core Logo DVDDespite the production set to open March 9, Nolan hastily accepted the lead role in a handoff from musician Ben Rispin, who had to back out to be involved with a film commitment. Nolan was a shoe-in according to Rispin, with director Ron Jenkins and the rest of the performers wanting him to do it.

“So I was like fuck ok, I’ll give it a shot,” he said.

Nolan is well known in the Canadian punk scene for being the lead singer of alternative legends An Almighty Trigger Happy. Originally playing under the name “Trigger Happy” the group started making waves in the scene in the early 90s. He was a theatre nerd as a teen, he explained, but hasn’t been exercising his acting skills. In order to learn the lines rapidly, Nolan watches the movie twice before bed, reads the comic book, reads his script, and was working his way through the novel by Michael Turner, who also wrote lyrics to new songs written by Joey Shithead of D.O.A..

“I go to sleep saying the lines and I wake up singing the songs,” said Nolan. In between rehearsing almost twelve hours a day, he’s jamming with An Almighty Trigger Happy.

“It’s kind of like doing eight shows in one day” he explained, his voice gritty and hoarse from practise.

Nolan says the other performers have been incredibly patient and kind since he’s started. After throwing a tantrum brought on by stress and a mic stand that wouldn’t stay in place, the punk rocker-turned-actor had a funny revelation after his apology. The other actors reminded him they’re acting – but he’s a punk rocker.

“Which is really kind of funny hearing someone say that, because where I am from is well even if you act like a punk rocker you could be considered a loser, or if you act like a rock star you can still be a loser as well.”

After spending a few weeks living and breathing Hard Core Logo, Nolan has begun to question whether art imitates life, or life imitates art.

“I’ve had to pull myself away sometimes just because things got a little too familiar and it kind of freaked me out a bit, but it was kind of cool though,” he said.

Eventually in the play it’s revealed Joe Dick put together the Hard Core Logo tour under false pretenses for one last shot at glory.

“As dumb as this sounds, it’s a story about a family. It’s a story about people’s purpose being either taken away, or false purposes, or hiding behind certain things that they thought would protect them for the longest time. It’s about getting passed on things, it’s about outgrowing people. Which I find kind of interesting. I can’t help but apply my own situation to it.”

It’s not exactly An Almighty Trigger Happy‘s story, but Joe Dick’s character has become too close for comfort at times for Nolan.

“We had gotten back together a few times,” Nolan said of Trigger Happy. “But some people’s habits got in the way, mine included, other people’s included. We never got to successfully get the right kick at the can that we wanted.”

Following a hiatus in 1999, the band has taken stabs at getting back together throughout the millennium. However the passing of guitar player Mark Gibson in 2013 when there had been talk of getting back together again made things more complex for the band. Since performing again, Almighty Trigger Happy has done so in Gibson’s honour.

“I’ve done some real super soul-searching with regards to this role and then going through the play myself,” said Nolan. “Sometimes I end up drifting off and being reminded of how much of a dick I’ve been and how much of a dick someone else has been and how you could have resolved it instead of just being so – you’re just young and you’re kids and you’re in an explosive kind of music that really doesn’t allow compromise or discussion – it’s fuck you or fuck off – and there’s no compromise about it.”

Described as “half play- half punk show,” the blood, sweat and tears of Nolan and the rest of the theatre group promises a unique experience.

Previously performed in Vancouver and Edmonton by other actors, Nolan mentioned that perhaps if it’s that good of a run, there might be a chance to take Hard Core Logo Live on the road. For now audiences only have until March 26 to catch a new way to experience this cult favourite at The Cave above Lee’s Palace.


NOFX & The Election

It’s been just over two weeks since the 2016 American presidential election, and things aren’t really looking up. There have been protests (rightfully so) and racially motivated hate attacks (despicably so). People are confused. They don’t understand how America got to this point. Black, brown and gay people totally understand why, but white America is left in the dark. They underestimated themselves, and their hate.

NOFXThe night of the election I was hanging out at a sold out NOFX show in Edmonton at Union Hall. Before they took the stage, Fat Mike, El Hefe and Melvin had a big group hug, and Mike went over to hug Smelly already at his kit. I was trying to think back to whether they always did this, but I can’t recall. I think the hugs were special that night though – moral support on a night that determines the next four years of their lives.

Fat Mike looked pretty rough, which is kind of standard, but this time it was different.

“I just got off the phone with my daughter and she’s crying,” Mike told the crowd. His daughter – a little girl who wanted to see a very qualified woman become president just as badly as her daddy – was in tears over Trump in the lead. Mike was teary-eyed too. The remainder of the set he kept saying he couldn’t look anyone in the eye. He called for sunglasses, which eventually came, courtesy of Zach Quinn from PEARS, who were also on the bill.

NOFX has been warning against the exact kind of presidency Donald Trump represents – this exact threat to democracy Americans posed for themselves, for over twenty five years.

Their discography is peppered with social and political commentary, brash and unapologetic, condemnatory and sharp. Since War on Errorism, NOFX’s albums became increasingly more critical of the social and political state of America. In retrospect, there was probably no better place to be while awaiting the election results.  

Fat Mike lamented the election for the majority of the set. A rendition of “Fuck the Kids” became “Fuck Republicans.” He apologized to every woman in the room for the sordid state affairs that enabled a highly qualified woman to have to consider a man like Donald Trump an opponent, before dedicating the song “Louise” to us. They played “Murder the Government,” of course, with some extra lyrics pertaining to Trump, and “Ronnie and Mags,” as well as “72 Hookers.” With almost every song preceded by a quip by Mike about the election, the the setlist truly reflected what was weighing on their mind. Before playing “The Idiots are Taking Over,” Mike exclaimed “It’s not the ‘Idiots’ are taking over, it’s the idiot!”

When it became clear Trump won, Mike announced it, and I am not really sure what he said after that, because I was reconciling my own disbelief. I felt like crying too. It’s not even my country, but there is just something inherently sad about the state of America, progress and democracy, that Trump won the presidency. Later “Reeko” made it into the setlist, with extra emphasis on the “it really is that bad.”

Over the past week as analyses from journalists, politicians and celebrities across the world of “what went wrong” rolls in, NOFX lyrics and that night’s setlist can’t help but continuously pop into my head.

Here are a few that truly resonated with me as I have been slowly digesting what Trump for president means for America.NOFX - War On Errorism

There’s no point for democracy if ignorance is celebrated
The Idiots Are Taking Over
War on Errorism, 2003

As of 2013, approximately 14 million adults in the U.S. cannot read, with an additional 20-23% of adults unable to read beyond a grade five level. According to a PEW Research study, over half of Americans get their news from Facebook. Coupled with a recent Buzzfeed news analysis that “the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News, and others,” combined, should clearly lay out the point I am trying to make here. Americans are not interested in truth, nor thinking critically.

Based on these statistics, educational reform should probably be one of Trump’s top priorities, but I feel this is unlikely. On top of that, reading literature for pleasure is also on the decline in America. Literacy, especially media literacy, is integral in a digital age where false information is spread with the click of a button, a share or a like. Many researchers and social behaviourists attribute reading fiction to increased empathy in readers. By reading from someone else’s perspective, readers are able to empathize with the character, and apply that empathy to the world around them.

I don’t know where, or how, America put down the books, and picked up the trash instead. But this election has demonstrated that there really is no point in democracy if ignorance is celebrated. On point with that one NOFX.

The entire song “Leaving Jesusland
Wolves in Wolves clothing, 2006

NOFX - Wolves in Wolves ClothingThe lyrics accuse the “heartland” of not being very “smartland.” It calls out homophobia, obesity, and invites a mass migration of open minded people to the West Coast.

The entire West Coast voted for Hillary Clinton. The entire Bible Belt voted for Trump.

No longer svelte, they gotta punch new holes in the Bible belt. They’ve blown out the fire under the melting pot, the red blood of America is starting to clot. No compromise, no sight thru others’ eyes, they’re just flies spreading pieces of shit. You gotta emigrate, stop living in hate, what makes this country great is dwelling on either side.”

Apparently only 36% of Americans own a valid passport. I mean, there is a lot to read in between the cracks here (immigration status and/or poverty can prevent one from owning a valid passport), but there is merit to that last line, “you gotta emigrate, stop living in hate.” I can’t make too many assumptions about this statistic, because the people who do have passports aren’t necessarily globetrotters, but I do think there is merit to travelling and gaining other perspectives. It also might ease and abate xenophobia to get out of your country and see what other places have to offer.

Breath, ever so soft. We wouldn’t want to break the eggs as we walk
Leave it alone. Follow the grain. We couldn’t stop the irresistible force
Leave it Alone
Punk in Drublic, 1994

I am not sure what this song is actually about, but I can’t help but think in the context of the election, it fits perfectly to the response white America had to Trump winning.

NOFXAccording to exit polls, 53% of white women voted for Trump, and 63% of white men. White, educated and wealthy voters gave Trump the presidency. The lyrics “leave it alone, follow the grain,” and later in the song “leave it the same,” describes these voters perfectly. Trump made the status quo feel as if equality was a very threat to their existence, and these voters did not want to deviate from the norm. Trump convinced them his platform was a deviation from the norm – but he is merely an affirmation of the norm that is the racism, sexism and homophobia Americans experience every day in law, policy and in the streets.

So many people are throwing their hands up in the air saying “How did this happen?” – well the answer, and the irresistible force in this particular instance, is hatred. As Danielle Moodie-Mills so eloquently put it on CBC’s live election coverage “We underestimated, as Americans, how deep our hatred was of the other, how deep white uneducated Americans felt about the demographic shift. We underestimated that level of insidious, blind hatred.

And what you had was a man who went around, he stoked every fire, he lit every branch, every branch, and just opened the floodgates.”

Since her commentary came early in the night, she had no way of knowing it wasn’t just uneducated white Americans, but the ones with college degrees too, and that really speaks to the insidious, subtle nature of racism in America in 2016.


Useless ID

Useless ID

Ishay Berger

Fat Wreck Chords
By on November 4th, 2016 at Email



After over twenty years together, Useless ID are no stranger to the road. Hailing all the way from Haifa, Israel, the band has grown to become one of the most successful Middle Eastern punk bands ever. They never let that success get to their head though and instead stay focused on delivering solid music that actually means something to them. They carried on their tradition with State of Burning – the band’s eighth studio album that came out this past July.

Wanting to waste no time promoting it, the band instantly jumped back on the road and soon saw themselves playing through Canada with labelmates Pears and NOFX. We emailed them just before to learn more about the album, the tour, and their musical ideologies.  Read More…