1. What is Defunct Music Archive?

Ben archive BUTTON project

What is Defunct Music Archive? It is a website devoted to collecting information, music, biographies, and photographs about lesser known, Canadian musicians and bands, and making it all available to a wider audience online. It is meant to be a collaboration of like minded people interested in telling the untold stories of an overwhelming amount of musicians and groups that made quality recordings, but never ‘made it’, and thus relegated to obscurity.  By using internet tools such as the digitization of vinyl records and cassette tapes, making these recordings available online for download through websites like bandcamp, and interviews and short biographies of the artists involved, Defunct Music Archives hopes make the works and stories of these lesser known Canadian musicians and their contributions to our culture available to everyone.

STORIES OF THE EVERYBAND, AND WHY THEY ARE IMPORTANT

After reading Roy Rosenzweig and David Thelen’s article “The Presence of the Past” for a public history class, I began rethinking my thoughts about what a ‘history’ could be, and what history meant to me.  One of my hobbies is to collect information about my favourite musicians and bands.  Collecting their stories. When were they active? Where did they come from? Who were their influences, and who did they influence? What other bands did they play in? What other bands do they sound like?  What were they like as individuals?  The first thing that I do when I listen to a new band is try and find out what their story is, find out what went into the music they created.  These stories are important to me.  And then I realized something: there is currently no database that collects this kind of information together for Canadian music specifically. Why not? I have friends who have made some of my favourite albums, but what happens when they break up?  What if my computer breaks and those few songs that I have are lost, or I lose one of the handful of tapes that exist?  There must be other people like me, I thought, with friends in great bands, who, for all kinds of reasons may never get a chance to share their music with a wider audience. And that is a shame. This music has value to the people that made it, to the few people that get a chance to listen to it, and to the culture to which it contributes.

This was only reinforced when I stumbled upon a vinyl copy of ‘It Came From Canada’ at Cheap Thrills records a couple of months ago.  Here was all of this great music, some of it great, some of it mediocre, some of it really, really, strange, and it was Canadian, and from Montreal!  I looked online to see what I could find out about the compilation, and there was some information there, but the music itself was nowhere to be found.  Why was this music so hard to find now, when it is relatively easy to digitize records and upload them to the internet? Instead of waiting for someone else to do it, I decided to do it myself.

This website is only a test to see if the tools necessary to collect, share the music, and tell at least part of the stories of the Canadian everyband.  I have chosen to focus on short biographies, photos, and free and easy access to the music itself to demonstrate what a larger database might look like.

The website has been organized into six separate sections, numbered 1 to 6.  The idea is to introduce the reader to the bands and artists through a short biography, let them listen to the artist’s music, garner a more personal view of the artist by reading the interview, and finally to teach them how to digitize their own records and cassettes so that they too can share their collections on the website.  There is also a References page at the end of the process that includes links to other interviews, music, and photographs of the artist/label under scrutiny.  Contact information is available on the side bar of every page, asking for submissions of information and music of bands not already on the website.   The aim of this process is to allow the reader to learn more about the artists, and give them the tools to submit their own defunct music with the website..

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6. References/Links

This section will serve as both an online bibliography and a resource for further reading for visitors of the site.  It includes links to wikipedia entries, books used as references for the biography section, band websites, and interviews of related artists conducted by other publications.  The hope is that this section of the website will act as way to be able to gather a substantial portion of the different pieces of information that is available online, but has not been collected into an easily navigable list.

==Deja Voodoo and Og Music Online==

Og Music Wikipedia.  Very brief overview of the label’s history, but includes a comprehensive list of every Og Music Release.                                                                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Og_Music

Deja Voodoo Fan Facebook Page.  Includes photos of all of the band’s album artwork, as well as track listings of each album, but does not include any of the band’s music:                                                                                                                https://www.facebook.com/pages/Deja-Voodoo/112322802116926?fref=ts

Short biography of Og Records at Exclaim!.ca –                                                        http://exclaim.ca/Features/Research/og_records

Interview with Gerard Van Herk at Jam! Music:                                                                             http://jam.canoe.ca/Music/Artists/D/Deja_Voodoo/2003/06/13/744495.html

Deja Voodoo on Weird Canada. Short biography of the band, and includes two songs from Deja Voodoo’s Swamp Of Love album that are available to stream and free download. http://weirdcanada.com/2013/01/cameo-steve-guimond-on-deja-voodoo-swamp-of-love/

Videos of Gerard Van Herk performing as “Gerard Van Herk and His Deja Revue” At a Deja Voodoo BBQ show at The Silver Dollar bar in Toronto in 2006.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TymPyYJczGs&playnext=1&list=PL5AB2CB0B48BA9692&feature=results_main

Deja Voodoo’s cover of “Long Tall Texan”, from their 1984 Og Music release Cemetery, on Youtube.                                                                                                             http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcgYwwRfHuY

==In Print==

Have Not Been The Same: The Can Rock Renaissance 1985-1995. Michael Barclay, Jason Schneider, Ian Andrew. ECW Press. Toronto. 2011. ISBN 978-1-55022-992-9.  This is a valuable resource for anyone interested in Og Music, and the independent Canadian music scene during the eighties and nineties.  Includes extensive interviews with Gerard Van Herk and Tony Dewald and many, many more.                                                  http://www.ecwpress.com/havenot

Og Music’s news letter, The Deja Voodoo Train, is available to view in person at the Library And Archives of Canada in Ottawa, and at the Collection National at the BANQ in Montreal.  At this time there are no digital copies available to view on either website. Documents must be requested at least five days in advance, and requests can be made in person or online.

Library and Archives of Canada:

http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/cmpi-ipmc/028001-110.01-e.php?&q1=599&c1=jrnl_title_id_nbr&interval=100&brws_s=1&PHPSESSID=vg32of97aj5pc1iv51simbvu11

BANQ Website:

http://www.banq.qc.ca/

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2. Deja Voodoo/Og Music

This section is representative of the biographical part of the project.  Using information about the band found in secondary sources such as online articles, books, and interviews conducted specifically for the site, it will offer a digestible overview of the band/artist in question, and a discography of the band/label’s releases.  After reading the interview, the viewer will be directed to the music that has been digitized and uploaded to the site. The desired effect being to give the reader some historical context to the music that they are listening to.

                                                 Deja Voodoo G and T

Founded in 1983 by friends and bandmates Gerard Van Herk and Tony Dewald, Og Music was an influential independent record label in Montreal until it ceased operations in 1990 when Van Herk and Dewald turned thirty years old.  The label produced twenty-nine releases in its eight years of existence, including five vinyl compilations of local independent Canadian bands under the name ‘It Came From Canada’, that instigated a national network of bands and directly inspired the flood of indie labels in the 90’s.

==Deja Voodoo And Og Music==

After meeting in Cegep in the late seventies, and inspired by the punk movement and its burgeoning scene in Montreal, Tony Dewald and Gerald Van Herk formed the group known as Deja Voodoo in Montreal, Canada. Originally starting as a three piece called The Halftones, the band mutated into a two piece outfit after a show involving fireworks scared Jimmy Findlay out of the band. Influenced by Rockabilly, Punk, Garage Rock, Blues and bands such as Link Wray and The Cramps, styling themselves as a ‘sludge-a-billy’ band. Their music was primal and dirty, with Tony Dewald’s drum kit lacking cymbals, using only toms for a very sparse, heavy sound, and Gerald Van Herk playing a four string guitar raucously and singing like a more obviously doped up Elvis.  Deja Voodoo released their first album Gumbo on Og Records in 1983 and was released on cassette only.

                                              dejavoodoo cover

The band originally started Og Music to release their own material, because nobody else would.  Releasing other bands’ music also offered Tony and Gerard a way to help cut the costs of production by having other bands split the initial cost of the cassettes and records.  Three years after its inception, and several releases later, Og Music releases were paying for themselves.  Deja Voodoo toured extensively across Canada, meeting many new bands a long the way.  It was partly due to this exposure to great music from across Canada that spurred the creation of their first It Came From Canada Compilation.  Some of these bands ended up on their compilations.  Jerry Jerry and The Sons of Rhythm Orchestra and Dusty Chaps from Edmonton were both bands that the duo met on tour. The band developed a cult following through extensive touring of Canada and stints in the U.S. and Europe, their Og Music compilations.  They promoted Og Music releases in their newsletter, Deja Voodoo Train, and through their annual band showcases called “Voodoo BBQs”. Surprisingly enough, the band had a couple of successful tours in Finland, which resulted in the release of ”Live at The Backstage Club, Helsinki Finland” album, which included a Finnish cover of “Rockaway Beach” by The Ramones. Though they never achieved mainstream success, Deja Voodoo released nine albums, three singles, and one cassette tape before calling it quits in 1990.

==It Came From Canada==

                                                 ICFC Front Jpeg

In 1985, Van Herk and Dewald compiled the music of some of their favourite bands into a compilation that they called ‘It Came From Canada’.  The popularity of the ‘It Came From Canada’ compilation, it sold out within a week of its release, spurred the compilation of ‘It Came From Canada Vol. II’ the following year, and three subsequent iterations.  The groups and musicians included on the compilations came from all over the country, as the lineup for Vol.I attests: Jerry Jerry was from Edmonton, as was his guitarist’s side project the Dusty Chaps; Chris Houston and UIC  were from Toronto, the Enigmas were from Vancouver, and the Calamity Janes were from Ottawa; Deja Voodoo, Ray Condo & His Hard Rock Goners, the Gruesomes, and Terminal Sunglasses were all from Montreal.  It  was an eclectic mix of music that was representative of a large population of independent musicians from across the country. In 1990, when both Dewald and Van Herk turned thirty, they dissolved the label and the band to pursue other careers.  Van Herk states in the interview on this site that the duo made a promise in a zine shortly after they started playing together that they would break up the band when they both turned thirty.  He also intimated that the band and the label were intertwined, with much of the labels revenue coming from funds made by Deja Voodoo, and that when the band stopped playing, it became harder to keep the label going.  Van Herk is now a professor of linguistics at the University of Newfoundland, and Dewald is Brewmaster at Deadfrog Breweries in Aldergrove B.C.

==Og Music Discography==

==Casettes==

OG 1 – [[Deja Voodoo (Canadian band)|Deja Voodoo]], ”Gumbo” (Cassette – 1983)
OG 2 – [[Condition (band)|Condition]], ”Dirty Business” (Cassette – 1983)

==Singles==

OG 3 – Various Artists, ”From Montreal”  (7″ single – 1983)

==Albums==

 OG 4 – Deja Voodoo, ”Cemetery (Album)|Cemetery” (LP – 1984)
OG 5 – Asexuals (band)|The Asexuals, ”Featuring the Asexuals” (7″ single – 1984)
OG 6 – Terminal Sunglasses, ”Wrap Around Cool” (LP – 1985)
OG 7 – Jerry Jerry and the Sons of Rhythm Orchestra, ”Road Gore: The Band That Drank Too Much” (LP – 1985)
OG 8 – Various Artists, ”It Came from Canada, Vol. 1” (LP – 1985)
OG 9 – Various Artists, ”It Came from Canada, Vol. 2” (LP – 1986)
OG 10 – The Gruesomes, ”Tyrants of Teen Trash” (LP – 1986)
OG 11 – Deja Voodoo, ”Swamp of Love (album)|Swamp of Love” (LP – 1986)
OG 12 – Deja Voodoo, ”Too Cool to Live, Too Smart to Die (album)|Too Cool to Live, Too Smart to Die” (LP – 1988)
OG 13 – Various Artists, ”It Came from Canada, Vol. 3” (LP – 1987)
OG 14 – Deja Voodoo, ”The Worst of Deja Voodoo|The Worst of…”  (LP – 1987)
OG 15 – The Gruesomes, ”Gruesomania” (LP – 1987)
OG 16 – The Dik Van Dykes, ”Nobody Likes the Dik Van Dykes” (LP – 1987)
OG 17 – Various Artists, ”It Came from Canada, Vol. 4” (LP – 1988)
OG 18 – Deja Voodoo, ”Big Pile of Mud (album)|Big Pile of Mud” (LP – 1988)
OG 19 – (Unknown)
OG 20 – The Gruesomes, ”Hey!” (LP – 1988)
OG 21 – Various Artists, ”Mr. Garager’s Neighbourhood” (LP – 1989)
OG 22 – UIC (band)|U.I.C., ”Live Like 90” (LP – 1989)
OG 23 – Captain Crunch and Let’s Do Lunch, ”More Baroque-Post Industrial Hillbilly  Launch Music” (LP – 1989)
OG 24 – The Dik Van Dykes, ”Waste More Vinyl” (LP – 1989)
OG 25 – Various Artists, ”It Came from Canada, Vol. 5” (LP – 1988)
OG 26 – Supreme Bagg Team, ”Supreme Bagg Team” (LP – 1989)
OG 27 – Ripcordz, ”Ripcordz Are Go” (LP – 1989)
OG 28 – Deja Voodoo, ”Live at the Backstage Club, Helsinki Finland” (LP – 1990)
OG 29 – Vindicators, ”Vindicators” (Mini-LP – 1989)

==References==

Michael Barclay, Jason Schneider, Ian Andrew. Have Not Been The Same: The Can-Rock Renaissance 1985 – 1995. ECW Press. Toronto. 2011. ISBN 978-1-55022-992-9.

Ben Griffiths.  Interview With Gerard Van Herk. Defunct Music Archive. http://www.defunctrecordsarchive.wordpress.com

Deja Voodoo (Canadian Band). Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deja_Voodoo_%28Canadian_band%29 . Accessed April 9th, 2013.

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3. Music

“If I could describe ‘cool’ to you, it wouldn’t be cool. So you’ll have to take my word for it— these are cool bands. They’re not all famous, they don’t all play the same style of music. Some of them probably don’t even like each other. What these bands all have in common is the ability to take a style of music, whether it’s punk, country, blues, western, psychedelia, garage rock, whatever, and warp that style until it becomes their own. Sounds cool to me.” – Del Picasso (A.K.A Deja Voodoo’s Gerard Van Herk), From The Liner Notes of Og Records’ It Came From Canada Vol. 1, 1985

Using the same procedure used in the digitization tutorial, I converted the music from Og Music’s first ever vinyl compilation called ‘It Came From Canada’ to digital format, and then uploaded the songs to Bandcamp, a new music sharing platform that allows musicians to share and sell their music online without them having to pay for online storage and bandwidth.

ICFC Front Jpeg ICFC Jpeg

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5. Analog To Digital Conversion

Digitizing 101 FINAL Jpeg

A significant part of this project will be collecting out of print albums that are on analog formats (Vinyl and Cassette) and making them available online.  Further more, this website is meant to be a collaborative space, where people from all over Canada can share their now defunct music with others, but how can they share their music if it is trapped on a vinyl record or a cassette? How do you get an album that is on a record or a cassette onto your computer to listen to?  This process is called analog to digital conversion, and it is easy to do! In this post I will show you how you can get music from your records and tapes onto you computer, and then onto the internet. If you do not have any experience with stereo equipment it might be a little frustrating at first, but this tutorial is very straight forward, with poorly drawn (but accurate!) diagrams guiding you through the process.  You’ll be a wiz in no time!

You will need:

  1. A stereo amplifier
  2. A cassette deck/player
  3. A turntable
  4. A pair of headphones
  5. GarageBand Application
  6. A sound card, or digital music interface (More on this later)
  7. An RCA to quarter inch cable. This cable is available at any radio or home audio store, The Source, Circuit City or Future Shop, and usually only costs about five dollars. The quarter inch jack looks like a larger version of the headphone jack.  It is important that you have this larger jack, so be sure that you don’t accidentally buy an RCA to eighth inch (headphone jack) instead.

RCA to Quarter Inch diagram FINAL

Step 1: Setting Up

Now that you have the equipment and cables you need, you need to plug the cables into the right ports.  I’ve made a diagram describing visually how to do this.  Don’t worry if the back of your amplifier doesn’t look exactly like the one shown in the diagram, because all amplifiers are slightly different, they don’t all have the same configurations, but most amplifiers have the ports necessary to digitize music.

Amp Diagram Final Jpeg

Attach the red and white cables from your turntable into the port that says “Phono”.  Plug the red and white RCA jacks of your RCA to quarter inch cable into the “Rec Out” or “Tape Out” ports, and plug the other end of the cable into your sound card or digital music interface.

Digital Music Interface:

A digital music interface, commonly known as a sound card, is a machine that allows your computer to receive information from microphones, electric instruments, and in this case, a stereo amplifier.  There are affordable turntables available that come with USB ports built into them, which makes converting records very easy.  However, if you are like me, and already have two turntables at home, and don’t want to buy another, a digital music interface is the way to go.  For the purposes of digitizing music, a cheap interface is all you will need.  They can be found at most music stores for fifty to one hundred dollars.  This is a diagram of what my set up looks like:

Sound Card Diagram FINAL Jpeg

When you have connected all of the cables into their proper ports, put your headphones on, and connected your sound card to your computer, you are ready for the next step.

Step 2: Recording vinyls and cassettes into GarageBand

Open a new project in GarageBand. Make sure that the track you are going to record onto doesn’t have any effects on it that could alter the sound of the original recording on your vinyl or tape.  Your screen should look like this:

Tutorial 1 Jpeg

Start playing the tape or record you want to convert and make sure that you can hear the music, and that the volume isn’t so loud that the sound is breaking up.

Once you have got the volume where you want it, you can select “record” on GarageBand, and play your cassette tape or record, and watch the song record into the program.

* It is important to note that if you want to digitize every song separately, you will have to record one song into GarageBand at a time, save it as an .mp3, .aif, or .wav file, and then open a new project in garage band and record the next song on the record or tape.

* If you want to digitize each side of the record or tape, you can let it play the whole side into GarageBand, and then converting the entire side into a single file after it has finished playing.

Step 3: Last Step – Saving Recording to a Useable File Format

When you have finished recording the song you want into GarageBand, all you need to do now is send it to itunes and you’re done.  To do this, you need to click on the “Share” menu at the top of the screen in GarageBand, and select “Send Song to iTunes”:

Tutorial 2 Jpeg

Before you send the song to iTunes, you have to decide what file format you want to save the song as.  In the menu that follows, you can choose to compress the file into an AAC or .mp3 file that will take up less space, be of lower quality, but will work on any .mp3 player; or you can choose not to compress the file and send it to iTunes as an uncompressed .aif file, which you can then upload to streaming music sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud.

Convert to .mp3 or AAC:

Tutorial 4 Jpeg

Convert to .aif:

Tutorial 3 Jpeg

When you have selected which file format you want iTunes will open automatically and start playing the song or album you have digitized:

Tutorial 5 Jpeg

You can always save an .mp3 version and an .aif if you’d like so you can have a smaller file that you can share with friends and put on your .mp3 player, and a .aif file you can send to defunct music archives so we can put it online using Bandcamp or Soundcloud.

You have successfully digitized your record and/or cassette! Now you can help make Defunct Music Archives better by sharing these songs with us!

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4. Interviews

Ben archive BUTTON  interviews

One of the more exciting parts of this project is actually getting a chance to interview the members of the bands that will be featured on the website.  This month I had the opportunity to interview one of Og Music’s founders, Gerard Van Herk about Deja Voodoo and Og Music.  I have been able to find other interviews with Gerard during my research on the band, and I have included links to them in the Sources section of the website.

BG = Ben Griffiths

GVH= Gerard Van Herk

 

BG: Let’s start from the beginning, how did you meet Tony?

GVH: We worked together on the student paper in CEGEP… punk came along and we and some other people from the paper started going to shows. Eventually we said “we can do this”… I bought a guitar, we started jamming, on borrowed equipment at first. We then got rehearsal space in a unused factory in Little Burgundy. We jammed with a guy named James Findlay for a while. He could actually play. He brought in a friend of his named Jimmy Levesque, and we started putting songs together. James stopped playing with us (I think he thought I was full of shit), and Jimmy, Tony, and I did a few gigs as The Halftones, opening for real bands, in the summer and fall of 1981.

 BG: I actually share a rehearsal space in an unused factory space, the Fattal Complex in Saint-Henri, with the two bands I’m playing in.  I guess some things never change.

BG: How did Deja Voodoo get started? Can you tell me about the first gig you ever played together?

GVH: The Halftones played on a multiple-band bill at the Polish Hall on Prince Arthur, and somebody threw cherry bombs… at us or the dance floor, I’m not sure which. JImmy didn’t want to do gigs where people tried to injure us, so he quit. Tony and I then spent some time trying to figure out how to get a big sound from two people. That’s when I ditched the two skinny strings on my guitar and Tony got rid of his cymbals. Plus I had to figure out how to “sing” and play at the same time!

GVH: We did our first gig in November ’81 at a rented loft space called Studio Altaire. We organized the gig ourselves. If I remember right, Action Men on Assignment headlined, and I think there may have been another band that I’ve forgotten. The person we hired to tend bar didn’t show up, so I ended up tending bar part of the evening. Plus Tony had a family dinner or something that he had to go to first, so basically partway into the evening this guy comes in from a party and starts playing drums, and the bartender picks up a guitar and starts singing. I remember being scared shitless.

BG: It seems like from the beginning, there was a real Do It Yourself mentality at play with Deja Voodoo.  Want to play a show? organize it yourself.  Need a band? Start one.  There are several bands and labels in Montreal right now that take it upon themselves to organize and promote shows, and put out their own music. But there are few that have had the kind of lasting impression that Og Music has had.  What was the ‘independent’ music scene like in Montreal when you started out?

GVH: We started out in a gap between a fairly active punk scene (79-80) and a more active scene with multiple styles (hardcore, arty, dance-y). There was still quite a bit of arty-dancy music around, some of which was being released. Venues came and went fairly fast. We played some really strange places the first couple of years. Lots of gigs at a tiny place called the Cat’s Paw (Ontario just east of St-Laurent… I think maybe Just For Laughs is there now?), but also odd places, like people’s houses or coke-head bars on Crescent… I remember doing a live after-midnight broadcast on CJAD (!!) once.

BG: Was there a larger community of bands that you knew of who were putting on their own shows and releasing their own music?

GVH: Putting on their own shows, yes. Releasing music, not so much. That picked up in, uh, 84 or so. Hardcore bands started releasing their own stuff, and some record stores and distributors established labels. That left us sort of in between, because we released our own stuff, but also other people’s. (Actually there might have been hardcore bands doing that, too… I didn’t know that scene very well.)

BG: That actually leads into to my next question: What prompted you to start releasing your own band’s music, and eventually other bands’ music, under the name Og Music?

GVH: Well, for one thing, nobody else was going to release it. We did the first single (Monsters in my Garage) on our own label (“Deja Voodoo Records”), then when we decided to put out a cassette, we got a much better price by buying a lot, so we decided to release a cassette by Condition as well. We had *no* idea what we were doing… we bought a book called “How to Record and Sell Your Own Record” (I think), which was mostly aimed at folk people, and tried to follow the instructions in it.

GVH: One thing that I think non-Montrealers don’t really realize about how the local scene worked in those days is that bands would release stuff on multiple labels. So Ray Condo did some stuff for us, but mostly for Pipeline, and the Gruesomes did releases on Primitive.

BG: Right.  I think its still fairly common for bands to release their music on different independent labels, mostly because there aren’t any legally binding agreements made, it’s usually about distribution and helping cut down the production costs.  It is a labor of love.  It’s just to get the music out there. 

 BG: You mentioned that you released a cassette by Condition to help cut the cost of buying cassettes.  Was this a big motivating factor for releasing other bands’ albums when Og Music was getting started? to help you cut the costs of your own records as well as putting out music that you thought was interesting?   

GVH: Yes. Once we got past about the third or the fourth release, though, it was definitely more about putting out music than about sharing costs.

 BG: Since you were releasing lesser known bands, how did you manage to raise the money necessary for Og releases, especially it came to vinyl releases?

GVH: For most of the early years, we put the money we made doing voodoo shows back into the band or the label. Many of the releases broke even on sales alone. A lot of others could have, but we really tried to keep the whole catalogue in print, so you’d sell out of (say) a pressing of 2000, then you’d press another 500 or 1000 and sell only 50 to 100 a year.

BG: When I talked to Guy Lavoie at Cheap Thrills (A record shop in Montreal) about It Came From Canada, he told me that you used to have these big annual bbq shows to help raise money for the label.  Can you tell me more about these shows?

GVH: They were more about promoting the bands than making money, at least at first. But the last couple did make a pretty good profit (although we had to spend a lot of the last one’s profit to pay for damages to the church hall in which it was held).

GVH: They were one-nighters with five to seven bands. We did them each year that we released an It Came From Canada album, so… 1985 to 1989? The smallest one drew about 500 people, the largest about 1400. Most years, they were only in Montreal, but we did one in Ottawa (at Carleton U) and I think two in Toronto (promoted by Gary Topp of the 2 Garys). They used to run from about 7:00 to about 1:00. We’d have free food when the doors opened, for about 400 people, so that would get the place filled up early so that the first couple of bands were still able to play to a large crowd. And we’d usually put the biggest draw on second-last, so that people from the outer reaches could get home on transit, while downtowners could stick around until the wee hours. What else… we’d have a merch table, we’d sell beer… our friends and girlfriends would do the door and sell the beer (I remember one year my girlfriend’s brother’s ex-girlfriend ran the beer table, and she was really good at it!). I know the admission price for the early ones was $3, but I don’t remember whether it went up to $5 in later years. I think it probably stayed cheap, because a lot of street kids used to come, and I don’t know how much money they’d be able to come up with.

GVH: I’ve heard from lots of people in the intervening years who tell me that a barbecue was the first non-mainstream show they ever went to. Maybe because they were all 16 at the time and we didn’t exactly scrutinize ID.

BG: It sounds like you had quite the organization! You’d need to be really organized to get food enough for 400, let alone enough beer for a crowd like that!  

GVH: Well, we did work in restaurants… although we did the bbq cooking at home. The beer was delivered by the nearest depanneur. We just had to arrange it with the brewery.

BG: Was it a collaboration with the bands and your friends to get these shows together? Was it mostly Tony and yourself that ran Og Music and the bbq’s?

GVH: The bands would help out when and where they could, but it was mostly Tony and me. Luckily we were early adopters of computers, so that made it a lot easier to mail promotional stuff out (by the end of the label, we were up to 1100 names on our mailing list).

BG: Where did the idea come from to do a Canadian band compilation?  

GVH: I’m honestly not sure. I think once we started touring, we began to hear and see more and more good bands from across the country.

BG: That touches on something that is of interest to me.

BG: As a musician myself, I see bands from all over Canada making great albums that seem to fall on deaf ears.  These bands eventually break up, whether its because they start new bands, pursue other careers, finish school, or lose interest in the music they’ve been making with their band or label.  It made me wonder how much great music is sitting in flea markets, artist’s basements, and the record collections of a small group of people that knew the artists.  I don’t really understand why this music isn’t more accessible despite the incredible sharing power of the internet.

GVH: I actually got an email a few years back from a guy who had found “Swamp of Love” at a flea market in New Orleans and couldn’t believe such a band could have existed. But yeah, there must be a ton of good stuff out there. Also a ton of self-indulgent unimaginative shit.

BG: Man, that’s really cool that someone found your record in a flea market in New Orleans and contacted you about it.  That’s kind of a surreal experience.

GVH: It ended up with me and Bloodshot playing a gig at the guy’s tiki bar in NYC during a Zombie Walk.

BG: That’s even more surreal!  After I bought ICFC Vol. I, I came home and googled Og Music.  The first thing I found was a wikipedia page devoted to Og Music.  The page stated that:

“The label was retired when the band members of Deja Voodoo turned 30 and left the music business to pursue other careers.”    

This statement struck a cord with ideas I have about the seemingly inevitable fate of independent artists to move on to more stable careers in other fields after their twenties. Starting a label at 22, and ending it at 30 to get “real jobs” seemed to be a humorous reinforcement of these ideas I have.

GVH: We had actually promised in a very early fanzine interview that we’d stop when we were 30, based on not wanting to turn into one of those bands who never know when to stop. But we actually went through with it… which makes me feel like something of a hypocrite when I do shows nowadays.

BG: Have you done any reunion type shows since 1990?

GVH: Nope! Because it would suck. At least if I suck under my own name, I’m not disappointing anyone.

BG: After eight and a half years, why did you and Tony decide to stop releasing music under Og Music?

GVH: Running a label was way less fun than being in a band, and the band and label sort of went together, so when we stopped the band, it made sense to stop the label.

BG: You mentioned that you and Tony worked in restaurants and went to school together, and I know that you are now a professor of Linguistics at Memorial University. Did you feel pressure to pursue a more lucrative (literally all of my professors have made jokes about how “lucrative” academic careers are) career?

GVH: I think some profs joke about the non-lucrativeness of professorin’ because they compare it to other options they may have had available to them, maybe in the private sector. I, on the other hand, grew up well below the poverty line, so professor salary seems like a shitload of cash to me.

BG: Did it just feel like time to do something else?  

GVH: Or, at the least, to not keep doing the same thing.

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Thanks again to Gerard Van Herk for the interview!  Check back in the coming weeks for an interview with the other half of Og Music, Tony Dewald.

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