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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26
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Craig Silliphant
Published Wednesday November 26, 01:31 am
Teenage Kicks prefers to focus on substance over style

TEENAGE KICKS

Thursday 27

Vangelis

When it comes to where Toronto’s Teenage Kicks got their name, I instantly thought of The Undertones song, but a few articles out there in the music press have disputed that. I finally locked it down, solving one of the mysteries of the universe thanks to guitarist / vocalist Peter Van Helvoort.

It’s a two-parter,” he says. “I had it jotted down while I was reading Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac, and we kind of picked it as a name. Then I was driving home that night and [The Undertones song] came on [Stevie Van Zandt’s radio show] ‘Little Steven’s Underground Garage.’ I was like, ‘Okay, that makes sense. Let’s do that.’ So it was kind of divine intervention.”

Teenage Kicks has gone through a lot in the last few years, while trying to bring their first album to fruition. The core of the band is Van Helvoort and his brother Jeff, but they were originally a five-piece. They had the opportunity to go to L.A. to record their album Spoils of Youth with Alain Johannes (who’s in Dave Grohl’s Sound City Players] but the experience wasn’t what they’d hoped, so they ended up scrapping it all. Then they went back to Toronto, crammed themselves into the basement and re-recorded the whole damn thing.

For the most part [the difference between the two albums] was sonic,” says Van Helvoort. “The one we made in California, sonically it just didn’t sound very good. Everyone played better the second time, even though the first time was way more natural.

For some reason, the second time the album ended up sounding more like the band. I’m not sure why that is, because we never played the songs more than three times. Instead of a studio with a producer, we were doing it in my basement with me producing and engineering. It was more of a pain in the butt, for sure.”

In addition to the recording woes, the band’s lineup of players started dropping faster than flies in February, going from a five-piece to a three-piece. They’ve since added another guitar player for their recent tours, in order to play the songs the way they were intended.

[The lineup is] constantly changing, depending [on] who we can get to come and help us on the road,” says Van Helvoort. “A three-piece is hard. It’s really the most challenging thing I’ve had to do. I’ve played songs in this band five different ways, depending on the different lineups we’ve had. When we were a five-piece, I was pretty much a stand-alone singer. And when we became a three-piece, I was the lead guitarist. We tried to take [a cue] from someone like Joel Plaskett; if you go and watch Joel Plaskett play with The Emergency live, a lot of it is bass and drums and vocals. So we’re trying to do the same thing, where you focus on the vocal melody. We’re not terrible as a three-piece, but we do need that extra guitar.”

These guys clearly take rock music seriously, but they don’t exactly look the part. In fact, Van Helvoort is a self-admitted anti-rocker.

A lot of people that I work with [as a sound guy] in the bars in Toronto tell me that I don’t look like I’m the frontman of a rock band. I probably shouldn’t be in a rock band. I don’t drink. I don’t fuckin’ do drugs. I don’t party. In general, I’m the antithesis of someone who should be the lead singer of a rock band.”

Rather than worrying about fitting into a rock ‘n’ roll stereotype, Van Helvoort says Teenage Kicks prefers to focus on their songs and their live show.

It sounds cliché, but [what makes our show stand out is that it’s] high-energy,” he says. “I came from the punk rock and the beginning of the emo scene, where the people on stage were more concerned with moving around than they were with playing their instruments. We’ve graduated from that, because I have a good enough ear to know when I’m not playing the right chords, but the energy thing has always been super, super, super important.”

 

ROSIE AND THE RIVETERS

Thursday 4 and Friday 5

The Bassment

Rosie and The Riveters, who take their name from the iconic American feminist symbol created to represent female factory workers during World War II, have become a Saskatoon staple over the last few years. These four women also put their money where there mouths are, donating 20 per cent of their merch sales to financing initiatives through kiva.org, a non-profit organization that connects people to micro-loans that help to alleviate poverty.

The girls have really built a strong presence, using the stage for the power of good and donating to women’s projects around the world,” says Allyson Reigh, who joined the group about a year ago.

They’re not a religious act, but they do take a good chunk of their sound from gospel music.

We really love the way the way that a lot of the gospel singers sang, the power in their voices, and the harmonies and melodies,” says Reigh.

Rosie and The Riveters will take to the stage in their trademark vintage-1940s dress on two consecutive nights at The Bassment, debuting some new material that will be on an album they’re releasing next year.

It’s the first time that we’ve all written songs together,” says Reigh. “What’s exciting about it is that it’s sort of our own flavour of secular gospel music, as well as folk music, with a little bit of Motown inspiration. We’ve got really tight harmonies and vocal arrangements, some catchy melodies, and we’ve also done a lot of work on our older material too.

So we’ve brought a new light and a new energy to the older material that audiences may have heard before. Come and hang out and enjoy some uplifting music.”

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