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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

Go North, Young Man

Craig Silliphant
Published Wednesday March 4, 03:36 am
Goud injects hardcore past into singer/songwriter present


Sunday 15



Before he was known as Northcote, Matt Goud was most famous for being in a Christian hardcore band called Means, something that still follows him around after all these years.


“Most interviewers ask me about it because I was in a quote/unquote ‘Christian band,’ and it’s like an interesting thing,” says Goud. “But it’s far from my world now… I don’t identify as being a Christian anymore, [although] it’s a huge part of who I am still. I used to be kind of angry when I lost faith or however you say it. I was angry and jaded or whatever, but I’ve kind of come to terms with it — [both] the good things it taught me, and the things now that I cannot accept about it.”


Goud grew up in Carlyle, Sask., but moved to Dauphin, Man. to attend a Christian boarding school in grade 10. It was there that the genesis of Means was formed, as a few bands from the area created a little punk scene in the middle of nowhere. Identifying through punk and hardcore was something that set Goud and his friends apart.


“In our small town, no one else had [punk albums], so it was kind of your cool little thing,” he says. “Only one other guy in the high school knew about NOFX.”


As I talk to Goud, he’s in New Jersey, about to grab a coffee and load in gear for the first show of a long tour that sees Northcote opening for U.S. punk vets The Gaslight Anthem, clearly a huge opportunity. And it makes sense — Northcote’s recent work has been compared to The Hold Steady, Bruce Springsteen and The Gaslight Anthem themselves. But Goud is far from a copy act: Northcote has his own sound, even if you can hear echoes of Craig Finn or The Boss in there.


“I’ve never had a real super-clear goal of trying to sound like someone else. If I could sound like Springsteen I would do it,” Goud laughs. “Or certainly The Hold Steady or The Gaslight Anthem. I drove from Regina to Edmonton to see Gaslight Anthem play in 2008 or something. They were my favourite band, and still one of my favourites. If I could rip them off, I would.”


Northcote ‘s most recent (and self-titled) album is a lot more full of beans than his past works, which were mostly in the quieter singer/songwriter realm. From the opening song onward it hits the ground running, sounding awesome and desperate, emotion wrung from every note and imagery spun from each lyric. The turn in direction came from playing live shows, says Goud, and perhaps from wanting to recapture some of that energy of his hardcore past.


“Northcote used to have a lot of soft songs,” he says, “but I realized once I started touring more, when I get on stage I’m having a hard time performing these because I want to play loud, or sing loud. Hardcore music is so physical when you play.”


Though Northcote played over 160 shows last year alone, Goud admits “they’re not taking over the world quite yet.” But he’s playing live music all over the world, and that’s gotta be pretty damn cool.


“Any musician just wants opportunities,” says Goud. “They want to skip as many days at their day job as they can. So that was the goal of this record.”




Friday 13



It sucks, but it’s often true: great art comes from serious sadness.


“I went through a big break-up,” says Kristen Cudmore of Toronto’s Language Arts, “the biggest break-up I’ve ever been through.”


Cudmore’s relationship woes provided the impetus for her to move to Toronto and write Wonderkind, her debut album. But sadly, her personal tragedies didn’t end there; while she was recording the album, one of her best friends passed away and another went missing.


“It’s still hard to think about,” she says. “Wonderkind was kind of built up while all this was happening.”


Language Arts is a unique amalgam of classical influence poured over modern sounds and ideas. Cudmore is a classically trained guitarist, and her bandmates (including Saskatoon ex-pat Soren Nissen) are also accomplished musicians. They employ their skills in a modern context, searching for emotions in a song that will pull a listener in.


“What makes a song good isn’t the chord progression and the melody,” says Cudmore. “It’s, ‘how does it make you feel? What textures are in there? What’s the message?’ This is about the music and the experience, not about me getting better as a musician by trying some hard technique on the guitar.”


Cudmore had to channel her emotions into the music during those hard times, and while no one can suggest that it’s a good thing we have losses in our lives, it can definitely make music and art come alive with depth and realism. But Wonderkind is far from a downbeat dirge; Cudmore is a sweet, upbeat person, and her personality is reflected in her music.


“I don’t want to depress people,” she laughs. “I want people to feel happy and inspired. So much can happen in a lifetime.”




Friday 6

The Bassment


Because of their moniker, people often assume that Prince Albert’s All Mighty Voice is some kind of religious band. 


“We get asked that all the time,” says drummer Ian Dickson.


Instead, their name is actually a play on words — reflecting both their robust multi-part harmonies and the real-life history of Almighty Voice, once a member of the One Arrow reserve near Duck Lake.


In 1895, Almighty Voice was accused of slaughtering a government cow. When he was arrested, an officer joked that the penalty for such a crime was hanging. Almighty Voice got freaked out and escaped, later killing a Mountie in an arrest attempt and sparking a manhunt that went on for several years. He was eventually killed — all over a cruel joke made by an authority figure.


“It’s a neat piece of history that we wanted to pay homage to,” says Dickson.


All the members are songwriters, bringing material to the table to be fleshed out by the rest of the band. Their music carries a raucous, toe-tapping indie-folk bent characterized by those awesome vocal harmonies, as well as instruments such as harmonica and upright bass.


“It’s feel-good music, that’s for sure,” says Dickson. 


All Mighty Voice is playing The Bassment in between stints at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George, BC, and Canadian Music Week in Toronto, all supporting their latest album, All For One. The record is downright lively, and the band is enjoying translating that energy into their stage show.


“It’s so easy,” Dickson says. “We love to play music together. That’s really our reason for getting up in the morning. The energy just comes out, and of course, the audience plays a huge part in that as well.”

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