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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26
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Veteran Support

Craig Silliphant
Published Thursday April 2, 05:52 pm
J.P. Cormier reinvigorates his career with a song about PTSD

 J.P. CORMIER

Tuesday 7

The Bassment

Over the last few years singer / guitarist / songwriter J.P. Cormier had become road-weary, beginning to wonder if he had anything new to contribute to the music world as an artist. A 30-year veteran of the music industry, Cormier had hitchhiked to Nashville when he was 15, playing with legends like Waylon Jennings, Earl Scruggs and Bill Monroe, appearing at the Grand Ol’ Opry dozens of times.

Careers can be cyclical,” says Cormier. “I knew I wanted to go for longevity. I’ve worked with guys like Earl Scruggs and Stompin’ Tom, and each one of these guys has gone up and down. When you’re doing the same thing constantly for 33 years, there’s no way you’re not going to have several moments during that period of time where you’re sitting down and going, ‘Should I keep doing this?’ But you know what the answer is before you ask the question.”

For Cormier, reinvigoration came in the form of an overwhelming response to his recent album The Chance, and specifically to a song called “Hometown Battlefield” about war vets who struggle with — and all too often die from — post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The song garnered 750,000 Facebook views in its first two weeks online, and the DIY video currently sits at over half a million YouTube views.

[I’ve been getting] thousands of messages from all over the world,” Cormier says. “A vast number of them are coming from Vietnam vets, of all places. They’re the ones that feel the most forgotten.”

The song is a heartfelt acoustic dirge, and was partially inspired by a concert tour Cormier did through Afghanistan.

I saw things in Afghanistan that you shouldn’t see. I saw dead bodies laying in the field. I saw people drinking out of bodies of water where they were having to push the human feces out of the way. I watched firefights. We were shot at. Two of the people with us were killed. You don’t want to see that as a civilian. But if every civilian had to see that firsthand, there might not be any more war.”

A quick glance at Cormier’s YouTube page shows that most people commenting love the song and are firmly behind the sentiment of supporting soldiers who suffer from PTSD. However, there was at least one dissenter trying to stir the pot with negative comments, which goaded Cormier into responding on the page. Most artists wouldn’t do that; once you put the song out there it speaks for itself, trolls be damned. But Cormier, who is clearly passionate and outspoken on this subject, wasn’t about to let that shit stand.

What kind of an idiot is going to get on YouTube, online, and shit all over something with this subject matter?” he asks. “That put a bullseye on him for me. The reason why these people are dying is because no one wants to talk about it. There’s probably been more conversation on my YouTube page in the last year, than there’s been just about anywhere else. For anybody to get on there and attack me — they’re not attacking me, they’re attacking the people I’m trying to help, and that really pisses me off. It’s about standing up for people who can’t stand up for themselves.”

 

SUN K

Saturday 4

Amigos

Northern Lies is the first record from Toronto’s Sun K, a group of 20-something guys who cite some pretty classic influences, from Neil Young to The Band. While I think they’re somewhat removed from those artists (in the sense that Sun K sounds a lot more modern), singer Kristian Montano definitely pulls some Lou Reed-style vocal vibes into the album.

That’s the stuff I grew up listening to,” says Montano. “I got sidetracked and listened to emo for a bit, and stuff like that, but I eventually found True North [Records] again and fell in love with it. And as a songwriter, that’s what I try to listen to; I try to listen to what Neil Young listens to in order to channel that kind of vibe, but not all the guys [in the band do that]. We’re more like-minded in personality than musical tastes, [although] we all have similar modern taste in music.”

Even when they’re channeling older sounds, the production quickly places you in the here and now. Northern Lies is a lot crisper than the albums of the ‘60s and ‘70s where they’d jam a mic in the room and hit “record”; Sun K’s production is very separated and deliberate, by design.

Exactly,” says Montano. “That’s what we wanted to do. I remember talking to [producer] Cone [McCaslin] early on about what we wanted with the record. We talked about not trying to recreate T-Rex or Velvet Underground. Not to throw shade on anyone, but there are a lot of bands who are obsessed with the ‘60s and ‘70s sound these days. They make beautiful music, but for me, it’s a little too on-the-nose. Our sound right now and how we define ourselves is a new take on all that.”

 

EGYPTRIXX

Tuesday 15

O’Brians

Musician and studio producer David Psutka dabbles in a lot of types of music: he’s got a multitude of projects on the go, from a duo with Thrush Hermit’s Ian McGettigan called Hiawatha to the folk venture Anamai, all of which allow him to channel certain ideas into specific places.

Perhaps one of the more interesting and musically challenging projects he’s working on is Egyptrixx, which could loosely be defined as cinematic noise with purpose.

The basic idea from the beginning was to take the ideas and the ingredients of club music and make experimental music with them,” says Psutka. “The sounds, the junctures, the arrangements and, most importantly, the attitude. Like club music, it’s meant to be both intense and percussive, but also kind of tranquil, with these moments of serenity and texture.”

Egyptrixx has been around for five years, and recently released his third album, Transfer of Energy. It’s always a project in flux — growing and changing like a person (and a musician) does. It’s narrow in scope, but also allows for a lot of possibilities within those confines.

It feels to me as if it’s drifting towards a place that’s more specific and focused,” says Psutka. “But at the same time, as I’m growing as a musician or as a producer, or engineer or creative person, it seems as though it’s becoming much more diverse or much more intricate. I guess that’s why it’s exciting for me. I’m not doing it to make it exciting; I’m only doing it if it is exciting, if that makes sense.

And it still seems exciting to me.”

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