The other weekend two local acts kept the occupants of the Days Inn awake with a hard chargin’ train of rock & roll at CFUR’s SPCA fundraiser. Both the Cariboo Blues, and Scarlet Gallery burned the diesel well into the night. Anyone who missed out will never know how jubilant it can be to pay vet bills, and will therefore be disadvantaged for the rest of their lives. I caught up with Scarlet Gallery during Cariboo Blues’ set. Luckily they were all loose enough to put up with a drunk guy asking them questions.
Hey, care if I interrupt you folks?
No, not at all.
You guys had a great set. High energy, fuzzy, great garage sound.
Well thanks a lot.
It looked like you knew what to do with those skins earlier, how long have you been playing drums?
I started 3 years ago.
Wow, you’ve come along way in a short period of time. What’s your name?
Zack van Helvoirt.
Cool name. And how old are you?
Zack: 20, everybody is about 20.
So did you guys all go to school together?
Z: Yep. The bassist and I are twins actually.
No way. (Zack nods.) No fuckin’ way!
Well that explains the solid rhythm section between you two. Insane. A telepathic connection goes down on stage, it’s confirmed. Can I take your picture?
And who’s your buddy here?
Nice to meet you Riley, first time I’vemet a Riley in Riley’s Pub. Can I take your picture?
R: Sure. Obliged.
So Zack, who do we have on leadguitar and vocals?
Z: No, Marlin, spelt just like the fish. Marlin Fowler.
Ok, and how about bass?
Z: Grace van Helvoirt.
Grace on bass, far out. Your set kicked ass, I hope you know that.
Do you guys have any pre-show rituals we should be aware of?
Z: Not really. We down a couple beers, and typically stay away from the H… unless the party invites it. (Zack and Riley laugh)
How long have you guys played together?
Z: As a band, about 2½ years, though we’ve known each other for longer. (Meanwhile the Cariboo Blues have turned the entire bar into a chalky hot-box with a smoke machine on stage)
Are you jealous you didn’t get to take advantage of the smoke machine during your set?
Z: (Smiles) Yeah, we’re a little bitter about that. We had no idea it was there.
Are you guys lined up to play any more shows in town.
Z: The odd house party, but nothing too legit. We’ve applied for a few festivals, Artswells being one, but haven’t heard back yet. Coldsnap is on our to-do list for next year though. (At this point both Grace and Marlin have joined the table.)
Looking forward to it. I liked what I saw at Coldsnap this year, but it could have used a raw power trio like you guys. A few shows needed a little more vigor.
Can you tell me about a factor that informs your music?
Z: Improvisation plays a big role in the structure of the songs.
Marlin: Yeah even the lyrics. Improvisation lets the songs flow, otherwise they just sound forced and formulaic.
Grace: Yep, have to agree with that.
So at times you guys just start playing together without knowing what will happen, then hang on to the good bits when they arrive.
G: Oh yeah, it’s a lot of fun. (They all smile)
Were you guys improvising tonight at all?
Z: Oh yeah.
G: No doubt.
M: Yeah. (with assertion) It doesn’t sound natural otherwise.
At your ideal show, what kinds of props would you guys want? (I say this while inhaling dry fumes from the smoke machine.)
M: Ridiculous outlandish shit.
G: A larger than life lava lamp.
M: A light bright enough to make it impossible to see the band.
What would you do if this three-story tall lava lamp just broke and sent gigantic chunks of glass, strange fluid, and hot wax roiling towards yourselves and the audience?
M: We would just go with it.
G: Hot burning wax destroying the stage, equipment, ourselves, and all.
Zack, is that a lava cat on your shirt?
Z: No, (smiles) it’s a pizza cat.
Stompin’ Tom Connors recently passed. How do you feel about his grassroots Canadiana style? Do you think you could make it playing bar to bar, town to town all above the 49th parallel?
G: We definitely have a lot of respect for his determination to play to Canadians everywhere.
M: We’ve discussed getting a van and going cross-country, gig-to-gig, seeing how far we can make it.
Z: (Nods. All smiles.)
Would you consider hitting up the Peace Country, or places even further north on your tour?
M: For sure.
I’d appreciate it, the North needs Rock & Roll too. Any last words? Not before you die, but before I leave you alone?
M: The more I say, the more I fuck up.
Z: Rock & Roll!
G: Rock on!
Riley: …Yippy kye yay motherfuckers. (shoots a Cheshire smile)
You can listen to a bit of Scarlet Gallery’s killer album, and check out their schedule, on their website. If you want to catch the triumphant trio rocking socks off, you’ll just have to drop in on one of their shows, the facebook page may just take you there. As well, listen in for select tracks on CFUR’s Ether in the Attic (Live Mondays @ 5pm, and recycled Sundays @6pm).
Kudos to Fraser Hayes and Brock Paciejewski (of the Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management 412 Class, and CFUR) who organized the whole shebang. In tandem with Rock & Roll talent, they managed to raise $850.00 for the cause. That should keep a few more animals happy and healthy at Prince George’s SPCA who, to their credit, refuse to put down their orphaned animals.