Propagandhi

Nazi Baiting and Hardcore Raging Page 16

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Propagandhi - Nazi Baiting and Hardcore Raging Page 16
By Greg PrattThe band release the Recovered EP as a digital-only release on the otherwise mainly defunct G7, benefiting Partner in Health, who help the poor with health care options; it features unreleased, remixed material from the recording sessions from their first two albums. They also release a split seven-inch with Sacrifice on Winnipeg's War on Music Records; Propagandhi contribute a Corrosion of Conformity cover tune (Sacrifice do a Rush song). "I've always been a huge Propagandhi fan," says Sacrifice guitarist Joe Rico, "so when the idea of the split came up I was going to do it no matter what. They are more of a punk band, but they have an intensity that you can't get much in punk these days. They are an intense band, period. They are one of the greatest bands in the world." For Hannah, the record is a dream come true. "When we did the seven-inch I was kinda worried about it, because I thought there was nothing that was going to make me more happy than that," he says. Samson releases another EP, Provincial Road 222, and the Weakerthans release Live at the Burton Cummings Theatre.

2011
Touring continues while the band struggle to figure out what label home will fit. While on tour, the skinheads return: in Australia, 16 Nazis try to get into a Propagandhi show in Melbourne. "But it's 16 guys against a room full of 500 people; they're not gonna stand a chance," says Hannah. "Plus, all they want to do is throw a bottle at you." It ends anticlimactically, proving the skinhead turmoil is a thing of the past.

2012
Samson releases Provincial, a solo album that collects his last two solo EPs with additional material. Propagandhi release their sixth album, Failed States. It is their first for Epitaph Records, a fact not lost on Fat Wreck Chord's Fat Mike. "I advanced them $50,000 to start G7," says Fat Mike. "I helped them start their own label and was very supportive of them doing their own label, and they stopped doing their own label. Now they're on Epitaph. I don't really see how Fat Wreck Chords went wrong, or how we wronged them."

The band decide on the label after hearing nothing but good things from people they know who have worked with Epitaph. "Converge were like, 'It's fucking awesome, they leave us alone.' They leave you alone? Awesome," says Hannah.

Failed States finds the band progressing yet again, with tons of frantic, crossover/thrash metal riffing, songs that take a sombre personal approach, and an overall vibe that really can't be pinned down. "Instead of being like, 'Oh yeah, it sounds like Supporting Caste,' it's its own record for sure," says Hannah. "It's not the same as Supporting Caste where you can hang your hat on it, and be like, 'Yeah, this is what it is.' Sonically, it sounds a lot different. It doesn't deliver the goods as predictably, but for everybody in the band it delivers them in a much more satisfying heavy way."

Failed States finds Guillas coming into his own in the band. "The other guys had been playing together for so long and I joined in… maybe I felt a bit more comfortable as an equal member in the band [on this album], and less timid to bring in ideas and less afraid for my ideas to be not used, necessarily."

Kowalski says that the band approached the new album, which they recorded in Winnipeg, with a much more relaxed vibe, which worked wonders for him. "I'm not really that specific or rigid with art or music," he says. "I do that if that's the situation, you know? But I've realized that for me and the way that my mind works, I'm way better if it's just lively and we're going for it. Instead of worrying about doing something so right, I'm just feeling the vibe and going for it, I'll be way better for sure."

Recording it in their own town helps the whole process a great deal. "Being able to do it in Winnipeg for me was a fucking huge bonus," says Samolesky, "after going through nightmare-inducing experiences with sharing a room with Kowalski for three and a half weeks to be able to sleep in my own bed at night and walk 15 minutes to the studio, even though it was fucking freezing like shit out here. It felt good; the guy we recorded with was great. It felt proper at this point."

The new album marks an interesting little footnote in the band's history, as Samson, who hasn't been listening to the band's albums since his departure, admits to being very interested in the songs he's heard so far. "I've listened to both singles off of this record and I'm pretty transfixed by them, actually, I think they're pretty amazing," he says. "And maybe that's just me: it's taken me this long to be able to listen to them again. Maybe this is the record where I start listening again and then I'll go back. But part of me always was afraid that if I listened to their records it would be so much better than what I was doing. It's stupid, it's just one of those things, there was something psychological about it. I've never seen them play either. Which I think I'd like to do someday, but to me that was too weird. But they're a remarkable band."

Things are going well on the live setting for the band; they survived the boom and bust of pop-punk by not buying into big festival tours and over-hyped concerts. "For us, it's kind of good that we didn't ever do any of that stuff," says Hannah. "A lot of those bands, you can tell they feel like their time has passed and they're phoning it in. Psychologically, for us it's like, people are still coming, cool, there's still some young people here, it's not just 45-year-old guys with faded tattoos still wearing clothes that look like they're shopping at a skate shop." So the band get set to hit the road, enjoying their skinhead-free shows. "I'm glad I wasn't a part of that, to be totally honest," chuckles Guillas. But as far as the crowd-baiting and relentless antagonizing of years past goes, Hannah has learned to live with the legacy. "Whatever, we did what we did," he says. "Part of it's entertaining and part of it's just fucking human frailty. Young and stupid. I have a million regrets, but I'm in a pretty content place and if we did anything differently maybe the band wouldn't exist or I wouldn't be in a band with Jord, Todd, and Beave, or I wouldn't be with my son now. It all led to here."


The Essential Propagandhi

Less Talk, More Rock (Fat Wreck, 1996)
Musically, it's melodic pop-punk but it's deceptive: there are vicious hardcore undertones hiding away on this classic. Except on Samson's two songs, which break up the fast-faster tempos of the rest of the album perfectly. This one caps off the band's early pop-punk era by going totally over the top with the lyrics and the liner notes, delivering a huge middle finger to the scene they found themselves in.

Potemkin City Limits
(G7 / Fat Wreck, 2005)
An underrated masterwork of emotional frailty, molten metal riffing, and the sound of a band dealing with intense alienation from the scene they'd been unfairly lumped in with. The first three songs alone are game-changers; by the time album closer "Iteration" rips you a new one ― poetically, to boot ― you'll be forgiven for not even understanding what genre of music this is.

Failed States (Epitaph, 2012)
Very, very rarely has a hardcore band sounded this bold and energized on their sixth full-length. Never on their sixth album has a hardcore band taken this many chances and come out victorious on every single one. "Rattan Cane" finds the band dabbling in sludge metal, while "Unscripted Moment" is Hannah's most naked moment as a songwriter yet.



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wow!!! I have known Chris since 1987 - this is a fantastic look inside the life of the band.
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i hope Pratt got paid handsomely for this story.
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This article was so fascinating and gripping. Propagandhi are my all time favorite band and have totally radicalized and inspired me with their values. I was surprised by their ruminations on the "Today's Empires" album as I think the sound on that album is so flawlessly raging, even the guitar tone. I would love to hear the original recordings unearthed some day. "Potemkin City Limits" was the first to truly blow my mind, and I really dug into the wordy lyrics and depth of the songwriting and musicianship. There are days when that record is my favorite and they should be infinitely proud of it. They continue to improve and write songs that even get me choked up at times. Failed States does not disappoint in the least, and I take comfort that the band finally seems to be hitting their stride and at peace to an extent.
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Congrats to the guy who did that ! Very interesting. Propagandhi is the most important ''punk rock'' band of the last 20 years.
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I'll probably be reading this article 4 or 5 times. Amazing shit I never knew. Aside from Seth (above me), I'm Propagandhi fan no. 2 in the world, so this is need-to-know stuff. ;)
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Propagandhi is second to none. Truly inspiring throughout their entire career.
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why does hannah say fuck so much?!
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Whoa whoa.... how is Supporting Caste not considered an essential propagandhi record? FUCK
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Agreed, Supporting Caste is fucking pivotal. A phoenix rebirth!!!
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My favorites, in order:
1. Supporting Caste
2. Less Talk...
3. Today's Empires...
4. Failed States
5. Potemkin...
6. How To Clean...

But with just about the width of a republican's pussy hair between them!
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Simply the best band ever.....
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Supporting caste is great, but its not essential. Less talk, Potemkin, Failed states, he nailed it.
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brilliant article. well put together and lusciously interesting. cheers.x
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I'm gonna say right now:
1. Supporting
2. Today's Ashes
3. Potemkin
4. Less talk...
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Lots of great info! Kudos to the writer.
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I cannot wait to fully dedicate to listening to Failed States
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This is the grail of features, as far as Prop goes. Thank you so much for this - it's incredible.
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Great Timeline, the best I read in years!

Can't wait for the Montreal show tomorrow (Friday)!!!
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This ruled. Completely friggin' ruled. Thanks for doing this.

I've been a fan since I was wee and I think they're the one band I've ever heard that's grown musically as my personal tastes have sharpened (re: grown more jaded).

The "Potemkin..." phase was a real bummer to read through. That album is so unfairly underrated...I think it was their first masterstroke of brilliance. The timeline builds some awesome context to that whole time.

Stray observations:
1) Joe Rico fucking rules. Fact.
2) There's always a temptation to paint Fat Mike as a douchebag these days, but I think he comes off pretty well in this, and I think the dissolution of the Fat/Propagandhi relationship makes complete sense.
3) JKS seems like a good dude. Really wounded by all this, and understandably so...everything he said was really eye-opening.
4) BEAVE.
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Hey everyone, Greg Pratt here, I wrote this Timeline and just wanted to say THANKS so much for all the kind words! I totally appreciate it. Really glad people are digging it. Cheers!
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Great read. Thanks
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To be honest, I've always preferred pop-punk (well, some of it) to the kind of stuff Propagandhi's played over the years. But so what? Just wanted to say two things:

1. Whether we're talking Draft Nite at the Royal Albert in the early 1990s or the A-Zone in the early 2000s, there's precious few people I'd rather run into than Chris or Jord.
2. When I was involved in Canada-Palestine Support Network-Winnipeg some years ago, Propagandhi let us table their show and donated a big wad of cash to our group. Really helped us out!

The world is a better place for Propagandhi existing in it - no doubt!
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Huge long-time Prop fan here, and digging the new material as well.
I never quite understood the whole issue with FAT Wreck Chords and unfortunately this article didn't really get the job done either. FAT seemed like the perfect label for them wanting to be indie and do their own thing and also get heard and sell records. The proof is in the pudding given their popularity when FAT handled them. I like Fat Mike and have always understood what he was trying to do, and I never thought of it as that different from Propagandhi, so the whole thing is puzzling to me. Sure, Prop's seriousness and understanding of politics goes way beyond NOFX, but it's still within the same sphere.
And now their on Epitaph? I don't really give a shit, but I still find the whole thing strange. I think Prop just didn't want to go crawling back to FAT after all that happened, but probably should have. I was always a big fan of Smallman though, and it is too bad G7 didn't last longer. The fact that Fat Mike financed G7 for them should have been the guiding light when it came to moving on from there or to US releases. I'd have to say that I agree with Mike here that I don't get how FAT really wronged them. They kind of owe everything to Mike.
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Dude, Potemkin was an amazing album, just like everything they have done since today's empires. Less talk was good too, but everything since then has been the best music(in my opinion) ever made.. So unique for punk or metal, and lyrically unmatched in its poetry, wit, content, or message. It penetrates my bones; makes me feel, makes me grin with pleasure and astonishment. I am greatful that this band exists. Sappy, but reading about their disappointment with certain things bummed me out a bit. I am musician, and no matter how hard I try, or how much heart I put into, nothing I will ever do will compare. Propagandhi has done something that is very rarely acomplished musically, and they do it over and over. They should be proud. Thanks for the article, good stuff. Long live rock'n'roll!
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Hands down Supporting Caste is their best album. It's everything they are with a more upbeat sound. Supporting Caste doesn't sound as heavy handed as Potemkin and more cohesive than Failed States.
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Propagandhi played with NOFX at the Rendezvous, not the albert.
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I think this is my favourite peice of music journalism I've ever read. It answered lots of questions that I always had about them as a fan, really long but i couldn't put it down. I really enjoyed it, thanks a lot Greg!
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Definitely an epic timeline/bio of Propagandhi. Even on page 16, I didn't want it to end. Great bits of info everywhere. I can't believe Chris is so down on TETA. It is an amazing record. My favorite Propagandhi record. Maybe the guitar tones should have been different or better, and mixing should have been better. I'm not an audiophile, but the songs on that records are just epic. There's so much passion, anger and awesomeness. I've been listening to Propagandhi since 1998, and while I liked them then, TETA completely changed my view of them and gave me a new direction of what music can be. Great article!

Here's my favorite Prop records:

1. Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes
2. Failed States
3. How to Clean Everything
4. Potemkin City Limits
5. Supporting Caste
6. Less Talk, More Rock

Other fans may not agree with the order, but the difference between one record to another is less a (pubic) hair's breadth.
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Just a thought, how about a kick starter account for the band to re-record Today's Empires?? I love this album but would really like to see how the songs would stack up against the production style of failed states or supporting caste. What do you guys think??
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ask the other Fat bands about Mike's "support"
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A must read for any Propagandhi fan!
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just a great article. This band rocks. I really feel like of all the bands i got into i high school (only 2005-9) they stayed topical and evolved with me politically.

Great band!
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Been a fan since How to Clean Everything when I played them relentlessly on the UVic campus radio station. Great article, great band. For me the last two albums have really been the turning point musically. I think the tone and message of the band has been consistant, but the hard-driving rhythmic melodies are just to dense, yet crisp. The band is tight and to me what all bands should strive for. They have a purpose and they are better players than 95% of the bands out there. Very underrated. Prickly to be sure, but that just makes them more marketable!
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Just a clarification, by the last two albums, I meant Potemkin and Supporting Caste. I only just heard about Failed States from this article. [runs off in search of album]
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Todd Kowalski joined in late 1996, not 1997 as the article states.
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This was such a great read. Propagandhi was one of the two bands that changed my life musically.

Such a thorough and great insight into the band. The Potemkin era was indeed tough to read. It's such a great album (my favourite one, actually), and so hugely underrated.
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GREAT read!!!

Potemkin City Limits may be my favorite album of the last ten years, so don't come telling me that it is no other than a fantastic effort of a massively talented band. Love the melodies, lyrics, emotions and the energy. Perfect.
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Article Published In Oct 12 Issue