Published Jun 26, 2007Following the release late last-year of Zero Culture, a record brimming with dark, fast punk rock, Ottawa, Ontarios Million Dollar Marxists are gearing up for their latest cross-Canada tour. Having added a new guitar player since their debut full-length, the equally awesome Give It A Name, the bands sound has expanded substantially, marking a more varied musical approach that doesnt fall into tried and true punk musical clichés. Having barely had a chance to road-test their newest material, the bands vocalist Luke Nuclear appears to be looking forward to tour with equal parts excitement and reserve.
How has your approach to touring changed since the first time the band went out on the road?
Luke Nuclear: The first time we went out on tour we had no idea what to do or what to expect. We booked everything ourselves. We didnt know what to bring, or how much merch we would sell. It was really blind travelling. We only ended up playing seven shows around Canada, so it was more vacation than anything. Now, we have someone helping us out with shows, and someone helping with press, and were a lot more focused on just having a tight live show. Were also trying not to get completely wasted every night. I think were learned that over the last few years of touring.
Is that the hardest lesson you learned?
No, I think the hardest lesson we learned was not to buy a $3,000 van and try to put a 150,000 km on it. This time were going out with something slightly newer with no holes in the floor and doors that close.
What was the worst show on that first tour?
To be perfectly honest, they were all pretty bad. We only had an EP and it had only been out for a few months. So outside of a few people we already knew in each city, and the other bands on the bill, we were basically playing for ourselves. They were all really fun because it was the first time we had done any touring. We also had nothing to compare it to.
Do you have a high point from being on the road?
Probably playing South by Southwest a few years ago. We didnt really know much about the festival, outside of hearing about it, but we got some great responses from that show. Unbeknownst to us, there was a lot of press at that show. It was a total fluke, but it helped a lot of things happen for us.
Out of all those good things, from being championed by David Fricke to having your music on Viva La Bam, what has been the coolest for you?
Well, its not like people recognise us on the street, but going on a European tour a few years ago was a huge deal. We had such a good time, and it was the kind of experience we never could have had in North America.
Now that youre playing songs from Zero Culture live, how are people receiving the new material?
We havent really been able to do any serious touring since the record came out because of a few of the guys being in school, but every show weve done has been great. When we played North by Northeast a few weeks ago, we had people come up and tell us it was the best they had seen us play. By the time we were touring for Give It A Name, some of those songs were getting pretty old, so this stuff is a lot more fresh. I think that its going over with the crowd fairly well. They seem to like it, anyway.
What do you feel the greatest difference is between your writing on Zero Culture and Give It A Name?
With Give It A Name, most of those songs were brought to the band already completed by whoever wrote them. Now, its a lot more collaborative. It can take a little bit longer, but having everyone involved in the writing process is preferable. Now its more, "Ive got this riff, does anyone else have anything?
Do you have a favourite song on the new record?
I really like the last song, "Pangs of Creation. Usually when we get interviews, no one asks what the songs are about, I guess because they think theyre rock songs about drugs and fucking. But that song is about using art as a metaphor for creation, and wanting things to come out. That making music, making art, making life can be painful.
I was wondering about that, because you guys have a pretty silly name, but all your songs arent just about getting drunk and fucking. Are there any particularly important lyrical themes on the new record?
Most of them are just personal, but there can be microcosms and macrocosms within that. "Zero Culture is about what I see as the degradation of society as a whole, and being on the fringes as a band or a person and what that does to you. I think, if anything, theres just a consistent musical mood that flows through the whole record. Its a pretty dark record. When we were writing those songs, we were coming off touring for about a year with only a few breaks here or there, and feeling very alienated from a lot of things.
So does tour come as a vacation, or do you have a little bit of trepidation?
Its exciting because were going to get to go see some people and some places that we havent in awhile. At the same time, everyones gotten really used to sleeping in their own beds, and seeing their girlfriends, stuff like that. I think that everyones a little wary about the fact that theyll be sleeping on a floor for the next three weeks.
In terms of this tour coming up, is there one city youre really excited to get back to?
Im really excited about going back to Calgary and Edmonton. Theyre just always a lot of fun, and we havent been there in a while. We also played a pretty sad show on our last Canadian tour in Regina, so Im hoping to go back and do it right this time.