Published Jan 01, 2006What are you up to?
My band the Evaporators just happen to have a brand new album out on Nardwuar/Mint Records called Ripple Rock. We're doing tour dates for the release down the U.S. west coast and an eastern swing of dates in Ontario, (including Canadian Music Week in Toronto), and Quebec in March. It's been six years since we've played back east, so we're BACK!
What are your current fixations?
I've been really into a compilation CD that was just released called Real Gone Aragon. It's a compilation of songs released on the Aragon record label here in Vancouver, BC between 1954 and 1979. It has some amazing stuff on there, like one of the first real rock and roller bands out of there, the Prowlers. It also has great stuff by Tommy Chong's first band Little Daddy and the Bachelors. It's a great local comp encapsulating the history of Vancouver rock and roll and I'm really digging that.
Why do you live where you do?
I just love Vancouver, BC and I specifically love the North Shore because it's not far away from the Tomahawk barbecue restaurant in North Vancouver, which has the best hamburgers in the world. I guess I live in Vancouver then, because we have the best hamburgers in the world, and I love hamburgers!
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
Anything by Rodney Graham. He's an artist out of Vancouver, who most recently played in the band Volumizer, with filmmaker Hemi from the Pointed Sticks and Jay Blade of the Dishrags. Before that, though he was in the band the UJERKS. Also in that band was a famous photographer named Jeff Wahl, and also CBC dude David Wisdom was in that band too. Rodney has also played on our new album too, but I've been really excited and blown away by all the stuff he that does, all these amazing art projects, like the one here at the University of British Columbia, where he has this old-time kind of carriage and it's encased in glass and it's like this giant camera obscura you look through. Most recently, he brought a few guys from the Evaporators, Dave and Scott, all the way to Berlin to do a rock gig! He just decided that for this project "I want to do a rock gig! For this thing I'm just gonna be a punk." I'm in awe of him and all the stuff he's been doing of late.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
It probably was a few years ago when we played in Los Angeles and Robbie Rist, Cousin Oliver from The Brady Bunch, came to our gig. Can you believe it? It was a real tiny little venue, probably only 40 people there and maybe ten staff, and there was Robbie Rist! I had my shirt off, I had my photo taken with him, it was just incredible. I think of the Evaporators, in many respects, as the Cousin Oliver of rock'n'roll: you might see or hear of us here and there, but you don't really know who we are.
What have been your career highs and lows?
For lows, I would say playing New York City. We've only played there twice, in 1994 and 1998. In 1994, we had to go on after the Demoliton Doll Rods and after Speedball Baby, and hoped a bit of the audience would stick around, but no matter how quick we set up our gear, they left, they "evaporated," the audience just ran the hell out of the club along with the promoter and the little money we were owed. The next night we were playing Maxwell's in New Jersey and we hoped to redeem ourselves, but let's just say that the kitchen staff really enjoyed us. There was nobody there! In 1998, we played NYC again and there were seven people there, but we were happy because it was 700 percent increase!
For career highs, for me personally it's surviving a bout with a brain haemorrhage, a minor stroke, and being able to even make music after that. That is the greatest moment of my life, being able to continue on with life!
What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
I'm so happy just to play gigs that I don't take any of that kind of stuff into account, it just doesn't stick! Although, one incident that does come to mind time happened in California, after we'd played our song "United Empire Loyalists," which is kind of about how Americans and Canadians share a lot of history and kinship, and some punk rock kids took offence and scrawled graffiti all over our van that said "Go back to Canada, you fuckin' douche bags."
What should everyone shut up about?
Well, I don't think people should shut up about anything, because if you shut up that isn't free speech. People should bitch and complain about everything, I think that's what makes life interesting.
What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
Again, I'm just happy that I'm alive. I don't hate myself and wanna die or anything like that, I'm just happy and I love life! However, there are some aspects I could improve upon with respect to myself, and sometimes I ask people about these after my concerts.
What advice should you have taken, but did not?
This might sound kinda weird, but I remember Alanis Morissette was playing a gig in Vancouver over ten years ago and I had a chance to go to the gig and maybe even interview her. I never did, and I've always been kind of angry that I never did that. At the time she was just an up-and-comer, and I really missed out. The same thing with Jewel, as well, she did a whole week in Vancouver and was just talking to anybody, and now I wished I talked to the Jewel!
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
I think that I'd be the one who'd be kicked out! Or, if we kicked anyone out of the band, there would be no band, so we're kinda stuck.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
I think of my favourite Canadian sweater that I wore on the front of the I Gotta Rash record, released in 1998. I think of that because soon after that album cover photo was taken, we played a gig in Olympia, Washington, with Sleater-Kinney, who actually asked us to open for them on New Year's Eve, and we got paid $500 U.S., which was our biggest payday up until that point. I was just so grateful, so I gave my favourite Canadian flag sweater to Carrie of Sleater-Kinney. For years afterward I would think "Oh God, I wish I didn't give that sweater to Sleater-Kinney, but no, they deserved it, they supported us." To my amazement, though, about a month ago, I went to my P.O. Box and there it was: my sweater, just sitting there! It had been returned, six years later, and I didn't even ask for it back! What a beautiful woman, thank you Carrie Sleater-Kinney!
What is your vital daily ritual?
I do enjoy going to the gym, and seeing who is at the gym. I had the pleasure of working out simultaneously with Colin James. I get kind of excited by that because Colin James one time opened for the Rolling Stones, so when I'm on the treadmill I kind of pretend that maybe he's Mick Jagger or something and I think I'm asking Mick Jagger about the early days of British R&B. And then I keep thinking of Motörhead, and then I think of Ron Wood, and then I think of Ron Wood's first band the Birds, and go on a complete British music trip. I love it.
What are your feelings on piracy, internet or otherwise?
Go for it. It's like Robin Hood, man.
What was your most memorable day job?
I think it was working construction for one day and I was so bad at it. Right off the bat I was sent to McDonald's on the hour to get food for the crew. They just laughed at me. I thought I could do a good job, I felt tough and strong and I went there and within five minutes they'd sized me up as the guy who's gonna go to McDonald's to pick up the burgs and not the guy who'll use the hammer, jackhammer or whatever the hell it was. My buddies continued on and I got not really invited back.
How do you spoil yourself?
I love buying zines. I really love Ugly Things fanzine put out by Mike Stax out of San Diego. It's just turned me on to so many amazing bands like the Misunderstood, which was a great cover story. I actually buy NME, New Musical Express, every week, and I'm kinda upset cuz the price has gone up two dollars, but I still love buying it cuz it's so "up on the Detroit scene." I also like Broken Pencil, Punk Planet, Maximum Rock and Roll, freebie mags. Goldmine. Sometime when the mag expires and they rip the cover off, I'm lucky to have people at record stores hold on to them for me.
If I wasn't playing music I would be:
Well, some would argue "Am I really playing music at all?" So, if I wasn't playing music I wouldn't be playing music, I guess. I mean, if I wasn't playing music I would still be trying to play music because I'm still trying to play music. I'm not playing music yet, in my opinion. I'm not at the top of the rock heap. My idea is that I'm playing music when I'm poolside with Heather Locklear, and I'm not near that goal yet.
What do you fear most?
I'm not really scared of anything. What do I fear most? Hmmmm. I think maybe the loss of a Canadian identity. I fear that people will stop caring about Canada and people will just keep aping other cultures and not Canadian culture. I'm afraid "history rock" will die, without us ever being able to spearhead "history rock."
What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
Well, usually during an Evaporators performance it does get hot, so I take off my shirt. Sometimes I don't want to take off my shirt because the audience yells at me "Man, your back hair sucks!" It's really quite embarrassing, but I take off my shirt anyway and I jump around and then people yell at me. So that kind of makes me want to take it off and put it back on at the same time. Sometimes people are really weird about my chest and back hair and one time this girl thought it was bugs all over me. No, that's actually my hair! One time a guy tried to light my body hair on fire, too.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
In 1993, the Evaporators played the Highwood Music Festival in Alberta and Tommy Chong was the MC. I really, really, really wanted to do an interview with him, and Tommy Chong was just standing around. I asked the rest of the guys in the band if I should do an interview with him and they were like "Naw, just leave him alone." But it's the Chongster! I used to go to his house in West Vancouver and trick or treat every year on Halloween, but he was never home! But here he is now we gotta talk to the Chongster! Later we sat down in the beer tent, drinking a beer, and then as I looked up (kinda depressed about the whole thing), to my amazement and horror Tommy Chong walked right over to the table and asked if he could sit down with us. We said "sure" and asked him if we could turn the video camera on and ask him some questions, and it turned out to be one of the best interviews I've ever done. You can still check that interview out at www.nardwuar.com! And you can check Tommy Chong out in jail! Ba-boom!
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
It would be Neil Young, because I've been on a Neil Young kick for years ever since the Evaporators wrote the song called "Winnipeg 64" all about his first band the Squires. I wouldn't necessarily serve him, I would actually ask him to bring something to me. I would ask him to bring me a sleeping bag! And the reason for that is because my friend Bev Davies, who is a Vancouver photographer actually knew Neil in the 60s in Toronto and was supposed to go in that famous hearse with him to California. But Neil wouldn't let her go, because she didn't have enough money. However, Bev had already loaded her sleeping bag in the back of the hearse so, when Neil said, "Bye, Bev!" Bev never got the sleeping bag back. So if he came to my house for dinner, I'd say you gotta bring Bev's sleeping bag back, she's been upset about all these years. For your information, Bev Davies went on to become a great punk photographer and her photo is the one on the back of the famous D.O.A. record Hardcore 81.
What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
I don't think she cares what I'm doing, and I don't care what she's doing, we kind of live our own lives. I haven't dared broach any of those subjects.
Given the opportunity to choose, how would you like to die?
How about everybody dies? The sun is running out, right? How about just one day, the sun just runs out and we all die? Natural catastrophe, or something like that.
Nardwuar the Human Serviette is a raging inferno of enthusiasm for life, a walking database of information on rock culture, and a guerrilla-style interviewer of top rockers and politicians alike. Known perhaps best over the years as "the guy who crashed the Gorbachev press conference" to hilarious effect and drove Sonic Youth up the wall in his now-famous video clips, he's continued to penetrate the mainstream with his current slew of station-saving spots on MuchMusic. A long time garage-punk freak, his band the Evaporators have rocked it non-stop over the last ten years, barely missing a beat even after a brain haemorrhage temporarily short-circuited Nard's super-computer mind. With a heavy-duty membership roster including the Smugglers' Dave Carswell and the New Pornographers' John Collins, who run their own JC/DC recording studio, one could go as far to call the Evaporators a super group. With their third album, titled Ripple Rock, now out on Mint/Nardwuar Records, the Evaporators have scored a prestigious vinyl deal with Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles Records. Perhaps even more noteworthy, though, is that the album is available for only six dollars "postage paid" on the perennially-rad eight track cartridge format. Keeping it real, indeed!
Ready to take their fun and frantic costumed road show down the West Coast and through Eastern Canada, fans can freak out to new spazz-punk tunes like "Get Off the Treadmill" and "Addicted to Cheese" live. An album inspired by the early punk energy of the Pointed Sticks ,who they cover on "I Quit School", and art-wavers the Cardboard Brains, who they pay tribute on the Evapo original "Cardboard Brains," Ripple Rock and its scholarly liner notes show just how seriously these guys take their mission of edu-tainment for the masses. Totally original, absolutely unstoppable, unapologetically Canadian, Nardwuar's teacher/vaudevillian antics are as necessary as it is, to quote Nard himself, to "have a good dinner."