Nasty On Vancouver's Beautiful Ugly

Nasty On Vancouver's Beautiful Ugly
Vancouver may not be a hotbed of urban depravity to rival New York or Detroit, but it provided enough physical and spiritual friction to Nasty On front-man and lyricist Jason Grimmer for him to parlay into CitySick, his band's love-hate letter to the burg it calls home.

Like guitarist Allen Forrister, bassist Matthew Lyons, and drummer Chad Mareels, Grimmer moved to Vancouver in the '90s from a small Eastern town. He fled in frustration and disgust once, but returned to try to make a go of the life he had promised himself — including fronting the band of his dreams. But the stifling overcrowding of Vancouver's lower mainland, as well as the shocking juxtaposition of the downtown's affluent west side and crumbling, drug-defiled east side, continued to rumble Grimmer's psyche. "I went through a series of horrible mental... not breakdowns, per se, but close to it, while I've been living here that I've never experienced in any other town," he says, "and I attribute a lot of that to the highs and lows of a city."

In the tradition of MC5's High Time and the Stooges' Funhouse, CitySick aurally and verbally communicates the ambivalence of modern life — its beauty and ugliness in more or less equal doses. An impressive leap forward from Nasty On's debut EP, Lester Bangs, it tempers that record's relentless velocity with subtly intricate downtempo tracks, most successfully on the epic "The Ship That Died of Shame" and "CitySick Part 2" ("When this city finally dies / Gonna do my very best to muffle all the cries.")

The happy ending to Nasty On's Joe Buck-like odyssey is that CitySick became an instant sensation when it was released locally in July. The Georgia Straight declared it "a landmark in Vancouver rock'n'roll"; two weeks later, Grimmer's scowling in-concert visage graced the cover of competing weekly Westender. The singer witnessed the album selling out twice in its first week of release at the indie record shop he manages by day.

Ambitiously, the band plans to record its next album immediately after returning from a national tour in September. But, admits Forrister, "If the local response is any indication of how this record will do anywhere else, we're probably going to have to ride it for awhile."