An Oral History of Three Gut Records Bry Webb, THE CONSTANTINES

Thoughts on the end? It's hard to see it end, but it's been gradually ending for a while. I have an "all things must pass" way of looking at it. Things have changed over the last couple of years. It does make logical sense that it's the end. But it's hard to admit that it's done, and that it's not going to exist as the entity of Three Gut Records. I don't think the relationships are going to change. Lisa will continue to manage us. After Tyler left, I remained good friends with her and am still inspired by her and what's she done since then. February 2001 was when you guy started talking, and the record came out in June of that year. At that point it was still a very new label, and not much had really happened for them yet. The people who knew them loved them, but word was spreading slowly. You didn't know them personally at that point, did you? No. It was all pretty much due to having a lot of respect for Aaron Riches and Jim Guthrie and Royal City. I had met Aaron through Minnow, and met Jim gradually. My [pre-Constantines] band [called Shoulder, from London, Ontario] played at Minnow's last show. We personally had a lot of respect for Aaron in particular, his way of making music and creating. Had you been trapped in late night barroom conversations with him about the state of music at that point? No, actually. I didn't know Aaron very well until we were on the label and started hanging out with Royal City. When I was younger, Guelph was this almost stately scene. That's how it seemed from London, anyway. London was more beer-fuelled indie rock and punk rock and it was a lot of fun, and the hardcore scene when I was growing up in London was great, but Guelph seemed to have this diversity and very conscientious. It was what I imagined DC to be like in the late '80s and early '90s, really open and conscientious people. We learned about Three Gut through people who had been active in the Guelph scene when we were growing up and then moved to Guelph. We figured they represented those qualities to us. From what we heard about what Jim and Aaron and Tyler and Lisa were planning with the label when we signed, they were in line with what we were hoping to do. When all those people moved to Toronto, the whole Three Gut approach seemed very alien to what was going on in the city at that time. I don't know if you can speak to that, coming from the other side of Guelph… In London and in Guelph, until the moment I moved to Toronto, I wouldn't have thought that I was headed there. I never really wanted to live in Toronto. The pace of the way I live is different than the way it is here. But Three Gut was such a strong community, and even the people in Guelph I felt community ties to were moving to Toronto: Jim, and then all the guys in the band. It seemed like rather than sticking to living in a small town to have the sense of community, you can build your own community in any place. I'm thinking of how Toronto has changed in the years since. It's amazing. There seems to be a lot more of that thinking here now. I don't know what Toronto was like before, until I started making frequent trips here, but it always seemed like a more competitive creative environment, as opposed to what Blocks are doing now. Also, for five guys not previously involved in the music industry at all, it was a lot easier to navigate it with people who are offering you a spaghetti dinner instead of a contract. Was that the meal that sealed the deal? We all went to the Three Gut house, and met Lisa and Tyler face to face for the first time. [Royal City drummer] Nathan was living there and Aaron, and Nate made a huge pot of spaghetti sauce. Jim was there as well and Simon, it was the whole family at that point. When things started happening for your band, they started happening really quickly. All the critics were on board at the same time. That wasn't something Three Gut was used to at the time. Royal City had built up very slowly. How do you think being on Three Gut helped you deal with that initial burst? Like I was saying earlier, Three Gut for us was like a balloon ride into the hype and the industry. It wasn't like we were being represented in any way that we didn't want to be. That was a really great, creative motor. Tyler would come up with ideas to promote us, Royal City and Jim and it was really exciting. It was more of an art project at the time. I know Sub Pop was interested early on, and when you eventually did sign with them you stuck with Three Gut in Canada. How did that all play out? Did you consider just going with Sub Pop? One of the biggest factors in the Sub Pop deal was that they were cool with us staying with Three Gut in Canada. It was the community that we still believed in and wanted to be a part of. It's hard to say, now that it's over, but at that time it would have been impossible for me to say, "No, we're not going to work with you guys anymore." It was too much a part of my life. Sub Pop being cool with us remaining with Three Gut was a big part of why we were working with them. Any favourite memories of anniversary parties or Family Bands? The anniversary party that Oneida played was fantastic. One of my favourite memories was I was supposed to do an introduction. Tyler had sprung this idea on us of doing circus-like ringmaster introductions to all the bands; this was at the last minute, like many of her ideas. It was my job to introduce Oneida. I was already in love with them, and I was so nervous about doing the introduction. I got up and did this really terrible, strained, short speech. I turned around and left the stage, and half of the Three Gut family was backstage and they all just booed my speech. By the end of their set, though, I was naked on stage just screaming, "This is Oneida!" It was through their encouragement that I ended up naked on stage - which is good. You gotta do that.