Ian Blurton The Exclaim! Questionnaire
Published Jul 01, 2004What are you up to?
Playing in a high-energy rock'n'roll band, having the time of my life and enjoying everything. I'm loving everything - except for hate and stuff I don't love.
What are your current fixations?
The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersberg, Florida. After we left the museum we watched dolphins swim in the harbour. Also the first Budgie record, Motorpsycho';s Trust Us, my Robert Williams playing cards, big amplifiers and electric guitars, Jimi Hendrix Sessions, Punk: The Definitive Record of a Revolution, and I watched A Mighty Wind last night. I just thought Eugene Levy was wicked and I totally related to his character.
Why do you live where you do?
Because my parents brought me here and I also really like that a lot of the communities in Toronto are quite intertwined. If you're in a rock'n'roll band, you don't necessarily have to be influenced by other rock'n'roll bands. There's lots of great art here, lots of different kinds of music but also filmmakers, painters and poets and all kinds of stuff. So, I like being surrounded by culture.
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
I'd have to go back to the Salvador Dali Museum because that really has been the best thing I've seen in a long time. The super-huge paintings - like 8 x 16 foot paintings - were absolutely crazy! I couldn't even tell you what their titles were but they were all fantastic.
What had been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
I guess Fugazi on their first tour when they played at the Rivoli. I saw the Damned in NYC in '91 with all of the line-ups combined, even the versions that broke up. They did it chronologically - whoever quit would just walk off stage and their replacement would come out. For us, playing Cornerbrook, Newfoundland about three months ago was probably one of the best rock'n'roll shows I've ever been involved with in my life. People went crazy and we played with Kuroda who are actually the only band in Cornerbrook.
What have been your career highs and lows?
Highs: Playing in C'mon because it's with friends and my girlfriend and it's just really great and really easy.
Low: Probably Change of Heart breaking up. Also, Warner Bros. stealing changeofheart.com for their stupid dating show. Because we weren't on the ball, it lapsed and they got it. It's kind of like identity theft in a way.
What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
"You suck." That's always a funny one, but it doesn't really happen that often because, honestly, we're pretty loud and it's hard to hear. Oh wait, I've got a good one! Change of Heart played in Regina. It was an awful, awful, terrible show with hardly anybody there and I kind of flipped out during it, which, oddly enough, happens a lot in Regina. It's to the point where friends of mine have said, "Maybe you shouldn't play Regina because you've had some problems there." Anyway, we finished the show with "Stress Monkey" and I started tossing my guitar around and decided that, "This guitar is evil and it should be broken." So I broke it but it was a Telecaster and it was really hard so I had to keep smashing it and smashing it to get it to break and eventually I broke the neck in half and ripped it off the guitar. I walked off-stage and then walked back on and continued smashing the guitar because I was crazed or whatever, and this guy leans over the balcony and goes, "Don't give up your day job." But I didn't have a day job then so fuck him!
What should everyone shut up about?
Oh, new new wave. Oh god. Please.
What traits do you most like and dislike about yourself?
I guess I'm finally comfortable in my own skin. I'm still a little scattered sometimes and I don't focus enough on the task at hand.
What advice should you have taken but did not?
That I should be a better communicator.
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed and have you?
I don't think I've ever kicked anyone out of a band. We've just made it so miserable that they've had to leave. No, I'm kidding. I guess no rhythm, no boogie.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
I think of Slow, NoMeansNo, Personality Crisis, the Guess Who, the Rockies, the Prairies, Ontario, poutine, and long drives.
What is your vital daily ritual?
A double espresso and I read a newspaper every day too.
What are your feelings on piracy, internet or otherwise?
I would love to join pirates and sail the Caribbean and rob from the rich and give to the poor. I think the internet is a great thing for people who want to find out about bands. I think it's taken over for fanzines and stuff and just the fact that people can communicate about what they believe in is great. I also think there are a lot of lies that people take advantage of the internet for. I think there are a lot of mean things that people use it for and they get to hide behind the illusion that they're not known and can be as mean as possible and I think that sucks.
What was your most memorable day job?
When I was 12 or 13 I used to sell rock T-shirts at shows and I worked for a guy who had contracted all of the Canadian licensing for inside the venues and then he would do the bootlegs outside as well. So, I got to learn about the inside of the music industry at a very young age and I was the guy who sold the bootlegs outside. I was very young but I got to see a lot of really memorable shows like Kiss, the first time Van Halen came to town and the Cars.
How do you spoil yourself?
Sleep. I'm on the road a lot and I don't get to do it a lot so I really like sleeping. That and good food.
If I wasn't playing music I would be:
What do you fear most?
Full body searches. Ending up in hospitals in countries where they don't speak the language that you speak, which has actually happened. I guess becoming bitter, which is something I'd never wanna be.
What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, and a certain lady I play in a band with.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
Last year at the end of NXNE, I was walking home after a show and it was about four in the morning and I'm crossing Spadina and Queen and there's a guy wearing glasses that have lights on either side that flash on and off. I'm thinking, "Wow, that guy looks like a freak" and as I get closer, I realize it's Nick Nolte and he's all dishevelled and crazed-looking and this is just days before he got arrested for DUI on whatever drug he was doing. So, I walk by and go "Hey," and he goes "Eh."
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
I think Captain Kangaroo would be pretty great and I'd serve him chicken masala, rice, and salad.
What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
Unless she lies to me, my mom is very happy with what I'm doing. I'm sure she'd be happy if I made more money.
Given the opportunity to choose, how would you like to die?
I'd like to die on stage. Maybe electrocuted? I'd like to be electrocuted by my own guitar, amp, and microphone so that my being would be connected together with my death.
Any one who's seen Ian Blurton perform (with Change of Heart, Blurtonia or new band C'mon) can attest that music is the man's lifeline, an all-consuming force that he conducts with all of the passion in the world. After the break-up of revered Canadian underground heroes Change of Heart, a heartbroken Blurton re-emerged with Blurtonia, an experimental pop band that soon evolved into a menacing rock monster. An unstable line-up hampered the band's ability to sustain itself, so he took on a producer's role (Weakerthans) and resumed his five-year stint as a guitar god in Montreal beardos Bionic, which he officially left earlier this year.
Accompanied by his lady friend Katie Lynn Campbell (Nashville Pussy) on bass and fellow Blurtonian Randy Curnew on drums, C'mon is the ultimate vehicle for Blurton's mix of melody and menace. "Katie and I were walking around the Louvre in Paris and we were talking about forming a band," Blurton recalls. "As we're looking at all of these paintings, we're like, 'Okay, we'll have a dash of Alice Cooper, a bit of MC5, a little AC/DC, a pinch of Blue Cheer,' and so all of the art was inspiring us to combine what we wanted to do."
The result is a pounding power-trio that Blurton has described as "a lightning strike but going from the ground up," whose live ferocity has been captured - warts and all - on the forthcoming full-length, Midnight Is The Answer. "They're different things but I think the live show is just kind of a spastic beast and we just let it go wherever it goes," Blurton says. "Some shows have been absolute chaos and it's been really fun and with the C'mon record, we tried not to nitpick over anything. There are mistakes on the record but that was an intentional part of not trying to perfect everything. We want the band to grow organically and that's just a process of that; right now, we're trying to just make it simple and concise."