Bad Waitress Ride an Eclectic Punk Rollercoaster, with a Little Help from Cannabis

"Sometimes you just need to relax and enjoy existing for a second"

Photo: Kate Dockeray

BY Alex HudsonPublished Sep 3, 2021

Toronto's Bad Waitress have No Taste, if the name of their debut album is to be believed — but singer-guitarist Kali-Ann Butala seems to have pretty great taste in cannabis. Speaking with Exclaim!, she expresses her preference for indica joints, her love blueberry-flavoured gummies, and her fondness for the strains White Rhino, Romulan, Death Bubba and MK Ultra.

The art-punk howler's relationship with cannabis traces back to when she was a teenager growing up in the Northwest Territories. Back then, she remembers, "I would park by the Great Slave Lake beach, smoke and listen to Otis Rush with friends and just melt." Around the same time, her love of the herb inspired an early songwriting experience. "I feel like when I was 14, I wrote a song called 'Dear Sweet Mary Jane' with a neighbour boy," she recalls.

Since those days, legalization hasn't improved her relationship with cannabis — in fact, she says she preferred it before. "It's kinda crap that it became so corporate so fast," she laments. "It doesn't feel that different to me, but it was pretty delegalized before they fully legalized it. I think I liked it better when it was illegal to be honest." She says she isn't fussy about which dispensary she visits — "I go to the closest damn one I can" — but she is fond of her local HiQ store, because "the staff are super sweet and it's real pretty inside."

She explains that cannabis helps her unwind and be in the moment: "Sometimes you just need to relax and enjoy existing for a second." It doesn't help stimulate her creativity, and she tends to avoid writing about weed when working on Bad Waitress songs. "You can only write so much about smoking weed until you start pigeonholing yourself," she observes. "I do a sick cover of 'Colt 45 and 2 Zig Zags' by Afroman, though."

There might not be any weed anthems on No Taste, but there's still a song for every mood; Butala calls the album "pretty eclectic" and "more mature" than 2018's Party Bangers Volume: 1 EP. Songs like opener "Rabbit Hole" and "Lacerate" are filled with skronky, angular guitar weirdness, "Yeah Yeah Yeah" appropriately has the yowling garage-dance fury of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and "Live in Reverse" and "Restless Body" temper the album's energy with simmering melancholy.

Butala sums it up perfectly: "[No Taste] grasps at a lot of different emotions and is a bit of a rollercoaster. Strap in."

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