Ottawa's Zebrassieres Find Their European Connections

Ottawa's Zebrassieres Find Their European Connections
Ottawa-based power-pop punks Zebrassieres have been bringing their animalistic jams to the city's sweaty punk clubs for the last few years, dropping the excellent Gooey Zoo full-length on Going Gaga Records last summer. Now, European imprint P. Trash has revealed plans to reissue that full-length and a new ten-inch, along with material from Zebrassieres mastermind Andrew Payne's previous band the Funfuns.

"Until now, I've never really cared too much about getting my music out to an audience beyond my friends, so I haven't really pursued that part of music before. I was content just lurking in the shadows, writing songs and recording, mainly for my own enjoyment," Payne tells Exclaim! "Now that I've been doing the same sort of thing for six years, I figured it's time to either quit or try harder. Especially as all my friends are starting to get more serious about music."

 Both the Funfuns and Zebrassieres offer a skewed take on late '70s and early '80s power pop, with the Undertones and the Pointed Sticks both popping up as influences. With Funfuns existing while Payne lived in Calgary and Zebrassieres starting in Ottawa, however, he admits that each were shaped by their respective cities.

"The songs I write in Calgary are more jaded and bitter," Payne admits. "Calgary has more of a gritty, garage-punk scene so that's definitely an influence too. The city you live in definitely affects what kind of music you make -- I've experienced it with my very own mind.

"On the surface, Ottawa is a very boring place. Most restaurants serve tasteless food and the pizza slices are always stale. There isn't one bar here that could be considered cool on a regular basis; it's mostly Irish pubs (there's one that greets you at the airport) and dance clubs. The main employer is the government, with their security clearances, drug tests, bilingualism requirements, and opinion-less, keep-to-yourself culture. This means that a lot of interesting, talented people have non-government jobs below their potential, and the ones that do get government jobs likely feel repressed in a different way. All of these negative parts of Ottawa make up the perfect formula for an amazing counter culture."

The reputation Payne is referring to is rounded out by the efforts of White Wires, the Steve Adamyk Band, Mother's Children, Pregnancy Scares and the Ottawa Explosion festival, among many others. It's a small scene that is gaining worldwide notice, particularly in Europe.

"Ottawa is now known for producing good music and Germany especially seems to be in love with everything from Ottawa," Payne says. "I've been getting the feeling that Europe is more supportive of Canadian punk than Canada is."

He's obviously joking, but he just might have a point -- Germany's P. Trash Records has stepped in to release most of the recordings from both projects. Zebrassieres will drop a brand new six-song ten-inch EP in September called Black Brainwave through the label (stream album tracks "One Fish" and "Black Brainwave" below). That release will be followed by a reissue of Gooey Zoo and the release of the Funfuns' long-lost one-sided twelve-inch EP.

As if that weren't enough, German promoters Trapdoor Tourz are currently setting up a European trek for Zebrassieres and Mother's Children to take place in December. For Payne, the excursion overseas will be a welcome change.

"I'm definitely intrigued by Europe because I hear that bands are treated well there. The people are excited about underground music; the venues give you a place to stay, some food to eat and even money that covers gas and more. In Canada, a lot of venues will give you a bit of gas money and kick you out to go find a floor to sleep on. A lot of venues also seem to prefer DJs who will bring in ding dongs that love to waste their money on Jagerbombs."

Black Brainwave:

 1. "Lone Fish"

2. "Magazine Seducer"

3. "Sexbot"

4. "Black Brainwave"

5. "Magic Magician Man"

6. "Mythic Battle of the Cosmos"

Gooey Zoo:

1. "Man Pageant"

2. "Beach Fight"

3. "Neener"

4. "Winona"

5. "Digitize"

6. "Party Ghost"

7. "Disco Babies"

8. "Man Pageant"

The Funfuns:

1. "Heart Attack"

2. "My Head"

3. "Love to Love"

4. "Wait Forever"

5. "Talky Talky"

6. "Get Bored"

7. "Everybody Likes You (I Don't)"