By: The Enemy Staff
Witchpolice Radio is Winnipeg's oldest and most prolific podcast, and on Monday, May 30th they're premiering their first "Big Mix-Up". The Big Mix-Up is billed as a variety show where musicians from completely different genres will be randomly chosen to form bands and create songs on the spot, based on audience suggestions. It sounds like a wonderful and possibly disastrous viewing experience, and we're all for the concept. In preparation for the show, Witchpolice Five-Star General Sam Thompson gave yours truly a list of people willing to talk to The Enemy. Maybe the other artists were too scared; well, at least one was. To get to know the willing participants better, we asked them a slew of questions on their hopes and challenges for the show, dick piercings, Cheetos fingers, and more.
Jory Strachan, 1971 (DRUMMER of the alt. rock variety)
You and your bandmates are from Kenora, why come to this shithole? Did you ever have your sights set on moving eastward to Toronto, Ottawa, or Montreal?
Mostly because we're used to it coming from Kenora...but honestly, a city is only as good as you make it. And both cities, Kenora and Winnipeg have a lot to offer in different ways. You can't be involved in the arts in Kenora [while] Winnipeg has a really good arts scene, but it's flat and there are no lakes or trees. We grew up in the woods and it's still very important to be isolated within the natural world for a while. We actually were planning to move to Montreal this past September but things fell through and we're not regretting it whatsoever.
What was growing up in Kenora like?
Growing up in Kenora was probably in a lot of ways a lot like growing up in any other small city but I definitely think [it's] unique in its own way. It's a weird town. Very isolated but still on the Trans-Can and a passer-through tourist hub. The city is pretty gritty. Quite brawly but also beautiful.
Who are you most psyched to play with at the Big Mix-Up?
I'm psyched to play with everyone involved! The past couple years I haven't been involved in many other musical projects so it will be sweet to get to jam with so many people in one night.
Who do you think is gonna be the most challenging artist to play with?
I'm not a fan of ska or reggae so that might be tough with the couple of folk who come from that genre, but I like challenges.
Would you rather burp farts or have Cheetos fingers for life?
Definitely, 100%, without a doubt the burp farts. Cheetos fingers for life would make my world sway too much cheesier than it already is.
Chad Alsop, Dead Ranch (guitarist/vocalist of the heavy variety)
Do you think you're the heaviest outfit at the Big Mix Up? Would you consider yourself an authority on heaviness?
I don't believe that we're the heaviest outfit on the bill. Maybe the most distorted and noisy, but I always felt that heaviness in music shows with the amount of emotion it conveys or can invoke in the listener. There are some acoustic songs I find heavier than some metal songs. Hearing somebody break themselves by means of a song is heavy shit. I am definitely not an authority on anything though. I'm like a 5 year old with everything.
What's heavier: Eating year-old ranch or raising undead animals in a zombie ranch (If the latter, what is your zombie cattle of choice)?
Ranch is like wine. Gets better with age. I think a literal Dead Ranch would be fun. Cute little baby cow zombies running around eating each other... Heaviness goes to: year old ranch.
What's heavier: Seeing Propagandhi at the Royal Albert or getting a Prince Albert?
Prop at the Albert would be awesome, very heavy. Prince Alberts potentially make you bleed way more, which is pretty heavy. Tough call. Heaviness goes to: Propagandhi getting Prince Alberts.
Who's heavier: Greg Arcade or Anne-Marie Williot of Chez Willi?
Excellent question. There's a lot of heavy between the two. Heaviness goes to: Sam of The Heights. S'up breh?!
Your band just came back from touring Eastern Ontario and Quebec. Any words of advice for aspiring bands embarking on their summer tours?
To bands wanting to tour this summer. Expect nothing. So even if there are only 2 people at your show it's 2 more than you were expecting. If you're good, next time you go through there might be four people. Be prepared to eat shit, sleep in parking lots, and question every one of your life's decisions. It's a fucked up, but amazing, way to live. Game faces!
Anne-Marie WIlliot, Chez Willi (singer and accordionist/flutist)
Faery Song sounds like some magical woodland creature shit. If you could have a woodland creature sidekick to take on adventures with you, what would you pick and why?
A wolf would be a great companion to go on adventures with. Wolves are magical and they have a great sense of direction, which I lack.
How do you feel about the term/genre Franco-folk? Is it a proud cultural mark for you and your music or do you find that the language barrier closes people (Anglophones, etc.) off from listening to you (if that matters)? Or is it a bit of both?
I don't really care too much about categories. I grew up speaking French so writing music in French comes naturally to me. It does matter to me if people are open or closed to listening, since performing and sharing music is a way of communicating. I don't think singing in French closes Anglophones off from listening. I asked some English-speaking audience members how they felt and most said that they love the French songs and that understanding the lyrics is not that important because they feel like they are being taken somewhere else and maybe understanding the words would take some of that away.
We interviewed a guitarist and drummer on the Big Mix-Up, and you're an interesting case in that you play the accordion and flute. Are there any unconventional instruments that you wanted to experiment with in the future?
I wouldn't mind trying a concertina someday.
If you could bring anyone from the show into your band, who would it be?
Most musicians I will be on stage with on Monday are totally new to me so it's hard to answer that question. Darryl Reilly plays great saxophone so maybe if my music got more jazzy I'd want to call on him.
This show is pretty light on the number of female participants. If you could put any other women on the bill, who would it be and why?
Natanielle Felicitas for sure. I love playing with her and she is great at improvising with her cello. Wanda Wilson too. I love her stuff.
Greg Arcade (singer/guitarist of the dusty country variety)
After seeing our questions for him, country singer Greg Arcade declined the interview and sent his record company after us with a snoozer of an e-mail about how the questions were off-brand and "unthought-out" for an established artist such as himself. We're okay with differences in creative visions here at The Enemy, but unthought-out??? How rude! Here are the questions we sent to him, so you can decide for yourself on how "unthought-out" they were.
Why country? Why does this genre resonate with you?
Describe your music as a drug or a type of alcoholic drink (or, if more appealing, describe your musical development as a series of drugs/drinks).
Your newest project is called Smoke and Dust. Have you ever considered smoking dust? Maybe it would open you up creatively?
Do you think you would get more play if you smoked dust? Possibly reinventing yourself as a mysterious, dust-smoking outlaw? A PCP lone star, if you will?
You're Witchpolice Radio's most frequent guest. We assume you have a good relationship with the host, Sam Thompson. Sam seems like a very nice, well-adjusted, eclectic human being. Do you have any wild Sam stories?
Feel free to e-mail us with some answers at any time, Greg. We're dying to know about your future reinvention as a dusted desperado.
If you failed to see it above, The Big Mix-Up is Monday, May 30th from 8-11 p.m.. at the Park Theatre. Tickets are $8.