Hard Core Logo:LIVE Curatorial Statement
January 17, 2011
1. What does Hardcore mean to you?
To me hardcore means never compromising and being unapologetic. Committing 100% and not backing down. Whether it’s hardcore porn that doesn’t pussy foot around (so to speak) or hardcore sports fans that paint themselves and scream out their lungs at a game, hardcore means getting behind something full bore. So hardcore punks are folks that throw themselves into the music and the scene with every ounce of their being. It’s a way of life, not just a fashion statement. But that doesn’t mean you need to have a mohawk to be hardcore punk, you just need to have a punk attitude. I like how Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi describes it; he says, “A hard-shelled Baptist is someone who’s relationship with God is so intense they actually don’t need to follow – they can smoke and drink and whore around, do anything they want – because that’s how hard-shelled they are.” So too the hardcore punk is not about following a set of rules, but about believing something in your soul that is individually expressed.
2. How did you first encounter Hard Core Logo? Describe the experience.
I first saw the movie at the Princess Theatre in Edmonton when I was going to the University of Alberta. I sat in the balcony and was blown away by the story, the style, the performances and the music. The ending totally surprised me, and disturbed me for days. Someone I had gone to the film with claimed to have seen the band play in Edmonton on their ill fated reunion tour, which confused me since it was a fictitious film that according to the credits had been shot entirely in BC (but I also know someone who had claimed to have owned the fictitious Spinal Tap album “Shark Sandwich” to seem more cool). That to me is a testament to the spell Bruce McDonald had cast with his film, blurring the line between reality and fiction. Plant enough truths and people will believe your lies. Well I wanted the film to be real. I wanted to be able to buy albums for the band I had just discovered, but at the time there was no soundtrack even available. Only another bit of trickery existed, a fake tribute album with great bands like Fishbone, the Doughboys and the Headstones doing their “favourite” Hard Core Logo songs.
Then walking through the Bonnie Doon Mall I found the book in a sidewalk sale. I didn’t even know there was a book. But here was what I was looking for, more info and insight into the band. I devoured the book that afternoon in the parking lot. I literally couldn’t put it down. I felt like I was spying on the band, reading their personal thoughts and diary entries, snooping through their receipts and contracts to piece together this story of true, north, strong and free punk rock. The story was of course very similar to the film, but I really enjoyed the differences too. There were sections that I had thought, “why didn’t that get put in to the movie?” or “I would love to see that come to life.” And I guess that’s when the seed got planted, and it’s been growing ever since.
3. When and why did you think it should have a life on stage?
I chose to do The Black Rider when I was looking for something fun to do at the Fringe and I turned to my CD collection for inspiration. Years later, as I was looking for a project to follow it up with, I turned to my collection of music, movies and books again. I wanted a project that would be uniquely Canadian, something that could tour and that would rock. Hard Core Logo jumped out at me and kicked me in the balls. By this point the book and film had both become regular parts of my punk diet, and I knew what I had to do: track down Michael Turner and Bruce McDonald. And once I got permission from them, everything started to fall into place.
The book has some monologues that the film either omitted or turned into documentary interviews. I thought these passages were ripe for theatrical staging. In theatre, characters can speak their thoughts aloud without having to explain why. It’s just poetry, or an aside. I wanted to marry these sections of the book, to the story of the movie, and finally get to hear the band’s songs in their entirety.
As I dove into the world of Hard Core Logo, I knew I had to get Joe “Shithead” Keithley to compose the music. He and DOA served as some poetic inspiration for Michael Turner, so it was only appropriate to ask Joe to conspire with me. And when he said yes I knew the show would have the authenticity I was looking for.
Brad Moss and Theatre Network were also key to the puzzle. I needed a director who could handle the complex episodic staging and the concert aspects of the show. We had worked together on Hedwig and the Angry Inch and we had talked about creating our own Canadian Hedwig, and in a way this is it.
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1. Why was it important to you to be involved in the stage version of Hard Core Logo?
I think the big thing with Hard Core Logo: LIVE is that there hasn’t been to my knowledge a really good theatrical version of punk in the late70 and 80s, so this was a great opportunity to put my spin on in it, at least song wise.
2. Why did you start playing punk music?
When we first heard about punk in 1976, popular music ranged from disco to Fleetwood Mac. In other words, it was pretty anemic. And all of the sudden we saw punk rock on TV, and we heard a couple records and we went “wow, this actually embodies the real spirit of rock n’ roll, which is like, stick it to the man and cause shit and have a great time while you’re doing it.”
It just seemed to go back to the 1955, ‘56, era before the original rock got sold out and became Elvis Presley and stuff like that, it just had this mean kind of a cantankerous thing to it that reminded us of the original rock n’ roll.
3. As the Godfather of punk, you’ve inspired countless musicians. Who or what inspires you?
Being alive is a great thing. Being able to play in a band and entertain people is also a great thing. I take my inspiration from regular people I meet on the street. It could be anything, there’s no one big thing. I mean, I have idols, like Woody Guthrie and Bob Marley and Johnny Cash – people who have really made a difference with music, of course – but it’s more like you take inspiration from what’s happening today. I don’t really dwell on the past very much. Whatever’s in front of you that day, you deal with it then and do the best you can.