GWAR is a theatrical thrash metal band, formed in a former milk bottling plant by a group of art students in Richmond, Virginia in 1985. They’ve been nominated for two Grammys, seen multiple line-up changes, been shot at, arrested, sponsored by golf companies and charged at by skinheads, all the while spewing chunky fake blood, semen and vomit over adoring fans at their live shows for the past 25 years. And that is basically why they are nearly a household name. It is hard to find someone my age who is unfamiliar with the legacy of GWAR.
I meet up with Love & Electrik on a Friday afternoon on Granville Street, the main strip of Vancouver’s nightlife industry. Our destination is one of the last vestiges of a seedier, less-commercial Downtown Vancouver, a filthy arcade sandwiched in between a pizza-by-the-slice place and the Vogue Theatre. I have a bottle of whiskey and five dollars in quarters. They arrive with their entourage, managers Jeff Herrara and Aidan Wright from The Hastings Set, ready to go. We are so punk.
Raif Adelberg’s body is covered in tattoos but the cutest is of a peanut on his palm. It’s there as a reminder to never to let things slip through his hands. Darker by comparison, he has the Charles Manson quote “I can never be in love. Because I am love,” tattooed on the inside of his arm. It’s there because he finds Charlie very interesting. This is just one of many amusing contradictions surrounding this Vancouver artist/fashion designer.
At first glance, Sarah Joncas’ paintings of pouty, buxom damsels in distress seem like intense glimpses into the mysterious mind of a tortured Robert Smith-infatuated artist. But the reality is quite the opposite: Sarah’s artwork really reflects her love of pop surrealism, dichotomy and subjects that provoke a second look. Whatever her inspiration may be, it’s obviously working as Sarah who, at 22, has already had multiple showings in L.A.’s Thinkspace Gallery, including her recent series called “Beneath the Seams.”
She answers the phone with a chirp and a lie. “This is Sally!” she says, in that cheery Swedish accent that suddenly makes the air brisk and the daylight blonde. But Sally isn’t her name. Not right now, at least. Sally Shapiro is the moniker she uses when she becomes the Italo disco princess that released 2006’s Disco Romance, an album of equal parts dreamy and dancey Eighties-inspired pop tunes. On the phone, she is but a humble office worker in the Swedish town of Lund (she’s never divulged her real name).
Never meet your idols. Something that’s been said by me (or to me) so many times in my urban second life that it’s beginning to sound like a bile-producing cliché. I’ve listened to local, professional defencemen crassly put down the quality of women in my city, I’ve nearly got in a fist fight with a certain action star’s famous “Entourage” and I’ve seen a “black eyed” rap (or “rap”) star pass out in his own throw up. In hindsight, none of these people were MY idols, they were yours, or at least they were the idols of the people whose bubbles I was respectively trying to burst.
The music industry, more than any other, is known for its constantly changing astrology. There are those few stars that have found a permanent home in the shifting constellations of music history—indelible pinpricks in the sky, whose perfectly coiffed and carefully managed images take years to arrive down on Earth. And even after they die, or disband, or otherwise go gently into that good night, their fame lingers like a beacon, their traveling reservoir of light not yet up. But more often, new artists are nothing but shooting stars. They appear suddenly and vanish just as suddenly.
If you haven’t yet heard of The Juan MacLean you’ve probably been sitting in a nuclear bunker waiting for shit to hit the fan or eroding in Middle America. With their latest effort, The Future Will Come, released in April on the acclaimed DFA records, The Juan MacLean are now touring, leaving kids from city to city whistling their tunes. If you like to dance to robot-tinged lyrical content and club/dance songs with actual melodies and instruments you will probably be into them.