Friday, April 14, 2017

Pete Campbell #2: of Pink Steel and 64 Funnycars and tonight's performance!

My big Pete Campbell online interview is here, but I couldn't resist, knowing that he is playing a short set tonight in front of the Somewhere to Go: Victoria Punk documentary at the Vancity - also written about here - I couldn't resist firing him some more email questions about Pink Steel and about what he has planned. 

(Pink Steel with Pete Campbell, second from left)

Allan: Did you manage to secure any other island guests for the show? (Is this going to be a 20 minute supergroup, or Coach StrobCam with Tim Chan as a guest vocalist, or...?).

Pete: Well apparently there were some feelers put out but there were no other Victoria ex-pats or pats for that matter were available....I asked former Pink Steel keyboardist/ ironing- boardist Jeff Carter if he would like to come out of retirement to join us for a song or two but I think he felt it would be best to say no and leave his 'legend' status intact...we also asked former 64 Funnycars drummer and all around swell guy Eric Lowe to play some percussion but I believe he is out of town this weekend for some serious Easter egg hunting...
But we are thrilled that Tim Chan is able to join us for the full set....this was kind of short notice so he had to learn all the songs- except the one he wrote (!) very quickly....but he is a quick- study and a total gamer so he is for one night only: "Ladies and gentlemen: Coach StrobChanCam"!!!

What songs from your repertoire will you be performing?

Well since it is a night of punk-rock nostalgia I decided it was best to dig into my back catalogue, which I rarely do, except when one friend/ music journalist requests a certain blasphemous number about Canada's national sport....and no, I don't mean lacrosse !

We will be playing a couple of Pink Steel songs, neither of which I wrote: "She's Not Mine" written by guitarist Jim Mazerolle who was a singular talent: one of the most interesting and original songwriters I have ever known....the song features the great opening line "How can I make love to her when there's no 'a li'interieur'?"...which is a question I'm sure most 17 year old guys ask themselves when the chance for some casual sex comes their way.....

...And "We Get High On Music", written by the aforementioned Jeff Carter will be in the set as well...if Pink Steel was the first original band of our generation to form in Victoria, then this was the first original song of that particular indie scene...Jeff wrote it at our first "jam session" ( I use quotes here because although the bassist and I had rented instruments earlier that day, Jeff was the only one who could actually play..)...the bulk of the song is 2 chords, reflecting our serious lack of musical "chops"...but it is a great song, became Pink Steel's theme song and we played it until the day the band broke up.....some of the other local, more straight- edged bands like the Neos noticed the irony that although the song touted the virtue of using music rather than drugs to get high, in reality Pink Steel had no noticeable allegiance to that particular philosophy...

We will also play "I Want To Duke The Waitress At The Crest" , a song using the traditional pop- music form, really just a love song at its core...that song was inspired by an actual quote from a co-worker who found a waitress at a local restaurant quite fetching and expressed that feeling in his own quotable fashion...that was the first time that I ever wrote a song based on a line spoken by someone in my immediate was really my first chance to look outside myself for became a sort of guiding principle for my songwriting over the years...

Tim Chan will sing "Something Real" a song that he recorded with both 64 Funnycars and China Syndrome...a song so good that The Wardells recorded a version of it (that can be found here: )...Tim was reluctant to play one of his songs but it really is one of my favourite pop songs ever so he eventually acquiesced to the not inconsiderable pressure I laid on him...I didn't exactly say that if he didn't, we would no longer be friends but he knew that was the implicit threat...

And yes, it is rumoured that a certain anti-sports song favoured by a local friend/music scribe may be in the set as well...

The one Pink Steel song that appears (I believe) in the movie, without video, is "Here We Go Again." What's the story of that song? What is the "same old scene" you mention? It sounds like it's actually a slightly jaded criticism of self-repetition on the punk scene, but I can't hear all the lyrics, and some of it sounds kinda geopolitical (kinda like Tim's song "It's Happening Over Again"), so I'm not sure what the song is actually about...

To answer the next 2 questions I yield the page to my good friend and former Pink Steel bandmate Jeff Carter...he wrote the bulk of the lyrics to Pink Steel songs, including "Here We Go Again" and is somewhat of an archivist by nature...his responses are also much more concise and coherent than my own could ever be, so over to Jeff:
"Here We Go Again: the lyrics a lament, generated by witnessing some stupid behaviour at a house party. The lyrics recognize such behaviour as an ever-repeated facet of the human condition, but also how it should be possible to move beyond such unintelligent responses and cyclical behaviour patterns. The song then extrapolates this small incident to the much larger scope of unintelligent societal behaviour such as war, suggesting changing our ways is possible as a conscious choice."
IS there video of vintage Pink Steel?

Once again I will let Jeff field this one as his memories on that subject seem to be more intact than my own:
"There most probably is, but we don’t have it. A substitute drama teacher we only knew as “Cool Ray” filmed a basement performance with a sound Super-8 camera early in Pink Steel’s existence (1979). Portions of our first semi-professional show at Camosun College were taped for a weekly Camosun round-up program which aired on the local cable community channel (1980). That same channel also hosted a program featuring local music and we performed a few songs at their studio for them (1981). PS also performed on live television at 3 in the morning for a local telethon, and there were rumours someone had taped it (1982). This was the early 80s, and consumer video decks were just slowly coming available."
Thanks, Jeff!

Besides bands you were in, which Vancouver Island (or Vancouver) bands would you most like to see reissued/ re-appreciated? Who was your favourite Victoria band to see live back in the day, and why?

Well my favourite band of that generation was definitely 64 Funnycars which is why it is such an honour to have Tim play with us....they had everything: 3 great songwriters, fine musicianship and a great live show...both Eric's: Cotrell and Lowe have played in multiple bands in Vancouver over the years including Polly with the much missed Paul Leahy...great guys and great players...the band also included Colin MaCrae, who was the tallest bass player I have had the pleasure to have known...and his great height was matched by his great talent!

Two other bands who are rarely in the discussion when the Victoria scene is mentioned are both worth the digging it would take to find them:

Bruised and Stupid were a fine band, but it was the songwriting of Chuck Simms that really set them apart...they were maybe a little more "commercial" than some of the other local bands but none the weaker for of Chuck's songs "Falling Down" was in regular rotation on the local rock radio station for a while and every time I heard it I would shake my head and think "This is a freaking Beatles song!!!" was seriously that good..

Treecrusher were another very original band that seemed to have gotten lost in the shuffle...their bass player Shawn Turkington, who is a monster 4- stringer in the vein of John Entwistle later went on to play with The Sweaters in the year before we broke up...his partner and principal songwriter Joe Sousa apparently had limited traditional musical knowledge but managed to craft terrific, very original songs: full of chords that he created himself and unfailingly clever, insightful and memorable lyrics...nobody sounded like Treecrusher...Shawn and Joe had one of those symbiotic friendships that for some strange reason often result in creating great rock music...their CD "Yes I Don't" is well worth the search through used- music bins and garage sales that it may take to find it...and it goes without saying:"Treecrusher" what a great name!

That's all folks!!

Thanks to Pete Campbell... come to the Vancity Theatre tonight for a one night only collaboration between Pete and Tim Chan (set starts at 9:40) - and for Somewhere to Go: Victoria Punk starting at 10pm!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I've never seen that "cheeky" BUM tshirt before!