Sometimes it’s really fun to just sit back and listen to punk rock nerds ramble on about their favourite subject. That was exactly the case when I got Vancouver-based cult personality and exuberant Evaporators frontman Nardwuar the Human Serviette on the phone with Ottawa workhorse Steve Adamyk of the Steve Adamyk Band and formerly the Million Dollar Marxists. Going off for 40 minutes about Canadian punk, it was a whirlwind conversation that jumps all over the place but pays off in stories about the Pointed Sticks, Glenn Danzig and syringes.
Fast Forward Weekly: Nardwuar, you’ve been to Sled Island before. What kind of advice do you have for Steve?
Nardwuar the Human Serviette: It’s kind of interesting, because I noticed Steve you have a song about the U.S.A. You have “I Fought for the U.S.A.”
Steve Adamyk: This is true.
N: It’s kind of interesting because there’s a band from Vancouver called the Apollo Ghosts and they have a U.S.A. song too, eh?
SA: I haven’t heard it yet. I do know the band but I haven’t heard it yet, I’ll have to check it out.
N: Maybe it’ll show the kind of way how East Coast and West Coast have similarities, because the Apollo Ghosts song is called “I’m in Love With the U.S.A.,” and you fought for the U.S.A. So you’re both on the same team.
SA: (laughs) Yeah we are, we definitely are.
N: I think the advice I’d give for Sled Island is that, East Coast or West Coast, everyone will have a good time because everyone understands each other. When groups of people come together, there’s no advice you need because everybody’s sharing the same interest. You also, Steve, have a song called “Lies Lies,” right?
SA: I do, yeah.
N: And what Vancouver band has a song called “Lies,” Steve?
SA: Pointed Sticks!
N: Pointed Sticks! Which makes me think, have you ever thought of covering The Action from Ottawa? They were Ottawa’s first punk band!
SA: That’s right. Well they’ve been playing a lot here of late, so even though I really love that band I don’t think I’d dare cover one of their tracks. At least not quite this soon because they’ve been doing a bunch of reunion shows and I wouldn’t want to step on their toes. But I have a copy of that original 12-inch on Montreco, I love it. I love it to death and I was happy when I tracked it down years ago. But yeah, that band’s incredible.
N: Has anybody thought that your song “Lies Lies” is a Pointed Sticks cover?
SA: No, I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard that before. But it’s funny you mention that, because I have another side project with a few guys from another old band of mine. We’re called Uranium Comeback and we do a cover of “What Do You Want Me to Do?” So I guess it’s not that far off.
N: So you have done a Pointed Sticks cover! Okay, mission accomplished.
SA: Another band I’m a huge fan of from Victoria, B.C. is Bum — we’re actually doing a cover of their song “A Promise is a Promise,” it’s just in the mixing stage right now. At some point in the next year we’re probably going to end up releasing that.
N: Which is pretty amazing because Bum also covered the Misfits, and I was thinking you have a connection to the Misfits, don’t you?
SA: To the Misfits? I don’t know directly how we’re connected to the Misfits, no.
N: Yeah, you have a direct connection. At least one person away from the Misfits. Your old record label head, Mike LaVella.
SA: Oh wow, that’s right. I totally forgot about that.
N: What did Mike say about the Misfits?
SA: He didn’t have much to say. He had a lot to say about the East Coast, and Pittsburgh specifically. Mike’s a really great guy. He was also in that band Half Life. That drummer from Half Life actually is the guy in Don Caballero these days, Damon Che. Mike’s a really great guy, but I don’t think we ever spoke directly about the Misfits.
N: Gearhead Records, that was his label and he signed your old band the Million Dollar Marxists.
SA: That’s right.
N: In fact, you might have been the first Canadian band on the label.
SA: When I was younger it felt like being signed to Sony or something because I loved all of those bands so much back in the early 2000s. Especially all the Canadian bands that were doing it back then. The Spitfires and Nasty On and all those bands like that that I really loved. So being on Gearhead back then was like a dream come true to me.
N: Because I was just thinking, I wonder if Mike told you about his Misfits experience, because growing up in that area he actually went to Glenn Danzig’s house when Glenn was living out there, and Glenn Danzig opened up his closet and said “Here, here’s a bunch of T-shirts. Take whatever you want.” And they were all original T-shirts.
SA: Holy shit.
N: Like they were hand done Misfits shirts that probably go for thousands of dollars now, so Mike saw an entire closet worth of Glenn Danzig’s T-shirts.
SA: I never heard about that, that’s amazing.
N: Now back to Vancouver, which is kind of near Calgary I guess. A band that loves you, Steve, has covered another Vancouver punk band. A band that loves you guys, loves the Steve Adamyk Band.
SA: Are we talking about Needles//Pins?
N: What did they cover?
SA: I’m trying to think of what they might have covered. No they didn’t cover any bands from Vancouver.
N: So Needles//Pins loves you? Needles//Pins loves you then?
SA: They do. Well, it’s a mutual love. It’s mirrored love back and forth at both of us. Parallel, I would say.
N: Well, this other band covered “Fuck You” by the Subhumans. You know, the Subhumans from Vancouver — the big rival of the Pointed Sticks and DOA. This band covered “Fuck You” and this band loves you. The lead singer’s name is Ben.
N: Screeching Weasel.
SA: Oh of course! I thought you meant the band was from Vancouver.
N: How did the Weasel get hooked up with the Steve Adamyk Band?
SA: I think it was through one of the various message boards. I think originally it might’ve been the Riverdales message board that he runs, and there might have been a few people talking about it and I actually got an email from my friend Greg Murr who runs a small label called Merman Records just outside of Toronto. He emailed me and was like “Ben Weasel wants to buy your record on iTunes but he can’t find it. Is there any way you can get it put up there somehow so he can buy it, because he wants to actually pay for it. Greg and I ended up working out some sort of deal, and he ended up putting the record up on iTunes through his label and then we talked back and forth to him through there a little bit. He asked us to come play that Weasel Fest anniversary show that they had previously booked back in May in 2011, but it ended up getting cancelled, unfortunately. But that’s how that all came about.
N: Now with Sled Island there’s a connection between Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Germany. How does that happen?
SA: I don’t know (laughs). I have no idea.
N: Well Sled Island’s in Calgary, then there’s Edmonton, Ottawa and Germany. How did that happen?
SA: Slowly all the dots sort of ended up getting connected over the years I guess.
N: Well you know what the connection is because you’re part of it, right?
SA: That’s right, at least the Ottawa portion. And Camp Radio, we have to credit them as well.
N: You’re connected to Germany as well. And Edmonton! How are you connected to Germany and Edmonton?
SA: Well, I’m connected to Germany through the labels that have been so nice to release my records over there, and I’m connected to Edmonton... I don’t know specifically how I’m connected to Edmonton other than my grandmother’s from there and I’ve been there a lot and played there with my old bands.
N: Oh, your grandmother. That’s amazing, your grandmother. But also the band No Problem.
SA: That’s right, I actually thought they were from Calgary, so that’s news to me.
FFWD: Their drummer’s from Calgary.
N: How is No Problem connected to Steve Adamyk Band, and connected to Ottawa and connected to Germany now?
SA: Well, we just essentially all did the same tour in Europe. Both bands kind of shadowed each other because they were in Europe with friends of ours from Sudbury called Strange Attractor, which is Jeff from the band Statues who are really great too.
N: But No Problem are on P. Trash too and you’re on P. Trash right? There’s a total connection there, right?
N: That’s what I was thinking. Ottawa and Germany, at least, have a connection. Like there’s Mother’s Children, Zebrassieres. How does that happen? Who started that and are there more bands from Ottawa connected to P. Trash?
SA: There are I think a couple more. It almost comes full circle because the band that started the whole sort of cycle was Statues, because they were the first band from Canada to have a release on P. Trash. Actually, I think Demons’ Claws from Montreal might’ve had a release on that label years and years ago, but there hadn’t been a release in some time. So my old band, with Ian from the White Wires, was called Sedatives. Our first release was on P. Trash. It was Jeff and Rob from Statues that showed our music to Peter from P. Trash. He did 300 copies of our first 7-inch, so that just spiralled the friendship that we’ve had with Peter for the last four or five years now. Which is great because he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in person. He’s a really open-minded, really thoughtful guy. None of our bands would have been able to accomplish a lot if it wasn’t for Peter.
N: So thank you Sudbury, Ontario then.
SA: Thank you Sudbury, Ontario is right. Most definitely.
N: That’s where Statues is, that’s their home base, right? Have you played The Townehouse?
SA: That’s right!
N: I’ve been going there for years. And they let the bands sleep in The Townehouse. Have you slept in The Townehouse?
SA: I have. I haven’t slept there since my old bands played there, because now when we go we usually stay with the Statues guys. But my old bands stayed there, and I remember we stayed in a room that had no light. I didn’t even know what was inside it at all, and it was pitch black. Oddly enough, when we were on our European tour we were touring with a band from Montreal called Sonic Avenues, and their bass player had told me that when he stayed there he sat on a couch and was stabbed by a syringe and had to go to the hospital to get tested. That was a little freaky. That’s a little Townehouse story for you there.
N: Actually, I think the band Plumtree once voted The Townehouse as having the worst washrooms in Canada. On the flip side of that, The Townehouse has been so welcoming to bands because I remember Mr. Plow from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada telling me about when he was driving some bands across Canada.... I can’t remember which band it was. It might’ve been Dayglo Abortions or the Real McKenzies, something like that. But they stayed at The Townehouse twice, but they never actually did a gig there. They pulled up at The Townehouse, had nowhere to stay, and The Townehouse said “Oh you can stay in the band room.”
SA: I’m really not surprised because everyone who seems to run that place is very friendly and very hospitable. Yeah, it’s definitely a gem in Sudbury.
FFWD: To interject, I was on a cross-Canada tour in 2010 and we were in Sudbury without a show, and we got a flat tire and we were going to stay at The Townehouse, but then Paul Lawton from the Ketamines... either him or Raymond from The Famines had just stayed there the week before and it was infested with bedbugs, so we stayed at Millard’s Garage instead, which is another famous place in Sudbury.
N: Well I guess it’s unfortunate that syringes and bedbugs come up, because I think of it as a happy place. In my mind, I’ve not been back there, so again the opinions expressed are of Josiah and Steve Adamyk and not of me, Nardwuar the Human Serviette. To me it’s the perfect place to stay and do a gig on your trip across Canada.