Free Sugar Pill Gang!

artworks-000056557959-jf678d-t200x200Sugar pill” is another way of saying “placebo.” So basically we bit the band Placebo really hard because we’re pathetically uncreative. But that’s the point. We are the uncreative creative. Ask yourself: what is creativity? How can you be “creative” when everything’s already been done? All you can do is appropriate and remix. This is the new creativity. This is the remix culture. Don’t tell us what we can and cannot sample. Don’t tell me what art is, or how art is made. We are doing it right now, making art and getting our hands dirty.

Juts kidding. Fuck that.

Doctors and other medical professionals give patients sugar pills because their sickness is in their head. It’s all made up. You’re not really sick, you’re a faker. I’ll give you this sugar pill and you’ll believe you’re being treated for your non-existent illness. You just need attention, don’t you? You’re just a big baby. Take your pill, baby. Take your sugar pill and grow the fuck up.

I think we all know who the last paragraph was directed towards: Speed Dial 7, Pip Skid and Rob Crooks. Speed Dial 7 is from Kortrijk, Belgium, which is an hour or so outside of Brussels. Speed Dial 7 came to Canada a couple years ago to tour his music around the desolate, empty halls of Canada’s experimental hip-hop scene. He stayed in a hopeless Winnipeg for a couple weeks, drinking vodka and smoking cigarettes with the acclimated Pip Skid and Rob Crooks. Rob had some beats. “Why don’t we write some raps and make an album to these beats? We’ll call it Sugar Pill Gang, because we’re all a little sick in the head.”

Greg Macpherson came by and screamed his pent up aggression into a song. Yy and Gruf got busy with different styles. Dj Co-op rapped a verse about how these kids need to learn about stuff. Speed Dial 7 took all this and made it make as much sense as it ever could:

Sugar Pill Gang.

You can download this album for free. Please do.

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Birdapres and Rob Crooks present Argyle

bird-rob-art2(1) To all of my friends and fans that have been vocally skeptical about how much I sing on my new shit, here’s something just for you. Argyle is an EP Birdapres and I made full of raps and beats, and it’s all based around the theme of being in high-school. Why high school, you ask? Why is the sky blue? Why is water wet? Why did Judas grab the Romans while Jesus slept? In the simplest terms possible, we went with it, and it worked out. Below is a more detailed description of the album and the creative process behind it. You can read it to find out more.

In the meantime, you can download the album here.

“For the first time ever Birdapres has teamed up with Rob Crooks to bring you Argyle. Named for both an alternative high school in Winnipeg and the pattern that adorns school uniforms, this eight track EP hearkens back to the days of low-hanging backpacks, mind-numbing classes and juvenile delinquency. Although Bird and Crooks are well beyond their teenage years, they artfully use the theme of high school to express the feelings of alienation and ennui that followed them well into adulthood.

The poetic insight that laid the theme for Argyle came from Birdapres’ observation that most people had a friend or classmate tragically pass away during the months or days surrounding graduation. From that dark inspiration came the pensive “Bus Stop Blues,” a song that developed the overarching concept for this brand new EP. Other songs cover topics such as adolescent drug-use (“High School High”), skipping class to smoke “Cigarettes” (feat. Pip Skid) and the dreaded “Summer School.”

Sonically, Argyle is contrastingly upbeat and fun. Rob Crooks, playing the role of producer in addition to emcee, took records supplied by the walking-vinyl-encyclopedia Birdapres and fed them through his sampler to create beats influenced by Krautrock to Miami Bass. Samples from classic 80s and 90s high-school movies are sprinkled throughout the EP adding a narrative that takes the listener from the first day of school to graduation and beyond.

The final result is a hip-hop album unlike any other, relating the experiences of angst-ridden high-school students to the existential problems facing us as grown-ups today.”

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Adventures in Poland

 

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Somehow I made it to Kortrijk, Belgium to meet up with my friend Tom aka Speed Dial 7 of Zucchini Drive. I made my first attempt at driving a manual transmission while traveling from Belgium to Hamburg, Germany. There were a couple of life-threatening stalls on the infamous Autobahn, but we made it to the venue and met up with the other member of Zucchini Drive, Marcus, for our first show on our European tour.

 

After a great show at a cool little punk venue called Hafenklang in Hamburg, we were off to play a Hard Rock Cafe styled venue in Catowice, Poland called the Old Timer’s Garage. It was a bit of an adjustment over the border into Poland, where they don’t generally accept Euros, the GPS doesn’t work and most people didn’t speak any language other than Polish. But once we got to the venue and performed we met some incredibly welcoming and generous people.

 

The next day, driving out of Poland we encountered a driver in another car who was flashing his lights at us as we passed him. As we pulled in front of him, he began honking and driving back and forth between lanes. Confused and a little concerned, the three of us began discussing what could it could mean: Maybe he was trying to tell us something was wrong with our car, like a flat tire or a broken headlight; or maybe we were going too fast and he was trying to slow us down, but there are no speed limits on the highway in Poland. Maybe it was he who was in trouble.

 

As we were trying to decide whether or not to pull over and check on the car, another man starting waving at us, and flashing his lights as we passed. At that point we were pretty sure something must be wrong with our car, so we pulled over to inspect. As I got out of the car from the passenger seat to check the tires and lights, the man who waved us down pulled up behind us and approached the car. He was a well dressed man, maybe in his forties with graying black hair, wearing a stylish scarf and jacket with expensive looking leather boots. He began to speak French, but switched to English when Tom responded in the latter.

 

“Hello, hello! How are you? Thank you for stopping. My name is ‘such-and-such.’ Here is my card, with my address. You are from Belgium (our license plate gave that away)? I have family in Brussels. I am trying to get there to visit them, but I have lost my wallet and have no money for gas.”

 

This was something new for all of us: high-speed panhandling. But he was certainly dressed respectably and was driving a BMW with two children in it, so it was difficult to dismiss him right away.

 

“We only have 5 Euros on us” someone responded.

 

“Please I need 250. Give me your address, I will mail the money back to you. Takes these gold rings as collateral.”

 

He hands Marcus a “gold” ring. It seemed a little light for gold.

 

We all shot each other a look, and decided to get the hell out of there.

 

Driving a few kilometres down the highway, a third man in a BMW tried to wave us down again. A little smarter and much more suspicious, we picked up speed and high tailed it out of Poland back to Germany to play Berlin tonight.

 

That was quite an experience. But to be sure, our time in Poland has overall been a great experience. We’ve made some new fans and plan to return to Catowice as soon as we can. Luckily we do get to return to Poland on the fourth of February when we play Poznan.

 

 


 

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