Transcript: Toronto's Hardcore Punk-Rock Past | Feb 10, 2020Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and striped lilac tie.
A caption on screen reads "Toronto's hardcore punk rock past. @spaikin, @theagenda."
Steve says WHILE ONTARIO'S CAPITAL CITY IN THE 1980s LOOKED TO MANY PEOPLE LIKE "TORONTO THE GOOD" AS IT ALWAYS HAD, A SEETHING SUBCULTURE OF LOUD, ANGRY MUSICIANS AND FANS BEGGED TO DIFFER. THAT SCENE IS PORTRAYED IN ALL ITS GLORY IN THE BOOK, "TOMORROW IS TOO LATE - TORONTO HARDCORE PUNK IN THE 1980s." IT WON THE 2019 HERITAGE TORONTO BOOK AWARD, AND IT BRINGS TO OUR STUDIO: SHAWN CHIRREY, THAT'S HIM ON THE LEFT, HE IS CO-AUTHOR OF "TOMORROW IS TOO LATE."
Shawn is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with mid-parted gray hair. He's wearing glasses, a gray suit and a dark blue shirt. A picture of the book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a black and white superimposed picture of two male singers performing.
Steve continues AND SIMON HARVEY, A CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR WHO IS NOW OWNER OF UGLY POP RECORDS.
Simon is in his forties, with short, receding gray hair and a stubble. He's wearing a black sweater.
Steve continues GOOD TO HAVE YOU GUYS HERE FOR A DISCUSSION WHICH IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT IN MY WHEELHOUSE, I HAVE TO TELL YOU.
Steve says I DIDN'T SEE SINATRA IN THIS BOOK.
Shawn says THERE WAS NO SINATRA.
Steve says ANYWAY, YOU'RE GOING TO EDUCATE ME, I KNOW, ON A SCENE THAT FRANKLY I HAVE NO RECOLLECTION OF WHATSOEVER. SO THIS IS A GOOD LEARNING OPPORTUNITY FOR US WHO MISSED THIS WHOLE THING. DANIEL RICHLER, WHO I DO KNOW AND USED TO WORK AT THIS STATION, ONCE DESCRIBED TORONTO 1980 ONCE TO YOU NOW.
The caption changes to "Shawn Chirrey. Co-Author, 'Tomorrow is too late.'"
Then, it changes again to "Hometown in the '80s."
Shawn says BLEAK AND GRAY AND CONCRETE. I CALLED HIM UP AND INTERVIEWED HIM IN LONDON AND HE SORT OF... YOU KNOW, HE WAS A GUY WHO GREW UP IN THE U.K. AND THEN LIVED IN MONTREAL BEFORE MOVING TO TORONTO. SO AS AN OUTSIDER, HE WAS ABLE TO DESCRIBE IT SO ELOQUENTLY. I WENT, OH, MY GOD, YOU'VE NAILED IT. HE TALKED ABOUT THE PARKING LOTS AND, YOU KNOW, YOU'D HOP ON THE TTC AND SEE ALL THIS GRAYNESS AND THEN GO INTO A CLUB AND THERE WERE THESE SWEATY, DISGUSTING PLACES. HE DESCRIBED THEM AS BEING FILLED WITH BRIGHT LIGHT AND LOTS OF EXCITEMENT. HE LIVED ACROSS THE STREET FROM LARRY'S HIDEAWAY, WHICH WAS ON CARLTON STREET AT THE TOP OF ALLAN GARDENS. IT WAS ONE OF THE PLACES HE DESCRIBED...
Steve says IT'S RIGHT NEAR MAPLE LEAF GARDENS.
Shawn says RIGHT ACROSS FROM MAPLE LEAF GARDENS. IT WAS A FANCY HOTEL IN THE 60'S. IT WAS CALLED THE PRINCE CARLTON HOTEL. BUT BY THE TIME WE WERE TEENAGERS, LARRY'S HIDEAWAY WAS MOSTLY A PUNK AND METAL CLUB.
As Steve picks up the book and flips through its pages, he says I'M HAPPY TO SHOW THE BOOK. THIS IS WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE. IT'S A GORGEOUS SORT OF COFFEE TABLE BOOK OF ALL THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PUNK SCENE, BUT I DO HAVE TO ASK YOU: WHAT'S THE ATTRACTION EXACTLY?
The caption changes to "Simon Harvey. Contributing author, 'Tomorrow is too late.'"
Simon says WHEN YOU'RE 15 YEARS OLD? EXCITEMENT AND IDEAS. THERE'S A MASSIVE OUTPOURING OF IDEAS THAT CAME OUT OF THAT SCENE THAT, IN RETROSPECT, AS AN ADULT, SOME OF THEM ARE NAIVE AND NOT FULLY FORMED AND SO ON, BUT AS YOU GO THROUGH THIS, WE HAVE THE MUSIC, THE BANDS, THE CLUBS, ET CETERA. BUT THEN YOU HAVE ALL THESE THINGS ABOUT ANIMAL RIGHTS, QUEER CORE, FEMINISM, STRAIGHT EDGE, WHICH IS SORT OF A PUNK REJECTION OF DRUGS AND ALCOHOL ABUSE AND SO ON, WHICH DOESN'T EVEN REGISTER WITH THE MAINSTREAM BUT WAS A PRETTY CRITICAL PART OF THAT SCENE AT THE TIME. AND THERE'S ALL THESE NEW WAYS OF THINKING AND NEW WAYS OF VIEWING THE WORLD THAT HIT YOU WHEN YOU'RE 15 YEARS OLD AND YOU'RE HUNGRY FOR THAT KIND OF THING IF, LIKE ME, I DIDN'T LIVE IN A PLACE THAT WAS PARTICULARLY BLEAK OR HORRIFYING. I GREW UP IN SCARBOROUGH. OKAY, BLEAK AND HORRIFYING. BUT A DIFFERENT KIND OF BLEAK AND HORRIFYING. IT WAS MIDDLE CLASS AND STAYED. IT'S NOT THE... STAID. AND NOT THE MOST EXCITING PLACE.
Steve says AND YOU CAME DOWNTOWN AND SAW THIS.
Simon says AND YOU'RE BUYING THESE RECORDS AND HEARING THIS MUSIC AND IT'S INCREDIBLY EXCITING, POWERFUL MUSIC, BUT IT ALSO... I MEAN, THERE'S POWERFUL, EXCITING HEAVY METAL OR RAP MUSIC OR WHATEVER AS WELL, I'M SURE. NOT THAT THOSE IDEAS. BUT THE SPECIFIC IDEAS THAT APPEALED TO ME WHEN I WAS 15, 16 YEARS OLD WERE BEING TRANSMITTED BY THIS. I WOULD SAY THE COMBINATION OF THIS INVIGORATING MUSICAL EXPRESSION AND MENTALLY STIMULATING IDEAS COMING FROM IT THAT CHALLENGED AND OFFERED DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES. IT WAS IRRESISTIBLE.
Steve says HERE'S HOW IT WAS DESCRIBED IN THE BOOK. YOU WRITE...
A quote appears on screen, under the title "For the freaks and geeks." The quote reads "Many of us didn't enjoy our high school experiences, and some of us didn't even make it there at all. The Toronto hardcore scene of the 1980s is where we fit in: a place where we belonged for our differences as much for our similarities. This book is intended to be the yearbook we never had. A record of the events that shaped us and the people we grew up with. A proud place where everyone's contribution counted."
Quoted from Derek Emerson and Shawn Chirrey, "Tomorrow is too late." 2018.
Steve says WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE, SHAWN, GRAVITATED TO THIS SCENE?
Shawn says I WOULD SAY WE WERE MOSTLY MISFITS AND OUTSIDERS TO SOME DEGREE. IT REALLY WAS A SENSE OF COMMUNITY. MOST OF US WERE SUBURBAN KIDS. I ALWAYS SAID THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PUNK AND SCHOOL WAS... IT WAS MUCH YOUNGER, MUCH MORE SUBURBAN AND IT CREATED A COMMUNITY. WE WERE KIDS THAT DIDN'T FIT IN TO OUR HIGH SCHOOLS BUT HEADING DOWN TO THIS VIBRANT SCENE FULL OF IDEAS AND EXCITING PEOPLE, IT WAS A COMMUNITY FOR US.
Steve says I WONDER POLITICALLY WHETHER IT WAS, YOU KNOW, I'M THINKING, MID 1980s, YOU HAVE MARGARET ATWOOD, AND BRIAN MULRONEY, CONSERVATIVE HERE IN CANADA, RONALD REAGAN, A REPUBLICAN IN THE STATES. IS PART OF THIS A REACTION TO THAT?
The caption changes to "Getting political."
Shawn says IT'S PARTLY A REACTION TO THAT. IT'S ALSO THIS SENSE THAT WE'RE STILL LIVING IN THE COLD WAR AND WE COULD DIE AT ANY MOMENT. THIS IS STILL VERY MUCH IN OUR HEADS. WE'RE A BUNCH OF KIDS THAT DON'T SEE... NOT TO BORROW TOO MUCH FROM THE SEX PISTOLS, BUT IT DIDN'T FEEL LIKE THERE WAS ALWAYS A FUTURE. EVEN THE TITLE "TOMORROW IS TOO LATE" IS AN ACTION SONG AND IT REALLY CAPTURED THE URGENCY TO US. THERE'S SOMETHING HAPPENING AND YOU HAVE TO LIVE YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW BECAUSE WE'RE NOT SURE IF WE'RE EVEN GOING TO BE HERE TOMORROW.
Steve says HMM. HOW OLD ARE YOU GUYS?
Shawn says I'M 52.
Steve says AND YOU'RE...
Simon says 49.
Steve says 49. YOU'RE A LITTLE BIT YOUNGER THAN ME. I DEFINITELY REMEMBER THESE TIMES AS WELL AS BEING VERY ANGSTY BECAUSE OF THE COLD WAR AND ALL THE NUCLEAR MISSILES FROM THE U.S. AND THE SOVIET UNION FACING EACH OTHER AND WHEN YOU WENT TO BED AT NIGHT, YOU DIDN'T KNOW IF YOU WERE GOING TO WAKE UP IN THE MORNING.
Simon says DRILLS AT SCHOOL.
Steve says MY REACTION WAS TO GO IN A VERY DIFFERENT DIRECTION. I WENT FOR OLD STYLE MUSIC AND YOU GUYS GOT INTO HEAD-BANGING CRAP... SORRY. HEAD-BANGING STUFF THAT IS JUST COMPLETELY FOREIGN TO ME. HOW COME?
Shawn says IT WAS FULL OF ENERGY. I MEAN, IT CAPTURED HOW WE WERE FEELING AND IT WAS AN OUTLET FOR IT. AND THE EXCITING THING ABOUT HARDCORE WAS THAT IT WAS... IN PART A REACTION TO PUNK AND WE WERE TRYING TO CREATE SOMETHING NEW FROM IT. PUNK SORT OF SCREWED UP. IT WAS SOMETHING THAT DID GREAT MUSIC, BUT, YOU KNOW, THEY TURNED INTO ROCK STARS. THE IMPORTANT THING WITH THE HARDCORE SCENE, IT WAS VERY MUCH A DO-IT-YOURSELF, DIY APPROACH, AND MOST INVOLVED IN THE SCENE WERE INVOLVED IN SOME WAY. IF YOU WEREN'T IN A BAND, YOU DID A FANZINE, TOOK PHOTOS. IT WASN'T JUST A CONSUMER CULTURE. IT WAS PARTICIPATORY.
Steve says SIMON, IF PEOPLE WATCHING OR LISTENING HAVE NEVER HEARD THIS MUSIC BEFORE, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE IT?
Simon says IT IS ROCK 'N' ROLL MUSIC, '60s, THINK OF THE KINKS OR THE EARLY WHO, SUCH LIKE THAT. AND VERY BASIC STRIPPED-DOWN, GARAGE, DRUMS, BASS, GUITAR, UNTUTORED VOCALS, BUT EVERYTHING AMPED UP TIMES A HUNDRED.
Steve says TAKING IT TO 11.
Simon says ABSOLUTELY. TAKEN TO 12 WITH SOME. HAVING SAID THAT, IT'S PUNK. THERE ISN'T A CLEAR DISTINCTION BETWEEN PUNK AND HARDCORE. HARDCORE IS SHORT FOR HARDCORE PUNK. IT IS WHAT HAPPENED THROUGH THE LATE '70s AND EARLY '80s WHERE THE MOST OBVIOUS CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CLASH OR THE RAMONES OR WHATEVER WERE STRIPPED DOWN TO BASIC ESSENTIALS AND AMPED UP AGAIN.
Steve says WE HAVE A CLIP. IN THE EARLY '80s, TVO RAN A DOCUMENTARY ON TORONTO'S HARDCORE PUNK SCENE AND IT WAS CALLED "NOT DEAD YET." LET'S SHOW A CLIP AND WE'LL COME BACK AND CHAT. SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD.
A clip plays on screen in which young men at a dimly lit venue jump around violently pushing each other as a hardcore rock band plays.
A caption reads "Not dead yet. 1984."
The clip ends.
Steve says OKAY. WHAT IS THAT?
Shawn says THAT WAS MADHOUSE, I BELIEVE.
Steve says WHAT IS THAT DANCING?
Shawn says THAT WAS BEFORE CIRCLE PITS BECAME A THING. THAT WOULD BE SLAM DANCING, WHICH EVOLVED OUT OF THE POGOING FROM THE U.K. IN THE '70s, LATE '70s.
The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, email@example.com, Instagram."
Simon says HAVING SAID THAT, MUSICALLY, THAT IS FAR FROM HARDCORE. THAT IS MUCH MORE TRADITIONAL PUNK ROCK. THE KIND OF HARDCORE, THE CAPITAL "H" HARDCORE IS QUITE A BIT MORE EXTREME THAN THAT.
The caption changes to "Hitting the dancefloor (hard)."
Steve says OH, BOY. I'M GOING TO SOUND LIKE AN OLD FOGEY HERE. THAT LOOKS DANGEROUS, THAT KIND OF DANCING.
A black and white picture shows young men and women jumping onto each other in a mosh pit.
Shawn says IT WAS. IT STARTED OUT DANGEROUS IN THE EARLY '80s PERIOD. BY THE MID '80s, THAT WAS A CLUB CALLED THE TURNING POINT AND THERE WAS A PLACE IN THE ANNEX CALLED THE BRIDGE. BY THEN CIRCLE PITS WERE THE COMMON FORM, AND IT WAS NOT VERY VIOLENT. YOU WOULD RUN AROUND IN A CIRCLE AND IF YOU FELL DOWN, SOMEBODY WOULD GRAB YOU AND PULL YOU UP.
Simon says YES.
Shawn says IT WAS ALMOST A JOKE. PEOPLE SORT OF SAW IT AS MUCH SAFER THAN THAT EARLY '80s PERIOD.
Simon says IT WAS ENERGETIC BUT NEVER MALICIOUS.
Steve says YOU CAN IMAGINE THAT GETTING OUT OF CONTROL. SOME GUY BUMPS INTO ANOTHER GUY TOO FORCEFULLY AND PRETTY SOON THE KNIVES COME OUT AND THERE'S A PROBLEM.
Simon says NOT KNIVES, FISTS.
Shawn says THERE WERE TWO GUYS WHO POLICED THE PIT IN TORONTO. THEY MADE IT SAFE FOR ALL US YOUNGER KIDS.
Simon says ONE OF WHOM, KENNY, WAS FRONT AND CENTRE IN THAT CLIP THERE. KENNY AND ANTHONY.
Steve says IN THE EARLY 1980s, WHAT ROLE DID SKINHEADS PLAY IN THE PUNK SCENE?
Shawn says A BIGGER ROLE BY THE SKIN HEADS IN THE EARLY '80s. IN '83, '84, THEY WERE GONE. WE HAD LESS OF A SKINHEAD PROBLEM THAN HAMILTON AND MONTREAL. PEOPLE, WHEN WE TALKED WITH THEM FOR THE BOOK, THEY WEREN'T SURE IF THEY WERE RACIST SKINHEADS, MORE A U.K. INFLUENCE. BUT BY '83, THERE WAS A BAND CALLED THE BFGs, I WON'T SAY THEIR FULL NAME FOR YOU...
Steve says I THINK I KNOW WHAT THE "F" STANDS FOR. TELL ME THE "B" AND THE "G."
Simon says BUNCH OF EFFING GOOFS.
Shawn says THEY POLICED THE SCENE AND WHEN SKINHEADS GOT INVOLVED, THEY WOULD DEAL WITH THEM. BUT BETWEEN HEROIN AND THE BFGs THAT SORT OF SOLVED OUR PROBLEM.
Steve says CAN I THROW ANOTHER NAME AT YOU? IS SIMON, WHO IS THE SQUAMISH FIVE?
Simon says THE SQUAMISH FIVE IS, FOR LACK OF A BETTER WORD, A TERRORIST GROUP FROM B.C. THEY WERE INVOLVED IN THE BOMBING OF A LYTTON SYSTEMS PLANT...
Steve says I COVERED THAT. THAT WAS IN ETOBICOKE. THEY LIT OFF A BOMB THAT BLEW THE BLOODY BUILDING APART.
The caption changes to "The bad crowd."
Simon says NOT SOMETHING I CONDONE, CERTAINLY. BUT I SUPPOSE THE CONNECTION TO HARDCORE IS THAT ONE OF THE MEMBERS OF THAT ORGANIZATION, THAT GROUP, WAS EITHER THE BASS PLAYER IN THE SUB HUMANS.
Shawn says SUB HUMANS, YEAH.
Simon says THEY WERE A PRETTY RADICAL LEFT-WING STRAIN OF THE SCENE THAT WAS I WOULD SAY MORE PRONOUNCED IN B.C. THAN IT WAS HERE.
Shawn says BUT THE BAND IN TORONTO, DIRECT ACTION, TOOK THEIR NAME FROM THEM. THEY CALLED THEMSELVES DIRECT ACTION. WHEREAS THE MEDIA CALLED THEM THE SQUAMISH FIVE. THAT'S WHERE DIRECT ACTION TOOK THEIR NAME FROM, WAS THAT SQUAMISH FIVE GROUP.
Steve says DIRECT ACTION THAT WAS INTENDED TO BE POLITICALLY ACTIVE AND VIOLENT, RIGHT?
Shawn says YEAH, YEAH.
Steve says HOW MUCH OF THAT WAS A PART OF THIS SCENE?
Shawn says I WOULD SAY IT WAS A PART. IT WASN'T THE COMPLETE PART... THE SCENE WAS, I THINK, PIECES OF IT WERE POLITICAL AND PIECES OF IT WEREN'T VERY POLITICAL.
Simon says THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT SCENES THAT REALLY SOMETIMES DON'T OVERLAP AT ALL. I MEAN, THERE'S TOTALLY HEDONISTIC, DRUG-SOAKED, ROCK AND ROLL STUFF UNDER THIS. AND THERE'S REALLY HUMOURLESS, STOIC, REALLY AUSTERE, BLACK CLAD, SUPER LEFT-WING REVOLUTIONARY STUFF AND THERE'S KIDS THAT RIDE SKATEBOARDS AND WANT TO PLAY FAST MUSIC AND A MILLION DIFFERENT VARIATIONS ON THESE. AND THINGS LIKE CLOTHING AND MUSIC AND APPROACH TO DRUGS AND SO ON JUST DEFINE THESE DIFFERENT STREAMS WITHIN HARDCORE THAT MAKE IT VERY DIFFICULT TO SAY, "THIS IS WHAT HARDCORE WAS OR STOOD FOR," BECAUSE IT'S A BLANKET TERM FOR A LOT OF DIFFERENT...
Steve says AS YOU LOOK AROUND THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO TODAY, HOW MUCH OF IT STILL EXISTS AND WHERE?
Shawn says TORONTO IS STILL VERY MUCH A THRIVING SCENE. UP UNTIL LAST YEAR, WE HAD ONE OF THE BEST MOST VIBRANT IF HE FEELS, CALLED "NOT DEAD YET," WHICH WAS NAMED AFTER THAT DOCUMENTARY ON TVO. SIMON PUTS OUT SOME OF THE BANDS' RECORDS ON THE SCENE TODAY.
The caption changes to "All things considered..."
Simon says TO A LIMITED EXTENT. IT'S DEFINITELY NOT WHERE IT WAS EVEN TWO YEARS AGO. REAL ESTATE PRICES AND SO ON I THINK HAVE A LOT TO DO WITH THAT. PEOPLE CAN'T AFFORD TO PLAY IN BANDS BECAUSE THEY'VE GOT THREE JOBS. THERE'S NO SMALL CLUBS LEFT ANYMORE. PEOPLE CAN'T AFFORD TO LIVE DOWNTOWN. I MEAN, IT'S... WHAT WAS A THRIVING SCENE TWO YEARS AGO SEEMS TO BE DYING PRETTY QUICKLY.
The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."
Steve says BUT THE ROCK 'N' ROLLERS WHO CAME UP IN THE '60s AND '70s AND SO ON WHO ARE NOW IN THEIR 70s AND 80s, IF YOU LOOK AT THE ROLLING STONES, THEY'RE STILL DOING CONCERTS. ARE THERE STILL CONCERTS FOR PUNK BANDS?
Shawn says ABSOLUTELY. THERE ARE BANDS FROM THE '80s HARDCORE SCENE AND A VIBRANT SCENE THAT IS COMING THROUGH NOW.
Steve says YOU CAN BE AN OLD ROCK 'N' ROLLER, WE'VE SEEN THIS. CAN YOU BE AN OLD PUNKER?
Shawn says COMPLETELY. WHEN WE WERE DOING INTERVIEWS WITH ALL THE BANDS, WE INTERVIEWED ABOUT 150 PEOPLE AND HAD PEOPLE'S PHOTO COLLECTIONS. WE ALWAYS ASKED IN THE INTERVIEWS, DID PUNK HAVE AN IMPACT ON YOU? AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM WAS STILL INFLUENCED BY PUNK TODAY. NOBODY HAS A MOHAWK VERY MUCH. VERY FEW PEOPLE WOULD HAVE THE MOHAWKS. IT STICKS WITH YOU. IT'S A CULTURE THAT STICKS WITH YOU.
Steve says WHAT ABOUT THIS NOTION: IF YOU WERE A PUNKER AT THE TIME AND YOU GOT POPULAR AND YOU SIGNED WITH A BIG LABEL AND THEREFORE YOU MADE MONEY, HOW DID THE COMMUNITY REGARD THAT?
Simon says I DON'T THINK THAT HAPPENED IN THE '80s...
Shawn says NOT TORONTO BANDS. THE BIG ONE WAS ONE SIGNING TO WARNER BROTHERS WHICH WAS SEEN AS A SELLOUT THING AT THE TIME.
A black and white picture shows two teenage boys and a teenage girl performing on a small stage. They wear dark clothes, spiky hair and heavy eye makeup.
Simon says THEY HAD ALREADY CHANGED SO MUCH BY THAT POINT. THE PEOPLE PLAYING THIS KIND OF MUSIC JUST DID NOT SIGN MAJOR LABELS OR GET BIG. SOMETIMES THERE'S POSTURING IN THAT. IT'S EASY TO TALK ABOUT HOW YOU'LL NEVER SELL OUT WHEN NO ONE IS OFFERING YOU ANYTHING. THERE'S THE ODD EXCEPTION LIKE HUSKER DO, THEY HAD VISION THAT THEY DID GET SIGNED AND THERE'S THAT RHETORIC.
Shawn says NIRVANA APPEARED IN THE '90s. A BAND FROM MEAFORD AND MOVED TO TORONTO CALLED SONS OF ISHMAEL, THEY HAD NIRVANA OPEN FOR THEM WHEN THEY PLAYED IN SEATTLE. THEY DIDN'T REMEMBER UNTIL A BOOK CAME OUT AND THERE WAS A FLYER, OH, THAT'S WHO THE BAND WAS THAT OPENED FOR US.
Steve says MY GOODNESS. CAN YOU BE A HUSBAND AND A MORTGAGE AND KIDS AND STILL BE A PUNKER?
Simon says SURE.
Steve says ARE YOU?
Simon says I DON'T HAVE ANY OF THOSE THINGS. I'M DIRT POOR AND HAVE NOTHING. BUT I'VE GOT A GREAT RECORD COLLECTION.
Steve says DO YOU STILL CONSIDER YOURSELF AS A PUNKER?
Simon says I'M PUNK, YEAH.
Steve says YOU TOO?
Shawn says YEAH, YEAH.
Steve says HUH. YOU'RE NOT WHAT I THINK OF WHEN I THINK OF PUNK ROCK.
Shawn says NO. I THINK EVEN THAT WHOLE AESTHETIC, MOST OF US LOOKED LIKE SUBURBAN KIDS WITH LUMBER JACKETS AND JEANS.
Simon says I LOOK THE SAME WAY NOW THAN I DID BACK THEN. EVEN MORE BEAUTIFUL.
Steve says I'M FROM HAMILTON AND I WANT TO JUST SORT OF TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OPPORTUNITY BECAUSE TO THE EXTENT I KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT PUNK, WE REMEMBER TEENAGE HEAD WHICH CAME OUT OF HAMILTON, WESTDALE COLLEGIATE, FRANKIE VENOM WAS THE LEAD SINGER. THEY WERE... BACK IN THE DAY WHEN I WAS IN HAMILTON, THEY WERE PRETTY BIG.
Shawn says RIGHT.
Steve says ON THE PANTHEON OF PUNK BANDS, HOW BIG ARE THEY?
Simon says BEST CANADIAN RECORD EVER MADE, IN MY OPINION. FIRST RECORD, BEST IN MY OPINION.
Shawn says TRIUMPH AT THE CNE AND TEENAGE HEAD OPENED. THAT CHANGED MY MUSIC TRAJECTORY. THIS WAS PROBABLY SIX MONTHS AFTER THE ONTARIO PLACE RIOT WHEN THEY PLAYED A SHOW AT ONTARIO PLACE THAT RESULTED IN A RIOT. THIS WAS PROBABLY SIX MONTHS AFTER THAT AND IT CHANGED WHAT I WAS INTO. SEEING THEM LIVE CHANGED EVERYTHING.
Steve says FRANKY IS GONE NOW. BUT TEENAGE HEAD DID A CONCERT AT A TI-CAT GAME DURING THE LAST SEASON. AND I'LL TELL YOU WHAT. THEY WERE LOUDER THAN THE CROWD.
Simon says YEAH.
Steve says THEY'RE STILL PLENTY LOUD.
Shawn says THEY'RE PROBABLY THE CLOSEST THING WE HAVE TO THE RAMONES IN CANADA.
Steve says IF YOU HADN'T HAD A HARDCORE PUNK OUTLET FOR WHATEVER TEENAGE ANGST YOU WERE GOING THROUGH AT THE TIME, SHAWN, WHERE WOULD YOU BE TODAY?
Shawn says NOT IN A GOOD PLACE. I WAS A WORKING CLASS KID WITH NOT GREAT PROSPECTS IN MY FUTURE AND PUNK REALLY ALLOWED ME TO FOCUS, YOU KNOW, SOME OF THE ANGST I WAS HAVING. THEN, YOU KNOW, I DID A FANZINE AND RAN A RECORD LABEL AND DID SHOWS AT COMMUNITY RADIO STATIONS AND IT CREATED AN OUTLET FOR THAT ANGST.
Steve says SIMON, WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT THE FACT... 35 YEARS AGO IF YOU HAD A MOHAWK HAIRCUT AND YOU HAD SPIKES ALL OVER YOUR FACE, JEANS AND CHAINS AND YOU'RE EMBLEMATIC OF THAT WHOLE PUNK SCENE, PEOPLE NOTICED.
A black and white picture shows two teenagers wearing long spiky mohawks and dark eye makeup.
Simon says RIGHT.
Steve says IF YOU WALKED DOWN YONGE STREET TODAY IN TORONTO LIKE THAT, HO HUM, NOBODY WOULD NOTICE AT ALL. WHAT DOES THAT SAY?
Simon says WE TALKED ABOUT NIRVANA COMING UP AND SO ON, WHAT WAS THAT, 1990 OR SOMETHING? I CAN'T STAND THAT STUFF. BUT IT'S... THERE'S A COMMODIFICATION OF ANY KIND OF... THE TRAPPINGS, THE SIGNIFIERS, THE EMPTY STUFF OF ANY CULTURE THAT GETS INTO MAINSTREAM, MARKETED, AND THAT'S BEEN A SUCCESSFUL PROCESS. NOW EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD HAS TATTOOS AND...
Steve says DID YOU LIKE IT BETTER BACK IN THE DAY?
Simon says I NEVER CARE TOO MUCH ABOUT THAT STUFF ANYWAY. A LOT OF US I THINK AT THE TIME ALMOST DEFINED OURSELVES WITHIN HARDCORE BY NOT BEING LIKE THAT. YOU KNOW, THERE'S... YEAH, THERE WAS DEFINITELY PART OF ONE SIDE OF HARDCORE WAS DELIBERATELY RESPONDING TO WHAT TO ME IN 1985 WAS ALREADY THREE YEARS OLD.
Steve says SHAWN, LET ME GIVE YOU THE LAST WORD HERE. I'M GOING TO READ AN EXCERPT FROM YOUR BOOK, THIS BY JEFF BEARDALL FROM THE BAND GUILT PARADE...
Another quote from the book appears on screen, under the title "Making an impact." The quote reads "Maybe we didn't put a dent in the universe, but we may have put a little key strike in the paint job. We tried to make people think."
Steve says DID THEY SUCCEED?
Shawn says I THINK WE DID. THAT'S WHAT STUCK WITH PEOPLE WHEN WE ASKED THEM, DO YOU STILL HAVE THAT? BUT DIY AND THE QUESTIONING OF AUTHORITY AND QUESTIONING OF THE COMMON WISDOM WERE THINGS THAT HAVE STUCK WITH ALL OF THE PUNKS THAT WE TALKED TO TO THIS DAY.
Steve says OKAY. FIRST OF ALL, CONGRATULATIONS ON WINNING THE HERITAGE TORONTO PRIZE. THAT'S A WONDERFUL PRIZE.
Shawn says THANK YOU.
The caption changes to "Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman."
Steve says THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL BOOK. WELL DONE. AND I'VE LEARNED SOMETHING. WHICH IS WHY I COME TO WORK EVERY DAY. SO, WELL DONE. LET'S ALSO MENTION THE FACT THAT TVO IS GOING TO BE AIRING A DOCUMENTARY ON HAMILTON'S OWN TEENAGE HEAD LATER THIS YEAR. SO WE URGE PEOPLE TO KEEP A HEAD'S UP FOR THAT.
Simon says EXCELLENT.
Shawn says FANTASTIC.
Steve says THANKS GUYS VERY MUCH.
Simon says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."
Shawn says YES, THANK YOU. A PLEASURE.