Monthly Archives: November 2006


Tonight it’s A/V, HOTSHOTROBOT, Telecommando and Joyless Streets at Stage Nine in Halifax. Beautiful day for a drive in my snazzy cruise-control shifter car. I sold my old Ford Tempo to a junkyard. Good riddance. No more shitty AM radio for me. I’m just going to lean back and relax, listen to Fugazi on this wicked stereo, this thing pretty much drives itself.

I’ve been working on a lot of new music. I’d be happy to have one or two new songs finished and ready to play tonight but instead I have about eight half-finished ones. That’s because I can’t do one song at a time.

I write all the song titles at once, then I write all the basslines at once, then I write all the synthy bits, then the vocal melodies, then I write all the lyrics, and finally I do all the arrangements which is the only part I don’t enjoy as much. I get bogged down on this last step because at home I just jam songs out in a loop over and over for hours. Sometimes I do these sorts of jams live but I have to be really comfortable with the sound system.

Anyway, not this show but probably the next one, bam I’m going to have a whole new set. Since my sequencer can only hold so many tracks I have to delete old stuff to make way for the new stuff. I’ll be wiping out some songs that no one ever requests live, so if there are some older songs that you think I should keep around, be sure and make your requests heard during tonight’s show.

It’s HOTSHOTROBOT’s party but I’m playing last so they can get drunk and make out after they play and hang around the bar while people tell them how rad they are. I wouldn’t mind a bit of this treatment myself, so I sure hope there’s an after-party tonight because by the time I finish my set the lights will be on and the bouncers will be yelling at people (in their charming manner) to “FINISH YOUR DRINKS AND GET THE FUCK OUT.”

In honour of Jen Robot and her band’s CD release tonight I have declared Jen Appreciation Month over at MySpace Top 8. So if you’re a Jen or a Jenny or a Jennifer or some variation thereof, you should get in on it.

I think Jennifer is a beautiful name. My feelings on this matter are well-documented.

allages@underground cafe

Hey what are you doing this evening? Are you in Fredericton? A/V and The Kettle Black are playing an all-ages show tonight at the Underground Cafe on Charlotte Street.

A/V will be playing first and I’m starting at 8PM sharp.

I’m back home in the country, I have lots of stuff to write about but it’s a beautiful day and I just spent the morning chopping at a beaver dam with an axe in the woods by my house.

The dam is huge. I chop a big rushing watery gap in the dam, and the beavers build it back up overnight.

It’s not like we’re at war or anything. Anyway, there’s no way one person could take apart this dam without some serious machinery, and my efforts are quickly undone. I enjoy it. They enjoy it. They are some busy little doozers.

. . .

“Raise your drink in the air. Did I come all the way to Newfoundland to be the only one with a fucking drink in the air?”

As far as icebreakers go, that one seemed to work pretty well. Last night A/V and The Kettle Black played at Distortion in St. John’s. We didn’t have a venue so the guy from Distortion emailed me and offered us a slot opening for a couple of rock bands. I didn’t really have high expectations for the show but it turned out OK.

It was different playing for rock people instead of new-wave maniacs. There were a few people who showed up early in the evening for some dance-party styles and it wasn’t hard to tell who they were, they were the ones going off on the dance floor to A/V. Most other folks hung back a little bit, bopping a little and enjoying it, but maybe a little tentative about throwing down some moves.

There was a table of people sitting right beside me (I set up on the dancefloor, as per usje) and they were completely stone-faced, obviously just waiting for their friends in the rock band to come on. I was determined to try to warm up this table of people, and it was a hard go. At one point I even sang to one of these guys: “Ring the alarm, another dude is sleeping, whoa-oh hey.” It didn’t even register on him. Something weird about his eyes, I honestly couldn’t tell if buddy was awake or asleep.

Eventually one woman smiled and got up and started dancing as electro beats finally broke through the wall of stone.

Maybe I held back a little bit during this set, well as much as an A/V set can be holding back when I’m dancing and falling down on the floor and climbing all over shit. I mean I had fifty feet of mic cable and I probably only used 10 or 15 feet of it, I just know things could’ve been crazier. Tonight at Roxxy’s is being billed more as our show so I hope we’ll get a new wave party crowd for our last show in St. John’s. It’s still hard to picture it surpassing The Spur for sheer nuttiness but I have high hopes.

(Did I mention these people I saw at The Spur: Mark Bragg, Craig Francis Power, Jill Pasquet. All enjoying St. John’s. Did I mention that Cherie Pyne rocks. Vampires Of Love were rad. Sugary sweet pop songs about love and blood and sucking on necks. Dance hit: “Who put the garlic on the pizza.”)

The staff at Distortion were awesome. The bartender knew we were “from afar” and threw shooters at us, improvised recipes, one for himself of course. It’s hard to tell when bars close here. The bands end but there’s still music and 20 people walk in the door at 3AM and there’s booze all over the place.

The manager apologized for missing my set. Turns out he was off “having a baby.” Buddy goes off for a while and comes back a daddy. He was so humble and happy about it, it made my night. Welcome to the world, little Mitchell. Born on November 11, somebody straighten some stuff out in the world for the sake of this kid.

Everyone everywhere just loaded, on the bars, up and down the streets. Girls who can’t walk in their shoes. Buskers every two blocks and people running up to them to sing along the last verse of a song.

Across the street from the van buddy was playing “Guns Of Brixton” and we were yelling along with the lyrics across the street. That’s 4AM in St. John’s.

I walked from downtown to back to Blatch late late at night. The trick is I didn’t quite know where I was going. Streets in this ancient city are so chaotic, there’s no grid to it. Roads just run every which way and cross at every angle. Whenever people try to give directions they have to stop and think. “Well the street goes up the hill and then it turns into this other street, and then you gotta sorta veer to the right a little bit…” and so on. There’s no “three blocks down, two blocks over.” No grid. It expands my mind to walk around when every intersection is a non-linear exercise in creative geometry.

I’m a hermit and being on tour around people constantly might’ve had me craving some alone time. So I set out at 4 in the morning to get lost in St. John’s. Easy to do. I just wandered around up and down ramshackle streets with colourful houses stuck everywhere at every angle. I want to live here soon.

A clear crisp fall night with stars shining bright over the city and me completely lost, and just when I thought I’d have to hail a cab and say “take me there,” I came around a corner and knew exactly where I was.

Today Nick and I walked from downtown up to the top of Signal Hill. Quite a hike. We pretended we were French invaders on our way to take over the fort and burn down the town. A board said something about St. John’s being the most invaded city in North America or some such thing. Cannons are at the ready for the next one.

Wish I had my videocamera to get a shot of the sunset reflected in the harbour. I stared down over the cliffs for a long long time. It’s been a while since I’ve gazed off a distance from a height and perhaps my depth perception wasn’t used to it. I had the illusion that I could hold the city and the harbour in my cupped hands. I would do that if I could, I want to feel like I could look after this place, protect it, keep it safe forever no matter what.

I want everyone who reads this to come out to Roxxy’s. Tomorrow is Corner Brook, Tuesday is Sydney at the mighty Maple Leaf. Then I’ll have a couple days off in Halifax. Help me out Halifax, email me, tell me what to do. You know I like to lay low in town these days, spend time with a few friends. Find me. I want to go to Bach’s Cafe.

Marconi received the first wireless transmission up on Signal Hill, three dots, a Morse code letter S, all the way from England. I live his legacy with wireless Internet here at Hava Java Cafe, on the oldest street in North America, Water Street, St. John’s Newfoundland, reaching out to you all the way around the world. xo philip

~ show review at

stjohns day2

Hearing some Billy Bragg at the cafe today. It’s a beautiful day in St. John’s but we’re inside while Nick gets his nerd on. I haven’t been missing the Internet, not a bit. What I have been missing is a shower, how long’s it been, what day’s today?

Last night at The Spur was crrrazy. Awesome crowd and rowdiness to a whole new level. I had New Brunswick in the house, girls right up front and dancing and screaming and I think they must have taken a hundred drunken photos. Not only from New Brunswick, from Cumberland Bay, I mean they knew where Gaspereau Forks was. Pleased to see my homegirls party as hard as any Newfoundlander.

I was wearing my Rockets Red Glare t-shirt and Jeremy from Rockets Red Glare showed up. Of all things. He lives here now and I hadn’t seen him in 3 years.

I wound up playing until 3am, yes I did some kind of an encore, I think I ended with something like a 10-minute version of Bar Star 2001 before it was time for the anti-encore and those in the know taking up the chant: “No More Songs.” Then I had some catching up to do in the drinking department. I emptied the bar of tequila (“only a couple shots left, you might as well finish it”). After loading out we went upstairs to find Dan and he was asleep sitting up at the bar, I had to pour a bunch of his drink on his face to get him up and moving.

I met at least 20 people last night. Went to a party after the show, I could hear New Order from a block and half away. It was Out Hud and MSTRKRFT and more rowdiness. Someone jumped on the coffee table and with one kick a dozen bottles went flying. Beer spilled everywhere including all over some stuff that probably shouldn’t get beer spilled on it. People were ripping the stuffing out of the furniture and throwing it around. I saw two boys kiss each other before falling over drunkenly, they were on ecstasy (or were they)?

It was 6am when I finally headed back to the crash pad. I’m staying at Blatch, the punk house. Today we went out for breakfast at The Sprout and it was so good I wished I could’ve taken a picture.

Nick slept in the van and was awakened by the parade.


Hello from Water Street, downtown St. John’s. Charlottetown show was awesome, I love Hunter’s Alehouse and you bunch of hand-clappin’ rowdy Charlottetown party animals. I got an anti-encore. “NO MORE SONGS” everyone yelled. It was a beautiful moment in my musical career. The birthday girl didn’t get that memo and asked me to play some more. Sorry birthday girl. Next year maybe I will play one less song, especially for you.

We threw our gear in the van and hit the road. Nick’s twenty-year-old red Toyota mini-van. The Cherry Chariot. The Crimson Cannonball. Two thirty AM we left.

Forty hours later we arrived in St. John’s. Pissing and shitting rain the whole way. Ferry ride is normally five or six hours. We spent thirteen hours on the boat, sloshing around in the cold dark Atlantic. This was after a six-hour delay. I sat around the ferry terminal for all these hours. Watched a Bruce Willis movie, watched the Johnny Cash movie featuring Reese Witherspoon.

Hey I hear she is single now. I bet I’ll be running into her pretty soon down at the Khyber Club… My God he’s delirious! He thinks he still lives in Halifax!

Nick from The Kettle Black can now say he’s driven from one edge of the country to the other. Except for about 10 metres in Antigonish where the van broke down at the gas pump and we pushed it across the parking lot. Antigonish was a little rough but all told we only lost a couple hours (loose wire to the alternator).

When we realized the ferry was running so late, we got nervous realizing we hadn’t gassed up the van and everything would be closed when we arrived on the island and we would definitely be running out of gas before the first 24-hour station (like, 200km in). But then the ferry took so long that all the gas stations were starting to open up when we finally arrived. So, how about that.

I’m sitting at this cafe when something tells me I should be loading in right now. Playing tonight at The Spur. I might even have a few tonight. Hell it’s St. John’s, sure I’ll have a few tonight.

I just walked up that street, that one street in St. John’s that’s all bars. People were just walking up the middle of the street, surrounding cop cars. Girls were screaming. From a couple blocks away I thought someone was being murdered. It’s anarchy. I walked past a bar and heard someone yell “Just chug it, man!” and then the whole crowd, every person in the bar from the sound of it, started chanting: “CHUG IT! CHUG IT! CHUG IT!”

In the past hour I’ve met two people who said “I came here one time for a visit and then never left.”

In conclusion:


Got a nice fire going in the stove, Nick from The Kettle Black is sprawled out on the floor in the lovely warmth, Vickers is sitting in the rocking chair which means I must be sitting at the kitchen table in front of the iBook.

We’re leaving tomorrow to go on tour. A/V and The Kettle Black. Two men, two bands, one van. Bringing the rock to the rock:

11.08 Charlottetown @ Hunter’s
11.09 Corner Brook, NL @ D’Attic
11.10 St. John’s @ The Spur w/Cherie Pyne, Vampires Of Love
11.11 St. John’s @ secret all-ages house show
11.11 St. John’s @ Distortion w/A Select Few
11.12 St. John’s @ Roxxy’s w/Gay Marriage, Origin Of The Sound Band
11.13 drive across newfoundland
11.14 Sydney, NS @ The Maple Leaf
11.15 Halifax @ Rejections (Kettle’s playing. I’m not.)
11.17 umm tba
11.18 Fredericton, NB @ Underground Cafe all-ages

We played Fredericton on Saturday at The Capital. It turned out to be a great show. Team Rocket opened. They’re a duo, with a drum machine and this guy playing a computer keyboard through a broken laptop and a girl jumping around and wailing away into a microphone. They reminded me of Suicide meets the second coming of Crass. They covered “Bata Motel.”

I played a good set replete with all the usual technical chaos and dancefloor anarchy. The sound system at the Capital was sounding good and loud.

Part way through one of my songs the top-mids of the PA starting cutting out, leaving only the subwoofer to burble along by itself. My reaction was a mixture of fear that I had taken out the PA speakers, mixed with awe at how awesome it sounded with just the sub in the mix.

Anyway, James went and did something fiddly with the gear and got everything back up in no time. Not sure what happened although I wish there was a way I could do it on purpose.

During my last song I was dancing and flailing all around and manage to kick the power bar unplugged, causing a sudden, awkward, anticlimactic and hilarious silence. There wasn’t much I could do to salvage the moment but play another song and try to pass it off as an encore.

Encores. The phenomenon of the encore is a strange convention at the best of times. “I’m all done performing for the evening–thank you good night–nope fooled you! I’m going to play some more!”

The self-nominated encore is the worst. I used to feel so embarrassed doing live sound whenever a band would play their supposed “last song” and afterwards stand around the stage as if waiting for a glorious riot to break out among the audience members.

When this didn’t happen someone would invariably lean into the mic and say “Umm would you like to hear one more?”

And somewhere in the room a boyfriend or girlfriend would say, “Wooo.”

I think bands should either a) not do encores, or b) do an encore only if the entire room has broken into spontaneous cheering, applause, stamping of feet and chanting of your band’s name for a period of not less than three full minutes. Otherwise you run the risk of looking like a bunch of chumps.

I’ve played encores before. It’s flattering but it’s not something I go in expecting to do. Normally there’s a flow to the evening, I can pretty much sense when the crowd has had enough and when I’ve had enough and I don’t want to go beyond that point.

A showbiz commandment that many bands seem to have forgotten: always leave ’em wanting more.

I’m writing about encores because of something that’s been happening at all my shows lately.

I’ve played my final song. It’s all over, people are satisfied, it was a good show, a good night all around. I’m off standing by the merch table, or starting to pack up my gear, or setting myself up with a refreshing and hard-earned beverage.

And someone comes up to me and says “Hey! Are you gonna play one more? You mean that’s it? Why don’t you just play one more song? Why don’t you play some more? Can I get up and jam with you? Seriously though. Can I get up on the mic and do some freestyles? Seriously you got plenty of time. Just play one more song. We just got here ten minutes ago, why are you stopping already. Come on, we wanna hear one more. There’s lots of time. One more song man.”

Meanwhile, my synth is unplugged and leaning up against the wall, the lights have come on, people are starting to leave, and a little janitor named Sylvester P. Smythe is starting to push his little broom across the dancefloor.

I used to think this would be a clever time to try and sell a cd or two. You know… if you like the music so much, why not take it home with you, that sort of thing… but the “one more song” people are never, ever the ones who buy your cd.

“Yeah OK, I’ll buy a cd… if you get up and play… two more songs. What’s your band called? What is it? Sorry, didn’t catch that? Sorry, didn’t catch that, what was it? Well I think you should just do another song. Just get up right now and play one more, come on.”

Yeah. I’ve been sober all night and now I’ve finally got a nice gin and pineapple in my hand and I’m standing here obviously talking to two beautiful women who have been dancing to my music and making Bambi eyes at me all night, and I should ditch this beautiful moment just to engage in the anti-climax of the century, all to please your slobbering drunken ass.

I don’t know where these people come from. But they seem to appear at every single show I play.

The fact that they only heard the last ten minutes of my set can only mean they arrived late, and thus they probably got away without paying any cover, so they’re not exactly the ones with their signatures on my paycheque, n’ahm sayin’.

The rule should be, if you don’t like a band enough to show up in time to hear all their songs, then leave said band alone when they have finished working very hard and are trying to relax.

It can be lonely being in a touring band. You don’t always get to talk to many people because you’re performing all night. And as soon as you’re finished the lights have all come on, and before you’ve even had a chance to wind up your patch cables the bar has completely emptied out.

Whenever possible I try to end my set with twenty minutes or so to spare before closing time. Finishing a show is like getting off work in a way, I like nothing better afterwards than to relax and unwind a bit with some good company.

I’d rather not spend all this time turning down the lost cause of an encore. I try to be gracious. I’m not going to be a dick to someone who is showing some appreciation of my music, no matter how drunk or obnoxious they are. So I’m putting out the call to all the true A/V fans. If you do happen to see someone pestering me beyond reason after a show about this “one more song” business, there is a way you can come to my rescue.

I want you to help me re-invent the whole concept of the “encore.”

From now on it’s all about “NO MORE SONGS.”

I want the new chant after an A/V show to be “NO MORE SONGS.” I want you all to let the encore-pests know that Philip has worked very hard to deliver a solid evening of entertainment, and now Philip deserves a chance to relax and to mingle and to reap some of the considerable social benefits that go with being a new-wave rocker, and we know that Philip lives all alone out in the woods and doesn’t get out much these days, and we all want Philip to have a good time because then we might just wind up having something fun to read about on the Internet.

So put your hands together and chant with me: “NO MORE SONGS! NO MORE SONGS! NO MORE SONGS!”

I will take this as a very touching and very personal compliment, far more effective than a traditional encore, and I promise to respond with enthusiasm, by hanging out at the bar and not playing any more songs.

I swear to god, if this whole thing catches on, someday I will put out a cd and call it “No More Songs.”

rice war 2006

To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Allow me to amend that proverb: To the man with an axe, everything looks like firewood.

I was down in the basement, splitting up some logs for kindling. After I got done I came upstairs. I brought the axe up with me and walked all around the house with it. I had this powerful urge to chop down my house.

I took practice swings and stopped just short of hitting the walls. I tapped the flat of the blade against door frames.

I like to chop. In this house, I burn wood for warmth. A beautiful hundred-year-old stove sits in my kitchen. In front of the stove on a mat is the rocking chair where my grandmother used to rock. My cat and I take turns on the chair whenever there’s a fire going.

It seems to be his turn right now. You’ll be glad to hear that Vickers the Cat is doing well these days, fat and happy, curled up and fast asleep.

I don’t cook on this stove though. Hell no… I’m a hermit, not a Luddite. For cooking I have this cute little oven with two burners on top. It’s rigged so you can’t have the oven and either of the burners on at the same time. And the burners only have three settings: off, super-crazy-hot, and super-crazy-wicked-hot.

I made a pot of rice today. Let me tell you about the way I cook. I put the pot or the pan on the stove, I turn the burner up. Then I immediately leave the room because I hate being in the same room where there’s food cooking. I set a timer or check back every few minutes or however often is necessary, until everything is done. Or if the food’s not quite ready and I’m really hungry, I’ll just start to eat standing up right out of the pot on the stove.

I love to eat but I hate cooking. Throughout university I worked in a kitchen environment, and it left me with a lifelong revulsion towards preparing any kind of food. What really gives me the creeps is cooking with other people around. Everyone’s got an opinion. There’s always someone who feels the need to look over my shoulder and say something like, “That’s not the right way to cut up an onion.”

And now you are every shitty supervisor at every shitty job I’ve ever had. How about I demonstrate the right way to kill you in the eye with this knife.

Anyway enough negativity, I love to eat and I get by OK and if you feed me I will get a big crush on you. So I made a pot of rice today. I put the burner on super-crazy-wicked-hot to get the water boiling, and since there’s no “simmer” on this stove I turned it down to the next nearest setting, which happens to be “off,” so that I could let it simmer for 20 minutes just like it says so, right here on the package.

And then I immediately left the kitchen and went upstairs and fooled around with iMovie on my computer for a while. The package said 20 minutes but I wound up leaving the rice for half-an-hour just to make sure it was good and done. Actually I forgot about it for a while. When I came downstairs, I discovered that I had turned burner down, not to “off,” but merely to “super-crazy-hot.”

A great joy bubbled into my heart along with the smoke coming up off the stove. What a legendary achievement. I, Philip Clark, had managed to ruin a pot of simple white rice. This is indeed a special day in the history of bachelorhood.

Have you ever experienced that distinct smell of burning rice? No, of course you haven’t. You’ve never ruined rice in your life. Let me tell you, I have smelled it. I have been there and back. I have been to war. I have seen things you people would not believe.

Turns out more than just the rice was ruined. I think I ruined the pot as well. My pot… my cute little rice-making pot. He’s black on the bottom and all gummed up.

I always liked that pot. Poor little guy. Now what am I going to do?

Today I have destroyed not just one single meal. I have destroyed the entire future of rice-making, forever. Nothing will ever be the same again.

Whenever I run into old-timers around the village they always have the same advice. “What are you doing living down there all alone? You need to get yourself a wife down there.”

There are days when I think about it, like today. But deep down I suspect I’m just not the marrying kind.

I’m going to go open a can of sardines.