VOLUME 1 | ISSUE 16 Cover: Canary Mine

by: Tim Knight
Canary Mine are a 4 piece “Folk Hop Rock” group from…well, all over Southern Ontario, really. Local musicophiles will perhaps know KW ex-pat James Lanbro aka ‘Jimi Maze’, as he used to host a radio show here. Musically, you may know the band from one of their many cross country tours, or from one of their songs that was featured in the 2007 feature film ‘Weirdsville’.
On April 28th, they are releasing their new record “Between A Rock And A Heartbreak” at Maxwell’s Music House, and one wonders what they’ll be bringing to the table. With songs that boast lyrical refrains such as “My balls are blue!”(obviously a comment on the the commoditification of sexuality in today’s society and/or the assassination-through-attrition of the male sexual identity. Probably both), it’s clear this is a dour, no-fun-in-this-life-or-the-next, super serious band, nay, “musical collective”. So, I asked them the tough questions, expecting hard facts, hard science.

VR: I’ll spare you the “what are your influences question”, but “Folk Hop Rock” is admittedly a new genre for me. How did this sound come about? Was it difficult to go with your instincts with that sound, and not swerve into something more mainstream?

CM: When you’re rappaz and you play acoustic guitar, what do you expect? Carl says, “I’m coining a new style that I call ‘Eclectica’”.  We take little interest in the mainstream. We know who Katy Perry is and we acknowledge the dub-step auto tune trend, but it’s not what we do.

VR: Creed: great band, or the greatest band?

CM: Who is Creed? Finger eleven is way better.

VR: You guys have had 7 releases and have been together for a decade. But “Between a Rock and a Heartbreak” is your first non-live release in 7 years. Why the long studio hiatus, especially given that one of you is a studio engineer?

CM: We all value our personal lives and have busy day jobs. We also had the luxury of not having a deadline.   Therefore, we took our time and made it perfect.

VR: Mim: you’re a jazz aficionado. Chet Baker: smoothest voice in jazz, or of all time?

CM: Tough question to answer.  Chet may well be the smoothest singer of all time, but there others that are my personal favourites (Joe Williams and Mark Murphy).

VR: Personally, I blame video games and rap music (and those kids better get the hell off my lawn!), but what’s your take on why we can’t just all get along?

CM: Because not enough people go out to see live bands.

VR: You have strong connections to the KW region. Is that solely due to James, or are there other factors at play?

CM: Well, the James connection is pretty deep and has influenced us all. Proud of his KW roots, James still gives us extensive tours of the region, showing us the history and his old make out spots.  James states, “I was born and raised in KW. I watched the factories close, the universities grow and the tech boom first hand. My crew of best friends returns to Kdubs for the winter holidays.  I’m pretty loyal to the town and represent it wherever I go.”

VR: Do you think Medvedev is legitimately in charge, or just Putin’s puppet?

CM: Medvedev was the puppet for the last few years, but I don’t think Putin even needs to fake it anymore.  He’s clearly in charge.

VR:  As an independent band, trying to make a living, you’re on the front lines of the music copyright debate. How do you feel about downloading and file sharing? Where do you see the music industry heading? How does a record company survive in a future where everything is freely shared five minutes after it’sreleased?

CM: In Canary Mine, it’s an ongoing debate over how much we should give away and at what point we need to ask for payment.  We count on our audience’s recognition that by purchasing our music, they are helping us survive.  We have no ties to record labels, therefore we don’t really worry about them too much.  We all have different political opinions, so outside of how it relates to Canary Mine it’s too big of a question to answer.

VR: With the popularity of shows like Jersey Shore, and publicity stunts like the Kardashian wedding/divorce, entertainment has seemed to have reached a new depth of trying to hit bottom. Does it continue to plumb the depths of the lowest common denominator, or is their some savior for the collective IQ of mankind on the horizon?

CM: Have you seen Idiocracy? It’s happening now.  And, James is literally wearing a Snookie t-shirt as we answer these questions, so maybe we’re the wrong group to ask.

VR: You guys have toured extensively, particularly you, Jimi, crossing the country an astounding 25 times. What’s your favourite place in the country? 

CM: I wouldn’t live in Toronto if it wasn’t one my favourite places.  The back patio of the Boathouse and the back patio of Ethels are on the list.  The BC mountains are dear to me and so is Cape Breton Island.

VR: Tell me: have you ever really, really ever loved a woman?

CM: Yes, our moms…. and yours too!  Carl and Joe feel rather fond of their wives as well.

VR: What should people expect at your show on April 28th at Maxwells?

CM: An entertaining show. Prizes, jumping kicks, choreography and unbridled energy.  Definitely no shoe-gazing.

VR: Finally, I want to get serious for a moment.  Argyle with pinstripes: fashion forward, or fashion faux pas?

CM: James says “faux pas”, Mim says “we should ask Matt Longo from Sue Newberry and the Law”, Joe says “what is argyle?”and Carl says “I’m not wearing it, so likely fashion forward”.

Canary Mine CD Release @ Maxwell’s Music House, April 28th
soundcloud.com/canary-mine
www.canarymine.com

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