Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Worst Case Survival Guide: Life According to NEEDS

We've done our fair share of interviews here at Paradise Playground. To be honest, before every single one, I still get a sense of anxiety right before we go meet our artists. NEEDS, in particular, made my heart flutter a touch too quick. 

Was I a fan of their music? Absolutely. Did I know much about modern, hardcore punk going into this? Not really. I could rattle on for hours about Bauhaus or Joy Division, bands part of the post-punk explosion of the late 70s and early 80s, but that's where any sense of expertise stops. It's this fear of the unknown that plummeted me in a sense of despair. 

The modern, hardcore punk scene comes with stereotypes that audiences tend to pigeonhole these artists in. NEEDS even goes as far as to write on their website that they have, "themes of self-reflection, rare in punk and hardcore." The five-piece is aware and introspective, with thoughtful lyrics and atmospheric melodies. 

Blowing away the misconception of hardcore bands being intense and intimidating, the guys were teddy bears. "We knew you were coming so we brought you ciders", exclaimed Glenn Alderson, the band's bass player, then proceeding to shove a tape and a vinyl at us as well. The guys were in high spirits, chirping at one another, drinking beers. The rest of NEEDS consists of Sean Orr on vocals, Derek Adam and Colin Spensley on guitars, and Devin O'Rourke on drums. 

With their album coming out next week, June 22nd, we decided to get to know the boys better. We cracked open our ciders and just like that the intimidation was gone, and Tia and I both became friends with a hardcore punk band from Vancouver. Rad.


 PP: So. NEEDS. You said as a gag it means Not Everyone Enjoys Doing Sports. We've brought you some balls. A basketball and net, a badminton racket and birdies, and a couple tennis balls. Which of these represents your least favourite sport? Why? 

NEEDS: immediately all start grabbing the balls and playing with them. 

Derek: We were just talking about how we needed a basketball!!! I can't believe we were just talking about a basketball hoop and you actually just pulled out a basketball hoop. That's really messed up. Sean brought out this other basketball for the first time and I was just saying "Why don't we have a hoop back here" and Devin said, "That would be really easy to install", and now we have one in front of us. Sports!!!  Anyways, tennis. I don't like tennis. My arms dislocate. I have long arms. So I can't play tennis. But I can play badminton, I love badminton. Basketball...anyone can play basketball. 

Sean: Tennis is the least casual. Badminton is a lot of fun. Basketball is a lot of fun too. Tennis is dangerous. 

PP: Sean, this one is for you. When you go on stage, things get out of hand. Fried chicken in the pants, eating trash from garbages, setting hair on fire, drinking wax etc. We assume none of these things are planned, yet on Twitter we saw you're working on getting a watermelon helmet, a carton of eggs, canned cheese, etc. What's the plan? Do you have a set plan?

Sean: It's never a set plan. Sometimes we'll be in a town, and we'll be in a Value Village, and I'll find shit. A lot of times, I'll get into a venue, and Glenn with look at me and I'll be like, "I'm gonna fuck with that."

Devin: For some reason in Victoria, on the island, we ALWAYS go in with a bit. 

PP: Why Victoria?

Glenn: Because we feel like Victoria needs to be fucked with. The Value Village is so close to the hotel we stay at. Edmonton is another town too where like...Sean comes dressed as a cowboy. 

Sean: (Grins). I did that once, yeah.

Glenn: We got kicked out of Rifflandia Music Festival in Victoria once. We were opening for a band called Fucked Up, from Toronto. So it was us, White Lung, and Fucked Up, and someone lifted up Sean onto their shoulders while we were playing, and he hung on to the ceiling, and a piece of the tile broke off into his hands. From what I understand, he broke the tile over his head. Anyway, all they saw was that Sean was fucking with the ceiling, even though it wasn't really his fault.

Sean: Sure.

Glenn: So the security guards who weren't even used to working live music shows, grab him by the neck and chokehold him out of the venue. We kept playing and we're like, "Where's Sean?" And he's passed out, choked out, outside the venue, while Damian from Fucked Up is like yelling at the bouncer, and one of our friends is throwing money at the bouncer, "If it's about the tiles take the money!" So then Rifflandia calls me and is like, "Glenn I don't know what's going on but get your shit and get the fuck out. You're not welcome back." Fast forward two years later they ask me, as Beatroute - which I'm the editor-in-chief at - to curate a show, and I book a hardcore band from Toronto, Single Mothers, and I thought NEEDS would be perfect to play with them since we've played with them a bunch. Rifflandia says, "OK, fine, only if you PROMISE to be better." So Sean shows up, and he had every intention to be good. He dressed up really nicely with a leather jacket, roses and a box of chocolate. That was his apology. So we show up at the venue, and we get on stage, and immediately the chocolates are just thrown into the audience - not by Sean - and down his pants, and we finish the show. The people who ran the venue were like, "Shit! They were throwing shit around!" And so they thought it was poo so we got kicked out AGAIN for a festival. So for real, now we're never allowed back. 

PP: So your song, Eat the Rich...People's Leftovers. Hold on. Do I pause after I say "Eat the Rich" or do I verbalize "dot dot dot."

Glenn: Yeah "dot dot dot" so you vocalize the ellipses. 

Sean: You say "dot dot dot"?

Glenn: I do because if I just say Eat the Rich People's Leftovers

Sean: Yeah, so you pause. Do you say "comma" when you talk?

PP: ANYWAY. That video was simple yet really effective. Effective in particular, since the class system is so stark and defined in our city. Have you guys considered moving somewhere else? Do you have ties to Vancouver?

Sean: I own a condo, Derek owns a condo...

Derek: We never really thought about moving anywhere else. 

Sean: We're from here. I also love to complain so, it's a good place for that! 

Glenn: When I was growing up in Calgary, I always wanted to live here and Vancouver was known as "Terminal City" because it is the end of the line. 

Sean: I meet a lot of people from Europe who say how awesome it is here.

Glenn: Yeah and when you travel a lot and then come back to Vancouver, it is one of the best cities in the world.

Sean: Yeah there's the ocean, there are the mountains, there's the forests...I do love it.

Glenn: In terms of why put up with the class system and the haves and have-nots...

Sean: We all have our niche. I think there's something to say about staying and trying and fighting for it. There was a real trend a few years ago with people announcing their departure and writing these, "Dear Vancouver, I love you but you don't love me" letters. It just seemed like...these people didn't have friends, and that's not really a reason to pen a letter like that. If you really cared about a city you'd stay, and you'd try. I feel like through my music and my column I write, I really do try and do that. I try and expose a lot of that shit and bring it to life. It doesn't take a fucking revolution. There are easy steps to take to make it livable for more people and not just the privileged few. 

PP: Sean, we read that you feel like your music doesn't make a difference. You say it's like you're screaming at a wall. Quite literally, you are. You talk about themes of self-reflection, introspection, and have very clear political and societal views. You're using your music as an outlet, right? So does it bother you that people aren't necessarily listening to the meaning?

Sean: Not really, no. I think if they dig deep enough and if you're already inclined to that kind of thing, but I don't think it'll change anybody's minds or incite anyone to go into the streets and make a change, and that's...that's a lot deeper of a question, and a more philosophical question than I can really answer. Can art really ever incite real social change? I think it can mirror it, I think it can mirror the situations that are going on. You know, when you're looking at the new Childish Gambino video, it's one of the most fucking powerful videos I've seen in a while and that was a couple weeks ago and nobody is talking about it anymore. It's nothing. far as that, it definitely reflects society, but I don't think it'll ever be at the forefront of pushing that kind of change. 

PP: We read a lot about Sean. Why don't we read a lot on the rest of you?

Derek: My social media presence is very uh..not very good.

Glenn: Sean's the lyricist, right? We wouldn't be in a band if we didn't share the same political values. 

Devin: He's our spokesperson. 

Glenn: He has a way with words and his talent with bringing random thoughts to life through's good stuff.

PP: If you were cooped up in a cabin during an avalanche, and could not leave...what album playing on a loop would make you bash in your bandmate's skulls?

NEEDS: Laughter.

Sean: What do we all hate...

Devin: Last time we were all stuck in a cabin together...we listened to podcasts. 

Sean: The NPR podcast! 

Devin: There's a hard line drawn in the band with whether or not you like listening to podcasts.

Derek: I'm a no, it doesn't foster conversation.

Sean: Yeah because if you wanna talk about the podcast and you try it's all, "shh, stop talking about the podcast!"

Colin: That's not an artist though..

Glenn: One that would maybe start off good and then like, get really annoying..

Colin: Big Shiny Tunes 3!

PP: We noticed at the bottom of your website, a technical report from May 1984, that talks about the disposal of radioactive wastes, and isolating people from them. Care to shed some light on this and in relation to our society today?

Devin: Oh yeah, I made that! I don't know, I find that document really interesting because it's something that no one has ever talked about, it's the future disposal of nuclear waste. But the thing I find the most interesting about it, if you really dig into it, is the biggest problem they're trying to solve is like, if a new civilization happens that doesn't have the same language or symbols, how do you dictate that this is a place that's evil, a place that you should stay away from. They have all these cool illustrations of like, designing these huge models. I found it more like food for thought if anything, and aesthetically it looks really cool, but before reading that report, it was something I never thought about. We have all this stuff buried underground, and if we were to just like disappear of the face of the planet, it's such a dangerous thing that someone on earth could find. 

PP: In true Nardwuar fashion, we enjoy giving gifts to the artists we interview. Because of this, we've brought you two books. First off, Everything You Know is Wrong, which is highly political. What do you think?

Derek: Oh my god. I've already enjoyed the basketball. I still can't believe that happened. 

Colin: Is this a Nardwuar interview?! 

Sean: I haven't read this book, but I had a friend who was obsessed with it.

Glenn: This is right up Sean's alley. 

PP:  And...The Worst Case Survival Guidewhich is so handy for when you're on tour.

NEEDS: Collective laughter.

Glenn: "How to get away from a bear. How to save your cat from choking. How to escape from a charging rhino. How to cure insomnia." This is very thorough!

Derek: What about crossing the border, look!

Glenn: "How to cross a border with a weed grinder."

Sean: We failed that. 

Glenn: "How to extinguish a Christmas Tree." So, when we played a show..we played a show at this real underground venue in Chinatown in February, and there was this Christmas tree sitting in the front entrance, and I looked at it and was like "Fuck." 

Devin: Sean whispered in my ear, "that Christmas tree is coming down."

Glenn: It sure did. By the end of it, the Christmas tree was being crowd surfed around the venue and it just reeked of pine. 

Devin: The best was Sean's description of putting your face in a pine tree. It was overwhelming and suffocating. 

Glenn: Oh back to the book! This one's great! "How to survive a family car trip". 

NEEDS: Collective chirping.

Glenn: "How to pee on the side of the road". This one's great 'cause Sean has a problem with his large intestine.- 

Sean: Prostate! 

Glenn: Prostate yes, and he pees for seven minutes every time he pees. If he has to pee it's seven minutes. So one time we played this pool party and Sean wanted to borrow someone's camera and they said, "only if you pee in this pool", so Sean is standing in front of the pool and he couldn't stop peeing and he's like "I'm sorry! I apologize! I can't stop!" so someone came in and just pushed him in the pool. 

PP: If you could re-do the soundtrack to any film, which film would it be? Why?

DerekSpinning the basketball on his finger. Space Jam. 

Sean: I have it! The Crow! Can we go with The Crow? 

Glenn: GUYS THIS ONE FROM THE BOOK! How to pee along the side of the road..."Keep quiet, do not speak. This will only prolong the family member who is attempting to go. It may be distracting and will only prolong the trip." Wow, what a fantastic book!

PP: Ok guys, lastly, a piece of advice for our readers and YOUR fans?

Devin: Fly low at your job, and don't take politics too seriously. 

Sean: "Take dead aim on the rich kids. Get them in your sights, and take them down", That's a Rushmore reference.



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