Meet Hannah Georgas
plus Scatterheart, Rah rah, Fucked Up
by James Brotheridge
In two separate pieces by two different writers, Exclaim! has asked Hannah Georgas about a music video she did for “Thick Skin”, a track off her full-length debut, This Is Good.
This is a little awkward, since the video features a naked Georgas who eventual crawls through some mud. I can only imagine what the questions were like: “So, uhm, you were naked and dirty in front of a camera...”
They certainly weren’t the only ones to follow this line of questioning and, to their further credit, Exclaim! got one thing very right in their May cover story on Georgas: “In short, she’s managed to become one of the most successful Canadian musicians you’ve probably never heard of.”
It’s true. Right now, Georgas isn’t a huge name among fans of independent music in Canada, or at least those who don’t follow CBC Radio 3.
However, that’s set to change shortly.
Her 2008 EP, The Beat Stuff wasn’t an immediate explosion onto the Canadian music scene. The New Market, Ontario-to-Vancouver transplant’s debut was a low-key affair, though it garnered some critical attention as well as the eye of some of her fellow musicians.
In early 2009, she recorded what would become This Is Good with producers Howard Redekopp and Ryan Guildemond, the latter of Vancouver act Mother Mother. The Beat Stuff featured well- produced, performed, and written songs, decidedly of the singer-songwriter genre. This Is Good is vastly different, showing a capacity for danceable, synth-heavy indie-rock, while balancing her previous tendencies well.
This Is Good is a calling card for a new talent on the scene.
But you couldn’t really say that that was her proper, popular introduction. Georgas first got noticed internationally when she wrote a song for a Wal-Mart back-to-school commercial. The track, called “You’ve Got a Place Called Home”, was mostly instrumental, but the commercial was so massively popular that Georgas herself got noticed.
A “massively popular” commercial might still seem insignificant, but Georgas got a lot of popular recognition for the jingle she wrote, and sales of The Beat Stuff spiked afterwards. Plus, before and after, her songs have managed to weed themselves into many big network TV shows.
Since then, the buzz has only grown, and now that This Is Good is out, she’s been getting glowing reviews across the world.
Basically, she’s all set to take the country by storm. Her big national tour isn’t a bad start. Neither is her upcoming date with the Lillith Fair.
By all accounts, though, she isn’t letting any of her successes to date go to her head. She remains a decent and idealistic lady.
And no video featuring her in the nude crawling through mud will change that.
FEATHER CANNON IN 3-2-1... ENGAGE
SCATTERHEART - WITH DIRTBRED, KELEVRA AND ROOM 333
With one listen to the fabulously flamboyant rock of Scatterheart it becomes clear that fun is paramount for this Vancouver band.
Well, that and finding a tailor who won’t skimp on the plumage.
Scatterheart channels the sound and style of ’80s-vintage glam-pop metal in the best way possible. They’ve made it a personal mission to bring energy, love and brightly-coloured boas back to rock ‘n roll.
If nothing else, says frontman Jesse Enright, audiences should expect to be entertained — but if you’re going to see a band armed with their own feather cannons and bubble machines that should probably be obvious.
“We’ve only ever gotten positive reactions — at least to our faces,” laughs Enright. “I’m sure there are people out there who think it is ridiculous and silly but that’s not a bad thing.
“I wanted to make Scatterheart a show like going to watch theatre,” says Enright. “As a band, you can just stand there in jeans and a t-shirt and whatever, or you can wear silly costumes, jump around, shoot feathers at people and have giant bubbles floating everywhere.
It sounds so simple put that way.
“There’s definitely a comedic part to it,” Enright continues. “Partly to amuse ourselves, but also to get people stoked… at our last big hometown show at the Commodore, I actually flew onstage with a harness. I mean it’s just fun, and everybody’s in on it — like when we play small towns in Alberta and these big, tough redneck-looking guys come up to us raving about our show, like they understand it. Everybody wants to have fun.”
Scatterheart’s latest album, The Masterplan, shows that Scatterheart can accomplish a recording worthy of the infectious energy of their Queen-inspired, larger-than-life stage show. Their songwriting goes much deeper than most bands featuring blow-dried coifs, bombastic stage shows and loud guitars could hope to achieve — and that’s important, says Enright, because a big stage show is still pretty much an empty shell if the music falls short.
“I ended up in Australia where the rock scene is really dark and sleazy — which can seem totally awesome and fun from the outside, but being on the inside is totally depressing,” says Enright. “So I decided I wanted to get back into music. When we started we had this idea that we wanted to go through with: we didn’t just want to get some songs together and look cool and get chicks and all that. We had a purpose for doing this.”
Still, being the centre of attention during all that onstage bombast is a great time, says Enright.
Like a recent festival Scatterheart played in Korea.
“Korea was super cool. It was like playing the part of a Bon Jovi-type rock band — the show was incredible, with a catwalk and a jumbotron, and the crowd was incredible with how much energy they had. It was explained to me that Korean people work really hard, so when they want to have fun they make sure they really have fun. It was really overwhelming for the first couple of songs because it was a sea of people jumping, like 25,000 people,” says Enright.
“Plus, you have to act like you do it all the time — I was watching myself on the jumbo-tron and then I realized that I was acting like a dork in front of 25,000 people. I had to remind myself to act like it was all no big deal.” /Chris Morin
There are a lot of things to be curious about when it comes to Rah Rah’s latest album, Breaking Hearts. How’s the band sound after all their line-up changes? What’s changed since 2008’s Going Steady?
The big question for me is just how big they’ll be after Breaking Hearts’ June 1 release.
They’ve got a lot going for them. Going Steady got a ton of iTunes love and they toured consistently across Canada in support of it. Touring behind Going Steady actually gave them the opportunity to record in Montreal with Kees Dekker of Plants and Animals.
Now, with local label Young Soul Records’ new Associated Labels Deal with EMI, there’ll be more commercial support behind the new disc.
Plus, following their May 15 show at the Distrikt where they’ll be debuting the album early for all their Queen City fans, they’ll be taking to the road for a month of shows in Eastern Canada, including a set at North by Northeast.
Add in a series shows at the Sled Island Festival in Calgary, and this might be the year Rah Rah goes big. /James Brotheridge
BUT LOVEABLY SO
Damian Abraham won’t be stopped. The frontman and lead howler for great hardcore experimenters Fucked Up is an opinionated guy and lets it be known.
That’s why Fucked Up’s April Fool’s prank — involving a fake lawsuit against the band by energy drink company “Thriller” — was plausible enough to get covered seriously by NME and MuchMusic. It wasn’t a stretch to imagine this band getting sued.
In general, Abraham just seems fearless. He won’t hesitate to call out indie band Stars on Twitter about Stars recent decision to stop playing shows in Arizona due to a (stupid and evil) immigration bill*. Nor will he refrain from trash-talking a lot of the music fans in his own home, Toronto.
*Abraham is opposed the boycott, saying it misses an opportunity to engage people. Stars eventually agreed a protest concert would work, and everyone was friends again.
Case in point: the last time Fucked Up came through Regina, Abraham eventually started prowling through the crowd, wearing only his underwear. He spotted me, wearing a wool jacket and a button-up shirt. He came up and very carefully unbuttoned my shirt, and then proceeded to give me a raspberry on my stomach before returning to the stage.
All I could think was, This was the same guy who had given me one of my favourite interviews because he was just so goddamn smart.
Abraham and Fucked Up embody so many seemingly contradictory ideas, reconciling them and rocking out at the same time. /James Brotheridge