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MusicWest: sloan's PATRICK PENTLAND tells all



ROCK & ROAD by Patrick Pentland
_The Coast_ Vol. 1, No. 22, May 19 - June 2, 1994
-------------------------------------------------

We are the road crew:
Colin MacKenzie -- murderecords VP
Angie Fenwick -- Thrush Hermit's manager
Thrush Hermit -- Ian, Joel, Cliff, Benvie
Peter Rowan -- Hardship Post manager
Hardship Post -- Matt, Mike, Seb
Patrick Pentland -- Scenester

        Every year Vancouver plays host to one of
the largest music conferences in Canada, Music
West.  A music conference is supposedly a place
where industry types, from record company people
to guitar string manufacturers to aspiring bands,
gather together to flog their products or exchange
ideas and business cards.  It's also a great
excuse to take off for the weekend, expenses
usually paid, to hang out and get drunk with the
bunch you got drunk with the year before.
        On Wednesday we got the call from the
Canada Council of Handing Out Free Cash -- some
names are changed to protect the guilty -- that
the grant murderecords had applied for eons ago to
send Thrush Hermit and a few others out to
Vancouver had been approved.  The conference
started the next day, so at four that afternoon I
picked up my ticket and headed home to pack.
        Very rock and roll, I thought.  One minute
I'm debating what movie to rent for the evening
and the next I'm on a plane to B.C.  Actually it
wasn't that fast:  I had to wait until four in the
morning to go to the airport with the rest of the
crew.  Realizing that sleep before the flight
would be impossible, I did the next best thing and
headed for the Double Deuce.  I figured I could
sleep on the plane.
        I went to bed at three in the morning.
After forty-five minutes of tossing about I
decided to just head to the practice space where I
was to meet Thrush Hermit, Angie, and Colin.  At
4:15 a.m., after everyone trickled in like the
living dead, we were on the way to the airport.
The plane was to leave at 6:15, but of course we
had to be there an hour early.  Then there was a
classic Air Canada nine hour stopover in Toronto.
        We arrived in Vancouver at six something
Thursday evening, their time, jet-lagged yet
strangely wired.  Peter Rowan had joined us in
Toronto, and we were all staying in The Nelson
Place off Granville St., boasting one of
Vancouver's finest strip clubs in the basement.
        After we checked into the hotel, not the
least bit tired, Colin, Peter, and I went in
search of some entertainment.  We left Thrush
Hermit in bed (although Benvie, predictably,
headed for the basement).
        The Town Pump, an adequate punk sort of
pub, was always a reliable bet.  Having packed it
a few times with Sloan, I figured getting in would
be no problem.  It was.  Inside I could hear
Change of Heart (Toronto's unsung vets) powering
up.  We couldn't get in because Peter didn't have
I.D.  He's a father, and obviously over thirty
(Sorry, Peter).  Then we spied a string to pull,
an old booking agent we had fired last year, who
was surprisingly friendly and had us waved in.
Change of Heart were excellent, on the verge of
walking off at any moment, and couldn't care less
what label were ignoring them in the bar.  Again.
        The whole point of Colin and me going out
to the conference was to be seen, mainly with
Thrush Hermit, putting a face to murderecords.  We
also wanted to hang out at the Pan Pacific Hotel,
where the actual talks and displays were being
held, and try and scam free dinners, or at least
free drinks.  In that respect the trip was an
utter disaster.  Everyone we knew were on to us
from the start.
        Friday night was the murderecords showcase
gig, with Thrush Hermit, Hardship Post, and
Montreal's Bite laying down all their cards for
the major labels that were supposed to be there.
The venue was a dingy draught hole called the
Maximum Blues Pub, completely devoid of any sense
of cool.  There was no soundcheck, because it
would have disturbed the patrons at the pub's
busiest hour, five in the afternoon.  There was a
pool table, though.  Ian 1, Patrick 5.  As usual.
        Everyone had flown or driven out basically
for this show.  The pressure was on, but everyone
had a hard time taking it seriously, especially
since the only rock the D.J. had was of the
Southern Fried variety.  The bands played better
than I have ever seen them play at home, as is the
usual case.  Home shows are never taken all that
seriously because you know everybody, but the
energy of a band in front of a room full of
strangers yelling "prove it" can be blinding.  As
Hardship Post were packing away their gear, I
stood off to the side feeling glad.  The music was
worth the whole trip.
        After the show everyone headed to the
hotel bar (although Benvie had disappeared
mumbling something about dancing and tables?) and
watched the worst cover band we'd ever seen.  I
kept yelling out "Roadhouse Blues" and we got them
back on stage for an encore.  I saw my first
Indian Elvis impersonator.  Towards the end of the
night I remember something about phoning MCA
records people at their hotel and leaving
"messages," but no one has mentioned anything to
me yet, so...
        Saturday saw Angie and Colin on a panel at
the Pan Pacific, and later a dinner with MCA.
Worried about the previous night's antics, I
showed up late and tried to avoid conversation
with anyone but Colin.  No one mentioned anything.
Later we went to the Maximum Blues Pub again to
catch the Nils, reformed Montreal punks.  Then it
was on to a late night "booze can" with the women
from Bite where I saw one of the best bands I've
seen all year, Australia's Clouds.
        On Sunday Thrush Hermit played a skate
park show to thirty people.  It's hard to rock at
twelve in the afternoon.  Then we packed up and
headed out to Seattle where Hardship Post were
playing a show with the Posies.  Once again they
were awesome, but the after-show party was reduced
to splitting a six pack and watching Beavis and
Butthead on MTV, the rock in us shrinking fast.
        The next day Hardship Post flew out to
L.A. to be wooed by some major label, and we
headed back to Vancouver.  Colin and I were flying
out that night.  We made the flight by five
minutes (no lie).  When I got home there were
messages from various people about the story I was
supposed to write for _The Coast_.  The one I'd
forgotten about, the one that due by 8:00 that
night.  It never seems to stop, thank God.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     _                                  _     James R. Covey <jrcovey\!/ac.dal.ca>
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