Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Fudge Pleasure

I admit it: today I sat on a bike that goes nowhere for thirty minutes on the 'random' program which most closely simulates cycling in the real world. In order to pass the time in some state just a shade above pitiable boredom, I did three things: I watched the swimmers who, like me, had chosen to spend a portion of their afternoon going nowhere in a state of locomotion, I blasted music directly into my ear holes, and I thought.

I thought about this band I used to know (made up) from Montreal - called Fudge Pleasure. They were a bunch of mostly white dudes from the suburbs of Toronto who smoked too much weed, had an inexplicable obsession with James Brown and thought French-Canadian girls were alien creatures of wonder and sin. With that stuffed in their pipes, they took to the sexier climes of Montreal with its promise of equal opportunity to everyone from eighteen year old girls who wished they were redheads to bongo hippies who just want to get righteous and move to the original beat. Check ça! C'est tout fucké, hein?

Lead singer and tambourine 'player', Games Butty, originated from a family of total weirdos (who named him Games expecting people to pronounce it James) and legendary Canadian golfers. With his baffling afro and strange body shape, he was an easy target for ridicule. This wasn't helped by his propensity to dance with zero inhibition, which might not have mattered that much if Fudge Pleasure played any style of music other than their only-in-Montreal brand of funk/punk, scream/soul. 'Gay Buddy' (as detractors and fans alike took to calling him) became well known on the local circuit for doing things on stage that would have left any other human with broken arms and legs, disjointed by idiocy.

The only other musician in the band worth mentioning is the drummer - a Ojibwa native who grew up on an island in Lake Huron. No one really knew is real name. They assumed that Shitting Stan wasn't it. It had to be a nickname really because if you ever had the chance to see them play, it was painfully obvious. He was what has been called a 'retard drummer' - that is, a drummer whose musical prowess is inextricably linked to his library of ridiculously mangled on-stage faces. Stan's collection of face moves were very much uniquely his own. Enough said on that topic.
Sadly, the band came to an untimely end when Shitting Stan, challenged to "act like a kindergarten kid," by what might have been a fan, lit the carpet of the band's van on fire and perished. Fudge Pleasure and specifically Games decided that the band could not continue after a loss so awesome.

Though their non-existent ambitions allowed them to go nowhere and do nothing save for a dozen or so live shows, they will always be remembered for taking a terrible idea and making it something interesting. How many of us can say the same?

In a way that is just as similar as it is different, Elliott Brood took a wicked idea and made it totally wicked. They took three cosmopolitan Torontonians in sharkskin-esque suits (themselves), gave one a banjo and the voice of a banshee, another an acoustic guitar with no fear of plugging it in and cranking the distortion and the third a drum kit with an old leather suitcase for a kick drum. Then, the three of them boarded a train called "The Elliott Brood Sound Experience" and headed straight for the end of the road.

The train metaphor is pretty perfect actually. Take into consideration the tune "Fingers and Tongues" from their latest effort called Mountain Meadow.

This song gives you exactly what you need to feel like you're going somewhere - even when you're sat going nowhere. It almost feels like boarding a train headed for where the sun sets, just off the face of the Earth. You can feel the engine power up and gain speed as it passes the city limits. You can feel the promise. I know they say Johnny Cash played like a steam locomotive, but this is 2009 and we've got the prairies to cross.

There's a strong sense of importance too. One that keeps the coal in the engine. It's like a long-haul rush to drive off a cliff in order to make some great and unforgettable statement. And as the train comes up out of the final valley and heads the flat-lands opening up the throttle for the real commitment, singer Mark Sasso belts it out like a woeful but empowered raving lunatic. Just the kind of guy I want at the helm of my run-away train.

Even the end of the song, with its chunky stammering summation, has me imagining the cars of the train buckling over the edge and crashing off the cliff face in destructively triumphant stutters.

No song has done that to me before.

1 comment: