Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani
AND WHAT ARMY? HAVE A #RIPWHEELS MOMENT
The death of Neil Hope in 2007 was a late discovery for most. His death, at the age of 35 in a Hamilton rooming house, only hit the news in mid-February of this year and surprised many who grew up watching his character Derek “Wheels” Wheeler on the TV show, Degrassi Junior High.
It wasn’t much of a surprise to Johnny Nash, bass player and vocalist in Ottawa garage rock trio And What Army?
It was a grapevine thing. The ex-boyfriend of Nash’s ex-girlfriend knew someone who worked at the bar where Hope regularly got terribly drunk. They say they saw it coming. Anyone who was familiar with the show will note the terrible foreshadowing. Wheels was a tragic character on TV and off-screen: Hope was straight-up about his parents’ alcoholism and his own addictions, which he discussed in a documentary called The Dark Side.
Nash gives the situation a much lighter treatment in the song Milk & Whiskey. Parts of the song are based on the Degrassi episode where Wheels’ adoptive parents die in a car crash. Wheels can’t quite handle the emotional effects of the trauma and heads out of town to find his birth parents. It goes: “Wheels was happy when his parents died/he wasn’t sad/didn’t even cry/so he went down to Port Hope to see his dad/when he got there, his dad wasn’t glad.”
“You start to get an idea of why I didn’t write a lot of the songs in the other bands I was in,” Nash, ex of King Kung and Bitchin’ Camaros, deadpans.
The And What Army? lyrics are bonehead simple. The excess comes in the effects and layering by Ryan Hiller (guitar, vocals, ex of Crank, The Emily Valentine) and the speedy fills by drummer Kevin Earle (ex of Design of Cities, Rockets Fall). Degrassi aside, that’s where the trio shows its love for the 1990s: in grunge-ode rock.
And What Army? opens for Right By Midnight, Gentlemen Husbands, and The Reason. Thursday, March 15 at Maverick’s, 221 Rideau St., 9 p.m., $15.
SAFE BET FOR A LAUGH
Paul Spence — aka Deaner — is one of two dudes who are the central protagonists in the movie FUBAR. Their characters are a blend of Bill and Ted and Bob and Doug, with some Trailer Park Boys and Cheech and Chong thrown in there — all to say, it’s a shtick you’ve seen before. If you’re not tired of the act, you can see Deaner offering a play-by-play during a screening of FUBAR 2 (subtitled, “Balls to the Wall”), along with live performances by Night Seeker (Deaner plays in this band too!), Hell Bros, and the Ottawa band that is reviving hair metal — Rainbow Pony Power. Ritual Nightclub, 137 Besserer St., Saturday, March 17. 8:30 p.m., $15 adv.
- Like the grizzle of Tom Waits? Then check out Ottawa boy Andre Bluteau. He’ll wheeze through a set of wonders Wednesday, March 21, at the Raw Sugar Café, opening for Benjamin Francis Leftwich. 692 Somerset St. W., all ages, 8 p.m. $10.
- DJ Picks on Friday: Head to TimeKode at the Eri Café to hear classics and next wave from Zattar, Eric Roberts, Memetic and VJ Daisy, 953 Somerset St. W., 11 p.m., $5, or stroll over to Babylon for Mind Games with Sir Ett, Gregular and guest performers Silkken Laumann. 317 Bank St., 11 p.m., $5.
- On Tuesday, March 20, Ottawa dance band Fevers opens for Minus the Tiger at the Mercury Lounge, 56 Byward Market. 8 p.m. $10.