Crud Combo’s sad crack-up

TEEN CRUD COMBO, with the CHICKENS and SHIKASTA, at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina), Friday (August 18). $6. 968-2001. Rating:.

TEEN CRUD COMBO, with the CHICKENS and SHIKASTA, at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina), Friday (August 18). $6. 968-2001.

Rating: NNNNN

The release of a debut recording by one of Toronto’s most promising punk rock threats should be cause for celebration. However, the wise-cracking members of Teen Crud Combo don’t seem to be in a party mood.

It’s not that their new record sucks. On the contrary, the Combo’s self-titled four-song 7-inch EP is a bad-ass burner from start to finish. There’s even some prestige attached to being the first Can-core knuckleheads on the Black Lung label, the cool Morgantown, West Virginia, indie that’s issued quality shredders from Nashville Pussy, Zeke, the Candy Snatchers and the Hookers.

So while it appears that things couldn’t be sweeter for the Crud crew, the sad fact that their release party at the El Mocambo Friday (August 18) might well be their final show has understandably harshed their mellow.

“You could say our future is cloudy,” evasively offers Crud singer Nick “Shenanigans” Flanagan, who splits his time with the Killer Elite.

“Yeah, Nick, you could say that,” continues founding guitarist Allyson Baker over coffee at a Bloor West goulash joint. “You could also say we’re breaking up. I’m moving to California in October.”

Walking away

“Allyson’s the songwriter,” states Flanagan. “I don’t think we could continue without her. Our guitarist, Matt (Hutch), is into this progressive free-jazz funk stuff, the bassist, Jaime (Towns), likes G.G. Alin, I’m into rap and our drummer, Ryan (Jarrett), doesn’t even listen to music. The only thing we all like is Allyson’s songs. So if she leaves….”

“We’ve got our 7-inch, which is what we wanted to accomplish,” adds Baker. “Now we feel like we can walk away from this band.”

They may have set their sights too low. The wildly enthusiastic crowd response the Teen Crud Combo received for their splashy North By Northeast showcase in June — even if some gear got damaged in the water fight — suggests they were on their way to headlining status.

Recent gigs in London and Montreal indicate that the group are developing an out-of-town following that would surely expand beyond Canadian borders once their righteous record circulates. It seems like the wrong time to call it quits.

“Considering the short time we had together,” reasons Baker, “I’m more than happy to have made a 7-inch. At least we have something to show for the work we’ve done over the last two years. A lot of bands here split without releasing anything.”

Vicious circle

“Toronto bands tend to play most of their shows here in town,” Flanagan observes, “and that can be really demanding, degrading, depressing, discouraging and… a lot of other things that start with a ‘d.’

“You keep going back to the same venues and playing for the same group of people — and that’s great — but you never feel like you’re moving forward.”

There’s a tendency for folks, not just Hogtowners, to take local talent for granted. One option for bands is to look beyond the city limits. If the Lawn had made their way to England in 84, they could’ve been the Smiths, and brooding teens the world over might have waved hockey sticks instead of gladioli.

“It’s definitely important for local bands to start thinking outside of Toronto, outside of Canada even,” insists Baker. “Getting in a van and touring around the country would have been a big mistake for us, because there isn’t a big audience for the kind of music we make. But there is a market for it in the U.S.

“The problem is, people in the States just don’t have any faith in Canadian bands.”

“That’s something we’ve brought on ourselves,” interjects Flanagan. “It’s part of the whole Canadian inferiority complex. But if you don’t think your own band is any good, why would anyone in the States?

“It’s funny, just about every Canadian band wants to get into a situation where Americans don’t think of them as Canadians. Danko Jones used to introduce themselves as being from Detroit. Maybe we should have come out saying we were from Buffalo.”

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