CPC GANGBANGS with BRUTAL KNIGHTS, AIDS WOLF and the RETAINERS at the Silver Dollar (486 Spadina), tonight (August 16), 9 pm. $7. 416-763-9139. Rating: NNNNN
For a band that purports to be from La Belle Province, CPC Gangbangs have a lot more references to blood, pentagrams, hooded hangings and narcotics than you'd expect from buzzworthy Montreal merrymakers.
And the fact that the CPC hombres insist on sticking with a 70s hard-rock-style dual-guitar front line without ever even considering adding a string section or a couple of French horns for special concert dates makes you wonder if these guys really are Montrealers or merely clever carpetbaggers who've snuck across the border to add a few points to their Pitchfork rating without having to go to all the trouble of listening to lame Neutral Milk Hotel records or learning the titles of Clipse tunes to drop during interviews.
Just when I'm about to demand to see some birth certificates and driver's licences, guitarist and co-founder Roy "Choyce" Vucino admits that frontman Paul Spence yep, the shotgunning Deaner dude from FUBAR is originally from Calgary. Before any fingers are pointed, it should be noted that Spence moved to Montreal in 1998 to front the Daylight Lovers, an offshoot of Vucino's previous group, Les Sexareenos, years before Montreal appeared on the New York Times's cultural radar, replacing Brooklyn as North America's new hipster hotspot.
"We're definitely from Montreal," laughs Vucino from his home, "but along with the active arts scene and the pleasant Plateau, my city also has a really scuzzy side that hasn't been well represented in the music. As much as I enjoy what's happening with Arcade Fire and the Dears, what I listen to at home is more like the Stooges, Alice Cooper. With this band, we just wanted to play what we knew best without trying to cater to any one particular crowd.
"We set out to create a sort of psychedelic nightmare feel. I mean, we're not necessarily into the whole "hate vibe,' but anger, fear and all the emotions that come out of being in an unstable situation feed into our sound and give it a darker edge.
"But that's got its good and bad points. While we're getting some positive attention, we've had some trouble with censorship, too."
No less important in establishing a unique CPC Gangbangs sonic profile within the Montreal scene was working with producer John Reis (of Rocket from the Crypt infamy) and recording part of their Mutilation Nation (Swami) debut disc in San Diego. The nasty scorch that they got from Reis and his Hot Snakes sidekick Gar Wood has more to do with Chrome and the free-form side of the MC5 than with anything else coming out of Quebec.
"We'd known John for a while, since we'd talked to him about producing the third recording by Les Sexareenos before the group broke up. He was playing with Sonny Vincent in the Testors at the Chicago Blackout Festival in 2004, and that's where he first saw what we were doing with CPC Gangbangs. When the Hot Snakes got shows in Montreal and Toronto, he asked us to open for them, and that's where we made the connection that led the Swami label deal."
The timing was right, because CPC were already planning to record an album shortly after, they scored a gig at a skateboard conference held in San Diego where Reis is based and Wood has an analog studio in his house.
"Since it was all their equipment, they basically took control of sessions and we took it easy. They set up the mics and suggested which vintage amps and pedals to use.
"They made some very good time-saving suggestions, and I think just having them around brought better performances out of us. I really liked the sound we got with them, so it was definitely the right move for us."