Uncut CD release with Magnetalane and the Two Koreas at Antenna (51 Bulwer), Friday (May 7). $5. 416-405-8333.
It's a grey April day. Rain is falling sparsely, a damp spring blanket, more moist than wet. The music playing through my headphones is perfect glistening melancholy, post-wave fuzz-pop. Uncut's debut full-length, Those Who Were Hung Hang Here, is set for launch on Paper Bag Records Friday. It's one of those distracting albums that sound at once instantly familiar and satisfyingly fresh. In that, it's not unlike Interpol's Turn On The Bright Lights. But Uncut's musical gestures lean more toward the post-wave of Swervedriver and My Bloody Valentine than toward Interpol's nod to the 80s.
Reaching the corner of Spadina and Adelaide, I call Uncut founder Ian Worang, the band's bio held over my head, a sad makeshift rain cover. He picks up on the other end. When I tell him I've arrived, his voice comes back over the ether, a mildly amused tone curling his words.
"Are you the one holding the thing over your head?"
Minutes later, Worang and I are comfortably seated on a large white couch at the back of the sound booth at Sound 2 Noise studios. A few doors away a guitarist is sawing distorted riffs, a dry run before the tape rolls on the recording that Uncut drummer Jon Drew is overseeing. Drew moves between rooms, controlled but energized, before coming in to hover at the edge of the interview.
Ex-Hawaii couple rocker Sam Goldberg, who shares guitar and vocal credits with Worang, is melting drowsily into one of the overstuffed studio chairs. Worang is in the charmingly chatty second wind of the performance exhaustion they're all feeling. Uncut have been busy for the last couple of weeks playing a bunch of tightly grouped shows and juggling projects on the side. Evidently, each is weathering it differently. Worang begins on a bit of band lore.
"Originally, Uncut was just something that [techno producer/purveyor] Jake Fairley and I hustled together to fill a set at the Mission techno night in 2001," he admits. "Jake had forgotten to plan for it. So we did this beat-box-driven Joy Divisiony cover of I Wanna Be Your Dog. I had to teach Jake how to play the guitar just to do it."
That first foray incited Fairley and Worang to push the formula and bring the electro-punk effect to original compositions. Uncut's early single, the stark mantra-driven Understanding The New Violence, remains a playlist staple for the likes of Tiga, DJ Hell and Miss Kittin.
But by 2003, Fairley's star had risen on the European techno scene and, despite a commitment from Paper Bag Records to champion an Uncut album, he decamped permanently to Cologne. Worang wavered, but with encouragement from friends and Paper Bag's continued support, Uncut survived. Enlisting Drew, Goldberg and bassist Derek Tokar, Uncut was reborn as a full-fledged band.
"I think we'd only rehearsed four, maybe five, times before our first show," says Worang.
"I was so nervous," Goldberg drawls from his chair, "I just played a guitar solo the whole time."
"That's not true," Worang manages between laughs.
"I thought I was going to crap my pants," Drew adds. "But I remember that the first show sealed the deal. It was like, 'Let's get together, play a show and see what happens.' And after that show, the chemistry, it was simply, 'Yeah, this is it. '"
Easy banter, easy chemistry, easy listening. The album is a brilliant start. You need to be truly good to make it look easy.