country teasers with the MIdways and DJs stretch and DANIEL VILA at the Silver Dollar (486 Spadina), Tuesday (August 13). $7. 416-763-9139.
The decidedly twang-free bashers in the Country Teasers ought to be delighted by the sudden popularity of noisier rock bands like the White Stripes. After cranking out primo scree for most of the last decade -- as can be heard on their recently issued demos-and-outtakes disc, Science Hat, Artistic Cube, Moral Nosebleed Empire (In the Red) -- with little acknowledgement and even less remuneration, the surviving Teasers are overdue for a bit of retroactive worship as pioneers in distorted deviance.
Admittedly, the provocative gibberish and electronically enhanced whump with which the Teasers have been confronting their audiences has nothing to do with the garage rock revival trend. They've actually got more in common with the savage cyber-spew of Digital Hardcore ace Patrick Catani than with the Hives or the Strokes. And if the Teasers' recent compilation is any indication, they stubbornly intend to stick with their blasting concept.
"I think we are being talked about more because there is this revival of interest in badly recorded music," confirms snarling Teasers guitarist Ben Wallers from a stop in Austin, "and we've made a name for ourselves in that field.
"I've met loads of people in the past year who've just heard about us because it's fashionable now. But we've managed to hang onto our underground status mostly because we don't work very hard to get gigs. We just wait for the next show offer."
Perhaps even more than basic inertia, what could be holding the Teasers back is their dependence on irony.
At the best of times, North American audiences have had a hard time sorting out irony in lyrics, whether it comes from Bruce Springsteen or Pavement. But now it seems to have lost its relevance completely, such that even arch ironists like Sonic Youth and Beck are trying to go straight.
The Teasers' insistence on playing with inflammatory pejorative terms -- as with the contentious Postman Pak And His Lazy Black & White Cunts -- seems at best out of step and at worst easily mistaken for racism and sexism.
But Wallers and company wouldn't have it any other way.
"One of the interesting things about being alive at this particular time is that we've gone beyond political correctness. When I wrote the things that were obviously offensive, I was doing it knowing that the people I wanted to reach would understand.
"Irony got a bad name over the last couple of years because it became a licence to say anything and be naughty. However, I think irony is still a good way to address political issues like racism and sexism, using the language of the racist and sexist like William Burroughs adopted the phraseology of those he's satirizing.
"I can't write a love song or sing about anything beautiful. I'm into using the hideous elements in human history as a text -- that's what I find interesting. To some degree, I think everyone is fascinated by evil and horror, but not everyone chooses to sing about it."