Fake Cops with Cougar Party and the Bokker Buckle Band as part of wavelength at Sneaky Dee's (431 College), Sunday (August 29). Pwyc. 416-603-3090. Rating: NNNNN
The jerky post-punk rhythms kicked out with a riotous clamour by the Fake Cops wouldn't seem at all unusual coming from a bunch of smarmy art students based in Brooklyn or South London, but Calgary?
Well, unlikely as it seems, the mullet mecca and spiritual home of Nickelback, where Bryan Adams concert T-shirts are still worn without a hint of irony, has given rise to one of the most exciting new indie rock threats in Canada.
From the moment the members of the Fake Cops began comparing notes on their favourite bands and discovered a common appreciation for Devo and the Liars, they knew they weren't going to sound like most other bands in Stampede country. But it wasn't until they tried to find a bassist by taking out a "musicians wanted" ad in the local weekly that it really hit home.
"Just so people understood the kind of sound we were going for, we listed a few bands in our ad, like Fugazi, Drive Like Jehu and the Hot Snakes," recalls singer/guitarist Jon Hopkins from his Calgary home. "All these dudes showed up saying, 'I've never heard of any of the bands you mentioned in the ad but I sure would like to sing in a rock band!'
"My personal favourite was this real stylin' guy who said he'd played guitar in the studio and on tour for the Crash Test Dummies. He seemed to think he was doing us a big favour by jamming with us. After about an hour of trying to figure out what we were doing, he started playing his own songs. Apparently he was really just looking for a band to back him for his own schlocky solo project."
This being Calgary, surely there must've been a few metalhead applicants between arena-rocking jobs. Evidently not.
"Nope, not one metal dude turned up. I took that as a testament to the healthy state of Calgary's cover band scene. Those guys already have all the work they can handle.
"Calgary has always been a rock city, but groups here never really get too exploratory. I've got some friends in bands and I'd go see them play, but you can only take so much garage rock. When I got together with Jordan (Tettensor) and Ian (Russell), we all wanted to try something that wasn't like everything else being done in Calgary.
"From our very first all-ages show, the kids seemed to be really engaged by what we were doing. I think a lot of people here were just waiting for an alternative."
If their dazzling debut disc, the five-song Absolutely Your Credit Is Excellent But In A Certain Way We Also Need Cash (Mockingbird) EP, is any indication, the Fake Cops sound could catch on across Canada and beyond. That unwieldy title, however entertaining, may be a challenge to remember for potential buyers. Clearly, there's a story involved.
"Across the street from our old rehearsal space was this convenience store run by this Korean guy we got to know after going there for our snacking needs. Behind the counter he had a sign which could've simply said 'no credit,' but he came up with this very conscientious way of expressing it, which really impressed me.
"When it came time to title our disc, it occurred to us pretty early on that using the sign would be a great idea, and nothing we came up with afterwards could top it."
Hopkins warns that anyone going to Calgary hoping to take a holiday snapshot in front of the now-famous convenience store sign will be sadly disappointed.
"I went back there shortly after our disc was released and the sign was gone. Who knows? Maybe putting the store's address in our CD's liner notes had something to do with it."