GLASS CANDY with DJ WILL MUNRO as part of Vazaleen at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Friday (February 25). $7. 416-532-1598. Rating: NNNNN
Ever since a chance meeting in a Portland supermarket in the late 90s, glamorous freaks Johnny Jewel and Ida No have been refining their savage star-spangled synth-laced no-wave assault as Glass Candy (formerly Glass Candy and the Shattered Theatre).
Although their shows are legendary for being hit-or-miss spectaculars (one report had Ida dripping blood on the audience), and Ida was recently nominated as one of Playboy's sexiest babes in indie rock, they're still a cult secret over here.
In preparation for their show at Lee's Palace this Friday, we tried to get an inside peek into the twisted ideology of Glass Candy.
Ida's ragged caterwauling is a huge part of the Glass Candy aesthetic and sometimes gets you guys pegged as a Yeah Yeah Yeahs/Karen O rip-off outfit. Who were your role models? We had three albums out before Karen O had played her first show. We love Blondie, Diana Ross, Bessie Smith, Catherine Ribeiro, Patti Smith, Alan Vega, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Marc Bolan, Ronnie Spector, Donna Summer. Ida never set out to wail or scream or to add to some grand female ideology. She's just human.
I heard you tried to get the Portland Mercury to run a collage instead of a press photo alongside an article about you. Where does all that come from? Kicking Giant and the Need's paper doll imagery were crucial ingredients from the 90s, along with Miranda July's "I am the movie" perspective and the Nation of Ulysses leaflets. Dadaism and Futurism are forever inspiring, and Russian Communist propaganda. A lot of those cut-up punk designs draw from surrealism, and so do we. As well as Busby Berkeley films, Broadway musicals and sci-fi imagery. The link is the feeling of detachment from your surroundings, cut out of your environment and placed in an alien landscape. The tragedy of Rocky Horror being so far from the home planet.
What about all the other kids who've jumped on the post-punk bandwagon? Are they just boy-bands with funked-up bass lines instead of pre-fab ballads? The boy-band pattern seems infinitely omnipresent - sassy femme misogynists with plastic emotions.
You've covered everything from Roxy Music to the Stones to the Screamers to Josie Cotton's camp classic Johnny Are You Queer Boy. Some write you off as little more than a super-stylish cover band. How does that make you feel? We totally agree with that. We cover a song if the song or group has had a profound role in the development of Glass Candy's psychology, and if we hear a direction in the song that wasn't quite explored by the original artist.
OK, so why Johnny Are You Queer Boy? Were you guys big Valley Girl fans? We love Valley Girl, but we saw Ursula Android perform a drag version of Johnny Are You Queer in Seattle, and it blew our minds. We wanted to do a version that brought out that side of the song. Originally, we wanted to do a split 7-inch with Ursula where we both did different covers of the same song. It never panned out, so we did it as a B-side with a Shangri-Las-style intro and a Rocky Horror motorcycle twist.
That makes me think that you guys have more of a sense of humour than people give you credit for. We take ourselves and what we do seriously, but we also realize how little it matters on a massive scale. All the greats thought they could've been better - it's usually the shitty bands who think they're on top of the world.