FUKHOUSE featuring PAN/TONE, JAKE FAIRLEY, JEREMY P. CAULFIELD, MIKE BRYANT, DAVID COOPER, IAN GUTHRIE and ZUZANA GRIMM at System Soundbar (117 Peter), Saturday (December 20). $15 before midnight, more after. 416-408-3996.
If it's seemed like there hasn't been much going on in the minimal techno scene over the past year, you're not imagining it. Most of the people who used to be responsible for keeping things going locally have relocated. Some moved to Montreal in search of cheap rent and government-funded experimental techno events (Adam Marshall, Jeff Milligan, and Mike Shannon) and others sailed off to Germany to be closer to the labels that release their material and to the audiences that give them the most support (Jeremy P. Caulfield, Pan/Tone, Jake Fairley). The Montreal contingent have since either come back to the T-dot or fled to warmer climes, but the German team seems to have had a better go in their new location, and are only returning long enough to play this gig and make arrangements for the next European season.
Over coffee, it quickly becomes apparent that Pan/Tone (aka Sheldon Thompson, Gringo Grinder and Shelbono del Monte) doesn't miss Toronto much, and neither does Jake Fairley, who's decided to sit in for the interview.
"Jake misses Toronto more than I do," says Thompson. "Right now I feel like I belong there more. I feel more comfortable and a little more productive. I can sustain a decent lifestyle just touring, and we're basically starting up a booking agency soon, which has already been doing some stuff."
"Sheldon paid his dues in Toronto, though. He did a lot of promoting," interjects Fairley, who actually spends far less time complaining about his hometown during this interview than he did when he lived here full-time.
"A lot of promoting for other people," Thompson laughs. "There's only so long you can survive on Kraft Dinner.
"Where am I going to play over here? When I do play, there's not even enough to rub two 20s together."
Having a busy schedule of gigs across Germany and the rest of Europe has helped Thompson's sound progress. Since his method of performance and songwriting involves a fair amount of improvisation, he's been able to test out ideas on a nightly basis and get immediate feedback.
"The more you play, the more you get an idea of what works. You can try new things and get a reaction right away, which has allowed me to go in directions that I feel more comfortable with. It gave me some ideas, and I've been able to go further that way."
Judging from the unreleased material coming out in the new year, he's become a lot more comfortable with melody and pop references. It's not quite the "rockno" he's been threatening us with for the past few years, but there are a lot of guitarlike sounds, and an aggressive but fun side is more pronounced.
Over the next few months, he and Fairley will embark on their first American tour, and they'll also hit Japan in the middle portion of the trek. Pan/Tone will be releasing a bunch of new material at around the same time. Fairley has new records coming out as well, and one of his tracks has been licensed to an upcoming Miss Kittin compilation. If things go according to plan, it may be another year before we see them playing here again. email@example.com