C'MON with the HEELWALKERS, Nassau and the Blacknines, at Sneaky Dee's (431 College), Friday (November 19. $8. 416-603-3090.
Ian Blurton has the power to make anything rock. With his boundless musical know-how, the indie maven could divise a math-grunge outfit as easily as he could start up a folk-disco protest band. Hell, the man could repeatedly strum the same chord on a ukulele for 45 minutes and you'd still come out of the show going, "Man, Blurton fucking nailed that shit."
Of course, at this point in his career, the frontman for Change of Heart, Bionic and Blurtonia is far too sensible to waste time with any such wanking. After years spent watching rock music become mired by hollow subgenre fusion and missed-mark revivalism, Blurton decided it was time to cut the shit.
It was time to C'mon.
"We just want to strip it down and rock before we get too old," Blurton grumbles over the phone from a friend's kitchen in St. John's, where a virgin snowfall blankets the ground. "I think a lot of it comes from all of us being in bands that rehearsed a lot and was kind of technical. I think all we care about is the heart and soul of the matter now."
The legend of how Blurton and ex-Nashville Pussy bassist Katie Lynn Campbell (his girlfriend) dreamed up C'mon while floating around Paris on a cloud of Dali-induced inspiration is now well known. As is the story of how, with Blurtonia's Randy Curnew on drums, they blew the roof off of the Horseshoe and onto Queen West during NXNE this past June.
Not so public, however, is how the band's perfect name seemed to be holding out for them, like a little cake labelled "Eat Me" waiting for Alice.
"My God, we were so shocked," says Blurton. "You know, it was like, 'What the hell? There's never been a band called C'mon?' I mean, there's the C'mons, but I believe they broke up. And there's the Strong C'mons, and there's some techno band called C-sideways dash-M-O-N. So we want to tour with all those bands."
But for now, C'mon seem content to rage through the country with no support save for the encouragement of the rock junkies who greet them at every venue. Last night, the band wreaked havoc on St. John's with their tour's inaugural show - even landing a surprise Auf Der Maur cameo. Though he's exhausted from being up till 6, Blurton's energy soars when he talks about the folks who come to see them play.
"Like the drunk person who's dancing too much - that's usually an amazing person," he says. "There was a bunch of them last night boogying down like crazy, and you know they're in pain today. They're the people who are like, 'I'm coming back tomorrow night,' and you know they're not coming back tomorrow night. They're maniacs."
It's yahoos like these who ensured that the 500 vinyl copies of C'mon's first record, Midnight Is The Answer, sold like heroin hotcakes. Their enthusiasm, along with the gush of premature critical ejaculation showered on Midnight months before its official release, must've been noticed at MapleMusic, who decided to release a CD version on November 23. As the record proves, the power trio has a supernatural ability to force all the meat and gristle of 70s hard rock into the bony rib cage of classic punk, throw the switch and create nothing short of a monster.
"Making the record was insanely fast," says Blurton. "We used the first Sabbath record and the first Hendrix record as a template, kind of, just cuz both of them were done really, really fast. And we just tried to spend as little money as possible. We only did, like, seven rehearsals, we'd never played live, and we just went 'Waaaaah - let's go for it.' It turned out pretty good, I think."
Blurton would know. After all, the Dan Penn and Brian Eno enthusiast first got his feet wet co-producing with seminal art rockers Change of Heart some 22 years ago. After attending a production course at the Learning Annex and a Cage-intensive sound studies class at OCA and landing a spot behind the boards at Toronto's hallowed Chemical Sound studios, Blurton found himself twisting dials for a wide range of local rockers.
"I just realized that a lot of records end up happening for really weird reasons, and people who work together sometimes don't match up. And there were a lot of bands that I personally didn't think were sounding right, and I wanted to get involved in that."
Today you can find Blurton's stamp on a number of indie gems, including the Weakerthans' album, Shikasta's latest and Amy Millan's forthcoming solo disc.
"We got no budget, let's call Blurton" is the self-deprecating way he characterizes the bands that want to work with him. "I think I did, like, 50 records in, like, four years, EPs and demos and stuff. In fact, Darryl Smith, who used to own Chemical Sound, was always going, 'What the fuck are you doing? Are you trying to kill yourself?' Maybe I have a death wish through music."
If that's the case, at least he can take to the grave a production resume that's even longer than his three-year-old beard, which is by now so prominent it's starting to develop a cult following of its own. Blurton doesn't really get why.
"It's so weird," he laughs. "Other people think about it, but I don't really think about it," he says of the mysterious facial appendage he insists he had long before Sam Roberts jumped on the beardwagon.
For real, though, who's got time to think hair when there's a much more significant other in the group? Beyond shattering fans' eardrums night after night, it seems like one of the most satisfying parts of C'mon is that he gets to work with Campbell, who playfully interjects comments from time to time in the background as he speaks. It sounds like they have a relationship that goes far deeper than a mutual hatred for that Killers song Somebody Told Me.
"Yeah, we argue sometimes," says Blurton, "but we also have to be with each other."
"We never argue," Campbell yells.
"OK, we never argue."
Midnight Is The Answer (MapleMusic) Rating: NNNN
Call it Mr. Blurton's Opus - a sonic moonshine distilled from the sweat of AC/DC, Alice Cooper, MC5 and the Damned, and the reason why your belligerent downstairs neighbours are finally packing their bags. Midnight Is The Answer, a title that hints at a new day, is the refined raw type of record that sounds loud even when played quietly. You can understand why Blurton called it quits with Bionic, as did Katie Lynn Campbell with Nashville Pussy: it's self-exorcised-devil music, and their survival depended on recording it. The album's lyrics, harvested from bad thoughts in Blurton's subconscious scribbled down on bits of paper, no doubt during shaky trips from show to show, are as much a means of transmitting sound and fury as the fleeting tracks' strident riffs. While they can and will shut down your local tavern, don't reduce them to just a bar band - unless you're referring to the crowbar you feel you've been beaten over the head with, post-hearing this exercise in audio mayhem.