Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Photo by Jaime Hogge

Historically, I haven’t seen eye to eye with Gregory Pepper. It could be that his hair is always blocking the view. Or maybe we began to look past each other that time a houseguest spilt red wine over all his homemade merch at a houseshow I was co-presenting. But more likely our overall divergence stems from when we almost came to sitcom quick blows over Seinfeld at the ebar one primetime summer’s night. If pressed – and Pepper presses – I would say everyone’s beloved show about nothing is a misanthropic tautology of irony better left in the 90s with Jerry’s jeans and its theme song’s synth slap bass. Pepper, for his part, thinks so highly of the show that he even cites it in this very important and exclusive interview. Not one to extensively pick at old wounds, I suggested we meet in the cold comfort of the internet to discuss the succinct pop of his new record Chorus! Chorus! Chorus! and to promote his upcoming show at the ebar. He generously agreed. Proceeding in this seemingly necessary spirit of small city reconciliation may have been an oversight.

- Brad de Roo, who forgives almost everything in the name of well-made music.

Your newest record Chorus! Chorus! Chorus! is short short short. What’s the appeal of short songs? What do they do that longer tracks don’t? Do you have any favourite short songs? Short albums? What does the diminutive form offer you?

I'm not really trying to make the songs short so much as economical. Like how you probably could have boiled that question down to a single sentence and still basically said the same thing: “How does the temporal length of a song influence you, both as a writer and a listener?” See? Much better!

Did the songs start off with the intention of being shorter? Were they edited down form larger ones? Is it common for you to start a song in short form?

Remember in Amadeus when Mister Rooney starts giving Mozart shit for using “too many notes”? And then dude is like, “There are just as many notes, Majesty, as are required. Neither more nor less.”

Shortness of song calls to mind jingles. Are you readying yourself for a career of ad music work? What would be your dream ad project? What product best suits your music? What product defines Gregory Pepper, the man?

I don't know if you're picking up what I'm putting down, man. The “ten songs on a seven inch” thing may seem like a gimmick, but they're actual songs. You know, themes, momentum, tension, release, etc. I feel like I put more concerted effort and thought into ninety seconds than most of these unkempt garage rockers put into the A side.

Would you ever consider doing an album of exceptionally long songs – with every song over 10 mins? Or maybe with one album-length song?

I'm always game for a lengthy, pot-fueled jam session but I think it would be pretty self indulgent to formally release any of that delay-soaked madness. 

The lead off single to Chorus! Chorus! Chorus! is ‘Welcome To the Dullhouse’. Do you live in a dullhouse? If so, is its dullness at all integral to getting creative work done? How does it differ from a dollhouse? Would you every consider scoring a Todd Solonz film? How important are puns to your lyrics?

What's your record for consecutive questions asked? Let's see: No, N/A, N/A, sure, very.

The second release is ‘Come By It Honestly’. Did you come by music honestly? How important is honesty in music? What are the biggest lies of the Canadian indie music scene?

Yeah, like a lot of people I started flipping through my parents’ records when I was a young shorty and really got turned on by the poppy stuff. Well, mostly just The Beatles, really. As far as honesty in music, that's kind of hard to say. “Just remember: It's not a lie if you believe it.

Besides making music, you are a visual artist. How linked are these pursuits? Do you notice aesthetic commonalities? Would you ever consider making a graphic novel concept album or an animated music video?

These pursuits have lots of links. HERE'S a link to a rotoscope animation I did for Common Grackle a few years ago. 

You’ve made some videos for this release.? Were you active in their inception? Is this a fun or tedious process? How many videos will you make for Chorus! Chorus! Chorus!?

“Dullhouse” was a really fun. We just drank beer and horsed around outside all weekend. “Come By It Honestly” wasn't so much tedious as torturous. I had to cram Vaseline drenched cotton swabs up my nose to keep the water out and simultaneously hold my breath and lip-sync for a minute and a half. I think we're gonna do one more video which, god willing, I won't have to appear in. 

You’re pretty independently prolific. Do you have a Prince style vault over at Camp Pepper? Are there any projects or recordings that will forever go unreleased?

I've got a few hard drives stashed away for sure. Madadam and I recorded some hyper-sexual jams while were making the Big Huge Truck album that I don't think the world will ever be ready for.

You seem to like collaborations too. What’s the attraction? How problematic are the Problems? Do you have any dream collaborations that you’d double-mortgage Camp Pepper to make happen?

Not sure if I like the collaborative process so much as the human company. Though now that I think of it, most of the collabo work I do is via the internet so it's still a pretty lonesome pursuit. And no, a second lien on the compound is not worth the privilege of compromising my brilliant ideas.

Do you have any causes you’d like to champion here?

The Human Fund.

Are there any general statements you’d like to make?

A little self promotion never hurt anyone. Local album release Oct 2nd at the ebar. New album is available on vinyl and digital formats.

Besides this interview, is there anything you’d care to regret in public?

Probably my “40oz. To Freedom” backpiece.


Sunday, September 20, 2015


The Book Bash festival is an annual celebration of Guelph books. It’s a relaxed afternoon of music and prizes and fun that features recently published books by more than twenty local authors and also music by Ian Reid. The Bookshelf will be on hand to sell local books, and there will also be tables by Guelph micro-publishers.

The 2015 edition of Book Bash is being held from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM at the Red Papaya (55 Wyndham Street North) on Sunday, September 27th as part of Culture Days.

There is no cost for the event, but donations will be accepted for Action Read, a charity that provides literacy programs in the community.

The host of this year's Book Bash is Valerie Senyk, a Guelph-based performance artist, actress, visual artist and poet. She presented her debut book of poetry at last year's Book Bash event, and she agreed to answer some questions about her experience.

- Jeremy Luke Hill

What were your impressions of Book Bash last year?

Book Bash was a remarkable celebration of Guelph area authors in particular, and books and writing in general. It made me feel that Guelph is indeed a very literate city. 

Why should people bother coming to Book Bash? What makes this festival unique?
People should come to see what was brought out in publishing this past year, to see the diversity of talent in and around Guelph, to get to know their local authors... and to talk books.

What would you like to see Book Bash become? 

I'd like to see it encourage what I once witnessed in St. Petersburg, Russia... I was there as a visitor in 1990. I was in the core city area, and I saw a long line-up of people on the street – the longest I'd seen so far. I tried to find someone in the line who could speak English, and when I did I asked him what they were lining up for. He told me that one of their writers had just published a new book, and they wanted a copy. When I expressed my astonishment, he told me: "Writers are the soul of our country!"

Why is book culture important to a community? What role does it play? 

Book culture is important to any community. It's from books we learn about life, about what it means to be a human being.

The Book Bash festival is presented by Friends of Vocamus Press, a non-profit community organization that supports book culture in the Guelph area. For more information about the festival please email or phone 226-500-7301.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


It begins with a hand beating rhythmically on a mattress. Lisbeth Salander is back. The outlandish heroine of the famed Millennium Series, part computer genius, part anti-misogynist avenging angel, the girl with the dragon tattoo is once again caught in a complex tale of computer hacking and murder, leading directly to the arch institution of criminal malfeasance, the US National Security Agency.

All our favourite characters are back as well: Michael (Kalle) Blomkvist, once again fighting to keep his crusading magazine, Millennium, from corporate takeover; Inspector Jan Bublanski, leading the investigation into the murder of Sweden’s top Artificial Intelligence researcher; Salander’s comrades from Hacker Republic and Holger Palmgren, Lisbeth’s former guardian and the only person who knows the full details of her upbringing. All the tropes of the Millennium novels are here as well – the incompetent police forces, petty minded bureaucrats who mistake Michael and Lisbeth for the real villains and the deep link between criminals and the highest offices of the Swedish and American governments.

I will be honest; I was ambivalent about reading this new book. The story of Steig Larsson’s untimely death – the battle over his estate and disinheritance of his common-law wife based on archaic Swedish law by his father and brother who have commissioned this book – itself has the intrigue of a Scandinavian thriller. What enamored 80 million readers (yes, really) to the original books was their uncompromising exposure of how pursuit of power and profit leads admired exploiters into criminality and corruption. Not to mention our heroes’ relentless efforts to tell the truth and right the wrongs, at the risk of their lives. After a slow start, this novel lives up to its predecessors’ fame. David Lagercrantz's The Girl in the Spider's Web is a taut drama unfolding over barely a week in bleakest November, with a back story that encompasses decades. Remember, blood is thicker than water.

- Brian