For the next guest mixtape, get to know LA’s The World Record. Local fans might recognize brain trust Andy Creighton and friends from The Parson Red Heads (when they were in LA, all members of The World Record were also in The Parson Red Heads, now the line-up has some new faces), but with a new line-up, The World Record deserves attention in their own right. Hailed by Aquarium Drunkard as the “West Coast heir apparent to Big Star,” their last LP, Guitars Forever came out almost five years ago and received a plethora of favorable reviews. Since then The World Record has continued to gig around LA, taped a neat session with Little Videos, and had a song on both Gossip Girl and How I Met Your Mother. I myself used THREE of their tracks in a little film (shot in Silverlake, of course) that I music supervised in 2009, which is how I came to know Mr. Creighton. Below Andy discusses with me his mixtape, My Favorite Canadians, the definition – and value – of “sheer rockingness,” and spills a bit about what’s next for the band…
My Favorite Canadians
1. Saga “Slow Motion”
2. April Wine “All Over Town”
3. The Tragically Hip “Family Band”
4. Honeymoon Suite “New Girl Now”
5. Sloan “Living With The Masses/HFXNSHC”
6. Prism “Don’t Let Him Know”
7. A.C. Newman “The Battle For Straight Time”
8. Rush “The Analog Kid”
9. Loverboy “Hot Girls In Love”
10. April Wine “Say Hello”
11. The Guess Who “Hand Me Down World”
12. The Band “Chest Fever”
13. The Tragically Hip “Chagrin Falls”
TA: So if you could describe the Canadian music scene (overall) in 3 words, what would you say?
AC: Unironic Rock Joy
TA: Does this mixtape give a good sense of that?
AC: I think so. Of course there was no real irony in rock in the 80s, where most of these choices come from, so perhaps it’s not saying that much.
TA: Do you have a personal connection with Canada?
AC: Not anything conscious. I’ve been a music listener a long time, and when I look back at the stuff I really like (or used to like), a lot of it is from Canada. A disproportionate amount maybe. I wasn’t really conscious of it until a friend asked me whether I was secretly Canadian. He is. That’s how he spotted it.
TA: Where are you from then?
AC: I was born and grew up in Phoenix. I lived in Chicago for 7 years before moving to L.A.
TA: There are a lot of rocking guitars on here, is that personal taste or something you think represents the music culture?
AC: Probably personal taste. I do think rock music, generally, should rock. I’m not necessarily referring to loudness or speed, just that there should be a core of power there. Whether that comes from some mysteriously awesome music, or emotional resonance, or just sheer rockingness is up to the artist. But sheer rockingness is the easiest, and usually the most fun.
TA: Ok now you have to define “sheer rockingness.”
AC: I think “sheer rockingness” at its best involves playing and singing loudly and with abandon. It’s dangerous though because it makes bad music much worse. So you’ve got a loud Canadian band like Nickelback where every increased decibel makes the music 20% worse, or you’ve got The Tragically Hip where every increased decibel makes it 20% better. You might argue that that’s because Nickelback doesn’t actually “rock” at all – they’re just loud robots. And I’d be right there with you.
All this is not to suggest that “sheer rockingness” is a prerequisite for awesomeness. But if you play in a rock band, at some point you’ve got to rock, don’t you?
TA: Absolutely. Did you start off with particular artists you loved or favorite songs?
AC: It depended. Largely the mix is comprised of artists that I love – The Tragically Hip, Rush, Sloan, Saga, The Band, April Wine – so I spent some time finding the right tracks from them (big catalogs all). Then there are songs that I love – “New Girl Now”, “Hand Me Down World”, “Hot Girls in Love”. The Prism tune “Don’t Let Him Know” was one I was in love with when it originally came out (scraping the top 40 at #39 in 1982). Now I’m puzzled that I liked it so much, but I was a kid and it’s on there now to keep the list honest. Also, it was co-written by Bryan Adams, a Canadian who almost made the list. I imagine some listeners will wonder how it is I single out “Don’t Let Him Know” when there are many other stupid songs in the mix. To them I say keep an open mind; there is something stratospherically awesome in each of these tunes, mostly musical or lyrical, occasionally in the area of ridiculousness. Except “Don’t Let Him Know” which just isn’t that good.
TA: Was the goal of the mix to showcase particular artists or song?
AC: I am certainly promoting artists that haven’t had enough success here in the U.S., but I guess that’s true about most Canadian bands. And most U.S. bands for that matter, my own included. Sloan and The Tragically Hip are still making some of the best music out there, and deserve to be better known. I occasionally marvel that April Wine isn’t all over classic rock radio, and instead we have to listen to Bon Jovi. Saga on the other hand is probably as successful as they deserve to be.
TA: With the exception of A.C. Newman, most of these bands were at their height pre-2000. Did you want to highlight a particular era of Canadian music, or do you just not like any more current Canadian artists?
AC: Or even pre-1990, you’re kind not to say. Well, first off I’m kinda old. Though I try to keep an open mind, there are things that conspire to keep me from a lot of new releases. For one thing, there are just so many of them, and very few filters available to help sort them out (the job the record companies used to have before they decided that everyone likes what little kids like). Pitchfork can be helpful, but their ratings seem to depend too much on whether they like the singer. I have to say there’s been an increasing tendency to emphasize the sound and style of the music rather than the stuff I care about – chords, melody, lyrics, originality, swimsuit competition – so I’ve found less to like in that sense. I frankly don’t care whether you played a three string Moroccan grayina on your record, if your song is average.
All that said, I think there’s just as much good music being made as ever; it’s just a smaller percentage of the total. There are a lot of great bands in L.A. Maybe if I lived in a Canadian city I’d like a lot more current Canadian bands, at least from that city.
TA: What the heck is a Moroccan grayina?
AC: I was hoping you wouldn’t ask. I made up the Moroccan grayina. I was having a pretty good time and it just came out. It sounds like it might be something anyway.
TA: But you do like some current Canadian bands then, right?
AC: It’s not that I don’t like current Canadian artists as much as I don’t know current Canadian artists. Some I do know that didn’t make the set list:
The Arcade Fire. I haven’t really been able to get into them, but I think the song “Rebellion (Lies)” is freaking amazing. They are a prime example of style and sound getting top billing over the words and music. I think most of their songs would sound pretty dull in another band’s hands. Except “Rebellion”. What a great song. It didn’t make the list because who needs Arcade Fire on their list? Way too obvious.
Given that A.C. Newman appears in the mix, it probably doesn’t need mentioning that I like The New Pornographers. But they have yet to release anything that comes close to that first first A.C. Newman record, so I can’t say I love them. I love a lot of the songs though. My favorite record is Electric Version.
I like a lot of what I’ve heard from Broken Social Scene, and I plan to listen more when I get a chance. Is that OK? I don’t know if they’re cool. Tegan and Sara have some neat singles, though I saw them live and it didn’t do much for me. I’ve heard some fun songs from a band called Islands. They’re from Canada.
I bet in a few years, when the public has moved on to something else, I’ll be able to enjoy more music from this time and I’ll probably end up loving the Arcade Fire.
TA: Was there a particular energy or tone you wanted to convey?
AC: Mostly these songs get me going and make me happy, so I hope they’ll do the same for you, the listening public.
TA: Are there any artists on here that you would say particularly influenced the sound of The World Record?
AC: Someone once wrote that we sound just like Sloan, so I’d have to say Sloan. The first record I got was One Chord to Another and it really captured my imagination. I loved the tight songwriting against the loose, stonesy playing. Also April Wine. I love two of their records: Harder…Faster and The Nature of the Beast. Just unstoppably awesome, and a great balance of tight songs and rock posturing.
TA: How would you describe your sound? What is one track you would say represents you most as a group and why?
AC: From this mix I’d pick the tune “All Over Town” by April Wine as a close match musically. It’s riffy and it’s got the trick intro, where you think it’s on one beat but when the band comes in you realize you’ve got it upside down. That was an obsession for me for a while & we’ve done it in a couple of our own songs. There’s also a guitar solo, which we continue to champion long past its pull-by date. The main differences are with the lyrics and vocal style; I’ve never been able to pull off that voco-sexual strut. Also we’ve never used a vocoder, which I’ll now mark down as a goal for the future.
TA: So what’s next for The World Record? When can we expect a new album?
AC: We’re mixing our next record right now. There are a lot of songs, maybe 28, on the table, and we’re tentatively planning a double album, but we’ll see what’s what when we have everything mixed. I have gone ahead and made a double-album running order, which, if it’s not to be, was a big mistake. It will be hard to let go. Until then, we’re playing The Western States Motel residency at LaBrie’s on Feb. 22, and a benefit show on April 10 location TBA for now.
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The World Record “We’re #1”
The World Record “Runolf & Mary”