A dumb, stupid name like Sting; The Cramps’ “Human Fly”; and something you can’t get in the States because down there they’re called “napkins.” Put those three together, and you’ve got Nardwuar the Human Serviette, the plaid-adorned, cheese-addicted, hugely informative media personality and musician whose band the Evaporators are set to bring their act to Calgary for this year’s Sled Island.
Back in March, the Vancouver-based quartet released Busy Doing Nothing(Mint Records), a compilation of both the Evaporators and international artists such as Franz Ferdinand, the Cribs and Kate Nash covering classic Vancouver artists such as Cub and the Dishrags. “Usually it’s hard to persuade people, especially when they’re in a band, to cover a song. But they had no problem,” he says. “They were like, ‘Yeah, sure! We’ll do it! When’s the deadline?’ and then they mailed in the tracks. So, I loved that, it was awesome. Plus, the record comes with a punk rock calendar, so when you buy the record, you get a punk rock calendar and full liner notes and stuff, so you can eat your cheese, listen to the music, and read the liner notes all in one sitting.”
The compilation also features Andrew W.K. on “I Hate Being Late When I’m Early,” as well as Sage Francis and Megan Barnes on “Hot Dog High,” for which a music video was just recently shot at the legendary Tomahawk Barbeque in North Vancouver. Furthermore, the Evaporators themselves cover tracks by Doug Rutledge and the Pointed Sticks – a band Nardwuar calls his favourite of all time – and Fuad & the Feztones cover the Evaporators’ own “Welcome to My Castle.”
While this cover of his own band’s material came out of the blue for Nardwuar, it’s not the only recent example of a musician professing their love for the quartet. During a recent interview Nardwuar did with Machine Gun Kelly at SXSW, the rapper sang a few bars of “I Don’t Need My Friends to Tell Me Who My Friends Are” and gave Nardwuar a homemade Evaporators T-shirt. “I could not believe that, that was just incredible,” Nardwuar says. “Not only did he mention the Evaporators, he sang the song, and he gave [me] the shirt. And of all the songs, he picked one of my favourite Evaporators songs. That was wild!”
As of this writing, it’s unknown as to where the Evaporators will be playing their own gig during Sled this year, but they will be playing a Mint Records party at the Ship and Anchor on Friday, June 22, possibly with an unnamed special guest accompanying them. Their last appearance at the festival was back in 2009, when they played an all ages show at Kensington’s Plaza Theatre, from which an underage concertgoer would eventually reconnect with Nardwuar at the “I Hate Being Late When I’m Early” video shoot in Vancouver earlier this year.
“You go to a gig, and you’re not sure who’s there, and then it’s weird that a couple years later someone’s like, ‘Hey! I was at the Sled Island gig!’ ” he says. “I was like, ‘Man, that’s amazing! There was like, nobody there, it was pretty empty!’ And he was like, ‘Well, I was one of the people that was underage.’ Because I had said [at the show,] ‘Everybody who’s underage, put up your hand!’ And this guy, Reid, was one of the guys that put up his hand and a couple years later, he said he was at the gig! So it totally pays to play all ages and it pays to play Sled Island. You’ll never know what will happen or come out of it!”
Catch the Evaporators at the HiFi on June 20 at the National Music Centre on June 21 and at the Ship & Anchor on June 22.
by David MacIntyre