By Heather Adamson
VANCOUVER – The Dreadnoughts encompass a reputation that is unlike any other Vancouver punk band out there. In 10 years they have raised the bar for what punk music represents and stands for in the local music scene and garnered themselves an allegiance of fans that are intensely loyal and passionate. “Having lived in East Van for 14 years, it is rare that a couple of days go by without running into someone on the street who has a connection to our band,” muses drummer Marco Bieri (aka the Stupid Swedish Bastard). Even during their hiatus, their email inbox had daily requests for shows, guitar tabs and other random queries. “For whatever reason, we have been part of creating a huge community and I do not believe there will ever be anything similar in my life to this,” says Bieri.
This Dreadnoughts fandom culture is deeply rooted in their take-no-prisoners live show that has earned them folklore status worldwide. From starting out with only five songs and still booking three-set evenings all over BC (thanks to vocalist and lead guitarist Nicholas Smyth, aka the Fang, being a human jukebox), The Dreadnoughts’ philosophy of “let it ride” has created opportunities from day one to continually surprise both themselves and audiences. Their touring stories are rich in antics and flair, one part horror, one part comedy, including countless band and audience injuries as a result of their overtly physical live show. “Before I joined the band I was a fan,” recalls bassist Andrew Hay (aka Squid Vicious). “I would go home from shows with a black eye on my face paired with a big smile.” Recalling some of their most memorable shows, Hay agrees their intensity is undeniable. “I feel like anytime we played Pub 340 we almost died,” shares Hay. “It was always a mixture of pure energy and absolute muscle pain. It didn’t help that they served drinks in glass mugs. Glass everywhere.”
Their escapades have not been limited to BC or Canada — not even close. Europe has been a hotbed for the band from early on, with some of their most riveting experiences taking place there with large numbers of people connecting to the band and their songs as anthems to express, at times, some hardcore emotion. “At one of our shows in Monheim, Germany, I had never seen our band and an audience be more hostile towards each other,” says Hay. “A gentleman told me that it was actually a good show because it was ‘avante garde’ and ‘very disturbing.’” Some of their largest successes have occurred in Eastern Europe, including being on Polish TV and getting to play a 6000-person festival in the western Ukraine after responding to a random email and making up a fake manager.
As the band reflect on the past 10 years, they are also looking ahead at what’s to come, including a 10th-anniversary tour and a new album on the way that they promise will have some new surprises for fans to dig their teeth into. When asked if they would be taking a political approach to the album’s concept, vocalist and lead guitarist Nicholas Smyth states, “We tend to think that when punk bands ‘go political’ it really, really sucks. That said, there is a way of being political without being superficial and preachy, including inviting the listener to reflect on certain deeper issues and to learn a little more about why we are where we are. That is where we are going with this album.”
From their stage names to their stage presence, The Dreadnoughts are a force to be reckoned with and time has proven that their staying power is stronger than ever. Whether it’s a near-death crash on the Autobahn or a broken instrument on the stage, this band continues to sacrifice life and limb for the sake of their music and are proving to be unstoppable.
The Dreadnoughts’ Ten-Year Double Show Extravaganza takes place March 17 and 18 at The Rickshaw Theatredreadnoughts, Rickshaw Theatre, The Skinny, Vancouver