by Jeevin Johal
VANCOUVER – When he’s not touring the planet with the Real McKenzies, guitarist Dan Garrison hangs up his tartan kilt for a pair of skinny jeans and a stack of comic books, finding inspiration in elaborate universes that extend far beyond human civilization.
“My two loves are punk rock and comic books,” praises Garrison. These two pillars of his life are what form the crux of his band, the Corps, whose name derives from the Green Lantern comics. Having acquired a unique set of rings, much like in series, this collective of intergalactic space cops fuse their energies to form an onslaught of destructive punk rock power, putting themselves in the fearless position of defenders of the Galaxy.
Though the characters and settings that encompass these universes are make believe, the themes that are explored in their stories are often frighteningly congruent with real life. Finding these parallels and using them to express his own emotions and political agenda are commonplace in Garrison’s songwriting.
“If I want to complain about something, I can think back to 80 years of comic books,” explains Garrison. “We just finished a full length record and there’s a song called ‘Rann Thanagar War’ about Israel and Palestine. Rann and Thanagar are planets in the DC Universe that are [in conflict].” Comic book fans can extract all kinds of geeky references throughout the Corps music, but messages of unity run skin-deep in their flesh, adding vulnerability to songs that initially come across as playful on the surface.
Putting a foot in the face of fascism has always been a purebred part of the punk rock ethos, and the Corps intend to lace up their boots a little tighter against the hateful regimes that are all-too-quickly rising to power in recent North American history. According to Garrison, its as if the DC Universe writers predicted this surge of tyranny in their comic books years ago. He references Superman villain Lex Luther.
“In the late nineties, [Lex Luther] goes to prison for crimes against humanity. When we gets out of prison, he runs for the presidency and wins.” With sarcastic laughter Garrison continues stating: “He’s a billionaire piece of shit asshole who considers himself better than everyone else because of his last name.” Remind you of anyone?
As a youngster, these fantastic stories of distant planets, mutants and superpowers are simply an escape. As we grow up, the depth of these stories evolve, becoming an allegory of the times we live in down here on Earth. The fate of the planet may not completely rest on the shoulders of the Corps, but the band is more than willing to fight for humanity.
“We’re all in this together,” says Garrison, “and if you can’t see that, and if you can’t peacefully be convinced of that, then I think you’re going to be left behind…but I don’t wanna leave anyone behind.”
When asked what his superpower would be, Garrison remains uncertain. But with every new song, and a growing audience, it appears he is content with the powers he already has.
The Corps play January 7th at the Rickshaw Theatre with Punk Rock Karaoke and Russian Tim and the Pavel BuresRickshaw Theatre, The Corps