Mandible Klaw: Calgary punks invest in their roots  

Saturday 06th, January 2018 / 12:38
By Sarah Kitteringham  

“This fajita is gonna be disgusting when it comes out of my asshole.” 
Photo by Ryan Kostel


CALGARY – Deeply ingrained in Canada’s long lineage of punk rock, Calgary’s own Mandible Klaw is primed to release their newest EP. Dubbed ‘What’s the Matter/Live at SBC,’ the six-track recording features “both live and new studio tracks” that expel the band’s signature style, which merges the energy of formative late ‘70s punk and visceral anger of the early ‘80s hardcore.   

“The live stuff was recorded at Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret in Vancouver, which was the first bar to ever host a punk show in Vancouver,” enthuses Mikey (no last names for these guys).  

The Cabaret has a long and storied history; it’s a legendary dive that hosted Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane in the ‘60s after opening in 1952 as the Smilin’ Buddha Dine & Dance. It was later host to a burgeoning punk scene as bands like D.O.A. and Subhumans cut their teeth. After closing in 1992, it eventually re-opened as an indoor skate park that hosts bands, alongside a restaurant.

“It was recorded by legendary recording engineer Cecil English who’s recorded some of the most iconic Canadian punk albums, so to be able to release those was a real honour for us,” adds Mikey. Indeed, English has worked with bands like Dayglo Abortions, SNFU, Nomeansno, and numerous more.  

“It was all sort of a happy coincidence,” says Mikey of the kismet scenario.

“I learned the history of the venue after we booked the show. It just so happened that Cecil English was the sound guy, and he sets up to record every show, then we bought the recordings off him and had them mixed and mastered by Graham Riddle at Wayfarer Studios here in Calgary.”  

Mandible Klaw sits comfortably within the sonic lineage of Canada’s storied punk output, delivering snotty, aggressive, fast and sometimes goofy songs about the working class struggle. On their self-titled vinyl debut, they offer up groovy, jackhammer fast drumming alongside ragged riffs and gruff barks. On their upcoming tape, they offer tracks recorded both live off the floor and from a more traditional “studio” setting. The juxtaposition is obvious, through hardly abrupt.  

“There’s a real contrast between the two sides, but as far as the live stuff goes, I think the grit is part of the charm. I think the record nerd in every band member likes that sort of thing – unpolished live tracks, demos, and stuff like that,” offers Niall.  

“You hear the songs in a different way than you’re used to, and that’s fun. Or maybe it’s not. You tell us!” 

Mandible Klaw has more upcoming releases, featuring tracks from the same recording session.   

“Those were part of a session that saw us record six songs, the other three will be released on an upcoming split LP,” explains Mikey. The four-way split will feature veteran punks the Motherfuckers, Montreal’s Ripcordz, and Riot Porn. It is due for release in spring 2018. 

“The three on the tape were just kinda the leftover tracks. The live songs are just to make the release a little more worthwhile, and because we were really happy with the way they turned out,” he adds.  

As for other upcoming plans, Mandible has many.  

“We love playing shows and are working on a tour for May that will see us hitting up a bunch of [British Columbia and] Alberta dates. Working on little weekend jaunts around Calgary for the winter to support our new tape and our debut LP which was released just over a year ago. And we’re always writing and working towards our next full length as well!” 

Attend the Mandible Klaw cassette release party for ‘What’s the Matter/Live at SBC’ at Saturday, January 13 at Dickens (Calgary). They’ll be performing alongside Pill Crusher, Vanta, and Class of 93.

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