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Chutzpah! Festival Celebrates Diversity With Multifaceted International Programming

Chutzpah! Festival Celebrates Diversity With Multifaceted International Programming

by Yasmine Shemesh In Hebrew, chutzpah means “brazen audacity.” As such, it’s fitting that the term would be the namesake…

Arson Cult: Teaching the ways of the angry political fist pump 

Friday 02nd, November 2018 / 09:50
By Trevor Morelli 

“We always wanted to keep this kind of edgy, experimental sound while still kind of keeping a punk kind of feel to it.” 
Photo by Erica Maier

CALGARY – School would have been much more fun if your teachers listened to cool bands like Fugazi and Drive Like Jehu, right? Those punk icons, along with other ‘90s experimental hardcore groups, are some of the influences that helped Saskatoon, Saskatchewan’s Arson Cult mold their aggressive, unique sound.

“We wanted to kind of keep that going, and a lot of the music we had been listening to or hearing a lot more recently has been a lot more sort of emo driven,” explains vocalist/bassist Jason MacKinnon.

“So, we always wanted to keep this kind of edgy, experimental sound while still kind of keeping a punk kind of feel to it.”

MacKinnon, who works as an elementary teacher by day, says his night gig was challenging in the beginning because he and his bandmates – singer/guitarist Matt Gravlin and drummer Jay Luk – weren’t hearing a lot of local bands that sounded like them.

“I think in general, when we first started, I spent a lot of time looking for bands that sounded like us, just to try to reach out and hear more things,” he says, positively citing Toronto’s Metz, Winnipeg’s KEN mode and Edmonton’s Dead Fibres as some of the bands Arson Cult identifies with.

“It was really hard to find. I find we end up playing with a lot of metal or metalcore bands, and not so much with punk bands because we don’t quite fit in with the genre we try to portray.”

Last month, Arson Cult released their debut album Lay Waste to Past Erections (2018), which is not only heavy with detuned riffs and pulse pounding rhythms, but ablaze with political undertones as well.

“A lot of the music we were writing at the time is politically-based, and I think that’s something where there’s a huge gap, especially in Canadian music,” MacKinnon says.

“A lot of stuff that’s coming out is very much the same. There’s very much a lot of formula going into music these days. People are very good at pin-holing themselves into something and even when we have music that’s trying to kind of bring to light new problems, or existing problems and issues, it still kind of shies away and tries to be still be approachable, whereas ours I think is supposed to be aggressive and destructive. That’s kind of the Arson Cult idea.”

He continues: “Lay Waste to Past Erections quite literally is about destroying a lot of the formal male dominated things that have existed, especially in politics, and still in music and still everywhere.”

Ultimately, MacKinnon knows there are hardcore fans out there and Arson Cult wants to bring them together to celebrate heavy experimental music.

“I think the ultimate goal is just to find the audience that wants to hear this. It’s exciting. We’re trying to play more festivals and hopefully get to places that have more audiences, different and diverse audiences.” 

Arson Cult performs with Rat’s Ass, Feminal Fluids and Hexbeat on November 9 at The Sewing Machine Factory (Edmonton) and with Rat’s Ass, Pill Crusher and Fuckboy on November 10 at Tubby Dog (Calgary)

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