Protruders: Watch “Wrong Way Sign” & Hear Poison Future
At one point in time, Protruders were primarily writing and recording and making a racket in Toronto. Now, with the release of their LP entitled Poison Future — presently available on Feel It Records — the trans-provincial art punk band find themselves spread out across eastern Canada.
“You know, I don’t really feel any geographical affinities in terms of the band,” said guitarist/vocalist Joe, currently residing in Montreal. “We are literally from right across the country; St. John’s, Montreal, Vancouver and London.”
“Plus I’m not really in the business of repping Toronto,” he quipped.
Following a slew of self-released tapes, Protruders first studio LP takes a unique angle on their eclectic and eccentric sound.
Retaining the chaotic experimentation and snapping punk rock riffs, Poison Future turns up the channel of more rock n’ roll protopunk flavour. The raw lo-fi quality of their previous releases is traded in for a slightly bigger, cleaner production at the hands of Peter Woodford at The Bottle Garden in Montréal. The sound isn’t tightened up as much as it is given more room to breath. It is still off-the-floor: the hatches are not battened and the wheels can still come off at any moment. Y’know, like all good rock n’ roll.
We chatted with Joe about how Protruders operate remotely, the process of their new album, a rundown of his most recent musical acquisitions, as well as the pros and cons of punk rock nostalgia.
Check out their brand new video for “Wrong Way Sign” comprised of footage shot in Mexico by Protruders member Ilse, as well our words with Joe below.
With members living remotely, what does the writing process look like these days for Protruders?
Well, since we recorded about 2 records worth of stuff, plus we have some demos of other new songs, we haven’t been working on new stuff. I’ve been kind of loafing on writing songs since I moved here [Montreal], been playing in other peoples bands and collaborating that way, which is really cool. I think it won’t change much though, considering a lot of the songs would come together as we recorded them since everybody is busy with other bands and stuff.
Last time Protruders were in St. John’s, you played in an alley way. What has been your favourite venue, setting or show to play to date?
That one and a skate ramp show called Crappy Fest with Booji Boys and the Vacillators take the cake. Also, the first show, which was at this tiny spot called Fountain in Toronto that I really like. Also outside Eat em Up records in Winnipeg. That was sick.
Where was Crappy Fest?
Crappy Fest was in Sackville and was an all ages show during Sappyfest.
With the label based in Virginia, how did the Feel It Records connection happen?
Sam’s been buying the tapes since the beginning of the band for his distro. I was a fan of the label and reached out to him after we recorded. He was into it to my surprise. He’s great and has good taste as evidenced by all the sick records he’s put out. We met him on the DBPS tour for the first time.
Poison Future stands out as unique from Protruders material. What was the biggest difference in the writing and recording process of Poison Future compared to the previous cassettes?
Well its the first studio recording. Jonah [Falco] did the first tape, but in a jam space and then the rest were home recordings. We got to play live in a studio, and the bottle garden is a super sweet studio on top of it. Peter is a wizard. our friend James played sax too which was cool.
I get some Voidoids vibes from some of the new songs. Am I onto something there? What has been influencing you lately?
Yeah I like ’em a lot. Maybe you’re saying that because of the kinda traditional rock elements meeting a skronky side? Not sure. It seems like a compliment so I’ll take it! I like his lyrics and yelping style, but he’s too handsome, its a bit annoying. I do have the CD in my car, I think I accidentally stole it from my friend Mackenzie. But I listened to that more when I was 17/18. I guess the songwriting for the record spans a pretty big timeline cause some are new and some are older—last couple years—so probably a lot of different influences. I don’t really do the “I wanna write an “xyz” style song”, but obviously it just creeps in and then you realize after.
How do you feel about punk nostalgia? It’s always cool to hear the stories and discover new old music, but then I see shit like that video of Johnny Rotten and Marky Ramone bickering at a documentary panel and it gives me an icky feeling. It’s like punk is finally old enough to have lame rock n’ roll baggage.
Yeah, I know what you mean. Punk has meaning for corny old people and suburban mall clothing stores. I think rock history is both a genre of writing and journalism that I am very into and also, I think there is very little quality stuff out there. Its either academic, self serious masturbation, or fully broad stroke appealing to a very casual audience. But the cream of it always keeps me curious, learning and entertained. But yeah, the fixation on glorifying the first wave in terms of “legend status”, while it can be entertaining, ultimately does not serve an admirable purpose. I think unearthing writing from that time, fanzines and other documents is much more worthwhile to read or watch than another fucking Henry Rollins interview or whatever the fuck. But there is a lot of stuff that there needs to be a light shun onto, like besides the regular CBGB’s narrative.
I know pinpointing influences was a tedious question, so let me reframe. Is there anything new or new to you that has been on steady rotation or particularly scratching an itch as of late?
Here is my list of recent acquisitions:
The City – Now That Everything’s Been Said – Carole King and Danny Krotchmar of the Fugs 60s psych pop.
Joni Mitchell – Dog Eat Dog – 80s album.
Chris Bailey – Demons – Of the Saints New wave pop from 1990.
Modern Lovers – Live – Live in 1977.
Joni Mitchell – Song to a Seagull – Classic Joni.
Alanis Obomsawin – Bush Lady – Really cool Native lady playing super emotive songs reissued by Constellation Records.
Traffic D’influence – Lipsync – Montreal new wave/art band, super bizarre and cool.
Parsnip/ The Shifters – Hip Blister – 2 Aussie bands share a platter, bought it for the Parsnip side.
Redness- Killer Bees – Weirdo Cleveland art punk band 1980 release reissued.
The Cowboys – Bottom of a Rotten Flower – New record on feel it-very kinks-very good.
Armand Schaubroeck Steals – Ratfucker – Legendary Rochester NY freak, proprietor of House of Guitars.
Danger- S/T – Montreal Glam from the late 70s.
Pere Ubu – 300 degrees of Simulated Stereo – Cool live record on Rough Trade.
How did you pick the songs from the last few years that would comprise Poison Future? Was there a conscious curation process of what songs would be allotted to the album as opposed to songs on the tapes?
I think it was just the songs we started playing live the most, that really translated to the full band set up and then the newer songs that hadn’t been recorded. Kind of just looked for a body of work that was a decent representation of the band. That ended up being 14 songs that we recorded at the Bottle Garden, and then whittled it down from there to a cohesive record’s worth.
What’s in the album name? Is there anything contributive to a societal “Poison Future” that you’re trying to highlight with the album?
I mean its a pretty hopeless time in a lot of ways. I think its just a general feeling and mood more than a specific political statement.
Any upcoming plans for Protruders that people should know about?
We’ve got some more recordings that might come out and some shows in August. Everybody is playing in other bands too.