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Gord Kirchin (THE EXALTED PILEDRIVER): if you guys feel like entertaining yourselves, you could check out some Zappa

Gord Kirchin (THE EXALTED PILEDRIVER): if you guys feel like entertaining yourselves, you could check out some Zappa
BANDS : Piledriver, The Exalted Piledriver

Gord Kirchin, Piledriver or The Exalted Piledriver himself, a legend of Canadian metal scene and beyond, was kind enough to offer an exclusive ample and tasty interview for Metalfan.ro about his music career.


 
Metalfan: Hi Gord and welcome to Metalfan.ro! How are the things with your health at this time?
Gord Kirchin: Hails to all minions of metal!!! I'm feeling tip top, could drop a few pounds of course, but, there goes my image, right? [Ed. Note: laughs] But seriously, the worst is behind me with my health/heart issues, but at 55 years old this year, there is going to be more downhill action coming on for a while yet. [Ed. Note: laughs] At the moment? Firing on all cylinders! I hope this is for an online posting, because if you're printing this it could run very many pages and be very expensive for you! [Ed. Note: laughs] Like I said… Firing on ALL cylinders! [Ed. Note: laughs]
 
Metalfan:  Piledriver is a legend of the metal scene in Canada, and also a legend of the metal in general. I think you've done this a dozen of times, but it would be great if you could tell us the story of Piledriver / Dogs with Jobs / The Exalted Piledriver. I believe that some of the people who read these lines probably were not born when the band started and I think your words would be a good start for them to discover your music...

In 1984, when Piledriver started as a band you have released your debut album, Metal Inquisition... A classic of the genre… Could you tell us the story behind this album? Starting from the writing process of the songs and lyrics and ending with the recording and producing the record...

With the release of Stay Ugly your main goal was to keep the same direction and spirit of Metal Inquisition or to change / update some things?

Two years after the release of your debut album you've put out this second full-length, Stay Ugly, also a classic coming from the Canadian metal scene. How do you see Stay Ugly after 30 years from the release? What is the story behind?

In 1990, Shock, the debut album of Dogs With Jobs was released. Please correct me if I'm wrong, this was supposed to be the third album of Piledriver, right? If it's not too hard for you, can you reveal some insights regarding this album?

Back in 1988 you've transformed Piledriver in Dogs With Jobs. Tell us more about this change.


Gord Kirchin: Since aaaaaaaaall of these questions essentially deal with the same thing in the grand scheme of things, I'm going to answer it as “the story so far”. [Ed. Note: laughs]
I was born in 1961 in a Navy-brat, in Maritimes Canada. Right there was a lucky great start, could have been Rwanda or Mogadishu. Then, as I grew older, I developed a taste for solid foods and... Oh, sorry... I'll skip ahead a bit... Drumsticks and Ludwig snare drum at four years old… Full kit at 10… Alice Cooper at 11… Zappa at 14… Everything in between found time in my ears… Guitar at 16, bass 17, etc., etc... Bands... Gigs... Recording... Bands... Gigs... Mainstream at 21years old, a popular cover bar band around Ottawa, Ontario. Leader/guitarist was Leslie Howe. His wife was lead singer/keyboardist Louise Reny. They were very, very, very commercial pop commercial - commercial pop. I was a sideman making money playing bass and singing. Leslie had a home studio outfitted with actual professional equipment, not what's known today as a “home studio”. I was in Mainstream for about a year when I got an offer from a RECORDING ACT that did hard, hard rock called FIST, led by Ron Chenier. I was to replace both bassist Bob Moffatt (who I ironically replaced in Mainstream... Ottawa is not that large… [Ed. Note: laughs]), and none other than my former room-mate Dave Macdonald on vocals (again, Ottawa is not that large, [Ed. Note: laughs]), your deep-detail-hounds out there might enjoy knowing that the Dogs With Jobs song Y I Otta was inspired by this guy, [Ed. Note: laughs]) touring the In The Red album in Northern Ontario and Western Canada. 2/3 of the way through the tour, I was told that I was “moving around too much on stage, and signing autographs without the whole band present”. Nahhhh… It had NOTHING to do with the fact they were bringing back in the ORIGINAL bassist, Jeff Nystrom. Nahhh… Coincidence... Total Coincidence! Anyway... When I got home from that partial tour, I joined up with a few high-school friends in a bar band called U.N., and we toured a bit in the N.E. States and the Maritimes and Newfoundland of Canada. During the tour of Newfoundland I got a call from Leslie Howe asking if I'd be interested in singing on a super-heavy metal album. It's all recorded, and he thought my voice would be perfect for it. It turned out that during negotiations with a label guy, the label guy mentioned that he had a heavy metal division, and no matter what garbage was on a record musically, that as long as it had a wild cover art it sold 20,000 copies. They joked that they could spew up something quick in the studio, shoot a wild cover for it, and make a quick few grand. So, the record dude gave Les a whack of records including Slayer, Venom, etc., to get a feel of what he's going for. Les is very talented musician, and he purified and forged all the hardest influences from the pile of vinyl dropped onto him into the metal alloy that is Metal Inquisition. In a way, while many call it a “parody” of metal, I feel it's more of a tribute than a parody, by far. People call it parody because we included some sick humour in the lyrics. So, in mid-August of 1984 after I got home from the U.N. tour I was in Les' studio recording the vocals for Metal Inquisition across two evenings. Some of my favourite memories of the sessions were our walks around the block for air and Rum N Cokes, gushing like schoolgirls at what we'd just laid down, and how the world wasn't ready for it. [Ed. Note: laughs] We laughed our heads off, actually. Unfortunately, once I was done the vocals, so was the fun.

I was living in Montreal when I got a package in the mail. It was the album. I was confused… Very confused! I hadn't gone to Toronto to shoot the cover yet. I wasn't finished with the liner notes, I had only supplied the band and crewmember fake names, and just a scant few names for the ‘thank you’s... How could this be? I opened the cardboard mailer… What. The. Fuck. Who is that dude in the costume that I drew up on a napkin at the dinner of the contract signing? I called the record dude in Toronto from Montreal asking him what the fuck, how is the album finished without me on it?? WHY is someone else on the cover pretending to be ME? He said “with the mask, no one will know anyways, and it was easier just to get someone than bring you in from Montreal just for a quick photo shoot”. So I didn't even get to be ME on MY OWN debut record. I got a lawyer later to look at my contract. The record dude (who from this point is forever referred to by me as the RecordWeasel©) bullshitted me when I was looking over the contract at that dinner, pushing me to sign, “no need for a lawyer, it's a 'standard' contract, all that is to protect ME, not them, it's cool, you'll be famous.” What he forgot to mention was that the contract also stated in deep legalese that that $250 check on the table was all I was going to get. There were clauses in the contract where he showed me I would receive royalties, but, he did NOT show me the clauses that wiped those out, negating them. I was screwed by a silver-tongued record weasel that had me thinking everything was great for me. But, shitty contract and a lifetime of watching the record weasel take all the profits, my voice was on a record… A record just like all the records in my collection. MY record was going to end up in my record collection... Even better, end up in someone ELSE'S collection!!! My 22-year old eager self didn't know or care about legalities and future repercussions... I was on a record that would actually be sold in stores, and the world would hear me sing. I signed it all away.

At this point the RecordWeasel© decides that it would be best not to spend any money on this 'band' as he only wanted it to sell a few thousand copies, we… Ahem... *they*… could make a quick few grand, and it would all blow away. Unfortunately for his greedy little plan, the album was too good. Too many people were into it. The faster and bigger it got, the more he wanted it to be buried under a shroud of mystery and secrecy, like KISS faces in the old days. The more it went on the more there were requests for interviews. So… I was told to do my Piley character in interviews and keep up the story that we were a real band. It was hard. I got by keeping them laughing and spewing little lies that would be hard to prove. [Ed. Note: laughs] One that got around pretty good and into the mythology of Piledriver was that an overzealous fan had gotten onstage and tried to rip my mask off, that I kicked the shit out of him and got arrested for assault, in Cleveland, or Cincinnati… Can't remember which, but it was definitely a C word. [Ed. Note: laughs] Yeah, so that one got around as a 'fact about Piledriver' that isn't actually true. [Ed. Note: laughs]  There's a million of 'em! [Ed. Note: laughs] In interviews to this day I try to sneak in a total lie, just to keep the cosmic thread going all the way back to Piley's roots. [Ed. Note: laughs]  Ok. So... Back to the story so far...  

When the Metal Inquisition album was taking off, and we were taking 'creative cover', RecordWeasel© asked if I could sing on an album that needed some powerful vocals, and I ended up (not yet knowing that I had been completely bamboozled the first time) doing vocals on the Convict album Go Ahead... Make My Day! Again, I got my $250, wrongly thinking royalties would follow someday. It was 'mild metal'... Aluminium I guess… definitely not hardened steel, even though I sang as if it was! [Ed. Note: laughs] I had strep throat during those sessions and was pushed to the point of bleeding. I couldn't speak even at a whisper for two weeks after that.

At this point, while I didn't know it, Leslie had caught on that our contracts were fucked, and he bailed on the project, forever. It was a big embarrassment for him to be raped legally, when he was the kind of guy that was pretty 'up' on that shit. Anyway… I didn't know it, but the guy that wrote the amazing Metal Inquisition album was no longer involved. So, when the RecordWeasel© called me to follow up on the success of Metal Inquisition with a trip to New York to record my parts for Stay Ugly I had no idea there was a completely different writing/producing team. I thought I was 'on the way up', Metal Inquisition did so well that instead of Les' basement, we were going to New Fucking York to record this one! Coooool! Well... It was pretty awesome that the new team was Dave DeFeis and Eddie Pursino of Virgin Steele, but, the sessions were an austere affair in a garage on a widdy-biddy cute little Fostex recorder. Nonetheless, Dave managed to get some speaker shredding thrash out of it and out to the world, so kudos to him on that. This is why Stay Ugly sounds so drastically different from Metal Inquisition. Different styles of metal completely, like two different bands... Which technically they were. RecordWeasel© thought it wasn't a problem at all, that my voice was the unifying factor, that “bands change their sound all the time, no-one will notice”. While I really enjoyed the boost in energy and 'thrashitude', I missed the production quality and song-craft depth of Metal Inquisition. Stay Ugly was released, it didn't do as good as “Metal Inquisition”... And RecordWeasel© decided that Piledriver had had its day, that it was time to shut it down. I argued to let me put a band together and feed the fans that are dying to see. He said sure, but he will provide no support or anything, I was on my own. So... I tried. YEARS and YEARS of trying to find a complete band... Get a few, lose one... Get one, lose a few... Gain a few, cut a few, gain one, lose two... It took its toll on me.

Anyways... A few years into the “searching for members” phase, I was writing and producing what I hoped to be the third Piledriver record... A record that would find a spot in between the two styles of Metal Inquisition and Stay Ugly, and try to find and nail down Piledriver's true sound. The album was to be called Shock. I had still not found out that my contracts were shit, so I was still negotiating with RecordWeasel©… But, this time I wanted a proper advance (which he agreed to), I wanted the same stipulation as with Stay Ugly that it's me on the cover... And I wanted tour support after we release the album... He agreed to all of it. So, I continued writing and recording. When I was at the mixing stage of the production, RecordWeasel© stopped by to see the progress on the album and to finalize our negotiations and draw up some contracts. This is when he told me that none of that was going to happen, that it would be the same deal as usual, except, yes, I could be on the cover. Well. Since I was not interested in yet another sucker's deal, I told him that my band was no longer called Piledriver, that while the album I'm mixing is coincidentally also called Shock, the band is called Dogs With Jobs, and that since this wasn't a Piledriver session, that he had no business in my studio, and then had him escorted away into the night like the slimy piece of human excrement he is. I then booked some more recording time to de-Pile-ify a lot of the lyrics to make them Dogs With Jobs lyrics, finished the mix, and went to Fringe Product to release it.
That was the day the original Piledriver died, without ever completing the member line-up or playing a single show. Even weeks before we went in the studio to record Shock, we lost the drummer and I had to program the drums in emergency mode [Ed. Note: laughs], so even if it did get a big release, we were still drummer hunting and not ready to strike. Fringe was a small label without all of RecordWeasel©'s connections and distro deals and all the profits from all the bands the shit-stained bastard was ripping off, so, with a small label marketing budget like Fringe's at the time (they had just shelled out shitloads of money defending one of their band The Dayglo Abortions in court for some “obscenity” bullshit... But, yeah, that's what made me go to them… They seemed to give a shit about their bands)… Anyway the album came out to very little fanfare. I thought it would do better once word of mouth got out that it was “the Piledriver guy”... But... No. No one seemed to give a shit. “No leather, no spikes, no mask... Must suck”.  I believe there is even some of the original pressing still available from Fringe Product's Ben Hoffman on eBay, it sold so little, because no one knew about it.

So that about covers the years from Piledriver's deceptive inception, on through the transformation into Dogs With Jobs. Pheww… I thought my monitor was going to run out of black pixels! [Ed. Note: laughs]

 


 
Metalfan: How was the metal scene from Canada in the '80s? Do you have anything in mind that had stick with you during the years?
Gord Kirchin: Flash memories include seeing a very new Sacrifice at Larry's Hideaway and being blown away. Seeing the first furious line-up of Razor was pretty powerful, too. Hair-metal was getting the press and the gigs, but, the underground was teeming with ground-breaking bands... Newer, faster, harder, dirtier, nastier, more extreme than the ones before… It was an exciting time because the gates were wide open on metal in the underground while the commercial bubble gum stayed the same but prettier. The underground was bursting like a volcano with ever darker, faster and harder bands. I knew I was at the more “commercial” end of the pool by the end of the 80's. In 1984 when Metal Inquisition came out, it was considered so insane and over the top, the lyrics, the vocal delivery, the image… But only six years later Piledriver was bumped down to “comedy band” status, equal to Spinal Tap or Bad News. It was crushing for me, because I always felt “true” to the music, that we still played from our hearts, but the metalheads and the industry saw different. I can't help myself from making words come out with a bit of wry or tongue-in-cheek humour creeping in. It's the way I'm wired. [Ed. Note: laughs] Oh, well… Such is the burden of an artist. At the time, I never listened to much bands outside of what I was writing myself because I didn't want to be influenced, I wanted to find my own writing voice. But with what bands I did catch, and that I did hear I was always impressed with how much farther everyone was taking metal in so many directions. I got into the more technically proficient bands being into Zappa and various jazz-rock virtuosi, so my ear was leaning more towards Megadeth than Quiet Riot... More towards Jason Becker than Motley Crue... More towards Dio than Ozzy if you will! [Ed. Note: laughs] Mind you, I did have an ear for The Mentors and filth of that ilk, just because of the extreme stance of it all... Alice Cooper taught us all that bad news travelled faster than good, and that no news is bad news, and we alllll know the fastest way to piss off mom and dad and have some way to fight them was with the most extreme music available to us to use as psychological weapons on them, so, we all took that cryptic conceptual torch and ran through the villages setting every sensible thing afire along the way. [Ed. Note: laughs] Then when the bands that we had inspired in turn, the death-metal and all the extreme metal explorations of dissonant distortion of both instrument and vocal delivery, and the deeper exploration of the darker corners of the dictionary that were growing from them came along and prospered in all their forms, it made all us ageing founders of the so-called “Over The Top” metal style sound like little kid cartoons. [Ed. Note: laughs] Passing the torch down to even heavier generations of metal makers was our purpose... To expand deeper on our influences, to influence others to expand deeper… It felt good to be there actually being an influence at such an explosive and creative period in metal, the true birth of the whole faster, darker, harder side of metal.

Metalfan:  In 1993 when grunge was a big thing and a hard time for traditional metal, you've released the second Dogs With Jobs album, Payday. How it was received by the fans, by the media, but also, what are your feelings regarding this record?
Gord Kirchin: Well… Once again, we were on little Fringe, so, it didn't get much marketing... It was more “spilled by accident” than “released”. Again… Lots of the original stock left, I hear. [Ed. Note: laughs] Like Shock, we got pretty good reviews, but, sales weren't there because the label didn't have the shelf space power to make it available in all stores... It was always an order-able import, and at the time, the price difference made it a deal breaker for most punters.

Dogs With Jobs started with the remaining dregs of the Piledriver band that died. I was on bass and lead vocals, Sean Abbott was on guitars, my brother Randy was in the band for a short time on guitars, and a revolving door of drummers for a while there. We had done two or three gigs with that line-up, then one by each, they took their leave, replaced on guitar by Dave Copeland, and drummer Shawn Tilley. Now we were a three piece. Dave brought a technical advancement to the band with his quirky riff phrasing and soloing style. I loved it. Together with my thrashy fretboard sensibilities, I felt really proud of Payday. I felt we had written some pretty deceptively challenging songs to play that still had hooks and variety of song styles within a general style. Like a good album should. We did it on a shoestring budget of favours and fried chicken and cobbled together an album I still enjoy listening to a lot. I like a lot of the lyrics on that one, some real true to heart stuff from real life and some quirky fantasy and “deeper thought” stuff. It was fun to play that stuff singing and playing bass... Like the Shock album, I really painted myself into a difficult corner on some of those songs when it came time to play them live. Not easy! [Ed. Note: laughs]

Metalfan: For more than 10 years you've put a stop in releasing new music, until 2004 when you hit the metal scene with The Exalted Piledriver. What were your feelings regarding thrash metal and Piledriver during your absence?
Gord Kirchin: When it was obvious that Dogs With Jobs would never become “big”, personal differences finally put the dogs to sleep. Then I got involved in a career of technical wiring, ending up as a Broadcast Systems Installations Engineer, and wired and built some of Toronto's premier production facilities for 20 years, beginning halfway through Dogs With Jobs. As such, I spent a great amount of time learning and building that career, and music was never anything big beyond writing and demoing on my own, and jamming with friends. Since I had a decent job and decent money, I began assembling recording gear to be able to record at home and save studio money... Put it into my own stuff instead of someone else's… And eventually was producing sessions for all kinds of people, bands, companies, etc. on the side of my Installations gigs. So, for this time, while I wasn't active in a proper band and playing and recording in a band, I was still very active in music, just not in the public eye.

Metalfan: Metal Manifesto, the debut album of The Exalted Piledriver, I personally see it as the third album of Piledriver. Could you, please, tell us the story behind this album?

Gord Kirchin: In 1995 we finally got a computer at home, and finally got online to find out all about this interweb thingy and all the fuss was about. So... Eventually, I got around to wondering if there was anyone out there that might have posted something about Piledriver or Dogs With Jobs, since I was finding stuff about all kinds of bands out there. Well… I was blown away. The RecordWeasel© had me convinced that Piledriver had tanked, that he hadn't made back his investment. Really? Well, this interweb thingy and all the fans I'm finding and the reputation or the material and our performances had all around the world said something else. That's when I started inquiring around to find out that more than 500,000 copies of Piledriver were out around the world, and I wasn’t getting a penny more than my $250. So, I decided that all these years later, I was going to tell the truth of it all, spill the beans on the whole fake mystery band. So I got a web domain, called sofa-q.com... (so fuck you dot com) and used it as the online home of everything I did, Piledriver, Convict, Dogs With Jobs, and at the time I was starting a “solo” project to be called sofa-q, which is where the name came from. I told the tale I basically told you earlier, and was pushing Dogs With Jobs albums and gigs there. Also had some fun pages on that site, links to crazy insane shit on the interweb thingy. I coded all my html for my pages manually in Notepad. Really! I did! Anyways... At the time I was REALLY IN DEEP in my broadcast installations career, so musical involvement was still the studio stuff, and the Dogs With Jobs shilling, and the day job, but now also getting in touch with all the Pile-fans I could let them know I was there for them, that I would someday bring it to them live despite the insanely short-sighted inside-sabotage by RecordWeasel© treating them and me like idiots. I vowed to every original die hard that found me online that I would somehow get it to them live.

When the 20th anniversary of Metal Inquisition was coming up in 2004, my friend Ray “Black Metal” Wallace (also Sacrifice and others manager) convinced me that it was time to do it, so, I began the quest again to find musicians that would drop their egos to use stage names and wear make-up or masks, etc., as well as be capable of playing the songs properly… By 2005 I had all positions filled and we began Piledriver's phoenix return to the world.
When I finally got online in '95 it bugged me that when I was searching for anything about “Piledriver” all these OTHER Piledrivers were the bulk of the search returns. A hardcore Piledriver in L.A., a disco-rave-thump Piledriver from Scandinavia, a tribute to Status Quo Piledriver in Europe, Piledriver apparently from Australia, then of course I found a little turd of a man in far eastern Europe passing himself off as me. SO... I decided, since it would cost me a small country's worth of bacon suing them all and losing because no one trademarked in all territories... Just take a definitive indicator from Piley's own lyric to delineate him from the mass of Piledrivers out there now… THE EXALTED Piledriver... NO QUESTION which Piledriver THAT is, right? Many think it was for “legal” reasons, but, no, not originally... But, that is a handy factor to have on our side. AAAAAAaaaaaaaanyway...

Once the line-up had settled down with a fantastic drummer, Gerry “Glace Frothfritter” Keough, a decent enough guitarist who after some general Pile-guidance and re-education could write and play like I wanted him to, and a bassist who knew to play the springy side with the knobs in front, flat shiny side in back... After a year of rehearsing and demoing we finally had enough suitable material for a good Piledriver album that should bridge the realms of Metal Inquisition / Stay Ugly... And old-school/new school production to be a perfect time machine back to Piley's heyday. Northern Storm stepped up with a big list of what’s-gonna-happenings, and we managed to squeeze some pro tracking and mixing with a much less than forecast budget, so I produced it, getting some great talent to help engineer (Rob Sanzo) and mix (Neil “His Royal Dryness” Kernon... Google that guy, seriously... Such a fun Brit too). Northern Storm also unfortunately shipped 3ooo copies overseas without me seeing a single one, let alone proofreading and quality controlling it. As such, I never saw the actual video used for the bonus DVD. I didn't know that it was cut from the most boring footage from the hundreds of hours we shot, that it looked like some grandmother's mild and quiet trip through Europe, not Piledriver’s Excitement, Comedy and Drama On The Road from Hamburg to Athens. All the shows are completely out of order, and not the best songs from the shows represented, and very little of the actual really good performances, etc., etc., etc. Then... It turns out that a big batch of the albums were shipped without the DVDs. THEN, hundreds of complaints were coming in that people weren’t getting the CD’s they prepaid for, and regular buyers weren't getting them either. It was a public relations fiasco for the band, as we were labelled thieves and crooks, but, we the band didn't even know… I HAD TO BUY ONE TO SEE ONE because NSR had supposedly shipped them ALL. I didn't even see the final “art” and booklet yet. I hadn't seen the DVD that was sometimes there or not. A total cluster-fuck of a biiiiiig return to the metal scene. A total fiasco!

At this point the band was coming apart at the seams as bands that don't have chemistry often do when things get really tough, the downward spiral in attitude amongst them was low, childish, and spiteful. So many lies were said, so many people misled. I was embarrassed by them to the point of puking. Then when they didn't have their airfare money for our second tour of Europe after supposedly saving up for a year, they quit the band one fucking month before we were to do it. Together, by email... Not even face to face with me. And the ultimate insult is they blamed not only my health but my mental health as well, while the actual fucking reason was because they fucked the tour by being selfish fatheads who couldn't save their pennies like the other two smart Pile-ants did in order to fly over to Europe and back so we could tear faces off in seven countries for rabid fans that deserved it. They obviously didn't want it for you the fans... They wanted it for free, the glory, the prestige, and when reality was presented, they bailed like chicken-shits instead of manning up and making things happen and not waiting for things to happen for them. The BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED FOR ME in the lineage of the band was their quitting and fucking me and my reputation. It only fuelled the fire I've had since the first RecordWeasel© burn. Hit me again... Watch me bounce back, harder, better, stronger, fucker! I met the band Spewgore when they opened for us a few times in Toronto. I thought they were wicked. I also had a weird moment while watching them that they were playing, but in my ears they were playing Piledriver songs, and they sounded EXACTLY like what I always wanted Piledriver to sound like... Tight but dangerously on the edge of loose, controlled but wildly capable of riding the edge of chaos, musical but thrashy-bashy... They had “that sound”. When the “Manifesto” line-up of the band was winding down, Gerry the drummer was unable to tour because he had begun raising a beautiful little family, and couldn't be away from those important first years, so we asked Spewgore's drummer Mark (soon to become Hank Momscraper) Macpherson to replace him, and he ably joined up... For... One… Show. Despite his excellent entrance to the band, that was the night that the other two decided on the final wording to the “quitters email” they were to send me the next morning putting a stop to the new drummer joining us on our biggest tour yet. All over Europe thousands of fans would be let down and promoters would be pissed off because two idiots were too stupid to save up less than a thousand bucks to make things happen. Sure, guitars get bought and gallons of booze were drunk, but no airline ticket money put aside. I needed professionals, not party idiots… Especially stupid party idiots.

So… I asked the rest of Spewgore if it were possible for them to realize the fever-dream I had while hearing them sound like the Piledriver band I had in my head for so many years, if they could become the band in my head for real, and despite their short notice invitation, come to Germany to Headbanger's Open Air to save at least ONE good show from the tour, for the fans. Luckily for me, and you, and future generations, the guys said yes, and ever since they've been the TRUE Piledriver line-up I should have had since day one. Seven years now we've been solid and kicking faces in on both sides of the Atlantic... Tighter friends today than every day before it. Steve “Rev”Tom Cheapness Macpherson, Mark “Hank Momscraper” Macpherson and Ken “Steele McFearsome” Gibson are three of the most solid musicians and finest humans I've ever met, and I'm very proud to be in a band with them.


Metalfan: In 2011 you have released the live album Night of the Unpolished Turd. How it was received by the media and by the fans? Do you have any live recordings from the '80s that you hope to release some day in a form of a second live album?

Gord Kirchin: The fans that know it exists love it. The media had pretty much ignored it. It was released on a so-called “label” SickFuckRecords, which is actually just my buddy Cris Smith and me.
We had brought out some recording gear to capture our show at a gig in far Northern Ontario Canada... Unfortunately, only two people showed up as paid attendees. So... Scrap the recording plans? NO! We would go ahead with it. Finally, a band is going to release a live album that truly reflects what a metal band faces in the hinterlands of touring Canada... Playing to the opening bands and their girlfriends in an empty cavernous hall… To fully reflect reality I made sure to leave in every mistake, every flat note, every flubbed lyric. Reality... I HATE live albums that are overdubbed and sanitized attempts at recreating the studio album, and the audience noise pumped up beyond reality. Yuck! I want a snapshot of what a band sounded like at that hour on that date on that stage to listen to. I already have the albums. No need to falsely recreate it and superimpose it onto a live performance. Give me reality. If my vocals suck, well, that's what happened. If a chord is flubbed or missed, so be it. That's what happened. Honesty... I've been VERY adamant about honesty in Piledriver since our beginning was basically a lie... Making it up to the fans in my mind. [Ed. Note: laughs]
 So, like the title implies, it's an all-warts, all wounds included document of what happened that night, the full stinking log for you to take in, not the shiny plastic fake one the others serve up to you. This is real.

 
Metalfan: How can a band like The Exalted Piledriver to be currently unsigned? Do you hope to release new music any time soon?
Gord Kirchin: We're unsigned because the industry has a perception there's no money to be made off me anymore, that we're somehow more comedy than metal in their perception and they say it's hard to place us on a roster or a show because they don't really do “comedy” acts. Like I'm the only artist that has a sense of humour that he doesn't hide away from. I definitely don't see what I do as “comedy”, I feel like I write and perform “metal”… But, that perception is of course in the eye/ear of the beholder. Also, my fan base isn't big enough to represent untold profits for them, so they're not interested in legacy or artistry. Since they don't actually care about you the fans because there's not enough of you to make a financial windfall, they don't see fit to serve you by signing me. It is what it is. ALL I can do is do what I do day after day and hope someone likes it. I am VERY SLOWLY working on “Humans Suck”. I feel no need to rush as there is no label holding up a deadline date to hit, and it's being assembled with an eye towards quality, not quantity, not speed, not profit. In fact, I seriously doubt I will even go to a label with it… I've NEVER made money from an album. Ever! Why the fuck am I going to try when there's not a single label interested in me anyways? AND... Being unemployed and a hair away from homelessness, I seriously doubt I will ever spend a penny in a commercial recording studio again. I seriously doubt I will even manufacture a physical copy again. Hell, I'm beginning to wonder if I will even take a song past the demo stage ever again. The world has decided that audio quality really doesn't matter at all any more, people are happy with shit quality now, so why would I spend thousands and thousands of dollars making sonically wonderful recordings when no one gives a shit anymore? Nope! Done that a dozen times over now... Never again! Waste of my time, money and energy. Nope! I think from now on I will release a song at a time (since no one understands the concept of listening to an “album” anymore), demo version only, free to YouTube, etc. Why bother worrying and planning, and contracts and plans and deals and arrangements and ALL that shit for nothing, because once you put it out, within hours it's available in twenty torrents, and you'll never make back even the cost of the text on the back cover because six people order it while 30,000 people download it, and the label will ALWAYS show how they never made their money (whether they did or didn't), thus you won't either. It's not my fault, it's collectively the fault of modern consumers who have it in their heads that music is “free”. As long as that mentality is in place, music will forever slide down the quality ramp into sludge because no one is around to fight for higher quality over availability for free. I will no longer produce at a loss. I'll produce more music before I'm six-feet-under, but, the production and distribution will reflect the lack of budget and lack of tangible support.
 
Metalfan: Here at Metalfan.ro we are big fans of mix-tapes. I personally consider them a good way to discover bands and songs and also to better understand the musical background and influences of a musician. In general I ask the artist that I interview to pick 12 songs from 12 different bands, but knowing that you are a big fan of Frank Zappa, I will ask you to choose besides the 12 songs from 12 different bands also 12 songs from Frank Zappa discography for two "virtual mix-tapes"! Which it would be the names of these mix-tapes?

01. Tom Dooley - Kingston Trio
There I was, three-four years old, instead of Old Macdonald and the Alphabet song, I was singing morbid lyrics from a song about a man about to be hanged for murder. It amused/horrified the elders to varying degrees, depending on which one you ask.

02. Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron - Royal Guardsmen
Music with lyrics again containing even more blood and death (80 men died! LOL), and all the sound effects to create theatre-of-the-mind... With friggin' SNOOPY for-fuck-sakes! What was not to like and be absorbed by? [Ed. Note: laughs] At the time, this song was alternated with a record of drag strip racing sounds or other sound effects records on most days... And lots of radio. I was a real knob-twister from a very young age and forever scoured the dial for new sounds to my ears.

03. Long Tall Sally - cover by The Beatles
RawkNRoooolllll! My little drumsticks and snare drum were well occupied at four years old... I was just wigging out like a madman, but, I was getting a solid musical timing/meter base and didn't even know it. Oh, and the intense vocals hooked me too. The stuff on Mr. Dressup and The Friendly Giant were pretty boring next to what I liked listening to. Other kids from school did NOT like my music when they came over to play. [Ed. Note: laughs]  I wanted to play air-band to my “scary” records or show off my way too loud snare-drumming, but they wanted to play truckies and sandbox and hide-and-seek. [Ed. Note: laughs]

04. Elvis - Biiiiiiiiiiig voice, biiiiiiiig character, biiiiig star
 
 
This is when I figured out what 'it' is when they say a star has 'it'. Elvis was known to have 'it', and for me he had the 'ittest' of the 'its'.

05. Alice Cooper - Lay Down And Die, Goodbye
Hard to pick a single song, their/his entire catalogue fascinated me. But this was a very influential song… Well... 20 seconds of it for sure.
Besides the big realization that it was humans that made music, not just beings in the grooves... I finally heard “the sound” I would be driven to pursue... Here, I've cued it to the exact spot that made me stand up and drop my jaw to the floor and electricity course through my veins that day in my 11-year old bedroom... 20 seconds of music that completely changed my life.

06. Gypsy - Uriah Heep
That. Was. Heavy. I liked it!!! It reminded me of my favourite little riff from Lay Down and Die...  and expanded it to the size of the universe for me!!!

07. Zappa now and forever, more on him later.

08. Deep Purple / The Who / [Jethro] Tull / Queen phase.

Can't pick a single song, entire catalogues...
After performing the requisite ritual of all starting-guitarists in the day, learning the intro riff to Smoke On The Water, the first song I actually learned all the way through because I “simply HAD to” was I'm Free by the Who. Then the other bands listed made their way into my brain.

09. BTO / Prog-rock
... Simultaneously... (No, can't pick one... They have to be together [Ed. Note: laughs])

Bachman Turner Overdrive - Four Wheel Drive

Beefy and loud! I LOVED IT!

Rund um Die Uhr - Kraan

Fretwork fireworks! I was captivated. Fuck... If only someone could put those things together in a convincing way... What's this? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... Perfect.
 

Rush - By-Tor And The Snow Dog

10. Thin Lizzy  / UFO / Scorpions / Saxon / Motorhead / [Iron] Maiden et al.
Again, can't pick just one, but, representative of what I was getting out of the “movement” are these:

Thin Lizzy - Live and Dangerous (1978)
UFO
- Mother Mary
Scorpions - The Sails of Charon
Saxon- Heavy Metal Thunder
Motörhead - No Class
Iron Maiden - Phantom of the Opera

11. Anthrax / Metallica / Megadeth / shredders
Again… Too many to nail to one song... But.. These three come instantly to mind:

Megadeth - Wake Up Dead
Metallica - Damage Inc.
Jason Becker - Dweller In The Cellar

12. The Tubes / GwarGreen Jello (Green Jellÿ)
 Showmanship AND musicianship? I was IN!
Again.., Can't pick just one...
This piece was crucial to my early development...

Alice Cooper - Ballad of D Fry

This one was VERY influential on me, as you'll see...

The Tubes - Mondo Bondage

Then some fun came into the picture…

Green Jello - Obey the Cowgod

And I simply couldn't get enough...

GWAR - Phallus In Wonderland (1992)
 
 

Unfortunately the 12-song tape runs out there and the play button kicks out and the unit powers down with a sizzling click and an impressive thud in the speakers. This mix tape could be called “Chronological Evidence of Gored's Warpage”.

Metalfan: When you have discovered Frank Zappa? Which is your favourite album of all time released by Zappa? Why?
Gord Kirchin: I was in grade 9, about 14 years old, at the local library. In those days most libraries had a vinyl section along with microfiches, which we'll get into another time… [Ed. Note: laughs] But yeah... at the library, flipping through the usual popular stuff and library-standard classical stuff... But… In between The Wombats and a misfiled Also Sprach Zarathustra I came across an album that looked like someone made it by hand in their garage... White cardboard with pencil writing only... No pictures! I was too intrigued... I wondered if it would even play on my turntable, seeing as it was obviously made by hand... I had to take it out and drop the needle to satisfy my curiosity. My pre-teen knowledge of sexuality, polyrhythm, harmony, composition, improvisation, politics, gossip, and a fair dose of intellectuality tempered by off-colour humour was brutally kicked ahead 10 years in that 40-minute first listen. Eye and ear-opening, and some laughs along the way, I LOVED it! Why? Because Frank loaded his bands with some of the finest musicians that ever graced this planet, and wrote them material that would challenge their abilities to the utmost. And, it's not just “shredding” ability… Taste, harmony, improvisation, in addition to the “shred” factor. When a new Frank Zappa record came out, you rode home breathlessly wondering what KIND of Zappa album it would be… Light and silly, or deep and dense. Airy and fluffy fun, or deep dark complicated commentary. Definitely not the AC/DC style of repeating, repeating, repeating just in case someone forgot what they sounded like since the last record... Frank's releases were always a surprise, because he rarely repeated himself stylistically, and even one song could come out eleventeen different ways depending on his mood and the musicians at hand. It was always a moment of “discovery” dropping the needle on a new Zappa record because it sure as hell wasn't going to sound like any previous Zappa record. I can't think of a single artist today who does that. Closest in my mind was David Bowie. Mr. Bungle? Definitely no one in metal... I loved that element of surprise every time... Even if I didn't care for the new album as much as others, I appreciated the difference, and knew the next release would be different again, and perhaps I would love more of it. I'm deeply saddened that he's gone, because no one does that vast range of expression any more.

At the present moment, because it changes often, my favourite Frank Zappa album is The Best Band You Never Saw or Heard In Your Life. The 1988 band (Frank's band line-up changed very often, even more than mine... [Ed. Note: laughs]) SUCH amazing musicians and vocalists! It's very inspiring. A regular favourite is Roxy & Elsewhere and the hilarious song recycling of Thing-Fish.

Metalfan: As we have talked about you releasing new music and also about Frank Zappa, have you ever had in mind to try to release something in the direction of Zappa works?
Gord Kirchin: I surely dream of doing that, but, I'm sooooooo much less of a musician than that requires. [Ed. Note: laughs] I could dream it, but I couldn't do it. [Ed. Note: laughs] I'm lucky to squeeze off anything even remotely close to the complexity and depth of even the simplest Frank Zappa piece! I'm not a “trained” musician, I learned all my instruments by ear, and thus I have no concept of the deeper maths of “music” beyond counting in 5, 7 or 9 or the more exotic scales and chords. I call myself “Pentatonic Pete” on guitar! [Ed. Note: laughs] Lucky enough to have found my own voice/style on guitar/bass/lyrically to make musical “entertainments”, but, yes, I always wished I would have had a proper musical education to fully explore deeper musical structures, but, I'm lucky to have found a level of ability that at least entertains me and my audience, even if it doesn't challenge a more seasoned musician or listener. I'm not exactly a great singer, but, at least I sound like myself, not a subconscious imitation of someone else... A “distinguished” voice that is recognizable. Thank Gawd! If I had to actually “sing”, I'd be fucked!!! [Ed. Note: laughs] So yeah, I dream of doing Zappa-like oeuvres of amazement, but, I'm not that good! [Ed. Note: laughs] So... 12 Zappa songs??? But there are HUNDREDS to choose from… [Ed. Note: laughs] Even then, which particular versions of those 12? [Ed. Note: laughs] Seriously, it's very, very hard to choose just 12… But... Here goes a valiant attempt:
01. Inca Roads
02. Watermelon In Easter Hay
03. The Torture Never Stops
04. My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama
05. Billy The Mountain
06. Greggarry Peccarrry
07. Jazz Discharge Party Hats
08. Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk
09. The Black Page
10. Bamboozled By Love
11. Brown Shoes Don't Make It
12. Tell Me You Love Me

Those are just 12 that came to mind at this particular time. Ask me tomorrow at 10am and the list might be very different. [Ed. Note: laughs]
 
Metalfan: Thank you for your time and for your answers! In the end would you like to add something or to send a few words to our readers? 
Gord Kirchin: All I can add is that the RecordWeasel© re-released Stay Ugly recently, and since I am once again left out of the earnings, I would ask that my fans boycott it, buy a bootleg instead. I don't make anything off either, but I would prefer that the RecordWeasel© not make more off my talents than what he's already burned me for over the last 30 years. If you guys could make that “political statement via non-selection” and let that fucker die on the shelves unsold, I'd appreciated it! [Ed. Note: laughs] Other than that, come see us when we come over to play, and we'll hang and have some laughs and some neck-snappin' METAL!!!!! And... IF you guys feel like entertaining yourselves, you could check out some Zappa. It's not METAL... But it's UNUSUAL MUSIC. Do it.
Autor: H.
   October 18, 2016  | 1 Comments  | 1470 Views « BACK

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