Ignored 215: Big Bands, Small Rooms Canada



Ignored 29: An education


As a lifelong music fan, there will be times when you remember things wrong, assume an artist is something they’re not and have various WTF memories and misappropriations seep into your consciousness. The Internet and various reference manuals can help clear up these mistakes while others will follow you to the grave. It’s fun!

Here is a small sampling of musical misunderstandings I’ve had over the years. Obviously since I’m now writing about them on a WordPress blog, I’ve cleared up the details.

The video was Men without Hats “The Safety Dance” wasn’t an actual song but rather, a TV show for kids or maybe a TV commercial. This was 1984.

The video for M+M’s “Black Stations White Stations” wasn’t an actual song. Rather, it was a bumper for Citytv. In the spirit of Mark Daily’s “Citytv: Everywhere” contributions. Again, this was 1984.

The Fat Boys was a TV show and not a band.

Lou Gramm and Lou Reed were the same guy.

Strange Advance and the Escape Club were the same band. Confusion rooted in the former’s “Love Becomes Electric” and the latter’s “Wild Wild West”. Note: these songs sound nothing alike.

The Who and the Guess Who were the same band.

The Band were fictitious. No one where this came from. I think maybe I was vaguely aware of The Last Waltz and thought these were actors playing a band. Potential crossed wires when I became aware of other real fake bands like Spinal Tap and The Commitments.

Jeff Lynne from the Traveling Wilburys was not a real musician but actually somebody famous (not sure who… maybe an actor?) wearing a disguise.

Jane’s Addiction were Canadian and later, I’d confuse them with the Leslie Spit Treeo. The former’s “Been Caught Stealing” and the latter’s cover of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” were both in rotation on 680 CFTR at the time. I think the opening of “Been…” with the dogs barking threw me somehow.

Spandau Ballet and Roxy Music were the same band.

Ice-T changed his name slightly and became Ice Cube.

Rumble was British. Aside: was there a more random one-hit wonder from this era? Some Jamaican guy from Toronto rapping over a Massive Attack song and hitting the Top 40.

James was a guy and then upon learning James was a band, assuming they were a heavy metal band. Later, I thought the song “Laid” was a Spirit of the West song. I was so confused.

Primus was a heavy metal band. Fair assumption since most people who liked Primus in 1993 were also into Metallica et all.

Pavement were a heavy metal band. The name just sounds heavy. There’s a scene in Pavement’s Slow Century DVD where Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore cops to making the same assumption. Also, I thought their drummer Steve West was the singer for the longest time.

Dinosaur Jr were from the UK. Reason: their 1994 release Without a Sound came out on the UK-based imprint Blanco y Negro which I naively assumed meant they must be British too.

Sloan were from Boston.

The Cranberries were from Canada.

Catherine Wheel was a lady. I’m assuming more than half of 102.1 listeners of the 1990s also made this assumption?

Molly Hatchet was a lady.

Bettie Serveert was a lady.

PJ Harvey was a dude.

Pop Will Eat Itself were German. This was based purely on their 1994 single “Ich Bin Ein Auslander”. Once I learned they were British, I tried to share this knowledge with anyone who cared (estimate: 3-4 people, tops) and always got massive push back from people who insisted they were German, namely because of this song and also, their hair. Pre-Internet, these debates raged for months.

Tha Dogg Pound were a band that contained Snoop Dogg Dogg, Nate Dogg and friends. 95 per cent certain that Suge Knight hoped that the record buying public would make the same assumption. They did briefly.


Sugar’s Beaster EP was actually an EP by the Beastie Boys. Beaster was one of those CDs you’d always see in vast quantities at used CD shops and whenever I’d catch a glance at this disc, I kinda just assumed it was a Beastie Boys’ release with some alternate spelling. In part, I think there was some confusion with the Beasties’ Some Old Bullshit EP that came out around the same time. Aside: has their even been a band with worse cover art than Sugar?

Buffalo Tom and Grant Lee Buffalo were the same band.

Tristan Psionic and SIANspheric were the same band.

Paul Weller and Paul Westerberg was the same dude.


The dude L.V. who sang the chorus of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” was Luther Vandross. Not sure if I really believed this or just WANTED to believe it. It would’ve been a really unlikely transformation and pretty funny that Vandross could up his cred by reducing his stage to sinister…. initials!!! Also kinda funny: the real L.V. stood for “large variety”.

Big Star influenced the Beatles. My roommate in first-year university told me this and I just went with this. Obviously, this timing makes no sense since the Beatles were toast by the time Big Star even formed.

Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom” was actually sung by David Bowie. Obviously some confusion RE: Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and no doubt, Schilling was hoping to profit from the confusion. Note: the voice on “Major Tom” sounded nothing like David Bowie.

Yo La Tengo and Pizzicato Five were the same band.

The Birthday Party and the Wedding Present were the same band. This was fueled by the same gaff made in Alan Cross’ first book The Alternative Music Almanac where they mislabeled a shot of the Wedding Present playing at Lee’s Palace as the Birthday. The horror!

Death Cab for Cutie were heavy.

Crystal Castles were from either Europe or Chicago.

Wolf Eyes and Japanther were the same band and both from Toronto. Neither/nor.

Deerhunter and Deerhoof were the same band. Also, Deerhunter were heavy.

Big K.R.I.T. was British. He laid down some rhymes over an Adele track, after-all.

Mac Miller and Mac DeMarco were the same dude.

Ignored 16: Gimme contrast


After witnessing recent live sets by Deerhunter and Fucked Up in quick succession, I had a total light bulb moment, man. It concerned music, music bands (!!!) and the ways in which music bands can differentiate themselves from the competition.

Three words: contrast, jerk face!!!

Part of the reason that Deerhunter and (Messed) Up are so striking on-stage is the visual contrast between their respective lead singers and their backers. Whether it’s the sinewy weirdness of Bradford Cox or the David Yow-meets-Ox Baker angle of Damian Abraham, one has to concede that these bands are significant aesthetically (and sonically, from what I can tell).

Contrast in art is nothing new. I mean, check out this random website I found about the subject. #validated

What IS new (or not new) is the acknowledgement that contrast is a fairly easy way to make your band “interesting” even if you are unable to make your band “good”.

Deerhunter and (Screwed) Up are certainly not the first outfits to explore the wonderful world of contrast. Here are 10 bands (all a varying degree of “good” IMHO) who have historically used the contrast model to set themselves apart (in a good way IHOP).

1. The Damned

A fairly standard looking O.G. punk outfit if you remove the fact that Dave Vanier insisted on dressing like a vampire. Never made any real sense with their sound and looked quite stupid at times.

2. The Boredoms

Founder and frontman Eye is the only constant in a quarter century of the Boredoms as his hair alone gives the band an image, which helps when the rest of the outfit typically looks like well-mannered exchange students.

3. Caninus

OMG!!! Easily the most gimmicky band on this list: a speed metal outfit “fronted” by a pair of pitbull. Listen to one of their full-lengths here. Notable because one of the band members wore an alien mask for this press shot and he was STILL overshadowed by the fact that his band was 40 per cent canine.

4. Blondie

Similar to Caninus except this band was fronted by a FOX!!! I kid, I kid but this doesn’t change the fact that without Deborah Harry leading the way, Blondie would aesthetically look like a more low-rent version of the Knack.

5. Guns N’ Roses (circa 2000-2004)

This was the Buckethead era of “the Gunners”. No idea why Axl would sign-off on this goofball playing with them, considering it’d obviously deflect attention from his cool dreadlocks and whatnot. And yeah, I get it: Buckethead is avant-garde or whatever but at the end of the day, he wears a KFC bucket as a hat. I mean… c’mon!

6. Roxy Music (circa 1971-1973)

Early, early Roxy Music were collectively known for being “fashion forward” but Brian Eno took things to the next level. Maybe to compensate for his hairline or maybe because of drugs. Or both!!! Anyway, he left, ultimately torched all his feathers and started to dress more like this guy.

7. Sparks

Ugh. We’re now four decades into Ron Mael’s creepy uncle look. #gross

8. Cheap Trick

An interesting double shot with unique images cultivated by their guitarist (a far, far dorkier version of Angus Young) and a drummer (I dunno… taxi dispatcher?) detracting and contrasting with their hunky frontmen. Maybe the most obvious band on this list. Also, Cheap Trick are terminally underrated.

9. Jamiroquai

A gimme when their bratty frontman is wearing one of his considerable hats.

10. The Cure

A gimme when their **** frontman is wearing one of his considerable hairstyles. Must disqualify that stretch in the 1980s where Robert Smith banished his hair for several months.