|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Positive puppety punk
By Sara Falconer
Within the conservative world view of London, it may come as a surprise that a band like Guy Smiley exists. Hardcore is often read as exclusively angry and negative, but lead singer and frontman Derek Kun says "positive punk" isn't an oxymoron.
"We tend not to stress a lot of politics because so many other bands are doing that so well," he says. "We just want to influence people to think more positively."
Guy Smiley, obviously named after the Muppet, is from Winnipeg. Of the founding members, only bassist Jamie Fyles and drummer Ryan Francis remain, along with Kun and guitarist Paul Stewart. Although all of the group members have a lot of respect for some of the bigger Canadian punk bands, like DOA, NoMeansNo, and SNFU, their major influences came from American skate rock, such as Dagnasty and the NY hardcore scene.
Kun, who must be one of the last straight-edge punks in the industry, says his lyrics encourage people to stay away from drugs and alcohol and to be more friendly to each other. The style of the music ranges from "straight-ahead hardcore" to "poppy punk" to "super intense." It's a strange but tremendously appealing combination of adrenaline and good vibes.
With the exception of his recent knee injury and surgery, which held up the tour for three months, Kun has been touring with Guy Smiley for more than three years. The band has a diverse fan base and is partial to shows for all-ages, large or small. Kun recalls playing to large crowds with NOFX, Ten Foot Pole and Guttermouth, but insists, "Playing to 10 people can be just as good if they're really into it."
Guy Smiley is in the midst of an extensive tour of Eastern Canada and the United States, which will last until around Christmas. After a short holiday break, the band will be heading down to California to work with its new label, Devil Doll Records.
Kun, however, is already eagerly looking forward to touring across Canada in March and around Europe next summer. Guy Smiley primarily has a reputation as a live band and prefers the intensity of live performances to draining studio work. Kun admits "If I wasn't playing in front of people I couldn't do it."