Volume 96, Issue 98
Thursday, April 3,2003

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Monster speaks out against the bombs

By Christopher Hodge
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo
DID CLOSET MONSTER KILL THE RADIO STAR? No, but London (far left) recently said "bye-bye" to a career in Avril Lavigne's backing band.

While the war in Iraq continues to wage on in a desert far, far away, here – on the slowly thawing shores of North America – London, (think Cher, Madonna, Prince ect...) the bass player for the Canadian punk outfit Closet Monster, is preparing for a European tour. His motto on the road is simple: everything in moderation.

"We try not to smoke too much weed during tour-time," London says. "Personally, I find it easier to kill time by driving. You're forced to keep your eyes on the road; otherwise, I read books, listen to albums or culture-jam to pass the time."

A seasoned backpacker, London packs from experience, bringing only the basic necessities during the band's many travels.

"I always bring a blanket, a notebook, a pen to write song ideas down, a disposable camera, a toothbrush with lots of toothpaste and my boys!" London enthuses.

London seems undaunted by many of the less glamorous sacrifices he and his bandmates often have to make during a long, often poorly-paid tour. Nonetheless, London admits that touring conditions are improving.

"With each tour, eating gets better," London says. "After gas money, we may end up with like 20 bucks to spend. So, we'll go to a grocery store, pool the money and put together a good vegan meal. Sometimes a promoter will cook us a meal. We'll ask them, 'Can we have gas?' or [we ask them] if they can cook us a meal – sometimes you can get some of the best home-cooked meals that way."

When discussing their brand-new album Killed the Radio Star, London – who was the former bassist for Avril Lavigne – says the aforementioned radio star is not someone specific.

"People can draw their own conclusions," London says. "The radio star, to us, is the transformation of artists into products. Music is such a valuable thing. Instead of art, a lot of these big companies are just putting slick products on the shelves to be bought."

In our current media environment, where bands like The Dixie Chicks are spouting antiwar sentiments and paying dearly for it, London says that now is the moment for punk rock to shine. The punk genre – traditionally very anti-establishment and pro-diversity – will once again be the voice of political reason during these troubled times, he adds.

"We all have a right to speak," London says. "A lot of bands are creating awareness and starting to pick up some positive feedback. Since the appearance of bands like Sum 41, a lot of young kids are starting to replace Britney Spears with this new punk rock thing. I'd say that happens about every five years – there's a turn-around where what is sold changes 'cause the kids change.

"In the end, I hope punk will go back underground: to its roots and the rebel cause."

Whatever the outcome of the war in Iraq, London fiercely waves the flag of peace in the face of opposition, and intends to be on the frontlines of the public debate.

"It's great seeing artists becoming more vocal," London says. "What are we, in 1984? I heard they changed the name of French fries to freedom fries, what the fuck is that all about? If there are going to be any peace rallies in downtown Toronto, we're going to join in. As Canadians, we're going to do what we can do to express our feelings about war. We're going to keep talking to kids and people we meet. In the end, it will only make us more passionate."

Closet Monster play Call The Office tonight. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.


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