Uptown August 30, 2012

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www.uptownmag.com The weight of the state of the world Propagandhi comes out swinging on its sixth studio album, Failed States cover story albumpreview PROPAGANDHI: FAILED STATES Jen Zoratti On Sept. 4, Winnipeg's foremost pissed-off political punk band will release its sixth studio album, Failed States, via Epitaph—and it's a behe- moth. Skillfully blending heavier- than-heavy metallic riffs with rag- ged-'round-the-edges punk, it comes closest to achieving the band's goal of creating "a no-holds-barred, for- ward-thinking, tip-of-the-hat to the giants—Voivod, Rush, NoMeansNo, SNFU, Sacrifice, Razor, Guilt Parade — that have gone before us."That said, Failed States isn't simply a hom- age; it's worthy of a place of its own rightalongside the classics from those loud luminaries. "I think it's one of the most inter- T hree decades in, and Propa- gandhi is still charting new territory. esting albums we've done," says vocalist/guitarist Chris Hannah (aka Jesus H. Chris), 42, over coffee. I offer the word'dynamic.'He nods."I think dynamic and compelling are flatter- ing words for records released in the genre of loud, fast and heavy. Not to toot our own horn, but I was border- line fascinated listening back to it." Failed States is a dense album, lyrically and musically. The arrange- ments are more complex — mostly because, according to Hannah, they could be."Our first record had metal- lic influences, butwedidn't have the skill to pull off what we wanted to sound like,"he says."Now,we're get- ting close to being able to do it.This is actually the first recording process since 1996 that the guitar tones have reflected what we sound like in the performance space." While the music certainly con- UPTOWN August 30, 2012 3 Propagandhi's music is hard, heavy and angry as hell; its photo shoots, slightly less so. tinues to evolve, the writing process is pretty much the same as it was back when Hannah and drummer Jord (Jordy Boy) Samolesky formed the band in Portage la Prairie in 1986. "We don't usually have a specif- Todd (The Rod) Kowalski and guitar- ist David (The Beave) Guillas—was invigorated and inspired coming off the tours in support of 2009's acclaimed Supporting Caste, which kept Propagandhi on the road longer than any other record."Whenwegot back, there was a conscious effort to write more songs. We had no label, we had no plan," he says. "We fig- ured that stuff out later." (After much soul-searching and consulting with both John K. Samson and Kurt Ballou of Converge, Propagandhi ended up inking a deal with Epitaph. And so far, so good.) While the band may be on a big about money, we did 10-hour days and then would fuck off and go to our houses. That disconnect gave us more space to try out ideas people had." Lyrically, the albumdeals more in ic concept; we just head out to the jam space and we try to impress each other with riffs," Hannah says with a laugh."Eventually, we have a few songs and,when we hit a point where we have 30 minutes of songs, we book studio time." Still, Hannah says the band — which is rounded out by bassist U.S. indie, Propagandhi decided to keep things within the Perimeter when it came to recording Failed States, enlisting local producer/ engineer John Paul Peters to helm the album. "Every record we made before, we'd go to a studio in the States and spend three or four weeks sleeping on the studio floor," he says. "This one we did here in Winnipeg with John Paul Peters and, rather than watching the clock and worrying one of those double or triple mean- ings,"he says."Failed states can refer to those states that are 'undevel- oped' in terms of the free market, or opposed to the free market or not developed to the point where the free market can make a buck off it. It's important to turn that around and look at Canada and the United States as failed states in many ways. Our states of consciousness should be seen as failed,too.We're born into these economic frameworks,we live to consume, and then we die. That's a failing as a citizen, in my person- al opinion. I embrace, to a certain degree, addressing how fallible we are as people. This idea that we can perfect society is absurd,and always leads us downa path of insanity." Of course, Failed States is, as abstraction. Take its title — and its namesake track— for example. "Even the song Failed States has Propagandhi's albums so depend- ably are, angry as fuck. The weight of the issues Hannah's been bluntly tackling in song for years are carry- ing even more weight for him these days — the by-product of being a dad to a three-year-old son. "(Fatherhood) certainly gives you fodder from a new perspec- tive," he says. "I've heard people say that having a child will soften your views of the world, but I've found I've become more entrenched. The stakes are higher.Global destruction, democracy being eroded behind the scenes—and, in some cases, before our eyes — I have to leave that to this kid. One day, his question for me will be, 'What have you done?' And I'll say,'Iwas in a band'and he'll reasonably be like, 'That's what you did?' I hope to one day inject myself into the ranks of people doingamaz- ing organizing." But, I protest, what about convin- cingapathetic kids in themoshpit to give a shit—isn't that worthwhile? "I don't see it as invaluable," he says, quietly."But if I reallywas to do what I really think should be done, duit between the people who lis- ten to our band and the activists, to sow some seeds of doubt," he adds. "Because that's when peoplestart asking questions." I think that's your answer, Chris. Propagandhi's Failed States is out the best use of our time as people who care about these things?" he asks. "We've always tried to be a con- Sept. 4 via Epitaph. Head over to Uptownmag.com to hear it now. he had with a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society — arguably Canada's most controver- sial marine activist network—who suggested that, in order to really get things done andmake change,weas a society need to be more hardcore, which, Hannah stresses, is not to be confused with "more violent."The Sea Shepherd member suggested that if people had been more hard- core 20 years ago, we might not be in the position we are now. That got Hannah thinking. "I wonder — is being in a band I'd spend my life in jail." Hannah relays a conversation Courtesy of Epitaph

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