The Weakerthans’ Greg Smith Talks New Solo Album on Exclaim.ca
“While it’s strange to see a member of such a high-profile band as the Weakerthans doing something so low profile, the reality of the situation was just that Smith was too busy to promote it himself, as he didn’t have a label backing him up, despite the album being a charming mix of Canadiana rock and quirky indie fare.”
Read the full interview on Exclaim.ca
GREG SMITH SOUNDS
THE NORTHERN ELATION
by Bry Webb
Greg Smith is easily the most lovable and joyful punk I’ve ever met. I’ve seen him play a thousand times: First in Toronto’s dirge-y punk act The Co-Operators, next as bassist for future Canadian classic rockers The Weakerthans, and once behind an acoustic guitar in a small Winnipeg bar, as Greg Smith Sounds. But as many times as I’ve seen him on stage, the image that instantly comes to mind whenever his name is mentioned, is this wonderful laughing man sitting beside a campfire on Canada’s West Coast, with a beer in one hand, and a marshmallow wrapped in bacon in the other.
Greg grew up playing bass in South-Western Ontario, with such wildly creative acts as Oxford County Circus, Rhume, Martin Tielli, The Two-Minute Miracles, Ford Pier, Nathan Lawr, The Michael Parks, Christine Fellows, and FemBots. His own music, while reflecting this region and all of the eccentric creativity that he has been involved with over the years, still manages to be a wonderfully unique expression of his own brilliantly-coloured world-view.
Although The Northern Elation features some decidedly roots-y instrumentation along with synths and psyche-guitar effects, the album keeps taking me back to an awesomely strange era in punk rock history, namely, SST records in the mid-80’s. This was a period when all of the standardized sounds of punk were being set aside in favour of unlimited creative fun. Bands like The Meat Puppets, Bad Livers, The Minutemen and fIREHOSE must have played an important role in G. Smith’s formative years, as their influence is luminous in these songs. The Northern Elation, like the early cassette 4-track adventures of Ween and Half-Japanese, is an expression of how fun it can be to make music, when creative decisions are informed mainly by which instrument is closest at hand, or how many tracks are still available. Greg’s freewheeling guitar playing makes perfect sense when running alongside his stream-of-consciousness lyrics, as they reveal the sweet, funny, and sensitive dude behind it all. The album succeeds at that elusive goal: to create a distinctive personal expression that is a joy and a pleasure to listen to.
I will say, emphatically, that the world would be a better place if we all knew Greg Smith. Listening to Greg Smith Sounds is one good way to get there.