Window display at Sonic Boom in Toronto: trying to pelt the glare into submission with invisible oranges.
***As chronicled by Alia O’Brien, singer/flutist/organist for Canada’s finest occult rockers, from their recently completed tour with Kylesa, White Hills, and Lazer/Wulf. Order their phenomenal new LP, The Eldritch Dark, here
As we drove away from Calgary, missing the devastating floods by a matter of days, we said our goodbyes to the formidable Canadian Rockies. Winding mountain roads gave way to one long two-lane strip that led us toward Regina, SK. Here, our drugs of choice were take-out Thai curry and the club’s Galaga machine, which provided the fuel necessary for us to churn out a solid set to the enthusiastic gathering of prairie ‘bangers. Limited lodging options demanded we throw caution to the wind, and so we took our chances on a down-and-out motel that had multiple entries in the bedbug registry. We emerged bite-free and victorious! Relieved, we grabbed some celebratory breakfast smoothies, and hit the road once more, this time headed toward Winnipeg, MB. Here, some family friends of Sean’s kindly treated us to a much-needed dose of home-cookery. And so our first string of Canadian dates drew to a close. We stocked up on Tim Horton’s one last time (farewell maple dip donuts!) before crossing the border on our way to Minneapolis, MN.
We played St. Paul’s last year while on tour with Ghost, and were happy to see some fans return for the gig with Kylesa, including a few of our buddies from DISCLAND, a record shop that has given us a lot of love over the years. Sadly, we didn’t have time to hit up Mickey’s Diner, an American fast food institution that we stumbled upon last time around. Having made it past the halfway point of the tour, all of the bands were decimating their sets, with Lazer/Wulf getting things going every night with half an hour of unhinged thrash madness. In the words of one of our Vancouver buddies, “they sound like Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band playing thrash metal!” We capped off the night at a karaoke bar where Lucas put his own tour-specific spin on ‘No Sleep ‘til Brooklyn’ (no sleep ‘til Savannah!), followed by a late-late-night visit to a vegan burrito joint, where the moribund staff barely concealed their bitter hippie-hostility towards anyone who dared to sample their food. Hung over and zombified, we hit up the same restaurant the next morning in the company of our gracious host, Lucas, and were thankfully met with a much less bleak scenario. The staff was even blasting Motörhead and Ghost on the stereo!
Playing Chicago is always a treat for us, not only due to our supportive fans, but also because we spent two weeks there recording our second album. Although we didn’t get to cram our gullets full of Kuma’s burgers and Hot Doug’s dogs this time around, we were grateful for the hospitality shown to us by the folks at Bottom Lounge. Next up was the Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, a club filled to the brim with pinball machines, including the much-coveted Addams Family game. Special thanks to the local fellow who bought me a round! As we discovered last time we were in town, the club is located around the corner from a beer guzzler’s paradise: Founders Brewing Co. We engaged in a stately pre-show drink & nosh session at Founder’s with Lazer/Wulf and White Hills, and each ended up taking home some of their Doom Imperial IPA. To pass up a bottle of DOOM would have been a crime!
This tour brought us to St. Louis for the first time, and our stay was made memorable by a fan that brought Sean the ultimate gift: a film strip from Jean Rollin’s “Raisins of Death” signed by Jean Rollin’s son! Next up was Columbus, where we reunited with one of our partners in Noctis debauchery, Zack of Nunslaughter and—more recently—THE WINGTONES! The Columbus crowd was notably maniacal, which made for one of our best sets of the tour. After playing to some die-hard fans in Lexington, we hightailed it home to Toronto, where we were finally able to behold the massive window display that the folks at Sonic Boom (Toronto’s biggest indie record store) put up to promote The Eldritch Dark. Before the show, Lucas and I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Laina Dawes, author of ‘What Are You Doing Here?’ We were grateful for the enthusiasm that our hometown crowd showed us, and had a blast hanging out with all of our friends, even if it was just for one night!
Onward to Ottawa, where we met up with our old friend Razvan (evil overlord of the monastery!) and his girlfriend Sheilagh, who greeted us with a massive homemade spinach and goat cheese lasagna for the road. We spent the night at the majestic home of Derek and Jenn Bradshaw of the Crossing Boredom radio show, and their banana-obsessed pug. Our final Canadian gig took place in beautiful Montreal. Prior to loading into the venue, we made a quick but crucial detour so that Mike could get his smoked meat fix at Schwartz’s Deli. On our way back to the van, we coincidentally ran into our friend Annick “Morbid Chef” Giroux, who was in the midst of sampling some squid ink paella that she kindly shared with the omnivorous members of Blood Ceremony. (On a side note, we’ll be playing at Annick’s Wings of Metal festival alongside Manilla Road, Midnight and SATAN among others on August 30th/31st, and all Deciblog readers who can attend should attend!) One more pit stop at the Dieu du Ciel brew pub with Sean’s brother James left us suitably lubricated, and so–filled with delicious food and strange brews—we bode farewell to our country in the best way possible: with plodding riffs and frenzied trills!