The Julie Ruin – Tickets – Lee’s Palace – Toronto, ON – July 18th, 2016

The Julie Ruin

Lee's Palace Presents

The Julie Ruin

Casper Skulls

Mon 07/18

Doors: 8:00 pm

Toronto, ON

$30

Tickets at the Door

This event is 19 and over

The Julie Ruin
The Julie Ruin
Kathleen Hanna stealthily assembled the members of The Julie Ruin without any of them realizing exactly what was happening. It all began in late 2009. Kathleen had not released an album since Le Tigre's This Island (2004), and she was ready to jump back into music again. She knew her onetime Bikini Kill bandmate Kathi Wilcox was going to be moving to New York in the near future, so she didn't even bother with finding a bass player at first. Carmine Covelli, who had toured with Le Tigre as their video guru, was having a blast at Kathleen's birthday party when she abruptly asked him to be the drummer. A longtime admirer of Kathleen's work, Carmine couldn't say no to her at her own party, so of course he joined the band. Sara Landeau and Kathleen both taught at Girls Rock Camp and Kathleen lured her into the band by trading Pro Tools lessons for guitar lessons. Sara's surf-informed style gelled perfectly with Kathleen's sonic vision for her new band. Kathleen approached Kenny Mellman last with the idea that they should write country songs together to sell to other artists. Within a week of their first meeting, Kathleen's mysterious "manager" (whom Kenny maintains does not exist) told her that they would never break into the Nashville songwriting scene, so Kenny might as well join her new band on keyboards. Done.
The four of them first got together on January 13th, 2010, in a practice room in Manhattan and learned to play songs from Kathleen's other projects: Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and the first solo Julie Ruin record from 1997. This new iteration of The Julie Ruin practiced when they could until Kathi finally moved to New York, at which point they began to write the songs that eventually became their first album, 2013's self-released Run Fast. Some songs would germinate from loops band members had made at home, which the group would then expand into fleshed-out compositions. Other songs were born from just playing around in the studio. Before long, they were using words like "pre-chorus" and "outro." Since Kathleen mostly sang nonsense words at practice–and it was hard to hear over the loud instruments in the space anyway–it was always exciting, if not scary, for the band to finally get the lyric sheet. Who knew that peppy song was about euthanasia? "Wait, this one is also about euthanasia?"
Over the next couple of years they toured the world, accompanied at times by a couple of creepy puppets found in a Mormon thrift-store in Portland, Oregon. Though they hadn't played a live show together before the release of Run Fast, the band came out swinging and thrived on stage, as evidenced by the rapturous reviews of their performances.
In late 2014 they began work on their second album, Hit Reset, due out July 8th on Hardly Art Records. Mixed by Eli Crews (with whom the band worked on Run Fast), Hit Reset expands on the band's established sound: dancier in spots and moodier in others, with girl group backing vocals and even a touching ballad closer. Hit Reset is the sound of a band who have found their sweet spot. Hanna's vocals are empowered and her lyrics are as pointed and poignant as ever. From the chilling first lines of "Hit Reset" ("Deer hooves hanging on the wall, shell casings in the closet hall") to the touching lines of "Calverton" ("Without you I might be numb, hiding in my apartment from everyone / Without you I'd take the fifth, or be on my death bed still full of wishes"), Hanna takes a leap into the personal not seen completely on the first album or possibly even in the rest of her work.
"I was way more honest lyrically on this record because we'd been on the road together and I felt more confident taking risks in front of my bandmates," she says. "I've written about my personal bouts with illness, abuse, sexism and how hard it is for me to walk away from people even when they are toxic Tasmanian Devils before, but not in this way. Some songs were so close to me I had to stop singing in practice and while recording because I was crying. It's rare to work with a group of people you feel okay doing that with."
"But there was laughter too," Hanna adds. "We wrote this song called 'Mr So and So' where I sing from the perspective of a dude who 'loves girl bands' but is actually kind of a jerk. I've come in contact with this special 'doing feminism in a really un-feminist way' person a ton over my career and it felt good to crack jokes about it. I think my favorite moment of recording was the day I walked into Figure 8 Studio and found a woman who was working on the record laughing her ass off on the couch while Eli was playing her the track for the first time. It made me so happy to hear her laughing about something that can be so painful."
Casper Skulls
Casper Skulls
Casper Skulls emerged from the Toronto exurbs in 2015, bursting onto the local scene with a studied sound and supercharged live performances. Following an early 7” on the band’s own label, Hip Priest, the quartet released the Lips & Skull EP on Buzz Records in late 2016. Described by MTV as a collection of “confrontational art rock that bleeds with sincerity,” and drawing comparisons to luminaries like Television, The Fall (The Toronto Star), Pavement, and Sonic Youth (Noisey), the EP attracted immediate attention from audiences first in Toronto and increasingly up and down the
Eastern seaboard as the band toured outside of Canada for the first time and began sharing stages with acts like Cloud Nothings, Thurston Moore, Suuns, Weaves, The Julie Ruin, Speedy Ortiz, Greys, and Hop Along.

Over the course of their young career the band’s sound has remained difficult to pin down, shifting through a broad collection of influences and jamming a raft of new ideas into each song, giving the impression that the 7” and the EP were “just the tip of the iceberg” (Noisey). The band’s forthcoming debut full length, Mercy Works, which will be released on November 3rd via Buzz, only serves to deepen that impression, making good on their early promise with a release that constitutes a startlingly ambitious statement of intent.

The album, which was recorded in early 2017 with co-producer/engineer Josh Korody (Fucked Up, Dilly Dally), and mixed by Alex Newport (At The Drive-In, Death Cab For Cutie), is densely arranged, intricately written and performed with an uncommon earnestness. While the rough and ready postpunk and lo-fi early '90s indie influences present on the band’s first recordings still provide the foundation, there is a sense of scale on display in their swelling guitar figures and sweeping string arrangements (provided by Toronto musician Paul Erlichman) that is mirrored by the songwriting of
dual lead vocalists Melanie St. Pierre and Neil Bednis. The real-life couple seek to represent lived experience in immense detail - engaging with a diverse palette of references, both musical and lyrical, to explore two intensely personal perspectives of emotional growth.

Thematically, the album traverses various paths of self-exploration, from relationships to politics to death and grief, in a language inflected by an immersion in several generations of experimental guitar music, and an ambivalent grappling with the reverberations of a Catholic upbringing. Whether drawing on the poetry of William Blake (“What’s That Good For”), the dystopian sci-fi of Philip K. Dick (“Colour of the Outside”), or ruminating on mortality and evolving personal/cultural legacies
through Elvis Presley and Paul Simon's trips to Graceland (“You Can Call Me Allocator”), St. Pierre and Bednis collect pieces of the world around them and imbue them with new meaning as they attempt to understand their place in it.

Bednis explains his inspiration behind the swirling standout “I Stared at ‘Moses and the Burning Bush’”, a song about the role of religion in his own experience of grief constructed around a reference to a painting by the '80s pop artist Keith Haring:
“I like the idea of exploring biblical imagery without necessarily picking sides,” says Bednis. “It’s rationed throughout the songs what my stance is, if I even have a stance. I find that religion can be therapeutic when people in your life die. When my uncle passed away, I remember sitting in the pew having the idea for the song. That day I was really contemplating the role religion plays in grief and death. Keith Haring’s weird take on a biblical story also made me feel OK about diving into that realm. Religion doesn’t necessarily need to be a sacred thing.”

The driving force behind Mercy Works is the band’s irrepressible desire to pursue new ideas and explore the expressive possibilities of the music they make. Reflexively humble, and infectiously enthusiastic, Casper Skulls are a group that see themselves as being at the beginning of their journey, an enticing prospect given the self-assuredness that underpins their debut.

“It’s so exciting to make music when you can explore what you want to explore," says Bednis. "Where we can go in terms of sound is endless. We’re big ambient music nuts so it’d be great to make an ambient record after this one, or an acoustic album. The goal is to be as freely creative as we can be as four people.”

“We’re really only at the start of being a band,” St-Pierre agrees. “Our records don’t have to move mountains as long as we’re being true to our own ideas. We want to be a slow burning candle.”
Venue Information:
Lee's Palace
529 Bloor St. West
Toronto, ON, M5S 1Y5
http://www.leespalace.com/