Your mom's favourite hardcore band

I had seen Smuther a handful of months back, at a show at Red Gate. It had been ages since I’d seen so much energy in a crowd, or seen a mosh pit with such enthusiasm, not since long before I moved to Vancouver. When I saw their name come across the pitch list, I just knew I had to interview them, get a glimpse behind the power and energy of this band that caught my eye and stayed in my mind. 


Cora How did you all meet to start Smuther?

Gloris: Who wants to give the origin story?

Joey: We all kind of knew each other from the scene in Chilliwack, going to shows over the years. But Smuther in particular started out of the ruins of Me, Noah and Taylor’s previous band Cheat, we broke up, and we wanted to make a new band with new guitarists. Then we recruited Gloris, and Jordan quickly after ‘cause we realised we wanted to have a second guitarist. That’s pretty much it. We played our first show in September of 2021.

Gloris: Our first show was at an old punk house, now defunct. A place called Perro’s Palace  in chilliwack. That was our first actual legit show on the books.


Cora: So you got started in the Chilliwack scene because of a band explosion, which definitely happens, and you had your first show right as COVID was kicking off.

Joey: Well, just as restrictions were lifting.


Cora: OH! I forgot just how many years it’s been. (Laughter)

Gloris: It still doesn’t feel that long.

Cora: Right, so as restrictions were lifted. Oof, time just hit like a brick.


Cora: So from there you, when did you start playing outside of Chilliwack?

Noah: What happened is we had our first show booked, and Blue Anxiety was supposed to play in Vancouver, but they had issues at the border and had to cancel. So we got called to play our first show in Vancouver the next day after we played chilliwack. Since then its just been back and forth.


Cora: That must have been one heck of a first weekend as a band.

Noah: Yeah, it was super sick, we got to play with Your Problem in Chilliwack, and then we got to play with Blood Ties and Bootlicker in Vancouver.

Cora: That’s a pretty significant lineup there.

Cora: So your music, where does it come from? Inspirations, bands you pull from, origin stories, that sorta stuff.

Gloris: I think Joey can speak best to that.

Joey: Most of the writing in the band, a lot of it just comes from trying to draw from the whole spectrum — punk, metal, hardcore. It’s hard to pin down a ton of really specific influences or anything like that, but honestly my main driving force behind writing and playing [is that] I just want to make music that people are going to move to.

Gloris: I feel like that’s a hard question to answer, we have a lot of different inclinations, but definitely the line we try to toe is “Hardcore for punk, and punk for hardcore.” That’s kind of our thing.


Cora: Can you tell me a little bit about the process of making the album?

Joey: It’s pretty straightforward. We had been writing a bunch of songs since our demo. Pretty quickly after we recorded and released the demo our sound kind of shifted. A little bit more of a hardcore direction than a punk kind of thing — which is where we started. For a long time our recorded work didn’t really reflect our live sets, or energy, so we were really excited to get that recorded at least. We had been writing and practicing a bunch of new songs. We picked our favourites and recorded at Lindsay Studios in Port Coquitlam. Recorded and engineered by Jack Thomas, now of Canada’s Got Talent fame. (Laughter)

Joey: Jack, real pro, super easy process. We recorded all the instruments in one evening and then went back a week later to do vocals. Mixed it and that was it. But the cycle of getting things released is always longer than you think.

Cora: It sounds like you as a band move with a lot of momentum in pretty much everything.

Noah: Pretty much yeah, that’s the goal. Go fast, get it done.

Joey: I’ve been in bands where the momentum has just been nonexistent. So I guess, for me at least, it’s been important to keep the momentum going — not let off the gas.

Gloris: Yeah that’s very much been our MO. Catching what we can when we get it, making the most of our opportunities, trying to be as quick with it as we can. Sometimes we don’t feel like we get a lot done, but when we talk to other people it turns out we actually do quite a bit. So we’re glad that we’re able to achieve that. It’s one of our main goals to get things out there before we get sick of them.


Cora: Yeah, I know from my experience if I spend too long looking at something, it’s just going to go in the bin. 

Joey: Yeah, exactly.


Cora: So is there a direction for all of this momentum? Some sort of dream gig or ultimate goal for the band?

Gloris: I think it’s just to take this as far as we can. Obviously playing internationally is a big thing. But as far as dream gigs I think we’ve already played with a lot of the bands we could have hoped to play with. Getting to play with international bands has been really sweet. 

Noah: And we’re currently booking a tour for August.

Gloris: Yeah, we’re doing a two-week tour in the second half of August with Ghaul, our sister band. Jordy plays bass in that band. Ghaul existed before Smuther, so he does time between them and us. We’re going along with them, and playing a couple of fests along the way […] such as Don’t Want To Hear It, which is still brand new. That’ll be out of Edmonton. There’s another date that’s not confirmed yet so I won’t mention that one, but something is in the works.


Cora: I’ll tell the readers to keep their eyes peeled.

Gloris: Yeah! No we gotta be careful, you don’t want to tell everyone about everything all the time, so we don’t jump the gun on too many things.

Cora: But you can tantalize them a little bit.

Gloris: Yeah exactly.


Cora: Do you have anything in the works at the moment?

Gloris: Actually we’re getting ready to record a promo tape. It’s a bunch of new songs we’ve written since the EP, it’s going to be a quick and dirty thing. 


Cora: How has your sound changed from your EP to this new demo?

Gloris: More dancey parts,

Joey: I have been throwing in more metal riffs, but yeah, more dancey parts is how I would describe it. I think I’ve been trying to do Sepultura meets Billy Club Sandwich.  (Laughter)

Noah: Should we talk about Skwah Nation, Rez Rocks?

Gloris: Oh, like what it is? 

Noah: Yeah. So, technically this isn’t part of Smuther but it is something we do. Out here in Chilliwack here we practice on Gloris’ home rez, Skwah Nation. For a long time we had this goal of booking shows on reservation and last year [we finally did it.] They popped off. It’s been nice to be able to get hardcore bands that we want to come play out in Chilliwack. I mean Chilliwack is a pretty small town with not a huge draw to anybody outside of it, but enough people come to shows out here so we can actually throw a show.

Gloris: Yeah Rez Rocks is definitely our little project to extend the reaches of northwest hardcore. Our idea for it is a semi-biannual kind of thing, because having huge shows out this far isn’t super sustainable on a weekly basis. Once every few months seems to be the sweet spot. We’ve been trying to coordinate it with the Whiterock hardcore shows, since Robert the lead singer for Ghaul is a large proponent of that. It’s not directly related to the band, but we want to plug it, keep your eyes out for future Rez Rocks.

Cora: Yeah, I am SO up for this, Rez Rocks is a great idea, and I’m glad I get to put this in a magazine.

Gloris: Yeah the first one was really cool, cause for a lot of people in this community it was their first time seeing live music, period. It might have been people’s first time hearing a hardcore or death metal band, cause we had Groza out. It was sweet, ‘cause for us, we’re used to it. We’ve been involved and going to shows since forever. It’s easy to forget that not everybody is not involved in this kind of thing. That was really cool for me personally — being able to introduce so many people from around here to this thing that we do. A lot of people in the community know us because they hear us practice every single week, but it’s cool to have them involved in it and hopefully some kids will start bands so they can help carry it on. We definitely need more Indigenous people in everything, but especially in DIY music and punk and hardcore. Sometimes we get bugged by people like “How come you don’t have any more Indigenous bands, Indigenous acts” and we’re like “cause there’s like three, and they’re mostly in Alberta.”


Cora: Yeah, if you look over my shoulder you’ll see a pile of instruments. I SUCK, but I really want to start an Indigenous punk band, and finding other Indigenous people who want to be in a punk band is slow going as well. 

Gloris: (Laughing) Yeah, you just gotta hold out, you never know what will come along. We all got pretty lucky with this group that we got because thank goodness because it is very difficult to coordinate a group of people to get together at the same time every week. It’s a feat, so best of luck on that.

Joey: I think a big part of Smuther is just going out and starting a band — that was the point. Like Gloris was saying, the goal of having the Rez Rocks shows is getting kids to do it. Get out there. Smuther is like, “just go for it.”

Jordan & Noah: Do the damn thing!

Joey: Get involved, go to shows, learn an instrument, start a band, make posters, volunteer, there’s so many shows happening all the time every weekend. Vancouver’s scene is popping off all the time.


A WWI tuba & a clown comb

RINSE DREAM is an art-punk project with one foot in the absurd. The group consists of bassist and vocalist Hannah Karren, drummer Tony Dallas, Justin Patterson on the sampler, and Justin Gradin on guitar and vocals. Combining experienced musicianship and bizarro creativity, the band embraces a wild and constant resculpting, with no two shows ever played the same. After a long history of playing live, in 2022 they released their debut LP “SPACES”. I got to talk to Hannah and the Justins over a couple of pitchers about sampling, stage banter, and the practice of collaging the clownish with the dark.


Emma Watson: Tell me about the inception of the project.

Justin Gradin: Justin Patterson and I had a band that was a pretty straight up kind of punk band, and it just didn’t feel right. Both he and I come from more of an art — painting, sculpting  — world, and we were just kind of bored of going straight. So then we started bringing in sounds and samplers, and we started going, “Ah, what if we made it like a collage?”

Justin Patterson: We met in the studio!

JG: We met in an art studio, yeah. Before we ever put out SPACES, he and I put out a 7-inch record called Jokes/Laughter. The a-side of the record is me doing a wholesome version of the Aristocrats Joke, and the b-side is just a collage of him forcing himself to laugh. The person who put the record out had never actually listened to the record. They thought we’d made art music or whatever, so when the record came out, the person was very mad. And then they pretty much gave us back all the 45’s.

JP: We still have a fuckton of them, too.

Hannah Karren: Can you tell the Aristocrats joke?

JP: It’s a tradition in standup comedy from way back. There’s a basic version of the joke, but everyone strays from it and tries to make it as dirty as possible.

JG: The set-up is the whole thing. Then, everyone says, “Well, what was the act called?” and the punchline is “they were called the Aristocrats,” even though the joke was so dirty. So I just did a backwards version of it, where the whole thing was really wholesome.

EW: When I was listening to the record, I was thinking about how the sound doesn’t stop — It’s so persistent, almost relentless. It reminded me of the lyrical theme of control and powerlessness. I was wondering what forces you might be responding to in the writing.

JG: I think [that part of] the record came about because we were a live band for so long. I hate stage banter, and I hate when bands pause for too long in between songs, too. And so I was like, “Well, what if one of us is always doing something?” A song ends, and it doesn’t matter what it is, but something’s happening, and then all of a sudden, it turns into something else. So at the end of the night, you have formed this weird, mutant thing — and I really like that. If you see [something] live you can’t always decipher [what’s happening] if you don’t know the songs well. 

With our lyrics though, I don’t know. When we put out the video for “Ssufferr”, people were saying “Oh, it’s such a positive song!”, and I was like “Oh, weird.” I wrote that song when I was doing drugs and working in the Downtown Eastside and everything was horrible. 

JP: I’ve always loved Justin’s lyrics, because everything comes out in this crazy pastiche or collage of ideas, and in cartoonish, weird language — a lot like his art style. And because I know [about him] working in the Downtown Eastside, just hearing the horrific stories about the stuff you have to process when you’re down there for so long, it all sounds to me like one metaphor removed from this weird clown world . Like processing through sublimating it into a totally different reality. 

EW: Can you talk more about the sampling on the record? I didn’t realize it was part of the inception of the group.

JP: [Justin]’s got a history of making weirdo sound collage tapes and producing them, and I was using a sampler with an old band doing electronic stuff…

JG: We were both doing it, yeah. It comes from our abilities to play things, mixed with boredom from those abilities to play things. I’ve played with tons of super good musicians in the past, but it’s kind of more fun to be like, “Okay, instead of having a heavy guitar or something over this thing, what if we had the sound of 15 people getting their hair cut?” It seemed more interesting. There’s a duality that comes from matching sampler sounds with the lyrics, too. It’s kind of nice that you can be saying one thing, and then force someone to [associate it with] something else.

HK: I don’t like it. With some of the new songs that are not on this record, I’m like, “Man, Justin, this is the most beautiful song.” We all sit down and learn the song, and then we get into the space and it’s [paired with] the sound of bouncing balls!? And sometimes, I actually don’t want to be taken to this other place! JG: There’s a whole new record ready to go, and honestly, they’re like the catchiest songs I’ve ever written, but I want them to be so fucked up.

EW: What is that impulse, why?

JG: I think it’s just a reflection of my own life. There’s always something really beautiful happening, and something absolutely fucked up happening. And that’s probably a lot of people’s lives. So it’s kind of nice, I think, to have this beautiful melody and then have it just be completely…

HK: Obliterated.

JG: Obliterated. It’s like every morning, I wake up at 7:00 a.m. because of these screaming birds. I don’t know what they’re doing, but they’re screaming outside this window. It’s like they’ve never heard a birdsong. That’s kind of what I’m doing in the songs. Also, I used to be obsessed with John Cage, 4:33. The chairs squeaking, people coughing, the traffic outside…that becomes the piece. 


EW: Yeah. I was thinking about that when you said you don’t like stage banter — instead, you create this conglomerate. 

JG: Yes. Every sound becomes a part of the creation. For me, that’s more fun. Yeah, fuck, stage banter. I used to have a rehearsal space next to that band Hedley, and that singer guy, that guy used to practice his stage banter. We’d be finishing a song, and we’d hear “Saskatoon, how are you doing tonight?!” We’d all go out for a cigarette or something, and he’d be wearing these daisy duke shorts, sucking on his lip ring looking at us, and we’d be like “What is this dude’s deal?”

EW: Do you think of this album as dark? It seems other people sometimes don’t.

JP: I’ve played it for people, and they’re like, “your band’s really fun,” and that’s great – it’s rock ‘n’ roll, that’s what I love. It is fun, it allows you to mesh your energy with something and release it. But in terms of the content, I think there’s [a lot here] that is super dark — maybe colourful dark? I would say my relationship to Justin’s lyrics, and to the project, is that it is like processing the fucked-upness of the world, and turning it into something that you can share in a way that gets everyone together.

HK: I think it is fun, though. Sonja, one of the old bassists, once described it to me as pop music. When I started with the band, she was like, “you’re going to love it, it’s like pop music.” Once she said that, I listened to it and I was like “This is pop music!”


Me: How was playing it live? 

HK: It was good. I’ve been a RINSE DREAM fan for a long time, and every RINSE DREAM show I’ve ever seen, I’m like, “this is not the same band.”


EW: What changes?

HK: [Justin and Justin] are all over the place, they’re doing their own thing. Tony is an anchor. It’s every man for himself up there except for Tony, who takes care of me.

JG: Tony will be like, “this song’s 112 BPM,” and me and Patterson will have bowls of spaghetti on our heads.

HK: Last night, the show starts, and Patterson pulls out a trombone and is like, “I’m going to play this trombone for a while,” and I’m like, “Okay, this is news to me.” The rhythm section doesn’t like improv as much as the pedal boys.

JG: One time, [Patterson] had this World War I tuba, and I had a clown comb with a contact mic hooked up to it, and my hair was down to my shoulders. I was combing my hair with the contact mic and it was like SCHDFFFF, and he was playing the tuba, and everyone [in the audience] was just like …

HK: It’s like those clickbait things where it’s like “Doctors hate ‘em!”, but instead, it’s “Sound guys hate ‘em!”

EW: What do you hope that audiences come away from your shows feeling?

JP: I mean, for me, the experience that I look for with any kind of art experience is getting lost in that little world, whatever it is. If we can draw people in, and have them confused, or excited, or stoked on a really catchy hook for a second, and then confused again, or scared, or whatever…that’s pretty exciting for me to imagine people having that experience.

JG: For me, I want them to feel like the Kool-Aid man right before, and right after, he jumps through the wall.

HK: I think as an audience member, I’m just getting the sensation of “wall.”

JG: At some point, you’ve gotta bust through it, y’know?

HK: As an audience member, though, I love RINSE DREAM. I think the shows are fun, and I think they’re really interesting. I’ve played with RINSE DREAM with my other band and I’ve been like, “I’m glad RINSE DREAM’s here, because my stuff feels like more of the same, and this is gonna really break it up.” That show at Black Lab a couple of months ago was so crazy — Justin’s mic completely cut out and it didn’t even matter.

Me: What are you excited for coming up?

JG: Relocating! We’re pretty much going to be an LA-based band within a month. We’re just going to jump into a whole new thing.

JP: Very soon, we’re playing in July, a group of shows in California with Necking and NORMANS that are gonna be super fun!

JG: It’s fun to go to a city where there’s a massive scene of stuff happening.


Me: Seems compatible with your maximalist approach!

JG: Yeah. I think it’ll be good.