Interview composed by Stu Hood - Jan 2004
First off I guess, any figures on when your brand new album The Price will be available to the fans?
I see new steps are being taken, one which has a three-piece band accompanying you on the new recording if I have heard correctly. How has it been collaborating with these others to make the record?
The Price will be available in early February. I will be holding four band-backed cd release shows. Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Hamilton. Then I will tour west and east fucking hard so people across the country can hear this record. The Hamilton release date is February 21st. So far, The Desert Fathers (Threespheres records) are confirmed as an opening act. They are great.
The Price is entirely unlike anything, yet bares marks of everything you have ever seen or heard. The Price is an exquisite paradox. When people hear The Price, they will rush out and collapse several more important buildings.
Your performance has taken a turn as well, realizing that the bar scene would rather be "whipped in the face with Fierce Rock Power" than hear you perform your more delicate songs, it certainly is an attention grabbing improvement to your live act. How exactly did this come about?
It has been fantastic. The people I worked with on the recording were all very clever in their respective ways.
Phil Shaw Bova is one of the great unsung treasures of this country both as a recording engineer and a drummer. I was striving for a straight-up hard rock sound for most of the songs on The Price. This band provided. All the musicians involved have fancy, chaotic genius brains. Adam Fogo, Mok and Phil. Each brain required a great deal of focusing and constricting in order to achieve the desired rock and roll directness. But far from creating a simplistic sound, you can hear the complex mind-energies concentrated into each explosive note and beat.
The band fucking soars.
Have you been able to set up at venues that are more appropriate for your softer sounds?
It evolved slowly over time. I get a kick out of holding everyone’s attention—out of putting on the most majestic and absurd performance that one man can possibly execute. I kept refining my act, experimenting, adding and subtracting things here and there: An electric guitar, my drum and bass machine, my rock and roll uniform- specific, direct things that help me achieve desired effects.
I still like to write and perform in quiet settings with my classical guitar, and I do so frequently. I think of these two sorts of performances (the loud and the soft) as achieving the same thing in different ways. Style and image should not be the centre of music, but neither are they unimportant. They are tools that can be used for certain effects—they should point towards a more concrete centre.
You have an interestingly surreal tour diary that you update regularly on your website, keeping us up to date with your grand adventures across Canada, and more sinisterly your ghostly encounters with The Kroeger (aka Nickleback's Chad Kroeger). First seeing him at one of your shows on March 11th, 2003 in Wolfville Nova Scotia, how has it come about today to the point of reports of hauntings, taunting and threats from this Canadian rock god?
Yes. Houses, Thrift stores, Libraries, Art galleries, churches and Laundromats. Music should happen everywhere, but I find there are appropriate places for different sorts of music. It’s always fun to experiment with spaces and brains.
I heard the news of your Kroeger voodoo doll being stolen, do you feel uneasy without it?
I have no memory of this…In fact, I don’t have memories of very much at this point. Just that I came from the mountains, that I am the President of Indie Rock, and there is nothing in the universe that can stop me. Exciting things are happening every where I go now. I don’t know why, but it’s fun.
There are old writings on a website baring my name... www.waxmannequin.com. But I cannot make sense of these. I don’t have time to ponder over ancient riddles.
Your bio mentions a classical guitar based album in the works. With the release of The Price as an anthem rock and dance hit masterpiece, it seems you are covering 2 very different worlds of musical performance. As if you have a clone, and it is trying to counter your every move, in the end resulting in an even broader fanbase, or perhaps just more of Kroeger to hassle. Is this how you feel about things?
Again, there seems to be some story going on here that I’m not aware of…this Kroeger. Is he sinister? A figment from some fairy tale? How can a voodoo doll protect us from a fairy tale?
Who are some of the acts you've enjoyed playing with or seeing recently on tour?
I feel uneasy at the suggestion, but I have nothing to confirm or deny the existence of another Wax Mannequin, other than what my heart tells me. I am the only Wax Mannequin. I MUST be. How can there be another one? I came from the mountains. That’s all I know and all I care to know right now….so I suppose it’s possible... but sounds like something out of a story or movie. Real life doesn’t work that way. Admittedly, it seems that there are a great many mysteries here. I’ll leave them for someone else to investigate. I’m too busy Rocking out every day Like a Bad Mother Sucker.
Listen to Wax Mannequin at zed.cbc.ca and New Music Canada.
Gee whiz. Lots. The Sour Keys are great. Wintersleep from Halifax is pretty darn good too. Who else...There are a number of other solo performers these days. Lederhosen Lucil, Mayor McCA, Thomas and the Evil Computer, Bob Log III. These people are all cool and talented. There is one-man-band revolution going on. A focused solo performer can rival any band in terms of entertainment value and artistry. And most solo acts are providing something incredibly unique and idiosyncratic--bending neither to indie rock nor mainstream trends—just moving forward and chasing their own unique voice, regardless of age, sex or race. Making stuff that is incredibly new and exciting and very human, and getting better at it constantly. I’m convinced. It’s all about making exciting stuff happen all the time. Showing people what is possible...that there is still an infinite number of new things and new directions to explore. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface and we never will, because it’s endless. The surface will remain unblemished and bountiful forever and ever because it is the surface of nothing and everything. It’s only a matter of time before us solo entertainers band together to save rock and roll. Wait and see.