03 March 2013
I was trying to find in my vast archives the band overview for this project that would save me having to write a foreword for it. That text is long gone, the last place being on a website for Vancouver’s The Hive Studios which has been long since updated and redone back from the days when I was the web admin for that site. Oh well, I guess that means I can write an overview for this at 10.20pm on a Sunday.
The Measure was a short-lived Vancouver band I was in from around Summer 1997 (don’t remember which month) until around June or July of 1998. I had just turned 19 and had just moved to Vancouver.
The Measure consisted of myself and Dave Paterson on guitars, Matt Camirand on bass guitar, Ian Hodges on drums and Chris Frey on vocals. The style I would say in a nutshell would be post-hardcore. This is a good, fitting and literal description as most of the bands we had played in before were in effect hardcore bands. I was finishing up a stint in a few 90s-style hardcore groups. Chris has played in numerous early 90s Vancouver outfits such as Sludge, Ian in Plains of Abraham, Dave in Ellen James Society from Calgary and Matt, fresh off a move from Ottawa, in the incredible Okara (who I was really into at the time — more on that below) as well as 30 Second Motion Picture (along with members from the popular mid-90s hardcore band Shotmaker — another favourite from the time).
Although I had just moved to Vancouver from the island I had been coming to Vancouver quite frequently over the previous year, having far outgrown the small town I was from. I was collecting a lot of post-hardcore and art-punk type records at the time and one place I would hit up often for this fix was a small little record shop called Washout, tucked away in the back of a skate shop. Chris Frey co-ran this shop and at some point we got chatting about starting up some music. The timing was right as he was already getting things on the move with this “hot new” line-up being the other guys from The Measure. We were name-checking a few things: Rye Coalition, The Monorchid, Fugazi, Jawbox, Talking Heads, Joy Division, Birthday Party, etc.
Coming at the end of an era of myself being somewhat “straight edge” as well as being at the tail-end of an age where I was a somewhat teenage emotional cripple, I remember downing half a bottle of wine before the first practice — likely due to the stress of auditioning for this group of talented folks that I looked up to at the time. The first rehearsal was over a car repair shop or something on W 2nd Ave of Main. I remember the riffs that Dave and Matt coming up with initially being the most “rock” sounding thing I had been involved in. Having spend a couple of years attempting to do some Unwound-sounding post-hardcore stuff, I was bit hesitant of the “rock”. I caved in — mainly as the instrumentation and song-writing sessions after that intimidating first session became fun and interesting. The music was quite rock but also very complex and a bit arty for a straight up rock band. Chris’s lyrics and vocal style were surreal and had a Mark E. Smith or Gang of Four quality which made it even more exciting.
We cut a demo on a Fostex 8-track cassette recorder in the fall of 1997 at our rehearsal studio, Faceplant. Josh Wells and Stephen McBean from another local band called Ex-Dead Teenager we were good friends with, and later went on to form Black Mountain, did the engineering. The recording was quite a muddled affair, mainly as our songs were very busy and the amps at full volume but I think Josh and Steve did a pretty incredible job given the relatively lo-fi equipment the demo was recorded on. We released this on a limited run cassette we sold at shows in Vancouver. Matt did the artwork for this, which if I remember was vaguely inspired by Peter Saville’s cover for Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. I actually never got a copy of this tape so I don’t even remember what it looks like.
The Measure continued on into 1998. Chris and I, along with Josh Wells, started another band based on our mutual interest in 70s/80s post-punk and synthesizer driven new wave called Radio Berlin that would carry on for seven years. Matt eventually joined the freshly signed to Sub Pop band Black Halos a little while later. These other commitments eventually were the demise of the group in July of 1998. At that point we had another 4-5 newer tracks which were never recorded. There’s also some video, somewhere, on a video cassette of two live shows we did but I really have no idea where those are now (Update: they’re in a basement in Vancouver according to Chris).
Over the years we all went our different ways and many different bands as well: Radio Berlin, Black Mountain, Blood Meridian, The Book Of Lists, and so on.
Anyway, without further rambling introductions from myself, here’s the full nine-song demo in its entirety for those who might be interested!
01. Little Heartattack
03. Company of Corpses
04. The Night Of The Long Knives
05. Your Father’s Picture
06. The Little Things You Do
07. The Horse You Rode In On
08. This Song Is Called War
09. Davy Jones
The Measure live at The Brickyard in late 1997/early 1998. Photos by Lori Kiessling.
For further listening you can check out another project Matt was in prior to The Measure called Okara. This was the one LP they put out, Months Like Years, on the Spectra Sonic Sound label in 1996. Some excellent playing on this if you’re interested in prog-influenced post-hardcore: