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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Jon Harvey Interview

The Arts in Hamilton: one artist at a time. This column aims to introduce you to artists around Hamilton, their personalities, and their opinions on random stuff in the city.  The arts in Hamilton has been a rapidly growing movement and has, largely, been under-recognized by the general population. Our artists include some incredible musicians, painters, sculptors, writers and so much more and this is our opportunity to get to know them and their relationship with our fine city of Hamilton.

This month’s interview is with Jon Harvey, he is a Hamiltonian, born and raised and he is now in a band called Monster Truck (maybe you’ve heard of them).  He is one of the most chilled out guys I have ever met.  When I showed up at his house to talk to him, he was totally strumming his guitar in his back yard…maybe it was staged, or maybe he is just that cool.  He is yet another great example of a Hamiltonian who has found his success in life and chosen to stay close because he loves this city!

What's one weird thing you do on tour?
I sleep a lot. A lot. I try to sleep as much as I can and I like to eat right before we play. It's the opposite of everybody else I know. Everyone else is like "I've got to eat now so it can digest for an hour". Nope. I want to be full so I'm not worried about eating. I like eating, so if I'm thinking "man, I'm hungry" while I'm on stage I'll forget stuff. And then I'll be like "ah, man, I should have eaten!"

What is your favourite venue or city you've played?
My favourite venues are weird because they're in bad cities. The best venue in Canada is the Commodore in Vancouver. There's a theatre in Syracuse, NY, that is the most beautiful venue I've ever played. It's a rock 'n' roll venue but the whole lobby is covered in gold. It's crazy. In Syracuse — which kinda sucks. But the venue is amazing.

Bulldogs or Tiger-Cats?
I'm going to say Tiger-Cats because it's more Hamilton. But Bulldogs forever because of hockey. I'm not a Montreal fan, so them not being affiliated with Montreal now is good for me.

Favourite video game?
Street Fighter II. I think every guy my age's favourite video game is Street Fighter II. There was no other game — at that point that was the top dog.

What's your favourite food?
Pizza. Forever. It has to be. It's the best food there is.

Who do you think the next big Hamilton band is going to be?
I have no idea. I don't know anything about any of this stuff. I didn't think I was going to be, but here we are. I'm an awful judge. I'm so out of date about what's new because all I do is go to the studio or jam and come home. I don't go out, so I don't know who the bands are anymore. I'm a jaded old man.

What's the coolest band you've opened for or played with?
See, I was never a fan of all the bands we opened for when I was younger. I was a punk kid and we don't play with punk bands. I was never an Alice In Chains fan but they're fun guys to hang out with and play with. And we opened for Sound Garden last time and it was awesome, but I didn't talk to them.
So you haven't played with anyone jaw-dropping holy-shit-I'm-playing-with-this-band?
No. If you're opening for AC DC or Sabbath there's probably a 'whoa' moment. People always freak out like "wow, you played with Slash, that's amazing!" But I was never really a Guns 'N' Roses fan, sooo...

What would your ideal backup job be?
Hand-painting letters on signs.
Do you have mad artistic skills?
I'm okay. I like letters. And opening a music store, but I'm on a hand-lettering signs kick today.

There's a zombie apocalypse. Where in Hamilton do you go to survive?
I don't go anywhere. I'm not a fighter — they'd pick me off in seconds. I would probably lock myself in this house, it's solid brick and there's not many windows. I'd bunker down at home and wait for people to come kill me because zombies won't get in. You know some idiot is going to come over to your house and be like 'I want what you have' and shoot you. That sucks. A zombie didn't get me, some human being did. And that's the way I see the apocalypse going.

What's your shame music? The music you listen to that you wouldn't tell people about.
Phil Collins. Or Michael Jackson. But they're not really shameful to me because I love them. People are always like, 'really, you're listening to No Jacket Required again?' Yes. What do you mean? There's something about Phil Collins in the 80s. I'm not even big on Genesis, I just like Phil Collins.

Whose roadie would you like to be?
That's a hard one because everyone's clean and sober now and all the guys just get off stage and go straight on the bus so it's no fun.
Is that what you do?
No. No. Sometimes. I like to have a few beers, but I never had a crazy two-decade-long substance abuse problem, so I'm okay with a couple beers. Let's just say I wouldn't want to be a roadie for anyone.

What's your guilty pleasure?
Pizza. It's my favourite thing and the thing that makes me feel most ashamed of myself. I'll eat the whole thing.

You're dying tomorrow. What would you last meal be, including appetizer, entree and dessert?
For an appetizer I think I'd go with some kind of stuffed mushroom. For my main dish I'm going to go with spaghetti bolognese. That's the other one — it's pizza or spaghetti bolognese. Then for dessert I'll have pizza.

What are your favourite places to be outdoors and indoors in Hamilton?
I really like the bay front. It's nice but it smells — other than that it's great. To be inside, I like our house. I like our home. I'm not home very much, so when I am I want to be home. Just inside relaxing or in the yard. I stopped going out — it's easier that way. A lot less money spent in a bar. (Writer’s note: bars are great…you shouldn’t stop going to them just because some musician says he prefers to stay home. You should probably go to a bar right now.)


Max Kerman Interview

The Arts in Hamilton: one artist at a time. This column aims to introduce you to artists around Hamilton, their personalities, and their opinions on random stuff in the city.  The arts in Hamilton has been a rapidly growing movement and has, largely, been under-recognized by the general population. Our artists include some incredible musicians, painters, sculptors, writers and so much more and this is our opportunity to get to know them and their relationship with our fine city of Hamilton.
The artist for this month is Max Kerman, who is a band member of The Arkells, based out of Hamilton.
Q: What’s the most exciting thing happening in Hamilton right now? (You can’t say you.)
A: I’m not just pandering to you -- I like all the new restaurants and places to hang out. When I first moved here there was a real shortage of cool coffee shops and restaurants and pubs, but now there’s a lot of choice. Today for lunch I went to Brux House, which was killer, there’s Two Black Sheep and my friend opened The Ship five years ago. One of my first jobs out of university was at My Dog Joe, and those owners have since opened Mulberry Coffeehouse and Democracy. There’s just lots of small-business entrepreneurs that are doing interesting things, and it makes it a fun city to live in. Now I have a bunch of friends from Toronto moving to Hamilton with no Hamilton roots, and I can proudly refer them to ten places off the top of my head that are worth checking out.

Q: Who’s your favourite musician of all time?
A: It changes regularly… Paul McCartney? I’m not really going out on a limb there.

Q: Who’s your favourite musician that you don’t like to tell people about?
A: I don’t really believe in guilty pleasures – I’m kind of over that. If you like it, you like it. You should hear the pre-drinking playlist that would be on at a party I’m throwing, which is anything from One Direction to Mystikal.  I do love – and I want to shout this from the rooftops – Bruno Mars. I think he’s amazing. He can literally do everything better than anyone. His songs are incredible, he co-wrote Fuck You, the CeeLo Green song. He can play every instrument better, he can dance better than everybody. He’s a great live singer. His new song Uptown Funk is incredible. We watched Saturday Night Live with him, and we all tried to get the backup dancers’ moves down. Unsuccessful so far.

Q: Lots of bands leave their “birthplace” when they become popular. Why have you stayed?
A: It’s where my friends are now – you want to live where your pals are. I came to Hamilton originally to go to McMaster University, and I always envisioned moving back to Toronto. It’s where I grew up and it’s an amazing place. We ended up originally staying in Hamilton after we graduated because it was cheaper. It was just kind of out of necessity. When you’re on tour a lot, paying Toronto rent would be a real motherfucker.  So, (we thought) ‘in Hamilton at least I save a few hundred dollars a month in rent, I can stay here’.  As years went on, I realized that all my family is in Toronto but all my friends are here.

Q: What’s your favourite Hamilton memory?
A: It’s hard to point to just one. I have so many good memories. I have a yearly tradition of going to the Casbah. The last few years I’ve played at the JR Digs Acoustic Christmas charity show, and then The Dirty Nil have their annual Christmas show, Young Rival has an annual Boxing Day show, so I wind up being at the Casbah a lot. I look forward to that time of year: Christmastime at the Casbah.
The Supercrawls have been amazing. Two years ago I was a spectator, and last year we got to play which was amazing – there were so many people there. 
Q: Do you have a vice?
A: I steal candy from the Fortinos’ bulk section. Usually when I go grocery shopping I stuff my pockets and snack a little.  Sometimes when I get to the checkout I declare it, and sometimes I just keep it in my pocket.

Q: There’s a zombie apocalypse. Where do you go in Hamilton to survive?
A: I feel like it would be pretty stressful, so I’d probably just go to The Ship and relax a little bit. I know all the staff there so I feel like they’d take care of me. They’d get shit under control. Like ‘you guys take care of this, I’m just going to hang out in here.’

Q: How would your best friend describe you?
A: I’m pretty upbeat and I like company. So, just sort of an upbeat, social dude.

Q: How talented are you?
A: Not particularly. I’m not being falsely modest – I can do a bunch of things pretty well. But I don’t have the discipline or patience to be great at anything. I’m a pretty good basketball player, but I’m not a great basketball player. I wouldn’t even say I’m a pretty good guitar player – I’m an ok guitar player. Like, good enough to get in a band kinda thing.

Q: If for some reason you could never be an artist again, what would your ideal backup be?
A: I’d probably want to be a journalist. I listen to a lot of podcasts – I almost listen to more podcasts than I do music these days – and I love storytelling and political journalism. I think there’s a lot of human-interest stories out there.

Q: How many 10-year-olds do you think you could defeat in a combat situation? Like, what amount of 10-year-olds do you think you could handle before they would overpower you?

A: I could take down any 10-year-old no problem… I think at least seven or eight; I’d try to sock them hard in the face. I’d really strategically plan, and knock them unconscious. Just really punch them. I could drop kick them… I feel like their hardest punch would kind of be annoying, but I’d be able to deal with it. I wouldn’t enjoy it though.
Well, people have been calling me out on not writing on here anymore...so I'm going to post some of the articles and interviews I've been doing in the mean time for Urbanicity.