More than ten years ago, Toronto's Career Suicide released the album 'Attempted Suicide' and burned everything around them down to the ground. And then, just when shit was starting to grow back and everything was rebuilt? They simply scorched everything again with last year's 'Machine Response'. We covered our buddy Joel Abraham in a fire blanket and sent him over to talk to guitarist Jonah Falco about last year's album and Toronto's music scene. (photo credit: Mateus Mondini)
PRT: How do you keep the sound of the band fresh after ten years of not releasing a LP?
Jonah: In the period between 'Attempted Suicide' and now, we did manage to release a few songs with 2008’s 'Cherry Beach' EP. So we at least had the opportunity to get rid of some lingering ideas before trying to do anything as focused like an LP. Career Suicide already has a pretty large number of songs, and most of them were written youthfully and hastily. The last thing we wanted was to slap together yet another thirty minutes of music that would simply fade into the rest of our music. So yeah, we tried to make it a little different without completely losing our sound.
PRT: How did the latest album come to life? Did you start from scratch? Or did you bring back old riffs that were kept in old rehearsal tapes?
Jonah: It's mostly completely fresh material. There’s one rehashed song, 'Borrowed Time', which we felt just never really got its due when it was released. It, along with the rest of the 'Jed Whitey' split kind of faded out of the set and out of people’s memory. So it was time to breathe new life into a great song with a much more powerful production behind it, as well as some slightly more reckless playing. The rest were written spontaneously on my own in a rehearsal room, or sitting at my desk with a 4-track.
PRT: You have been part of Toronto’s punk rock scene both as a fan and as a musician. In which ways has the scene improved since you started attending/playing shows?
Jonah: The scene seems to have had crests and troughs. At the height of Career Suicide playing in Toronto, the scene felt wide open, musically diverse, and acceptably seedy and spiny. It was accepting of all comers while taking part in a pleasurably cartoonish punk antagonism against non-aligned other subcultures. Very old style, rivalrous and catty. That felt fun. Nowadays, the greatest asset of the punk scene is actually its massive strength as a part of all the other cool pockets of subculture in town. Toronto is small enough that there’s a ton of crossover within diy/independent music both in taste and in support. To tell you the truth, whenever people from other scenes came to punk/HC gigs it did feel fun and like a victory for everyone. When I was a kid, though, HC felt like a huge secret that was hiding in plain sight. Once you knew the signs and tells of what might be hardcore, you found your way deeper and deeper into the various voids…. I’m sure that still exists to a certain extent for people, but in general things feel massively open ended.
PRT: Having toured all over the globe, what is your favorite punk rock scene outside Canada? And which scene can't you wait to play at? *cough* ME *cough* XICO *cough*
Jonah: It’s hard to choose! At the risk of sounding far too positive, every place has its own little pockets of wonder. And when you’re so lucky to visit so many of them, you start to really see the forest for the trees. In recent memory our gig in Seoul sticks out brilliantly. New scene, excellent bands, exciting people, and definitely a new frontier for this music. Mexico is a place CS is dying to come and play, so when you bring us there it can top my list in the next interview...
PRT: Let´s say my mom wants to start getting into TO´s punk rock scene... where should she start? What are your fav new(er) bands coming out of the 6? Which Toronto bands influenced Career Suicide's sound?
Jonah: I speak for myself. But when I was much younger, one of the bands that inspired me the most to play guitar and write music that wasn’t from the early eighties, was TEEN CRUD COMBO. They had the snide and careless sense of humour of all the eighties bands I liked, with the sort of second rate glory of a band, much like us, that wasn’t fortunate enough to be there. They were loud, fast, and full of finesse. Career Suicide probably has no finesse... let’s be honest... but we’re loud and fast. We also loved Chronic Submission and Youth Youth Youth. Two quintessential mainstays of the legacy of early tohc.
Of the new bands in Toronto, I must admit the scene has definitely ebbed and flowed, but at the moment we’ve got S.H.I.T., Tashme, and a host of others. To be honest, it’s me that should be asking about what’s good and new in Toronto instead of telling you. We are grubby and unpredictable, but most of the other people are young and strong and doing things we’d never had thought of.
PRT: What do you think is the biggest misconception about punk rock culture? And why?
Jonah: The biggest conception about punk rock is simultaneously that it is devoid of content, and that it is always in the pursuit of the betterment of the world. It’s kind of a paradox, but people either project nihilism or extreme meaning onto punk. In my opinion punk is an excellent mobiliser for personality, talent, and thinking, but those things don’t particularly define it. The culture of punk, I imagine, is to produce, not to proscribe.
PRT: In your opinion, what artist (it can be either a musician, painter, writer etc) that is not a punk rocker is more punk rock than punk rock itself?
Jonah: I don’t really know. John Akomfrah? Joan Didion? Carlo Gesualdo? It doesn’t really work for me to say “so and so was punk before punk” because punk is just a new name for what ragtime, then bebop, then rock and roll, and etc etc did. The big reset button. It’s just a more enduring and adaptive model, it seems. Plus punks are usually just cynical dilettantes with a moderate talent and a lot of panache. Take your pick I guess...
PRT: What are the 3 greatest lessons you have learned by touring the globe?
Jonah: Be Humble
Sleeping is a privilege not a right.
PRT: Rapid fire q&a: punk rock sounds better played through a Fender Amp or a Marshall amp?
PRT: Drums or piano?
Jonah: Same thing
PRT: What are the three albums that you have recommended the most? (genre free)
Jonah: 'Black Orpheus' soundtrack, Busy Signals LP and Charlie Haden's “Closeness Duets”
PRT: Favorite book of the last five years?
Jonah: I never learned to read.
PRT: Do you still stage dive at shows?
Jonah: I think i’m finally done. My last stage dive was November 2016 for the Love Triangle while they covered “Where Were You” by the Mekons. The button on my jeans blew off and I still haven’t sewn it back on because I used to be a rocker but now i’m old and fat.
PRT: Soccer or hockey?
Jonah: To Dare is To Do