The band recently released two songs to benefit charity and will be playing Harvest of Hope before Supporting Caste is released on March 10.
You've been pretty busy since the release of your last album, Potemkin City Limits, in years past you've been pretty dormant between albums is there a particular reason you've been more active in the last four years?
Well, speaking from my point of view, from 1997 to early 2008 I was working with G7, the record label here in Winnipeg. That essentially took up 11 years of all of my extra time. Since January 2008, [G7] has gone into a stage of hibernation. Meaning that we got the people from Smallman Records to do all the mail order and I finished up all the data entry. So, I'm free, for the first time in 11 years, just to work on the band with all my time. Since January, essentially, we wrote the new record. I would say, since G7 started that was really the beginning of a dormant era for Propagandhi. A lot of the energy was not spent on the band. In the next…Well, we'll see if this is true or not, but I suspect we'll have another record out in two years.
Well, I'm sure a ton of people would be really excited for that. You mentioned G7 and how you've gone dormant on that this year, was there a particular reason for that?
For me, the most specific reason is that Derek Hogue, who is the other guy who was left standing at G7 for the past few years, moved to Halifax at the other end of the country. We tried to run the label with him there and me here and we kept it…we tried to normalize that. But, after a few months it just wasn't fun. I was sitting there doing data entry, there's no jokes being made, nothing like that. So we decided, let's just scrap it for now. When he moves back here, we'll start it up again. Obviously, for this new Propagandhi album we're using the G7 label and the G7 infrastructure but we're not putting anything else besides that, until he gets back.
You had moved to the digital music medium, those are all still available, of course.
Yeah, everything in the back catalog and a lot of the physical product is still available too.
Are you going to continue running that and distributing it through Smallman or is this just until you get rid of what you have left?
Uhm, not sure (laughs). I think that's an internal debate between me and Derek. I think Derek would rather just become a digital archieve for the old stuff but there's some stuff, for me personally, that if it went out of print I'd probably advocate for brining it back. Not every title, but a few.
In the past you've mentioned that you don't consider Propagandhi the industry standard sort of "record, tour, repeat" type of process. Has it been unusual to sort of up that, where you are touring and recording more frequently?
I think this year will be unusual for us. Other bands would probably laugh at us if they saw our idea of a busy schedule for a band. They'd find it comical, I'm sure. But, we go out for two weeks at a time and then we're home for three weeks. For us that's going to be the duration of this year. That's crazy, because none of us are super…You know, we're not really into band culture. We're not really into touring culture. It's not a lifestyle that's particularly interesting to us but, we do….obviously, morale is really high in the band and the enthusiasm is really high. We just want to give this record a fair shake, because I don't think we really did that for the last record. Nobody…I mean, you go on tour and people know your record's out and the label who's handling it, have a reason to let me know your records out. Where as the last record, some people don't even know that record exists, which is kind of sad for me, because I really like that record.
You didn't do a lot of touring in America the last go around. I know everyone in America wants me to ask, are you planning to do more touring of America this time?
Yeah, there's Florida to Boston tour planed for, I think, March. Then there will be some mid-Western tour in the summer. Then a West Coast tour, I'm not sure when that's happening but they're all this year. Again, these are Propagandhi style tours, which will be weeks at a time. They're not these extensive things where we hit every city and every state but, we're trying to get to the general regions of the state.
I know you've played a lot of "off the beaten path" areas on your last few tours, was that intentional on your part, trying to get out to places that wouldn't regularly see you play?
Yeah, South America for example. Costa Rica, Panama City, all that kind of stuff. Places we might not otherwise get to in our lives and it's kind of interesting to go to places like that and see how enthusiastic people are. They haven't been spoiled on music (laughs). You know, you go to a lot of big cities in North America and people act like you…Well, they look like they've seen every band in the book. They almost look bored of shows. But, South America, people are fucking crazy man. They act like they'll never see you again and that's probably true. It kind of makes it more exciting.
Was there anything that happened on that tour that was unusual or that you weren't expecting?
I wasn't expecting crowds in South America, really, to be honest with you. But, nothing's jumping out at me, specifically, as a crazy story but I will encourage any band that's thinking of going to South America to definitely go there. To Chile. The people there are very, very into live music and that's one of the better places we've ever played in our lives.
So you guys have the new album coming out called Supporting Caste. The typical question that everyone wants to know is, what does it sound like and what's changed from the last album? It's a little cliché but everyone asks.
Yeah, I've tried answering that question in abstract ways and like you're saying, people want a simple answer. I think the simplest answer I can give is that it sounds like a cross of Potemkin City Limits and Less Talk More Rock, with a touch of Today's Empires [Tomorrow's Ashes]. So, I think everything that stands out on those records, in terms of being notable, is present on the new record and anyone who liked the first record How to Clean Everything will continue to be disappointed by what we do (laughs).
I want to ask about that. You get a lot of people if you look online, which is definitely a very keyhole way to look at things, a lot of people are like, "I really liked the first album." How does it feel, is it frustrating to keep being measured against something you did 15 plus years ago or is it nice to know that at least that piece is remembered?
I dig it. We still play songs from that record. When I hear them and I play them, the message still resonates with me and I can see the 20 year old Chris writing those songs. It's still fun, I still get a kick out of it. When we play them these days, they seem seamless in the set, with the new songs. There's a bit of a difference in terms of the depth and dimension, but they're still fun to play.
I just don't like when I hear that record, like when I hear that actual record, that recording. That moment in time. I'm just like, "Jesus Christ, turn that fucking thing off". But I don't regret it. I'm not trying to hide that record from people. I just can't lie to people and tell them we're going to make another How to Clean Everything.
I wanted to ask, you're going to be playing the Harvest of Hope Festival in Florida. How did that come about?
Well, I think people have been talking about use doing an East Coast tour and somebody involved in organizing this Festival contacted us. We checked out the website for Harvest of Hope, not the festival but the actual cause and it seemed like something right up our alley. It seems like an important…I mean, no one else is supporting these people, so it seems like a good way to encourage us to do the East Coast Tour and make it a little more worthwhile.
Nice. It did seem a little odd because you don't normally play festivals of this size.
Yeah, in the past, we've tended to play clubs and festivals just never seemed that fun to us. We had a pretty good experience in Norway with a festival not that long ago, so we try to keep an open mind about this stuff.
As it's hard to separate Propagandhi [the band] from the political aspect, we just had the big election here in America, and I know you're against the two party system that we have here in America, how do you feel about the way things have gone in this election?
Well, we were in the states on election night and we were watching as Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech. As the cameras were panning the crowd, I was feeling it. You know the emotion was palpable and it made sense to me and I was feeling it 110% for African Americans what had just occurred. But, once that wears off, and for some people it hasn't worn off, once you set that aside, people have to be honest about the nature of the infrastructure. Despite who is at the top of the pile, that the function of both those parties is to serve corporate interest first and that everything follows after that. I don't think any Barack Obama's cabinet appointments or comments (or rather non-comments) on what's happened in Gaza recently give any indication that we should be holding our breath for the proverbial promise land. I'm not trying to be cynical guy, who's just old and grumpy about anyone doing anything good, I'm just saying that people need to be realistic. If you want change you have to be honest about the infrastructure that's being imposed upon the people.