Article by: Laura Molinaro
Hardcore punk band Pregnancy Scares discuss new material, Ottawa Explosion Weekend, and what they think about the upcoming Cassette Store Day.
Pregnancy Scares have been blowing amps all over the capital with homicidal thirst since the release of their self-titled EP late last year. Frontman Craig Proulx aptly describes their sound as “a feedback spitbath”. With most of their songs clocking in at little over a minute, the four-piece Ottawa noise rock band has proven they know how to make music that is quick and excruciatingly painful.
Though their music comes across fast, Proulx reveals Pregnancy Scares formation was a more gradual process: “We’re all close friends that have played in bands and/or lived together, for years. At a time when the other members were playing in pretty straightforward, highly-active punk bands, Pregnancy Scares was a chance for a bunch of friends to start something fucked up and careless. The four of us keep pretty busy, so I guess you could call the band a side project.”
“Pretty busy” is an understatement, considering Proulx also runs an independent record label and bassist Emmanuel Sayer runs one of the country’s largest independent festivals: Ottawa Explosion Weekend.
The second annual OXW took place from June 19th -23rd this year and Sayer weighed in on how the festival came about and how it went over: “Ottawa Explosion Weekend evolved out of a festival called Gaga Weekend which was organized by Ian from White Wires/Voicemail/Going Gaga Records. The goal is to showcase great independent punk/garage/hardcore/etc bands from all over the place. This year was absolutely insane with 100 bands playing over 5 days at a bunch of venues. We had people from Germany & the UK come this year as well as our first bands from Europe coming. It was a really great time and we're already looking forward to next year.”
As a given, Pregnancy Scares played a feverish set at OXW this year unleashing their sonic weaponry in large supply. To prep, Proulx reveals his pre-show ritual: “I usually drink a Guru. Then a few beers to counteract the Guru. Then another Guru to counteract the beer. No Pearl Jam high-fives allowed.”
What goes into a song though, Proulx says, is a bit harder to pin down: “Our individual influences are all over the place, but I think it’s a common interest in 90s hardcore that’s influenced the band’s sound the most. It’s a little less obvious on the demo tape, but I feel like the last 7” is pretty obviously influenced by Tonie Joy/Sam McPheeters/Chris Thomson’s various projects.”
Their hometown isn’t exactly known for its bustling music scene but when boiled down, punk and politics have always gone hand in hand. Pregnancy Scares central members dedicate their time to fostering the thriving grimy scene in Ottawa that lies lurking just beneath the surface. Proulx’s Bruised Tongue label predominantly features local talent, so who better to ask about what’s good in the capital?
“I try not miss any opportunity to see Asile, Boyhood, Aube, or Swollen Eyes. Keep your ears to the ground for shows happening at Gabba Hey or the Fun Boy Clubhouse. Emmanuel and I do a monthly punk DJ night at a bar called Mugshots set up inside the oldest (?) prison in Canada. Definitely check out Birdman Sound, and pick the owner John’s brain for tales of local lore.”
Bandmate Sayer is deeply imbedded in the scene as well, though he admits it’s harder to be in the loop than it needs to be: “Craig pretty much covered it. I'll add the monthly parties at House of Targ as well. It's hard to find out what's going on in the city since there isn't a local arts weekly or anything in the city. I try to post as much as I can on the Ottawa Explosion blog to let people know what's going on.”
With the first ever Cassette Store Day slated for September 7th, Proulx, whose label mainly utilizes the tape format weighs in on it; and he’s not too big on the looming corporate embrace: “I find the whole Cassette Store Day thing pretty confusing. First off, there is no such thing as a Cassette Store. Secondly, for Bruised Tongue, releasing tapes means we can maintain control over all aspects of production, coordinate releases on our own terms, and keep things as inexpensive and affordable as possible. We’re fortunate to be running a cassette label at a time when people are genuinely excited about the format, but the advent of Cassette Store Day is kind of like a NARC showing up to Burning Man or something.”
Sayer shares his bandmate’s reproachful opinions on the novelty resurgence: “When I heard about Cassette Store Day, I laughed out loud. It's absolutely ridiculous. I'm sure the people who are organizing it's hearts are in the right place but their brains aren't. I already think Record Store Day is pretty stupid so multiply that by a million and you get CSD.”
The next year sees Pregnancy Scares “booking some fun parties in Ottawa, and playing some shows with friends as the opportunities arise”, Proulx reveals. He also adds that they are taking all new material to full-term: “We`ve been writing and demo-ing a bunch of new songs for another 7” that will hopefully be recorded sometime this fall. The new songs are a bit of a change in direction for us, so we’re taking our time not to rush the process just for the sake of getting something out there.” Look for their next release on Deranged Records.