Le Volume Etait Au Maximum: Canadian
“les teenage gluesniffers”; ‘Radio Maximum‘ (2005)
The Problem: When you’re a country of 33,000,000 people living beside a country ten times larger who also happens to be the world’s unparalleled cultural powerhouse, your culture has a tendancy to get misplaced. Historically, in terms of technology adoption, Canada was generally three years behind the US. They had The TV before we did, they had The Colour TV before we did, they had the Internet twenty years before we did… which is fine, because in 1985 we were the second country to have an Internet hookup. In terms of adoption rates of American culture we’re a lot faster (re: closer) than the rest of the world. We have American network and cable television as part of our cable packages, as soon as American books or movies are released, we get them. “Little Miss Sunshine”, for example, had been and gone in Canada before Great Britain got to see a suicidal Steve Carell.
So. Canadians get exposed to American culture as soon as it’s on paper, but between 1940 and the mid-1970’s we ignored the technology they were using to create that culture. At least until they proved it worked and was worth having. So by the mid-70’s the communications technologies available to Canadian broadcasters were slightly behind those in America, but modern American television and radio were being beamed directly into Canadian homes because 80% of us live within a hundred miles of the border. So basically, by the time Americans and Canadians were watching a remake of Great Britain’s “All In The Family” on CBS, Canadian stations were still using sock puppets to describe the weather. The result, basically, was Their Culture was becoming Our Culture and Our Culture was becoming somewhat confused.
The Solution: So in the 1980’s musicians and other artists demanded and received two laws. One: A radio-play content law which forced conventional AM & FM radio stations to schedule and play a minimum of 35% Canadian music, while talk format radio had to broadcast a minimum of 50% Canadian content in their schedule. Two: A percentage of all sales of any recordable media — audio cassettes, records… I think digital storage devices as well, like CD-R’s and DVD-R/RW’s — go to a fund to assist Canadian artists with their projects. Now… for the most part the laws have worked. Canadian bands finally get some government support, and they finally get some airtime. Previous to the law the only Canadian music played on our radio’s came from so-called “Classic Rock” or the occasional Canadian artist to hit Top40 in the US, so except for Anne Murray and Steppenwolf our music didn’t actually exist. The laws operated like an umbrella and allowed new bands to come up… the weirdest part of the law is the criteria bands must meet to be considered “Canadian enough” to be eligable for the government handouts. On the back of every Canadian CD is a four-slice pie chart. Each slice a band fills — Management, Artist, Label, Production — the more ‘Canadian’ they are. I think it was Bryan Adams who, at one point, wasn’t Canadian enough.
Essential Canadian Music
Back When: Blood Sweat & Tears, The Guess Who, Oscar Peterson, Glenn Gould, Steppenwolf, Leonard Cohen, The Band, Gordon Lightfoot, 5 Man Electrical Band, Niel Young, Bruce Cockburn, Anne Murray, Chilliwack, Paul Anka, Ronnie Hawkins, Rough Trade, Rush, DOA, Forgotten Rebels, Joni Mitchell.
Back Then: Bif Naked, Big Sugar, The Headstones, Platinum Blonde, Sons Of Freedom, Bryan Adams, The Box, Niel Young, Colin James, Jeff Healy, Celine Dion, 54-50, Cowboy Junkies, Barenaked Ladies, kd lang, Bootsauce, Blue Rodeo, Maestro Fresh Wes, Payola$, Daniel Lanois, David Foster, Alanis Morrisette.
Since Then: Kittie, Jann Arden, Avril Lavigne, Neil Young, Danko Jones, Billy Talent, Sum 41, Manu Militari, Le Volume Etait Au Maximum, Trip The Off, Vulgaires Machins, Kardinal Offishall, The Arcade Fire, Saukrates, Golden Dogs, Rheostatics, Les Dales Hawerchuk, Rufus Wainwright, Pierre Lapointe, Andre, Hawksley Workman, Constable Brennan, Peaches, Swollen Members, K-OS, Nickleback.
If you find a broken link, or the YouTube stuff isn’t loading
properly, let me know and I’ll find an alternative…
I’m Canadian, it’s what we do. Off the ice.
Wow! It’s amazing how much we (UK) … take for granted.
We have lots and lots of radio stations for such a small place … local and national vary quite a lot … classical/rock/indie/pop etc … and cater for most British musical tastes.
I don’t think it was always the case, and until someone like John Peel (RIP) came along, a lot of ‘unknown’ Brit bands had an incredibly hard time getting air play. This wasn’t to do with how British they were/weren’t, but simply (I think) because record companies would want to plug their established artists, therefore filling their greedy bastid coffers.
This meant, for many a young up-and-coming young Brit band, a lot of schmoozing of record company A’n’R peeps, not unlike the casting couch scenario in other industries.
But, for Bryan Adams not to be Canadian enough, what exactly ‘is’ Canadian enough?
And, do you think that there is a definitive ‘Canadian sound’?
For instance, we had our Brit Pop era a while back … which mainly focused on the North/South divide and featured Oasis v Blur (very amusing, with at one point, if I remember correctly, one of the Gallagher brothers wanting to have a publicised fight with Damon Albarn or was it Robbie Williams??!!)
But, the Brit Pop label, in my opinion, wasn’t extensive enough, and ‘Pop’ a little too lame to describe bands like: Ash/Belle and Sebastian/Manic Street Preachers and one of my personal favourites, Primal Scream.
But, I think in the UK, we still have a ’sound’ … mainly because we have been able to develope it for a lot longer.
So, would you say Canadian music had a ’sound’?
We’ve never had a shortage of radio stations, just a shortage of Canadian support from those radio stations. Aboot once a year, for a few weeks, the radio industry tries to get the rules relaxed so they can play more American music but I don’t see the content rules changing anytime soon. Last summer we finally started getting Satellite Radio but the providers had to set aside a certain amount of channels for CanCon (that’s what we call it).
Canadian artists are free to go off and make albums with whatever nationality they want. They can have a Scottish producer, an American manager or an Irish label. But if they want the Canadian government to kick in a few bucks… I think it’s at least three of the four pie slices have to be Canadian. So, if it was Bryan — and I’m pretty sure it was — he didn’t fill out enough slices.
A Canadian sound… try the first video I posted. I put it first exactly because I think Celtic Punk like Ashley plays is aboot as pure Canadian a sound as you can get. If you want to talk aboot influences, then Canada started Grunge (Neil Young, Sons of Freedon)… a Canadian also invented the ‘Electronic Synthesizer” so we could, in a court of law, be responsible for Disco.
The video at the top of this post by “Le Volume Etait Au Maximum” is also pretty uniquely Canadian.
Where’s the Stomping Tom.
What the blazing foocking hell is Dr. Stomping Tom Connors?
Yeah that guy who writes for a living?