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Cali punks get forthright with ‘Subliminable’ album



Who: Ten Foot Pole with Ghosts of Modern Man, Tricky Woo & The Illuminati

Where: Merlin’s

When: Thursday, April 8

Tickets: $10

Ironically, there are no "subliminable messages" in California punk band Ten Foot Pole’s new album of the same title. Feelings toward their home country’s current administration are crystal clear from the get go.

"George W. coined the phrase in response to accusations that his election ads used subliminal techniques. I interpret it as a meddling of subliminal and abominable, a combination appropriate for today’s political climate," writes frontman Dennis Jagard, explaining the album title significance in a recently issued band bio.

A quick check on punkvoter.com displays the band’s support for the anti-Bush vote mobilizing initiative. No surprise there.

At the moment the band is somewhere on the highway, heading west after the previous night’s show in London, Ont.

Jagard’s cellphone coverage is barely hanging on, but over a crackly connection he agrees that the latest album marks a new level of political activism for the 11-year-old L.A.-based band.

"In the past our songs were more social political than direct references. On all of our albums you can read our politics but this one gets the most overt on a couple of songs," says Jagard. "Still, the majority of the lyric content is personal. We didn’t turn into Propagandhi overnight. I think it’s just because times are so messed up politically that to not say something about politics is being complicit or ignoring the situation, and we definitely didn’t want to do that."

The current tour is taking them across the country that temporarily has an exclusive on Subliminable Messages . A zero-hour label change to Go-Kart records after the album was finished has meant a delay of the U.S. release until summer, while a March release in Canada was able to proceed as planned. The album will be released in Europe later in April, but until then, Canada is the only place where Subliminable Messages can be officially obtained.

But it’s not such a bad situation. Canada, particularly Eastern Canada, has always been a place that has embraced Ten Foot Pole says Jagard, the sole remaining original member of the beleaguered band whose history includes multiple lineup changes and the tragic death of bass player Leigh Lawson from an enlarged heart condition.

After more than a decade in the game, Jagard has reached a point where he’s decidedly forthright about his feelings and his not so subliminal hopes for the latest recorded effort.

"This kind of album is probably going to make or break us as a band," he says.

"We’re a known name, but a lot of people have already made up their mind as to whether they like us or not.

"So far the response has been really great for the new album," he continues. "I’m particularly proud of the vocals. We’ve gone through a lot of rough times and different lineup changes and stuff, and I’ve always been self conscious about the sound of my voice. But I think this album is the first one where I’m really proud of how it turned out.

The phone starts to fade as the highway leads them further west. Ahead lies the vast nether region of Northwestern Ontario and the Canadian prairies.

"No hesitations," Jagard continues, undaunted. "This is how we want it to sound. This is where the band’s at right now."

Ten Foot Pole’s westward Canadian journey will eventually bring them to Merlin’s on Thursday, April 8 accompanied by Regina’s Ghosts of Modern Man, reunited alt rockers Tricky Woo and Ontario’s the Illuminati. For more information call 604-935-0544.

Old punks never die; they just do spoken word...

Outrageous, outspoken ex-Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra will be giving one of his notorious spoken word performances at the Delta Whistler Hotel Ballroom on Thursday, April 22.

Politics, artistic freedom, civil liberties and individualism are all favourite subjects for Biafra’s acerbic rants delivered in the straight up style of his punk rock roots.

Advance tickets are currently on sale at The Circle and the Electric Daisy Internet Cafe for $15.

For more information go to www.mountainpromotions.net.