Last updated: 06/09/2010 12:00:00 PM
It was a dark and stormy night on a sunny morning in beautiful downtown Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, way back in the early 80's. Me (chris) and Jord (jord) were playing tier-4 bantam hockey together. We lost every goddam game we played, but built alot of character in the process. So much character, in fact, that a few years later we ended up not having too many friends and were forced to hang out with each other. Jord did something hilarious every day to get kicked out of Mr. Wall's Science 100 class (apologies to Cindy Landriault) so I was able to overlook the fact that he wore a Coney Hatch shirt. I asked him if he wanted to start a band. He said OK.
A few years later, we both moved to Winnipeg and we put up a poster at Records on Wheels that read:
"Progressive thrash band looking for bass-player"
(we didn't consider ourselves punk, hardcore or metal ... we were "progressive thrash"... fuckin rights).
Our only call came from a guy who went by the name of Hopper. Scott Hopper to be precise. I went over to his house and rang the bell. He answered the door in his underwear with a beer in one hand and a smoke in the other. I was scared. We jammed for about 5 minutes and then Hopper announced a smoke-break that was quickly followed by a beer-break. Then another smoke-break. He then suggested that we may want to get more beer before the liquor-store closed in 7 hours. Anyways, to make a long story short, Hopper eventually left the band to join local grind legends, Crawl, but in his short tenure as Propagandhi bass-meister, managed to turn me into a blithering alcoholic. Cheers, Fenwich!
So then we got a call from a young lad named Stinky Mike Braumeister who wanted to play bass. Mike tended to wear a leather jacket with no shirt on underneath in the summer, hence his nick-name. We played our very first shows with Mike, including one with Fugazi in 1991 that was definitely one of the bigger hi-lites of our "career" to date. Most importantly, perhaps, Mike took us to parties and introduced us to people, which I initially thought would be our ticket to Ladiesville, but Jord always managed to screw it up by falling down the stairs as we made our entrance and, sadly, we always ended up back in SausageCity. Mike eventually tired of our antics and succumbed to the I'm-moving-to-Vancouver disease that ravaged the Winnipeg punk scene of the early 90's. We bid him a sad and stinky farewell at the bus station and began the search for another bassplayer who could fill the large pits he left behind.
In wandered the equally aromatic John Samson.
Around this same time our friends the Riel Brothers were putting on a show at the Royal Albert Arms Hotel for a band from California called NOFX. We showed John the songs and played the show. Fat Mike approached us after our set and asked for a tape. We gave him a copy of our 2nd demo, entitled "Fuck the Scene" (he still owes us $1.68 for it). He said he would be interested in putting something out by us but had all his money tied up in a 7 inch by a band called Lag Wagon. I thought to myself, "What a dinky operation. It'll never go anywhere".
Anyways, he kept calling us for about a year and eventually I lost a round of rock, paper, scissors and had to call him back. He said, "hey dudes, fly down to L.A. and I'll pay for 6 days at West Beach Studios with Donnel Cameron". We were like, "what? ok", just totally laughing and shit. We got on a plane, saw Gretzky at the airport and eventually recorded what turned out to be How to Clean Everything.
So then Mike asked us if we'd go on tour in Europe with NOFX. We were like, "what? ok. beauty, eh?".
For the next 3 years, we rode the tail-end of the punk-rock explosion. When the smoke cleared and we were putting together Less Talk More Rock, it was becoming evident that Jordy and I, the rural metal-heads, were cut from an entirely different cloth than little John-John, the urbane poet. He just didn't seem to enjoy getting attacked by nazi-skinheads or sleeping on piss-soaked mattresses in lice-infested italian squats anymore. Go figure.
So shortly after we recorded LTMR, we shook hands, performed a mutual culling of the herd and like all good revolutionary anti-capitalists, got into an argument about money. Eventually, we worked out our differences and helped John into his proverbial Golden Parachute, which he has apparently, thus far, rolled into $80,000 worth of pennies with which to buy gourmet peanut butter and bread made of gold. Weird!
Anyways, we began the search for the Chosen One, the one the Oracle had prophesized would help us fulfill our mission to thrash the planet into submission with our radical, humane message!
I was digging the "progressive thrash band looking for a bass-player" poster out of the archives when I saw him. Kowalski. Todd Kowalski to be exact. "The Rod" as he was known back in Regina. There was something about him. I suddenly felt a warmth unlike any I had felt before.
He was peeing on my arm.
That, in addition to the fact that he didn't own a bass or a bass amp and to be quite frank, had never even played bass before, settled it: he was to be our 4th and final member.
We resumed our global onslaught. Canada, Australia, Japan, and Hawaii fell like dominoes for the remainder of '96 and into 1997 (Thunder Bay withstood the onslaught, incidentally. Not next time!).
Then me and Jord (with the help of our pal Regal) spent most of 1997 and '98 establishing and maintaining our own record label, G7 Welcoming Committee Records.
By early '99, we got G7 under relative control and turned our energies back to Propagandhi. We finally got a permanent practice space (permanent in the sense that it is only temporary) in Jord's basement and spent 1999 rediscovering our roots, recapturing the spirit that made us start this dumb band back in whatever year we started it, and putting together the songs that appear on Today's Empires ...
And here we are today, at what is likely only the end of the first chapter of what is shaping up to be a long and sordid story ... god help you all.