Thursday, April 6, 2000
Often record companies will issue biographical information about their artists that's simply too incredible to believe, too outrageous to be true. So when the press kit arrived from Loggerhead Records for Will You Wait, the new record by Newfoundland's The Punters, one of its outlandish claims about the culinary habits of singer/guitarist Larry Foley demanded investigation.
"No, it's true, I love Cheez Whiz and jam! That's my favourite. That's why I keep mixing traditional Newfoundland music and rock and roll," says Foley from a pay phone in Dublin's Temple Bar, where he's enjoying some downtime before heading out on tour.
The band plays tonight at the Velvet Olive in Halifax.
This seems like an opportune time to confess a personal fondness for the equally disgusting combination of peanut butter and Cheez Whiz, only this time it's Foley who sounds incredulous.
"Oh g'wan, you're joking!" he exclaims. "You're even weirder than me!"
That's saying something, coming from one who would choose the uncertain life of a professional musician, but Foley and his bandmates have adapted well, forging a unique sound from the folk of their forefathers and their own fondness for catchy guitar pop. It's a screech 'n' Coke shot that makes you thirsty for more.
"That's the beauty of this racket, nothing's pre-ordained," Foley says. "People think you start a band in your early '20s and go with it from there. It's like Beatles records, no two are really the same. You're always on a learning curve, getting influenced by new things, excited by different things, disinterested in older things.
"I just hope I'm developing as a writer, and the band is developing. I'm more confident in saying the band is developing. For the personal development, you have to wait a few more years before it becomes evident."
In order to fully develop The Punters latest musical ideas, Loggerhead dispatched the band to Little House Sound in Hudson, 30 minutes outside of Montreal. Foley and bandmates Patrick Moran, Chris Batstone and Rich Spurrell booked a rustic B&B - "It was like being at Fawlty Towers for the summer" - and endured the homesickness that came with the extended stay away from St. John's.
"Well, I mean there's always give and take when you're in a relationship, right?" he says. "That was where the record company wanted to do it, and we weren't exactly apprehensive. We thought we'd rather do it at home, but then we said, 'Sure, we'll give it a hook,' and it proved to be a good thing in a way because it gave us a sense of perspective.
"It made us see how when you're making a record, you're making it for the whole world and not just yourselves. Having said that, I'd still like to record the next one at home if I could."
The first single is the aching Rise With the Sun, while a strong possibility for a second is a cover of the Kinks' Come Dancing that Foley describes as "kinda ska, kinda bluegrass, kinda I don't know what" that still includes some Newfoundland flavour.
"I found an accordion while nosing around up in the attic the first week we were in the studio. I never played it before, but I wound up playing it on three or four tracks. It was that kind of record."
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