Good times 

Canadian activist rocker clears his throat and his name


Who: Matthew Good with Wil

Where: Garfinkel’s

When: Sunday, Aug. 8

Tickets: $26.50/$30

British/Irish wordsmith Rebecca West once famously asserted: "people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat."

Vancouver-based singer/songwriter Matthew Good can take the defence to heart.

Since bursting onto the Canadian music scene in the mid-1990s the West Coast rocker has acquired a reputation that precedes him for being ill tempered, an irrepressible cynic armed with malicious sarcasm.

It’s not entirely unwarranted. Good’s forthrightness could easily be confused with contempt. His manner is anything but disarming. Let’s just say, he’s no smooth talker.

Even so, he counters that things have gone too far.

"I would say I’m probably a far more positive person than a lot of people think but I temper that with being a bit of a realist as well," states the frank Mr. Good. "The media invents crap about people. To most Canadians I’m just this mainstream guy that has a bad attitude and is capable of flying off the handle and has done all this horrible stuff."

Keep in mind this is Canada. Britain gets Johnny Rotten’s sneer and snot attacks on the Monarchy. Norway gets clans of Viking-channeling death-metal pagans burning Lutheran churches and attacking their fans with sheep remains. It’s somewhat fitting that to draw attention in Canadian music, you simply have to distinguish yourself, as Ms. West once did, from a doormat.

Good’s un-doormat-like qualities stem from an unwavering dedication to human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and unwillingness to keep his mouth shut on political matters. He’s held fast through six full-length albums, starting with 1995’s The Last of the Ghetto Astronauts . The 2003 album White Light Rock & Roll Review – his latest – is a musical molotov cocktail aimed at the Bush administration disguised as radio-friendly, edgy emo-pop driven by his instantly recognizable anxious vocals.

According to Good, the activist and the musician/artist are inseparable.

"I do a lot of writing, I play music, and I’m involved in a lot of activism. One is completely and entirely involved in the other," he states. "To me they’re the same thing. One influences the other and they can’t be separated from each other."

In that sense he confesses to being put off by the sudden outburst of pop culture politics, even though the ends do justify the means by spreading awareness.

"As an activist, you have to take the good with the bad," Good says. "The negative aspect is that a lot of people in the entertainment industry use it as a promotional tool. People flip-flop. When the U.S. invaded Iraq the majority of American entertainers supported the troops. Now they’re against the war.

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