Mixing sound and politics 

WHO: SideSixtySeven

WHERE: The Boot Pub

WHEN: Sunday, May 20

Punk rock sprang up in the ’70s from the fiery loins of a generation sick of the confines of mainstream society. Its outspoken lyrics and ear-shattering sound was labelled, in its own way, as political. Twenty-five years later, punk has taken on new forms and faces. It has become much more accepted by the Joneses, and for members of one Vancouver band, political has become more than just a musical adjective.

"Three of us in the band work for the Marijuana Party of B.C.," says Darren Agnew, guitarist for the quintet SideSixtySeven. That statement may elicit a few snickers or even cheers in the audience, but it’s obvious his job is about much more than legalizing a favourite past time.

"For me it has to do with where the solutions are for deforestation. Hemp is about one fifth the cost to produce compared to Canada’s paper and trees. The environmental effect is like half of deforestation and pulp mills. It may not be one of the main concerns on the party platform, but it’s one of mine for sure," says Agnew.

The almighty cannabis plant did not make it into the lyrics of SideSixtySeven’s upcoming CD, but that’s not to say the songs blow smoke up the listener’s ass. The band – rounded out by Ian Roberts on vox, Kerry Cyr on guitar, drummer Shawn Colig and bassist Rick Elliot – follows the examples of the blue collar musicians of working class families before them, drawing from the everyday question marks surrounding them.

"We write about stuff that we see right here on Hastings Street. Issues that are not necessarily politically driven, but morally driven," says Agnew.

This is in fact the band’s first full length CD, even though they’ve been together for better than four years. The band has been on a year-long hiatus, preparing for the 14-song release and the necessary touring to follow.

"We’re doing a bit more vocal work, doing the mix down and getting it mastered this week. We recorded most of it in October in L.A. and we’ve just been taking our time to make sure we do it right. We have a friend down there, Mike T, who really helped us out a lot. He’s worked with Oscar, Choking Victims, Millencolin and a few Epitaph bands," says Agnew.

Deep in the SoCal punk heartland, SideSixtySeven found the dirt and grit they had been searching for. Mind you, some of it would come compliments of a very large, fast-moving vehicle. The band’s van, carrying three band members, was struck by a semi on an LA freeway. The van was written off, but the boys just seemed to take their bumps and bruises into the recording studio without missing a beat.

"It just gave us a little something to think about," laughs Agnew.

But SideSixtySeven isn’t shying away from the road. They leave July 13 th for a cross Canada tour. The new CD will come straight from the presses and into the hands of the band just one week before they leave. Whistler is SideSixtySeven’s only date before that time, so they invite everyone to come out to hear some of the new arsenal… and perhaps talk some herbal politics.

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