The strong, silent type 

’nuff said

WHO: Removal

WHERE: The Boot

WHEN: Sunday, March 25

They’re a band of few words. Literally. They don’t have a traditional band bio. The description on their Web site reads: "There can be only none." Their songs are without lyrics or even titles.

"We don’t really have anything that says how we met or why we got together or who we’ve played with or the places we’ve been," says the Removal drummer who gives me only his first name of Ernie. "From my point of view, that’s generally irrelevant information."

Not exactly what every reporter wants to hear. A little further probing, however, reveals that this modesty, or mystery, cloaks a unique band with big contacts.

Removal is currently on tour with the well-known punk band NoMeansNo, showcasing their second CD Hello, My Name Is Irrelevant . Not a surprising title after our opening conversation. What is surprising is the amount of success Removal is enjoying without saying much on stage or off.

"We’re just bass, drums, guitar… augmented with samplings and pre-recorded material," explains Ernie.

Irrelevent was recorded on the label Wrong, owned by their tour-mates NoMeanNo. Plans for a third CD are already in the works for this summer. Their present tour is in fact their third with NoMeansNo, and they’ll head overseas together in May for five weeks.

"We tried Europe before, but we only made it three shows in. After our show in Belgium, we went back to the place we were staying, parked our van, and went in for a few drinks. We came back out an hour later and the van was gone. All of our equipment – gone. If we were a regular rock band, we could’ve just rented more gear. But because of all our sampling stuff we need that specific gear," Ernie says.

Removal turned tail for home and had only 15 days to decide what to do before they were scheduled for a major U.S. tour. Starting from scratch, and putting themselves into debt, seemed like the only option. But it doesn’t seem to have jaded their attitude.

"It is (a little devastating) for a band just getting on their feet, but I like to remind myself that it’s not about the money," says Ernie.

Removal’s recordings have included contributions from Chi Pig of SNFU and upcoming releases feature Joe Shithead of D.O.A. and Johnny of the Hanson Brothers.

"They’re not small names but really small-minded people," quips Ernie. While he attempts to downplay the well-established musicians, Ernie does stress the importance of the punk music community.

"We’ve just been lucky. We’ve played with some of these bigger bands. We’ve asked them if they’d be interested and they’ve all said yes. I think the bands within Canada really support each other. It’s a really small, tight scene, especially in punk rock. And although we don’t necessarily fit into the punk category, we have a punk ethic. We’re not a pop band. We’re not pandering to that scene trying to get played on The Fox."

Removal has in fact been played on Vancouver station The Fox, but Ernie says the station completely missed the point of the band.

"The DJ actually made fun of us for not having song titles – which we don’t. But tell me the relevance of having song titles for a band without lyrics. We play all over Canada and the U.S. We’re heard on all these college stations and kids think that it’s interesting. It’s attractive."

And it certainly leaves a little something to the imagination, as does Ernie and this interview.

"All I can say is if you’re interested in seeing something different, on the heavy side of rock, come on down and have a few beer. We usually sound better after a few drinks anyway."

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