THE REBEL SPELL
Walker’s Night Club
Punk rock and politics have always been close bedfellows, generally while railing against the myriad injustices of the modern world and the prevailing system. All too often, it feels like a depressing, hopeless cause — which is why it’s interesting to see Vancouver’s The Rebel Spell title their latest album It’s a Beautiful Future. So: serious optimism or seething sarcasm? Well, how about six of one and a half-dozen of the other, according to vocalist Todd Serious.
“It’s really a culmination of all the different themes that we explore on the record,” says Serious. “But looking at it overall, it became really apparent that there was a lot of doom and gloom on the album — so the title came from putting a sarcastic spin on that.
“I’m generally an active and hopeful person,” he says. “But there’s certainly a part of bitterness that comes with it all, and I guess that plays into it and makes it seem more negative. But overall the message is always positive, and hopefully it will inspire people to try. We outline these problems and I might not have the solutions, but we can try. I guess it’s a bitter inspiration.”
Formed in 2003, The Rebel Spell quickly gained a reputation for their intense songs and live show while playing punk rock clubs and squats across Canada. With Future, Serious says the group was looking to challenge themselves as songwriters — which resulted in a few surprisingly complex instrumental flavours added into their famously their fast and furious approach.
“There are a few other instruments this time around — we use a piano and a violin on one song and an organ pops up on another,” he says. “We were definitely trying to push ourselves on this album. None of us are really that great of musicians, but we were able to bring in some other people to play for us.
“We were also trying to think of the songs as a little bit bigger instead of the standard two minutes.”
Armed with lyrics that rally around causes like anti-oppression and animal rights, the band was a perfect fit for anarcho-punk label G7 Welcoming Committee, where they released two full-length albums. While Serious says they loved their time at G7, the band has now moved on in the hopes of raising their profile in the world of Canadian indie-punk.
“With G7, it gave us a credibility boost as well as some extra attention from the association with the label,” says Serious, “[but] we moved to a new label since then because they’re a lot more active within the punk community in Canada. I think this will get our records out to the people who want them, since the only way to get them otherwise is straight from our hands.”
Pushing to get more people into your music is great, of course, but Serious remains cautious about the kind of balancing act a band like The Rebel Spell needs to maintain when it comes to the larger Canadian indie consciousness.
“It gets to the point where you have the option to play bigger venues, but you really don’t make any more money — not that you make a lot to begin with,” says Serious. “Generally with a bigger venue there are more hands reaching into the pot, so to speak. Also, there are bigger stages and you’re more detached from the crowd. I enjoy it all, but I like to see things being run for a community rather than just a way to sell alcohol.”