By Justin Bruce
It’s late November of 2013 and I’m sitting in Saskatoon’s Underground Cafe, pumping out desperate, last-minute Facebook posts trying to get at least a few would-be showgoers down to the small coffee shop. As I rack my brain, trying to recall if there’s anyone I know who I haven’t badgered about attending, Me the Guts roll in. They’re a fairly new band and I have no idea what they sound like, but the drummer is my co-worker’s cousin, so I figure they’ll be a good addition to the bill.
Eight years later, and Me the Guts have blossomed into punk rock darlings in Saskatoon and beyond, having hocked their brand of melodic hardcore from BC to Quebec, and everywhere in between. Today, I’m having a chat with Derek Kuchirka, the band’s drummer, vocalist, occasional guitarist, and main song-writer.
Photograph by Tatiana Kalantzis
North Sask Music Zine: At the time we’re chatting, Spilt Guts Over Rough Cuts has just been released. Are you getting any good feedback yet?
Derek Kuchirka: Yeah, there’s actually been quite a bit of good feedback from people posting it (on social media). The Spotify plays are already almost as high as on our other albums. We got on a couple of playlists but I think most of the listens have been from people sharing it on Instagram and Facebook.
NSMZ: Even though you’re not able to play live for people, it’s nice people are still getting hip to the new album.
DK: Yeah, we had planned to release this album on 4/20/20 which would have been perfect for our band but then COVID started to happen so we just released one song (“Intensive Suicide Encouragement”). It was another seven or so months before we sent the album to be mixed by John Harcus.
NSMZ: I may be misremembering, but do you play everything on this new album or did you have other musicians involved in the recording process?
DK: No, I just ended up doing it all. When we got off tour in 2019, we had a full band. I had these songs pretty much written and was planning to teach them to the band after the tour but our guitarist quit. Our bass player lives in Edmonton (he plays in a band called A New Rhetoric) and I told him “you can start learning these songs but I think I’ll just go into the studio and record them myself so we can get this album out.”
Justin (from Swayze) did a bit of singing on “Thoughts And Prayers For Spaghetti And Meatballs” and Simon (from Mechanical Separation) did guest vocals on “Get Out Of My Head There's Barely Enough Room In There for Me” and “Born and Bred to Bake N Shred.”
NSMZ: It’s kind of unfair how good a vocalist Simon is.
DK: Yeah, he can do anything. On the last album (Lost Faith in Our Guts), he was doing some low, growly vocals. This time, he came in and said “Oh nah, I’m not going to do anything like that this time.” So I just told him that whatever he thought would sound good, we’d go for it.
NSMZ: Aside from the recording process itself, what else do you feel sets this album apart from your previous Me the Guts releases (2015’s Me the Guts and 2018’s Lost Faith in Our Guts)?
I think that the songwriting is just so much better. I know that songwriting will progress as I go along but these songs are much more melodic and are just more well-written than on some of the older albums. Maybe it’s more mature sounding.
Spilt Guts Over Rough Cuts artwork by Kyle Martin
NSMZ: Did you write all the previous albums?
DK: I wrote them all but I didn’t record all the parts like on Spilt Guts Over Rough Cuts. On Lost Faith in Our Guts, Joel Hryniuk, our old bass player, played on seven of the tracks and I played all the rest. On our first album, me, Joel, and Adam (Lealos) all played our own parts.
NSMZ: You’ve been at this for a while now, how and when exactly did Me the Guts start?
DK: I made a three or four song demo and put it out on YouTube around 2013. I didn’t actually have a band until 2014 but we worked on those songs and went into the studio together in 2015.
NSMZ: And prior to that, you were pretty involved in the Saskatchewan music scene. How did you start out playing music?
DK: I started playing in a band when I was around thirteen. I was singing in a band called Grab Bag Cone, we tried to be like Korn (laughs). Me and two of the original guys from (what would become) Cowpie started a band called Softie and I played drums for them. That turned into Cowpie and eventually I jumped on guitar and sang while my brother Cody played drums.
NSMZ: You released an EP of SNFU covers after Chi Pig’s death in 2020, so it’s fair to assume that the band has influenced your sound. What are some of your other main inspirations with Me the Guts?
NSMZ: Post-COVID, what are your plans for the band?
DK: We plan on touring Eastern Canada, we want to go right out to the Maritimes. Possibly a European tour but I don’t have anything really planned until we know we’ll be able to do anything. Maybe in six or seven months, we’ll have a clearer picture of what’s possible.
NSMZ: And we’ll give your ego a rest as we wrap this up, what are some tunes you’ve been digging as of late and are there any bands you want to direct the readers to?
DK: Plug some bands, eh? Well, I’m still listening to Swayze’s St. Angry. Lately I’ve gotten into Spanish Love Songs a lot. Oh, and the new SNFU (A Blessing but with it A Curse). They had five songs left from when they recorded In the Meantime and In Between Time that never made that record. I think some of the members of Propagandhi do some back-up vocals on A Blessing but with it a Curse.
NSMZ: Is there any else you’d like to add before we take off for the night?
DK: Shout out to (my dogs) Cali and Gunt.
Photograph Courtesy of Derek Kuchirka
Spilt Guts Over Rough Cuts is available to stream on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, and nearly anywhere else you can imagine. Melodic Punk Style will be releasing this album on CD and Wasted Wax Records are collaborating with Fixed Frequency for an upcoming vinyl release.