By Will Yannacoulias
Growing up as a teenager in Prince Albert, all ages shows featuring underground music were an important part of our identity. From the mid 1990's to the early 2000's the city had a vibrant extreme music scene, with homegrown punk, hardcore and metal bands booking a hall and bringing out 100+ green haired, leather clad kids on a regular basis. Even City Hall was in on it; Founders Day, Earth Day or Canada Day would set up a youth stage and everyone's grandparents would be sitting in lawn chairs, eating spudnuts and listening to breakdowns and blast beats. Flash forward to 2023, when a Vancouver expat announced his intention to start hosting a loud-and-fast open stage at the Spice Trail Trishna Lounge and begin booking punk and metal bands to regularly play in Prince Albert again, starting with Krash & Bone Crate on March 18th. I spoke with Clay Cottingham about his music promotion project Threadbare Productions, and invited Krash and Bone Crate to share their thoughts on supporting small town music scenes.
Cottingham spent some of his childhood in Prince Albert but lived in Vancouver most of his life. In Vancouver he was very involved in the underground music scene, operating a home studio, promoting shows and playing with snarly stoner/punk mainstays Mother Trucker. Time spent living in warehouses with bands and artists fostered in Cottingham a reverence for the extreme music and art communities, which he found absent from the current scene in Prince Albert. "I see lots of people noticeably into punk and/or metal here, there just needs to be a bit more cohesion" Cottingham shared with me. "There's lots of people right here, but if you ask them where they see shows it's inevitably Saskatoon, if at all. From the responses I've got from bands and musicians, there's a need for local bands to have a spot to play, and lots of enthusiasm about having a place to hang out and see other bands." Cottingham has founded a music promotion project, Threadbare Productions, intent on revitalizing the local punk and metal scene through open stages, booking local bands, and hopes to start drawing in touring artists as well. Cottingham has moved quickly; a punk show April 1st has been announced featuring Driveway Legends and Tadoma, and a metal night is scheduled April 15th with Lutheran and Phased Out. Threadbare Productions first show is March 18th, when experimental noise duo Bone Crate is set to share the stage with D-Beat/Hardcore hooligans Krash.
Saskatoon's Krash is a fitting vanguard for the return of extreme music to Prince Albert; guitarist Tony Tournier, drummer Shane Anderson, bassist Steve Postle and substitute bassist Mike Guillet are all from PA originally and earned their stripes as teenagers at the local all-ages shows in the early 2000s. "Prince Albert deserves to have a punk scene" Tournier told me in an interview recently. "The city has birthed a lot of bands and musicians over the years, and it's the kind of place that really needs that kind of music. PA is a tough town and it deserves some rough music. I think that with hardcore or with punk in general that little spark can inspire one person, they start one band, and it contributes to the whole scene. Growing up in Prince Albert my friends and I were like that, we heard these local death metal bands like Cessate, Symbiote, or Celestial Machine and were inspired. Saskatchewan can get a little left in the dust sometimes, these great hardcore, punk, metal bands go on tour and sometimes skip right over us. We should be working to create a scene here that they can't ignore."
Also appearing at the inaugural March 18th show is Bone Crate, a noisy experimental duo consisting of founder Donny Crash Bonez and local hip hop artist Jonathon Karabekian. Bone Crate blends crashing drums, dissonant guitars and digital noise in a way that should present an ominous, overwheming wall of sound when performed live. "It will be a bit insane" Bonez promised me when we talked about the March 18th show. "We want to make a bit of a mark and do something to expand minds." Karabekian has always lived in Prince Albert and is enthusiastic about the opportunity to collaborate with other local artists and encourage the scene in the city. "From the point of view of someone who is from a smaller city, Regina and Saskatoon are like the big leagues" Karabekian told me when we spoke about encouraging small town scenes. "I came up watching metal bands play in barns and basements and any other space we could use for free, down home grassroots stuff. So, to me anyway, I would see a lot of value in playing extreme music for a hand full of people in any legion hall or elks club or anywhere from Estevan to Stanley Mission if they’d have us. I would like to play more at home in Prince Albert as well as the larger centers like Regina and Saskatoon but it would also be just as amazing to play say, La Ronge or Melfort. As DV always says everyone could use a little more extreme music in their lives. It's my highest hopes that Prince Albert's hardcore scene will take off and the smaller surrounding areas will follow suit."
Tickets for Krash and Bone Crate, appearing March 18th at The Spice Trail Trishna Lounge, are available at the door, and are limited to 50 tickets. Follow Spice Trail, Threadbare Productions, Attack With Force Records and Bone Crate on Facebook for updates!