Fun Fun Fun Fest Preview: Nomeansno
Sat., 6:45pm , Yellow stage
Despite their role as an obligatory name-check in the deep subgenre known as "math rock," Canadian prog-punk pioneers Nomeansno have no use for the appellation.
"I think the term's fatuous," states guitarist Tom Holliston. "Listen to some Bulgarian wedding music! Or Bartok! There's a whole new world outside of 4/4."
Drummer John Wright offers even more exculpatory evidence.
"We released an album in 1991 called 0 + 2 = 1," he asserts. "So if we're a math rock band, we're not very good at it!"
Founded in 1979 by Wright and his bass-playing older brother Rob, Nomeansno successfully integrated the adventurous dexterity of art rock and jazz fusion with the speed, swagger, and humor of the Ramones.
"I was getting into punk rock from a teenager's perspective, but my older brother was already a grown man with quite a bit of musical history," relates John.
The fact that Victoria, British Columbia, is on an island allowed the band to evolve in relative remoteness.
"It's the capital of British Columbia, but it's not the biggest city," says Wright. "Vancouver is the biggest city. That water really was a barrier. Vancouver bands would come over, but not a lot. Victoria just grew its own, so to speak."
Nomeansno started off as a bass-and-drums duo long before that became a thing. Original guitarist Andy Kerr joined in 1983. Holliston – already a member of NMN's hilarious alter ego the Hanson Brothers – replaced Kerr in 1993. The hardest thing about joining Nomeansno? "Sixteenths," deadpans the six-stringer.
For its newest release, Nomeansno enlisted four electronic producers for a remix EP. Deadbeat's sparse, harrowing treatment of "The River" from 1993's Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy? is a highlight agrees Wright.
"Turns out a lot of those producers are old punk rockers from the Eighties."