In 2013 Elijah Carnat-Gronnerud and Jason Scharf programmed a hardcore punk festival in Calgary as a kind of send-off for the regular show promotion they’d been doing as Spirit of Truth. The fest featured local bands like Glitter and The Chain and a few out of town favourites like Omegas and Iron Lung. That was supposed to be it, the end.
But this year, after three successful festivals, Carnat-Gronnerud and Scharf announced plans for a fourth from June 3rd to 5th, though this time, with a twist. This instalment, entitled “The Digital Age” finds Carnat-Gronnerud and Scharf partnering with Two Headed Dog Booking and Deep Sea Mining Syndicate, Garbage Daze is shifting its focus away from strictly punk.
For Garbage Daze IV, electronic acts like Jock Club and Varg join seven-piece psych/shoegaze group LSD and the Search for God alongside punk heavyweights Career Suicide, Destruction Unit, and No Problem.
I spoke to Scharf and Deep Sea label-head Evangelos Lambrinoudis about what prompted the shift, and whether punk, psych, and techno can live side by side. Watch highlights from last year’s Garbage Daze below and read on for the interview.
AUX: For those who don’t know, how did Garbage Daze get its start?
Scharf: Garbage Daze started four years ago. Elijah and myself had been putting on punk and hardcore shows together here in Calgary for several years. I was trying to leave Calgary to go work at a restaurant in New York. We planned the first Garbage Daze as a last show ever for Spirit Of Truth our promotion group. So we decided to fly in two of our favourite hardcore bands, Omegas and Iron Lung.
Last year’s Garbage Daze was billed with the statement that “we’re in this alone.” Talk us through what you were feeling at the time that led to that statement, and perhaps what changed and led to you working with Deep Sea Mining Syndicate and Two Headed Dog booking.
Scharf: Last year we were in a very different headspace. We felt very isolated from the punk scene and the local scene. That line was taken from the title of the movie I Stand Alone by Gaspar Noé. It was a statement about how we felt about our place in the world.
This year we realized early on in the planning process that we could no longer work alone if we wanted to grow as promoters. We have been pushing ourselves to be more open minded than ever before. Some of the results of that have been reignited friendships and working relationships with people we have known for many years yet distanced ourselves with.
Evangelos, what was your relationship to Garbage Daze fest and the Spirit of Truth shows like prior to you coming on and partnering with them for this year’s festival?
Lambrinoudis: Before I was involved I was a distant admirer. DJing as much as do on the weekends puts a lot of limitations to me going out and enjoying stuff so I had only been to a few of their shows over the years. They have always brought crazy and rare stuff to Calgary but it wasn’t until I saw them beginning to do more industrial/electronic punk stuff like Skull Katalog and Lust for Youth that I realized I have to start checking their stuff out.
How did Elijah and Jason approach you about being involved with the festival?
Lambrinoudis: The three of us have known each other for over a decade. Calgary is a small place and we had a few mutual friends in high school, so I think that connection helped when they added me to social media. At first we were all just talking about music and stuff and it turns out they had a deep knowledge of techno and electronic music that I am very passionate about.
Eventually we met up at Caffe Beano and the guys asked me if I’d be interested in helping out in executing this year’s Garbage Daze. I was super stoked, gave them an overview of what I think I could contribute, and the rest will be history.
Can hardcore punk live peacefully alongside underground techno and psychedelic rock?
Scharf: Absolutely, as long as the different genres involved are coming from the same place. Most of the artists that are playing are coming from a DIY punk or an underground music background. In 2016 punk music means little more than an attitude and an image over actual sound or politics. Electronic music and industrial music for example have grown alongside punk and hardcore. The roots of those genres in some ways are just as punk and DIY as punk and hardcore.
Psychedelic rock since the beginning has been a subculture steeped in dissent and a desire to do things differently. In 2016 there is so music exposure to your average music fan to every different kind of music. It is hard to maintain any real sense of identity without coming across as contrived or fake. We just wanted to book unique and interesting artists that we enjoy without putting any real limitations on genre.
[pullquote]”Electronic music is the inner city futuristic urban equivalent of punk.”[/pullquote]
What kind of crossover do you see happening between the punk and electronic scenes?
Lambrinoudis: Electronic music, especially from the EBM, techno, industrial side of things, is the inner city futuristic urban equivalent of punk. We live in a hyper busy world right now where getting the old band together is not easy. Electronic music brings back a sense of urgency. It’s not about playing instruments really well with fancy lessons and technical playing. A lot of the equipment people are using is really cheap, awful, unwanted stuff that has a raw unpolished sound. You can start a solo project or duo very quickly, put shit out on tapes, and play shows.
To me punk has always been about doing things yourself, in an urgent way, and cheap drum machines and mono synths make that possible. I also think there is a rich connection between the two genres, the ties of working lower class people involved; the idea of making anything with a sound system, a venue; the ability to self-produce and release music outside of the studio. It’s messy, it’s ugly and noisy, and I think a lot of people can get behind that.
As long as people are open minded, if they are looking for raw underground shit, Garbage Daze will bring them something really special regardless of genre.