“Rock music is dead.”
“Guitar music is dead.”
We are at a point where these statements are being said on a daily basis in North America. So, isn’t this the best time to create rock and roll? When it’s no longer popular or profitable, but instead is made purely for its own sake and reptile need?
Joan Smith – she of “towering pipes and a remarkable dirty guitar tone” (torontomusicreviews.com) – feels this need. Smith has spent the past decade fronting blues rock band Little Foot Long Foot, playing any stage willing to handle their volume and achieving familiarity with song placements in shows like Orange is the New Black. Recently she has been found onstage playing guitar and singing backup for Juno winning Serena Ryder, as well as The Trews and even Rowdy Roddy Piper (R.I.P.).
With her new 6 song EP ‘Normalize’, Smith has written about facing reality – swooping through #MeToo, political populism, privilege, sexual ownership, and the mental struggle that occurs after internalizing all of it, after listening to healthy doses of Rage Against the Machine, Queens of the Stone Age and early PJ Harvey. The songs feature cutting vocals that amp up to the edge of sanity, all to a pulsing rock beat and relentless, unpopular guitars. “Sometimes you hate yourself. Sometimes you hate everything else, so after internalizing these emotions they have come out as angry rock music that you can dance to,” says Smith.
Tom Juhas, an accomplished guitar player, producer and sound maker for artists such as Bret Higgins’ Atlas Revolt, Jadea Kelly and Ryan O’Reilly, has both honed and expanded these songs through his production, arrangement and angular, aggressive lead guitar. “Tom carries the same torch for rock music that I do, but brings a massive, broad musical knowledge that has pushed me and these songs into a gloriously twisted dirty hole,” says Smith. Tom and Joan assembled a killer recording band including Jesse Labovitz (No Warning, Headstones), Brian Kobayakawa (Serena Ryder), and enlisted musical guru Andre Wahl (Mudvayne, Jill Barber) to mix. “If there’s a better new rock band in the city [Toronto] right now I’ll eat my toque,” says Glenn Milchem, drummer of Blue Rodeo and Change of Heart.