Here's an interview I did withModern Fix magazine about 2 years ago. It's kinda out of date but Jeremiah's a good writer AND it just recently went online so i thought it might be of interest to a few people out there in blog-land.
I mean , that is if anyone actually reads this thing.
by Jeremiah Griffey
Montreal noise punk aficionados, partners and graphic designers Chloe Lum and Yannick Desrenleau head off to Columbus, Ohio with a few pals to check out the 2002 incarnation of the More Than Music Festival. They wander over to a house show featuring An Albatross. Fire crackers explode. Dust kicks up. People poke other people in the ass with drum sticks. It’s a party.
As the dust clears, Chloe gets caught up wrestling a friend on top of their van and loses her entourage. These same lost friends happen upon a few 40-something white trash dudes smoking crack or meth in front of some graffiti. It reads AIDS WOLF.
It’s now 2003. Chloe (vocals) and Yannick (drums) form a band called AIDS Wolf, in honor of said tag. The two take off once again for Columbus along with their Black Flag meets Merry Pranksters gang of hooligans for the 2003 More Than Music Festival they hadn’t heard was canceled. A friend of a friend owned a record store, so they set up an impromptu art exhibit comprised of posters the duo makes under the name Seripop so as not to make the journey a waste. Then they hang a poster of their first show.
“The owner of the store sees it and freaks,” Chloe says. “He apparently lived in the house where the party was - the AIDS Wolf house. He tells us about the rodent trapped in the walls they nicknamed ‘AIDS Wolf’ and about actual wolves spreading AIDS. We realized our band name is awesome and that we love the Midwest. Then we cause a 3-car pileup by dancing in the street with a sign reading ‘Honk if you’re horny.’ No one is hurt.”
Some people (who don’t know the story) find their name offensive. Some people (who don’t listen to any form of avant-punk) say their debut album, “The Lovvers LP,” makes them want to jump off a bridge. Other people (prudes, mostly) say their penchant for nudity is a shameless attempt at “shock.” One major publication even went so far as to call the band “shit in wolf’s clothing.” But that’s an obviously uninformed opinion because they tend not to wear clothes.
“When the negative reviews started coming in we weren’t surprised by the fact that people hated our record but by the fact that so many seemed to actually have a personal beef with our very existence,” Chloe says. “We got a lot of weird personal attacks. One review even went so far as to reprint and mock the Seripop bio from our website in order to try to invalidate our record.”
Maybe people are jealous of the fact Chloe and Yannick play in a band that shares a practice space with Wolf Parade (whose Arlen Thompson produced their record) and Islands, the Nick Diamonds and J’aime Tambeur post-Unicorns vehicle. Or that they’ve achieved this strange level of faux-hype as a result of their Montreal scene being raped and pillaged after the Arcade Fire blew up. Or maybe it’s because they all look hot nude.
“You know it’s pretty funny that so much press about our record (both positive and negative) has been focused on all the supposed ‘hype’ we garnered pre-release,” Chloe says. “That ‘hype’ was a few tiny side bar mentions in articles about Montreal (where we’d be one outta 50+ bands mentioned), a couple reviews here and there of our live shows in weeklies and student papers, one interview in a Boston weekly (we were playing Boston), one interview in a blog and one interview here in a Montreal weekly. Now we certainly can’t control the fact that the city we live in was deemed some type of ‘it’ spot by the media. As for everything else, I don’t feel that we got an inordinate amount of press for a band that had been gigging for 3 years and self-released a few things. The media likes to pretend a band only starts existing once an officially released debut comes out, but most bands without money usually spend a few years on the road before putting anything out. Getting a bit of coverage based on those shows isn’t really that unusual. What seems unusual to me is the way everyone with an interest in our band seems hell bent on blowing that coverage out of proportion.”
Chloe and Yannick have gotten guff for all their projects, including the now defunct Da Bloody Gashes with Bobo Boutin from Les Georges Leningrad, and have grown rather thick skin as a result. Even their work as Seripop gets maligned in the design world, despite having developed some amazing album work for bands like the Arcade Fire, Rocket from the Crypt, Glitter Pals and An Albatross. Maybe, once again, it’s jealously.
“The band was a fun side project but nowadays it’s kinda creeping over more and more where we’ll find half the designs we do are AIDS Wolf related, the tours intermingle and the two are viewed as the same thing by many outsiders,” Chloe says. “That’s frustrating as there are two other members of AIDS Wolf, Chris (Taylor, guitar) who is a talented illustrator in his own right and Andre (Guerette, guitar) who works his ass off booking shows and tours under the moniker Mandatory Moustache. For a couple of reformed Catholics, we have an extreme protest work ethic where in our design and in our artwork and in the music we do, we’ve been jamming a square peg into a round hole until the hole became square too. We are very stubborn people who have used the negative reactions we’ve gotten over the years as fuel. We take a lot pride on living on our own terms and building a livelihood based on creativity, supporting our friends (as well as those we admire and respect) and trying to live as much as possible in the world of DIY.”
Though AIDS Wolf is most often compared to Rhode Island post-punk gods Arab on Radar, Chloe and company find much inspiration from Captain Beefheart and U.S. Maple. She’s quick to rail off a laundry list of contemporary bands she loves too, from Get Hustle to Devendra Banhart to Deerhoof.
“We are living in a time of unprecedented good music. Not only do we have access to everything from the past via re-issues and mp3s but it seems like every city has its own pocket of weird, far underground sounds actually making stuff happen. A few years ago, I was feeling really jaded. I thought that I was resigned to listening to bands long broken up,” Chloe says. “But right now my band has tapped into a network that keeps getting larger and larger of like-minded bands, each having their own interpretation of “noise-rock” or arty punk or whatever. A cool part of it is that we play shows with brilliant bands who are still in high school, as well as playing with bands in their 40’s or older.”
“The Lovvers LP” does have some Arab on Radar-ish moments, particularly the opening guitar churns of “Spit Tastes Like Metal.” Chloe’s desperate screeches intermittently emerge before she’s swallowed by a whirlpool of gnashing guitars. For a vocal reference point, some amalgamation of Afrirampo’s Pikacyu and Oni (energy level) and Magik Marker’s Elisa Ambrogio (production level) might suffice. Tracks like “Vampire King” separate AIDS Wolf from their art-punk ancestors by infusing muddy circus punk with tornados of billowing noise. As “Lovvers” progresses more and more songs - and eventually Chloe - get swallowed.
“We aren’t dumb and we know our band isn’t for everyone,” she says. “We also know that in our genre, there are bands that are better than us. There are also noise-rock bands worse than us who get favorable or neutral reviews … Are we shit? Maybe we are. Then again, most of the bands we like are considered shit by the same people. And most of the bands we like seem to like our band back. I’ve always been more inclined to care about the respect of peers than admiration from the media. We never set out to create anything that was gonna be easy to digest.”
The album was actually supposed to be a limited edition vinyl release of 300 on a friend’s label and assumed their friends and die-hard fans would be the only ones to hear the album or see the nekked people on the album art - including difficult-to-find magazine shots of people at a nudist colony and Chloe and company free-balling it in the woods. Everything was done when Lovepump United (CD) and Skin Graft (vinyl) asked to put out the record. Soon they’ll be releasing a vinyl split with San Diego’s Dmonstrations on Lovepump, but don’t look for much of a departure - all of the AIDS Wolf contributions were recorded during the “Lovvers” sessions.
“There were a few delays caused by lost masters and art collaborations being slow but it’s finally on track and will be out early this summer,” Chloe says. “The Demonstrations tracks are nothing short of haunting and we all feel really lucky to be working with them.”
After spending some very QUALITY time with 2/3rds of Dmonstrations on this past tour , we feel even luckier . Mr. Wade , you make one hell of a roadie.