DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE OF NOWHERE AND EVERYWHERE
BY: RUGGER RUGGEDSON
For the longest time I thought perhaps the G-ds hate me. You see…
I’ve been sent to find Inukshuk.
Unsure what short straw I drew, or what bad karma I am working off to have been given this assignment, for the record I began executing my command against my better judgment. Now, even after I gave up on the paper’s agenda and this became solely a personal mission, I’ve carried on. Despite the fact that I’d likely have better luck finding Bigfoot.
MEMO TO ANYONE WHO FINDS MY BODY BEFORE I CAN ACCOMPLISH THIS MISSION:
Having long ago sold my laptop and phone for food and survival gear money, I’m writing these notes with a golf pencil in a crappy journal book I got at a dollar store. If my body is found, I will be clutching this journal and its pages should be enshrined in whatever journalism hall of fame you choose.
Yes, the notoriously absent and/or in hiding Canadian rockers have led me on a merry chase. After their unsuccessful attempt to cross the US/Canadian border, and after releasing two albums to small acclaim to only a very few, Inukshuk have long gone to ground. Again. And they’ve apparently created another album. Again. So this publication needs a story, and I’m the schmuck who got delegated. Was it Karen from HR who wanted me out of the office? Probably.
In the beginning, it was fairly easy going. Sightings and rumours were to be had, and company-paid supplies were full. But time has passed and I am wearying of the game. The per diem from the offices ended long ago, I am out here on my own fumes. Hotel rooms have given way to a tatty sleeping bag on park benches. I have passed through depression, anxiety, disorientation, and even a brief period where I believed my own name to be Gord, a flute-playing sixth member of the band. None of it helpful.
6 months I’ve been on the trail, following leads, lies, rumours and recent sightings. I’ve ridden every mechanical contrivance Canada can offer, paid fare or hitchhiking my way to the next surefire fabrication, descending from initial (naive) hope through to utter despair, rising again through ambivalence to my current state of calm. I’ve been from Dildo, Newfoundland to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta. From Climax, Saskatchewan to Swastika, Ontario. From Sober Island, Nova Scotia to Mayo, Quebec. From Stoner, British Columbia to Cardigan, Prince Edward Island, and from Crotch Lake, Ontario to Vulcan, Alberta. Band sightings are many, but I grew to despair of ever actually meeting up with one or (imagine the luck) all of the members of Inukshuk.
I am currently in Ball’s Falls, Ontario after having been outright lied to by a pair of enthusiastic underdressed teenagers in Punkydoodles Corners. Initially, there was no sign of Inukshuk here either, though they swore on their iPhones’ battery life that it was true. Exhausted and shambling, I had just reached a point of quitting on life in general when I happened to catch my own reflection in a Tim Horton’s window. My wild beard and hair, to match my wild eyes, are only outdone by my last outfit of clothing smelling little better than the sulpher mines near Temagami, Ontario.
My eyes gradually focussed past my reflection to the people at the window seat, staring back at me (and what a vision I present!). And there they were. After Spread Eagle Bay, Newfoundland, Eyebrow, Saskatchewan, and Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Quebec, I’ve found them.
At first, none of us moves. I don’t wave, but they know they’ve been recognized. So I produce a tattered journalist lanyard I’d thought long-lost, and they look resigned and nod. I head in to meet the Gords. Based on my appearance and probable odour, though, they meet me at the door and we head down the street for a walk.
I am in the presence of the Gords and Gordons. Drummer Gord Tremblay. Bassist Gordon Murphy. Singer and guitarist Gord Brown. Singer and Guitarist Gordon Gagnon. Singer Gord Smith. All of them looking at me. They know what comes next.
So they start talking, without my even asking a question. I’m not even able to write any of this down, it all happens so quickly. I am going from memory, from this point, but I swear it’s as verbatim as possible despite my addled faculties.
Gordon Murphy starts, as though we were picking up on a conversation we’d had interrupted by a maitre d’. “So there we were in Conception Bay, Newfoundland and Gord (Smith) got the idea that maybe we oughta record a new album. We all laughed, of course, because we had no money and no ideas.” They all mumble agreement. “But Gord persisted. And when he persists, well, the rest of us don’t truly care and just go along, usually.” They all mumble agreement again.
Gord Brown took over. “So we set about finding a way to get to Cocagne, New Brunswick because we knew a guy there named Gordie Desjardins, and he could help us record. He has a wee studio and all the gear we’d need… Of course, when we got to Cocagne, Gordie was gone off with some new woman and no one knew where.” They all sigh. “But,” Gord brightened, “As long as we’ve known him, Gordie never locked his doors, so we let ourselves into his place and used his recording equipment and instruments.” They all nod.
Left unsupervised with decent recording equipment and instruments, it seems, turned Inukshuk into a songwriting juggernaught. “We wrote 157 songs in a week,” claims Gordon Gagnon. “Of course, only about six of them were any good, and of those I like two.” But they knew they had to flesh out the album, and, by democratic election, settled on twelve new songs. The other 145 songs are lost to the mists of time, though. “We don’t remember them anymore,” laments Gordon Gagnon.
At last I have the ability to speak. “Do you have a copy of the album with you? I’d love to hear it.” They all glance sidelong at each other, unsure of whether they can trust this dishevelled hobo who may or may not be beginning to lose teeth due to lack of care, especially with something so personal to them. It’s Gordon Murphy who shrugs and says “sure, why not, eh?” and produces a Maxell casette (complete with cover art) from his jacket pocket.
We retire to their campsite, in a ditch beside the highway. Gord Smith lights a fire. Gordon Gagnon smokes a cigarette. Gordon Murphy digs out a battered 80s boom box from an army surplus backpack and loads it with 6 D-cell batteries. Pressing play, he transports me to Cocagne, and as the first heavy rock guitar notes wash over me, I realize I have actually achieved culmination. Not only did I find Inukshuk, I am probably the only person outside of the Gords and Gordons to have heard Inukshuk’s new album.
The songs seem to blur past me, as they were all only about two minutes long each. Side A starts of with the heavy pulse of ‘King Tut Was My Bitch’, and the glam metal of ‘Insuring The Chrysler,’ before slowing down for the slow dance of ‘Dumpster Dive.’ The side is rounded out by the poppy ‘Happy Hookers,’ the complicated ‘Glue On The Fretboard,’ and the almost post-punk ‘Mayday Mayday Mayday (I’m Goin’ Down).’ Side B opens with another metal cruncher in ‘I Have To Go To The Bathroom,’ only to seque into three straight slower power rockers, with ‘Toothbrush Holder,’ ‘Lobster Boy,’ and ‘Maple Syrup Neti Pot.’ Inukshuk brings the goods for the last two side B closers too, going death metal on ‘Skeletal Sunday’ and black metal on ‘Shoplifter Satan.’
Home Sweet Home, indeed.
I ask if they plan to release this obvious masterpiece. “Nah,” says Gordon Murphy, as he puts away the boom box and the cassette. “We voted and it was decided that this one is just for us.” I press my case, arguing that the world needs more Inukshuk, and (withholding my opinion that it sounded like it was recorded with a potato, despite having been done, reportedly, in a studio) this album could really change the fortunes of the band, bring them notoriety and fame. Money, even. Gord Tremblay scoffed. “We’d only spend it.”
With the album played, and the boys of the band apparently done talking, it grew obvious that it was time for me to move along. I’d somehow overstayed my time with them, but they were too polite to say so. Gordon Tremblay even gave me the cover art from the cassette (reproduced above). “Will I see you guys again?” I ask, rising to trek on down the highway. “Never know, dude,” said Gord Smith. “We’re always out here somewhere.” I nod. “Well, if you change your mind, will you contact me in Toronto so I can help you get a record deal and get heard?” They all nod but I know they never will.
From down the road, I look back at Inukshuk around their campfire, not saying anything, not even watching as I go, already moved on in their lives to whatever happens next, wherever that may happen. And I know more clearly than I’ve ever known anything that they should never come to Toronto, never get a record deal, never become famous. It would ruin the magic of Inukshuk, which is something the band themselves intuitively know without having to say it.
I never went back to Toronto. Karen from HR can bite me. I’ve stayed out on the road, travelling from place to place across this huge, beautiful country of ours. I work odd jobs and meet people as diverse as any found anywhere. During my trials, I transcended the suffering of the search, and found peace in the movement, in the lack of routine, in the freedom of going with the wind. But mostly, I’ve stayed out here in case I ever run into Inukshuk again. Someday, somwhere, I hope I do.
SUBMITTED BY MAIL FROM FORGET, SASKATCHEWAN.
RUGGER RUGGEDSON NO LONGER WORKS FOR THIS PUBLICATION.
Last time we heard from this northern band of rawkers (you can read all about it RIGHT HERE), they were making a poorly disguised (as a tour) long distance run for the border. Details were as sketchy as the band members about what happened when they finally reached the border, but the truth of what went down has come to light – plainly, they were denied entry to the United States. No one was hurt in the exchanges that followed, though prides were wounded and a lot of “well, what the fuck do we do now?s” and “what the fuck is a passport?” were tossed around.
What the band did was steal a boombox from someone’s back deck (with a note saying they’d bring it back when they were done with it), found a truckstop bathroom “for those sweet cement wall acoustics,” per bassist Gordon Murphy, and recorded their second album in one go of less than an hour onto a C60 recordable cassette.
Prime Minister Hoser is 9 tracks of invective about border guards and why crossing borders is dumb anyway, lack of booze and clean showers, and the government in general because, as drummer Gord Tremblay poignantly pointed out, “it’s what folks do in coffee shops, so we figured it was good enough for our tape…” The tape also contains one cover tune, of Spinal Tap’s Break Like The Wind. When asked why that song was chosen for the Inukshuk treatment, lead singer Gord Smith said, “Why the fuck not do that one, eh?” Good point, Gord.
The band performs to their usual level of, er, proficiency on this effort. Gord Tremblay remains on drums, and his farts remain cataclysmic. Gordon Murphy is still slappin’ da bass, and says he gave up painting houses for following his dream of becoming the new sunscreen application technician for the Swedish Bikini Team. Good luck, Gordon! Gord Brown had to re-learn how to tune his guitar before recording began, but he was fine once the band helped him and then propped him on his feet. Gordie Gagnon squeezed out some incendiary solos over this rough melange of rawk, though he admits he misses his missus and the kids and so was chanelling his longing for them into his playing. And Gord Smith has added some gravel to his voice. Actual gravel. It’s fascinating.
The band doesn’t know how many copies of this cassette album will be available to their adoring fan(s), because they returned the cassette player to its rightful owner, as promised. “It was a sweet jobbie with the dual decks, eh,” said Gordie Gagnon. “I never had one so nice as that, I’m gonna miss it fer sure, but we couldn’t keep it, ya know. We aren’t animals, eh.” As such, they are unable to bootleg their own album until they can find another dual cassette deck player.
Will the world ever hear Inukshuk’s opus about their travails at the border? No one knows, not even the band. And what’s next for Inukshuk? They took off on this reporter when I made a trip to the bathroom (leaving me with the tab for the coffees), so we can only imagine when we will next hear from them. There can be no doubt, though, that this is not the end of Inukshuk.
Brace yourselves for the icy musical blast of Inukshuk, the best thing to come out of the Canadian north since the road south. The band says they’re “pretty excited, eh” to release their first album, We Cairn A Lot. Their blend of rock and roll stylings can best be described as a desperate attempt to, as guitarist Gord Brown put it, “be warmer where there are more people.”
Don’t get them wrong, they love the north. It’s in their blood, and the traditions and way of life above the tree line will always be a part of their lives. When asked why they would tour the south, given how popular the band is at home, bassist Gordon Murphy said “It’s fuckin’ cold up there, eh.” Hard to argue, Gordon!
Described as part Crazy Horse, part Ramones, and part Bachman Turner Overdrive, Inukshuk’s music is sure to please many fans of that good ol’, dirty rock and roll. When asked about their influences, lead singer Gord Smith said “We only had three tapes, ya know. There was Crazy Horse, Ramones, and BTO. So… they got played a lot.” Thanks for clearing up the mystery of your sound, Gord!
Here is the line-up of these northern brothers, and wee bios for each member:
GORD TREMBLAY – drums. Best know for lighting his farts on fire while wearing only a fur-lined aviator hat, Gord knows one beat and he’s sticking to it.
GORDON MURPHY – bass. Gordon is an avid painter, stemming from his time painting houses. “I got real good at straight lines, ya know.” Just like his bass playing!
GORD BROWN – guitar,vocals. Gord loves popping bubble wrap bubbles when he’s not playing guitar. And don’t offer to share your beers, he’ll drink them all. “Every time, too,” says Gordie Gagnon.
GORDIE GAGNON – lead guitar, vocals. Father of 14 children, Gordie is also a lean, mean, axe-wielding machine. When asked where he got his guitar prowess, he said “I had lots of time to practice, ya know, ‘cos I was always hiding from the damn kids.”
GORD SMITH – lead vocals. Gord is the reticent, level-headed band member. That is, until he gets on stage. “When I feel those spotlights, ya know, the ones from the community shed? Those come on and, man, something just comes over me and I remember I gotta sing.”
What a team, eh?
Inukshuk will be touring Ontario for their exciting debut album, We Cairn A Lot, through June/July 2017 on their B-Line For The Border Tour. Gigs have been booked in Ontario only. They’ve even been lucky enough to add a special opening act gig for one date with legendary Canadian rockers Snowshoe on their “Eternal Winter” tour*, so be sure to mark your calendars for the following dates!
Inukshuk: B-Line For The Border Tour
June 15 – Fort Severn – Roadside ditch, a mile or so south of town
June 19 – Pikangikum – Gary’s house
June 23 – Sioux Lookout – Sue’s Lookout
*June 29 – Thunder Bay, Ontario – Deke’s Palace (opening for Horseshoe)*
July 2 – Wawa – Wah Wah’s
July 3 – Sault Ste. Marie – Soo-ee Pig’s
July 6 – Parry Sound – the hockey rink (not the big one, the other one)
July 8 – Owen Sound – Camp KOA, site 14 (bring lawnchairs and firewood)
July 10 – Goderich – Ye Olde Gaol
July 12 – Sarnia – The Cupboard To Sarnia
July 13 – Windsor – NB: gig pending. Band may have already done a runner over the border…
So be sure and catch Inukshuk on their first (and probably last) tour, the B-Line For The Border! They’re real good guys, ya know, and as Gord Tremblay put it best, “All proceeds from the gigs and album sales will pay for beer and for us to get outta here, man. Oh, and, uh, thanks, eh.”
Inukshuk we hardly knew ye!