[Although his favorite albums are the three he did with Chris Wardman (Art Bergmann, Sexual Roulette, What Fresh Hell Is This?), he says “Drones” “is the best song I’ve ever written.”]
VANCOUVER — It’s been 19 years since Art Bergmann released his last recording, the Juno Award-winning What Fresh Hell is This? at which point he was simultaneously dropped from the label, quit music and later sold the statuette for dope money. Poignant as only Bergmann can be. The muse never left him. He kicked it out for a bit, and now he’s back, touring in support of his forthcoming four-song EP, Songs for the Underclass.
“Desperate times call for desperate songs,” says Bergmann who is in full control of his music for the first time and is also fighting for rights to his back catalogue. With that, he has created a masterpiece in “Drones of Democracy.” Although his favorite albums are the three he did with Chris Wardman (Art Bergmann, Sexual Roulette, What Fresh Hell Is This?), he says “Drones” “is the best song I’ve ever written.” Last FM recently played the track and the DJ remarked, “I don’t know who this is but he sounds like Tom Petty.” Slap.
Drones of Democracy is a pointed attack on the irony of bombing for peace. Musically, it's a slow, driving beat with howling guitars, leading to a crescendo of wailing instruments. Art and producer Chris Wardman have created a soundscape perfectly suited to the lyrics. It is arranged so that the final build leaves you feeling like you are standing in the aftermath of a bombing. There is no explosion of sound - There's a slight muffling as if you just lost your hearing because of a bomb. The bass continues its ominous flight. Gently wailing guitar echoes grief. The synth and other instruments fill out the scene. This is a masterpiece of sound mixing which puts you at ground zero.
Good protest songs - the ones that endure - never preach to the choir. They don't rally the converted. They never tell you what to do, just that something should be done. Good protest songs force you to think, to consider.
Art Bergmann reveals his mastery of the genre with the 4 song EP Songs for the Underclass. He shows you the screwed-up world and you have to decide how to deal with it.
It's all back: the synths, the skinny jeans, the studded jackets and, of course, the hair — and along with it, an ever-growing new wave of new wave bands.
7. Blue Peter
"At the forefront of the movement — their 'Chinese Graffiti,' 'Radio Silence' and 'Don't Walk Past' are a trifecta of new wave gems."
If you feared he would never return, it's official: Art Bergmann is back. The punk vet hasn't released new material since the '90s, but having spent his time in rural Alberta, he's now returning with an EP. Before Songs for the Underclass drops digitally on August 26 through (weewerk), it's available to stream on Exclaim.ca.
The collection includes four tracks. Opening number "Drones of Democracy" is a jammed-out, Crazy Horse-style rustic rocker. "Ballad of a Crooked" man is similarly sprawling and noisy. On the other hand, "Company Store" is a cowpunk number with a stripped-down middle section, and "Your Cold Appraising In" is a slow-burning closer with acoustic strums, piano plinks and rich harmonies.
This won't be the last time we hear from Bergmann. Not only has he expanded his upcoming tour schedule (see below), he is currently working on a full-length.
July 15th, 2013 | Published in Featured Articles, Overlooked & Underrated, Rock, Pop & Folk
By Jason Motz
“Some people take everything so goddamn literally. I’m in a really stupid business.”
“I just wanted to be good, like the Beatles in Hollywood.”
– Art Bergmann
The name Art Bergmann will never appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Neither will the counterculture zeitgeist ever acknowledge this Canadian wild man. The punk son of a Mennonite family, Art Bergmann earned his comparisons to Iggy Pop the hard way: drink, drug, and danger. As the frontman for The Young Canadians (Vancouver’s greatest, shortest-lived punk band), Los Popularos and Poisoned, Bergmann was frantic, frenetic and fanatical in his approach. In an era of Kenny Loggins’ stardom, Art Bergmann was the snotty rejoinder to MTV chic. Crass. Honest. Brutal. Real. Everything a pop star should not be. Most of all, Art being Art, he did not want to be anything other than himself.
Release Date: March 25, 2014
Label: Universal Music Canada
Buy it on iTunes Canada:
Tragically Hip – New Orleans Is Sinking
Alanis – Never Too Hot
Blue Peter – Don’t Walk Past
Boy's Brigade – Passion Of Love
Candi – Under Your Spell
Dalbello - Gonna Get Close To You
Eight Seconds – Kiss You When It’s Dangerous
Gino Vannelli - Black Cars
Glass Tiger – Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)
Grapes Of Wrath – All The Things I Wasn’t
Helix – Rock You
Kim Mitchell – Go For A Soda
Luba – Let It Go
Men Without Hats – Pop Goes The World
Northern Pikes - Teenland
Pagliaro – What The Hell I Got
Paul Janz – Every Little Tear
Payolas - Eyes Of A Stranger
Prism – Young & Restless
Rock & Hyde – Dirty Water
Sheriff – When I’m With You
Sherry Kean - I Want You Back
Spoons - Nova Heart
Strange Advance - World’s Away
Tom Cochrane – Big League
Triumph – Magic Power
Bob & Doug McKenzie - Take Off
Rush – Limelight
KD Lang & Roy Orbison – Crying
Robbie Robertson – Showdown At Big Sky
Colin James – Five Long Years
Pursuit Of Happiness – I’m An Adult Now
Powder Blues Band – Doin’ It Right
Red Rider – Lunatic Fringe
Bryan Adams – Run To You
Martha & Muffins - Echo Beach
The ticking. It’s hard not to notice, harder still not to find extra meaning in.
It’s a frigid Friday morning and Art Bergmann is making some tea in the kitchen of the small, charming acreage abode just outside of Airdrie that he shares with his wife, Sherri, and their two rescue dogs. The veteran Canadian singer-songwriter has graciously agreed to a sit-down for a story to publicize his upcoming Alberta shows, his first in these parts for a good decade or more, and gigs that, hopefully, signal a welcome return to this country’s musical landscape.
Immediate download of 2-track album in your choice of high-quality MP3, FLAC, or just about any other format you could possibly desire.
1. We Couldnt Care, No 02:31
2. Devastating Jams 02:26
released 26 July 2013
Mixed by Chris Wardman
Produced by Chris/Ruthless Ones
- by Shawn Conner
I thought this one was going to kill me…
I’ve been working on it more or less off and on since seeing Art Bergmann perform at the WISE Hall on Canada Day a month ago. The more rumours I heard from the people there about the Vancouver singer the more interested I became.
I’ve been living in Vancouver since about the release of his first “solo” album, Crawl With Me, but what I remember most is Sexual Roulette, with the “Bound for Vegas” single and some really electrifying tunes (“Dirge #1″, for example). I didn’t follow Art’s career much after that though, and I’m not sure I ever did see him live. So the Canada Day show was a chance to rectify that situation.
The comic strip, meanwhile, was a way to try and separate the Man from the Myth.
For that, I am indebted to everyone who wrote about Art, including John Mackie and John Armstrong, as well as the curators of the Bergmann fansite, ArtBergmann.com, who posted a befuddling amount of press on the man.
Also thanks to Sherri Decembrini, Art’s wife, who answered some questions when I got stuck (i.e. “the missing years,” when Art was in Toronto).
And thanks to you for reading!