The Dudez & Kerouac are back

Top two campus bands sit down with the Journal to discuss their rise to the top

Jamie Cousin and Colin Pendrith, of the ’Sack, play jaw-dropping rawk!
Jamie Cousin and Colin Pendrith, of the ’Sack, play jaw-dropping rawk!
The Dudez at their very most radical.
The Dudez at their very most radical.

I've always thought the best interview would be to be able to just sit and pick the brain of Jack Kerouac. Recently, I got to do the next best thing...sort of. I interviewed Queen’s own Jack Kerouac Knapsack Band. I can't say there was a lot of deeply intense brain picking going on, though. It was more like throwing out questions as a means of controlling the guys' tangential tendencies. Of the five members of the band, I managed to gather together Dave Wencer, the keyboardist; Colin Pendrith, the lead guitarist; and Connor Thompson, the drummer.

JOURNAL: So I'll start with the standard question—how did you guys get together?

Connor: It started with a dream, ok? And the dream was to form a group that was built on a foundation of rock.

Dave: In answer to your question, I met Connor when Queen's made us roommates, against everybody's will. Then I met Colin through some people who informed me that April Wine will be playing at The Cocamo.

Colin: We should tell them why Dan (Quinlan, lead singer) is in our band.

Dave: Well, Colin and I used to see Dan walking around campus, eating in Leonard Cafeteria and stuff, we were thinking, "Hey that guy looks like Robert Plant."

Colin: He looks really cool, I wonder if he sings like Robert Plant...

Dave: And so we'd always be like, "Oh, I saw 'The Plant' today" and get all excited. So one night we were drinking at the Tir Nan Og, and we were like, "Hey it's 'The Plant!'" and we were drunk so we accosted him, and we were like, "Hey, want to be in a band with us?" Then we needed a bass player, and we met Jamie (Cousin, the bassist) at a Purple Jesus party at Victoria Hall. We used to walk around everywhere asking people if they played bass, and he was one guy who said yes.

Dave: And then we kind of jammed for a bit in the basement of Morris Hall.

Connor: And there was much rock.

Colin: And merriment.

Dave: And sex.

Connor: No, no sex.

Dave: Right, right.

Where do you get ideas for the songs?

Colin: Mostly booze and loose women

Connor: Colin takes his inspiration from the drink and the sluts, and Dave takes inspiration from countries, and people that come from those countries.

What was your first gig?

Colin: Do we count the basement of Morris Hall?

Dave: Yeah, but the first floor don would always shut us up. How did you practice while in residence?

Dave: Well, that's the reason we didn't have any shows in first year. We didn't really have a legal practice space.

Colin: So if you're a frosh trying to start a band, make sure you have one member who has a house. That's integral.

Dave: Or a really big van.

Connor: Or who has access to the sewers.

Colin: Or someone who has a deaf, mute, possibly blind don, who is completely removed from all the senses, and has no idea that there's a band practicing. Do you have a favourite campus band?

Colin: I like Walker, although they may have left now, so The Make-out Club.

Dave: I like Electric Mayhem, they're a good cover band, their singer is cute.

Connor: And Khaki Snack—there are so many good bands.

Colin: That's really the message here—that there's so much good music at Queen's.

Dave: Queen's just has bars that will give any band a show, like Clark. Clark was really easy to get. What's the deal with the "Black or White" cover? Why'd you start playing it, how'd that start?

Colin: I saw it on TV when Michael Jackson did the Super Bowl. He did "Black and White" and the wind was blowing up and there was pyro in the background, and he was just like, "Eeeeee," and I was just like, "That's so cool, we need to make Dan do that."

Dave: Also, Dan likes to impersonate front men that aren't Robert Plant.

Colin: It was also an excuse for Jamie to do a rap. Jamie's other role is the Gangsta Rapper.

What makes the difference between a great show and a good show?

Dave: A good show is when people like us, and a great show is when people like us and we don't feel like we fucked up at all. Because very often we'll put on what we feel was a bad show and people will be like "Aw, that was great! That was the best show you guys have done so far!" and we'll be like, "What are you talking about? Dan broke nine strings in rapid succession. We played all the songs in different keys."

Colin: I think a great show is all about the audience because we have a great time no matter who we're playing to. Whereas, if the audience takes something away from it too, then that makes it great.

Dave: The shows where we get the drunkest are usually the best.

Connor: The drunker the better.

--Karen Jackson

Over the past year, the Radical Dudez have made their mark on the Queen’s music scene, playing countless shows and developing a devoted following. In March, they placed second at the 2004 Battle of the Bands competition at Clark Hall Pub.

Band members Adam, Andy, Brent, Anna, and Jason credit a strong friendship for their solid sound. The Radical Dudez intend to continue playing in the Kingston area for the foreseeable future, giving first-years an opportunity for a taste of the Dudez experience. Brent sat down with the Journal for a cup of coffee and a chat about the past, present, and future of the Radical Dudez.

JOURNAL: So Brent, tell me a bit about the band. How long have you guys been together?

BRENT: As a band we started in September of 2002. We had a different drummer the first year...and we were more of a sideshow act—stupid costumes, etc. This year we got Jason, and we’ve been really able to learn more songs and be more serious about music, but we still have a good time...our songs still aren’t political or anything, but we are more diverse, and we use a lot more instruments.

Where did you meet?

Adam and Andy are from Owen Sound, so they grew up in the same town. They knew each other in high school, but weren’t great friends. Adam was in my res during first year, and while he was in England during third year, he wrote a lot of songs and sent them back to us. [Meanwhile,] Adam and Andy lived with the drummer in 2002. It was rough at the start, and our first show was a month later, in October.

Who came up with the band’s name? This guy we lived with, named Matt Smith, went to Whistler for a year and snowboarded, and his group of snowboarders came up with the name, and “Smitty” told us that we should use it [as the name for our band]. It’s the easiest way to make sure that people don’t take us too seriously.

You guys seem to have become a pretty solid fixture on the campus circuit. Do you have a favourite venue to perform at?

Personally, people-wise, Clark is sort-of—not to sound lame, but—homier. They’ve always treated us very well, and were very accommodating...but when we played the Grad Club with Cuff the Duke, having the soundworks guy there was awesome too.

At the 2004 campus Battle of the Bands, the Radical Dudez placed second to Jack Kerouac. Was it a major upset?

No, I love Kerouac. I’m a pretty big classic rock fan, so it’s great to see people doing that these days. It wasn’t our best set, and theirs was the best of theirs I’d ever seen . . . it was cool that both of us [took the top two] because it meant that we could hold our own against bands who had already achieved moderate success.

It’s been a long time since you first set foot on the Queen’s campus. Is there anything that you know now that you really wish you had known back then?

I wish that I had been better at spending an appropriate amount of time on schoolwork. I was on West Campus, and I loved time I was visiting Chown, working on a project with two girls that lived there. I went to go get a pop, and some girl tried to kick me out, which was very different than what I was used to on West.

I was in Chown! I remember that—male visitors had to be escorted everywhere, or they’d usually get reprimanded. It was really annoying.

[Laughs.] Yeah. If you’re a guy, watch out for Chown, I guess.

How difficult do you think it is for Queen’s kids to form a band? There are constantly signs up with people looking for other musicians to round out an ensemble.

I was really lucky, because the guys in the band are my best friends. Here, it’s easier than in high school to start a band, I’d say. Meeting people at concerts is a great way, because you’re at least with people of a common interest. And we didn’t start until our fourth year, so it’s never too late. Res is great too, though—I think Bedouin Soundclash started practicing in the basement of their res at first.

Did you find it hard to budget your time between schoolwork and the Radical Dudez?

Adam was in the Queen’s Players, so I don’t know how he did it. Even when he was doing the Players shows, the nights he had off he’d be with the band. Personally, the band was more important to me than school, so it never really felt like a time commitment.

What’s your take on the Queen’s and Kingston music scene?

What I’ll say about Kingston is that it has a great bar and pub scene, so there’s no shortage of places to play if you really want to...It seems like it’s easier to get in with promotional groups here, than in Toronto where bands are a dime a dozen. Kingston’s also central to the “Big Three” (Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa), so if we got a gig in any of those places, we could get there much more easily than if we were on one end or the other.

--Tricia Summers

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