Infotourist’s political rage spurred album on US election

Canadian band addresses Trump presidency through first full-length album

Infotourist will play at The Mansion on Oct. 19.
Credit: 
Photo by Viara Mileva

Infotourist’s newest album shows what happens when intense political aggravation and artistic expression collide.

The band’s release party for their first full-length album, The Election, is on Oct. 19 at The Mansion at 9:30 p.m.

When Infotourist started out back in 2005, they only lasted a couple years before deciding to go their own ways. After breaking up, they moved on to other things.

But even through their initial short-lived stint, the band’s name hasn’t always been Infotourist. The first two shows they ever played, the band sported the name Beta Males.

Trying to conjure an air of nonchalant, unconcerned self-awareness, they wanted their listeners to know that they understood they weren’t “alpha males.” If there was going to be a joke about their manhood, they were in on it—better yet, they were the ones making it.

However, the group—Matt Baetz on guitar, Jason Erb on keyboard, singing and song-writing, Noah St. Amand on bass, and Tim Forbes on drums—decided the name wasn’t right for them.

When they changed names to Infotourist, it came from a lyric written by Erb. He wrote, “infotourist, where have I gone? / I’m a narcoleptic electron.”

In an interview with The Journal, Erb said that when he came up with Infotourist, he was thinking about information tourist stations in cities where people’s job is to tell others about places they might never have visited before. He liked the irony of this, and thought the name Infotourist suited the band’s quirky vibe well.

The group broke up in 2007 or 2008—Erb can’t quite remember when—but got back together after Trump’s inauguration.  They weren’t Trump supporters, and decided they all had thoughts to share about his American presidency. 

Their band name is especially fitting when given the context of their new album, The Election. The entire track list is about America under Trump—despite the band’s Canadian origins.

This disparity doesn’t bother the band, Erb feels connected to the American political scene, although he's Canadian. He even canvassed for Bernie Sanders in New York and New Hampshire back in the primaries.

When they got back together and started creating the album, Erb said he wrote out a series of rough ideas and brought them to the group to workshop.

“I started writing songs, and a lot of these came from me being really frustrated about politics because I was a big Bernie Sanders guy the first time around,” Erb said.

He said writing about things that anger him help him to work through them.

“I write songs a lot of the time to exorcize demons and get out of my brain,” Erb said. “I got it all out with that album, and now I try not to pay too much attention to politics anymore for my sanity.”

One song on the album, “Election Correction”, uses the “Conjunction Junction” rhythm from School House Rock, the musical educational film series, to play on the idea of politicians as patronizing figures.

“I thought it was funny because [“Conjunction Junction”] has a patronizing tone. […] [“Election Correction”] is about fixing the election for your corporate interest and fixing elections because [politicians] think they know what’s best,” Erb said.

He didn’t originally set out to write an entire album about the US election. His interests in social issues and politics kickstarted the project, but it wasn’t until after the songs were all written that he saw he had a concept album on his hands.

“When I write songs, I’m just writing songs and ideas […] and I take a bunch of songs I already wrote, and I’ll just tweak some a little bit lyrically into context,” Erb said.

Now that the album is finished, Erb hopes his listeners will see that “elections are important and politics is important.”

“All these right-wing idiots all over the world keep getting elected because of the systems that are in place […] and because of all the xenophobia.”

The last song on the album is called “It’s Time to be Free.” Erb says, “That’s what I want people to take from it.”

 

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