Wyrd III is a hugely ambitious, double-stage, multi-city music marathon hosted by Weird Canada. In addition to hosting a massive variety of bands from all across Canada – please check the end of the article for more details – Wyrd-founders Aaron Levin of weirdcanada.com and Paul K. Lawton of Mammoth Cave Records have possibly undertaken one of the most complex traveling festivals that Western Canada has ever seen.
In addition to booking the normal festival hoo-hah, Levin and Lawton have also assigned themselves with the task of physically moving all 16 bands and their gear across Alberta, the Rockies and on to Vancouver. My head actually hurts thinking about it.
The following is an interview conducted with Paul K. Lawton on the challenges and pay-offs of Wyrd.
Ominocity: As amazing as Wyrd Fest sounds, I cringe at the sheer logistical nightmare of it all. How are you not tearing out your hair?
Paul K. Lawton: Well, I think it helps that Aaron Levin just went on a retreat and learned some magic healing mind-tricks or something. Aaron is as calm about literally everything now. We were running into some ‘difficulties’ with the venue in Edmonton last week that would have made it impossible for us to break even, and he’s like ‘it will work out’ and so far he is right. I am literally pulling my hair out.
I think the saving grace is that Aaron and I share a lot of key personality traits, hyper organized, detail oriented but still glancing at the big picture. We started talking seriously about doing WYRD III eight months ago, so we have had a long time to obsess over stupid things.
OM: How did you choose the many bands that are scheduled to play?
PKL: Aaron and I drew up a long-list of bands that haven’t played WYRD in the previous year that we are excited about, and then we compile a short-list of bands who can possibly do the festival for cheap (we have no sponsorships or grants, so cheap is key). Last year, almost none of my picks could do the fest, but this year I think it ended up pretty even. This year we actually had way too many bands that wanted to do the festival and we just couldn’t pay everyone or slot everyone in, so we had to politely un-invite a couple of bands, which was really terrible, I felt awful about that. Its tough, so many great bands out there that we love. All in good time.
OM: How do the bands all loosely fit in to the whole “Weird Canada” scene?
PKL: The thing about WYRD FEST is that the Weird Canada scene isn’t bound by genre the way that a “hardcore” or “goth” scene is. I would say that all the bands loosely fit via their overall philosophy, do-it-yourself approach and general attitude. Some bands, in the past, just can’t understand the Weird Canada “attitude”, which is as egalitarian and non-hierarchical as it gets, so simple things like “you have 20 minutes to play, don’t go over or you fuck over all the other bands wanting to play after”, and then we get the “fuck that, we’re playing as long as we feel like” and then those bands go on my “list” of bands I don’t work with anymore.
As vague as this sounds, bands on this festival “get it.” I think most people listen to a wide variety of music, and more and more genre goes out the window. At least I hope it goes out the window. The whole concept of “Adjective punk” that Aaron wrote about a few years ago continues to be true, and gets closest to how things work.
Stay tuned for Part Two of our Wyrd III preview tomorrow…
WYRD III :: Dates & Venues
MAY 20 :: EDMONTON @ Dinwoodie
MAY 21 :: CALGARY @ No. 1 Legion [Sled Island Warm-Up Party!]
MAY 22 :: VANCOUVER @ Waldorf Hotel