One of the best comic books I read as a child was The Uncanny X-Men #251, wherein Wolverine is captured and tortured under a balmy Australian sun by members of the half-men, half-robot Reavers.
Mad Max-esque parallels notwithstanding, it is a pretty badass story: Dude gets beaten nearly to death but refuses to give in to local baddies. He has some weird, druggy epiphany about his friends. And then some pan-Asian teenage girl rescues him and aids his recovery.
I always wished I was the Wolverine.
But as I got older I was injured enough times to realize that I, in fact, did not have a mutant healing factor and that I couldn’t grow my hair into a mid-part that came up into two devilish points. And then punk rock happened and comic books seemed a lot less important.
But, like the Wolverine, comic books never, ever die.
Thankfully, Saskatoon’s Lady Deathstryke are a three-piece band who have taken up the cause of combining punk rock with the magic of ostentatious heroic exploits.
“Although I still believe in a lot of punk ideologies I find them really boring to write and sing about,” says Smolinski. “I just wanted the band to not be so preachy and be really fun. Luke [Brisebois, bassist] and I are in fact obsessed with comics and nerd culture so it was natural influence for us. Most of the lyrics aren’t complete retelling of comic plots but rather stories about growing up with comics in our lives.”
But comic books aren’t the only nerd culture the trio geek-baits – there are plenty of nods to the So-Cal bands of yesteryear. Infusing their songwriting with plenty of upbeat riffs and the mandatory stop-on-a-dime pauses, Lady Deathstryke rage hard without losing the all-important pop-punk hooks.
And, even better, front man Smolinski harnesses the spirit of songs-about-girls while adding his own twist. For example, on Lady Deathstryke’s debut 7”, he rails against growing into a functioning-yet-repressed adult with the simple line “You said my stuff was stupid.”
I can only hope he means comic books and a shitty girlfriend and hopefully not his mom.
“The ‘I Can’t Stand To Be With You’ 7″ cover was illustrated by [local artist] Don Sparrow from an idea that was sparked from the song of the same title,” explains Smolinski. “We had written the music of the song and we knew we wanted a good old skate punk vibe to it. And then we got the idea to text message a bunch of our friends asking them why they hate their ex-girlfriends. Their overwhelming replies became the lyrics to the song and we thought it was a great theme for the 7″ record.
“I was looking at a lot of covers of comics from the 60’s and I kept noticing that there was always a damsel in distress in a swamp or fire being saved by some guy,” he continues. “We thought it would be great to spin it around and have his last words basically telling his girlfriend how crummy she is.”
While the 7” is pretty killer – uhm, like the Wolverine – Lady Deathstryke have no immediate plans on a full-length, choosing instead to keep their exploits short and concise. A smart move, considering that comic book writers didn’t get rich by blowing their loads all at once – they kept kids emptying their penny jars by keeping them in suspense.
After all, maybe THIS is time the Wolverine will die.
“We’re going to stick to recording four or five songs at a time and just doing a really good job of putting out great complete packages,” says Smolinski. “People aren’t interested in listening to a whole 30 or 40 minutes of some local punk band in their car. They want a short taste of the band, to recognize it’s rad and then move on to the next thing.”
To Be Continued… tomorrow when we announce our first ever Ominocity contest where we are giving away copies of Lady Deathstryke’s debut 7” record to two lucky viewers. Stay tuned on Friday when we announce contest details!
— Photos by Tara Dupuis