Local punk band Two Guitars Clash release debut album âThe New Economyâ Friday at The Levee
Two Guitars Clash is (from left) Sean Power, Brad Dooley, Adam Giles and Doug Rowe. The band will release âThe New Economyâ at The Levee on West George Street Friday night at 10 p.m. ââPhoto by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
They didnât expect their record to be so timely. But less than two weeks after millions of British public sector workers took to the streets of London in the countryâs biggest general strike since the Great Depression, and against the backdrop of a maturing worldwide social movement at odds with the global economic system, St. Johnâs punk-rock outfit Two Guitars Clash are right on schedule.
Fusing time-honoured punk stylings with nouveau rock guitar licks and honest yet optimistic lyrics, Doug Rowe (guitar, vocals), Brad Dooley (guitar, vocals), Adam Giles (bass) and Sean Power (drums) will celebrate the release of their first full-length album âThe New Economyâ Friday night at The Levee.
Despite punkâs teen ire repute, however, itâs not likely the room will be filled with your 19- to 25-year-olds.
âOur fansâ age bracket is big because we have people that I grew up with and played with in their 40s who like our band. Then weâve got people in their 20s too,â says Rowe, a veteran of the local punk music scene, as he sips a pint of Guinness at a downtown pub.
The lead singerâs black leather jacket, slicked back hair and gold chain around his neck belie the compassion behind the subject matter of his songs.
With an honesty and optimism that recalls The Clash and Stiff Little Fingers (the â70s Irish punk band that inspired the bandâs name), Rowe and company are faithful to the punk tradition, but aware of the perils of uncomfortably principled music making its way into the mainstream.
The opening track, âRock ânâ Roll Radar,â has already gone to air on local rock radio, but the catchy punk-rock anthem also happens to be the only song that doesnât speak to an injustice.
âEverythingâs tied together, even âRock ânâ Roll Radar,ââ Rowe explains. âWeâre using that as our single because radio stations arenât afraid to play it. Theyâre not going to play âChina Priceâ on the radio, at least I donât think so. Even though there are songs I think are radio-friendly on it, the other songs are about something pretty heavy duty, not radio friendly in their content.â
âCost of Doing Business,â the albumâs second track, is inspired by the miners of the Burin Peninsula, in Lawn and St. Lawrence, says Rowe, and âhow they had to struggle for years for compensation because of poor ventilation and diseases they got from working in the mines.
âIt shows that something can be done, things can move forward, people can make change,â he continues. âI want to show that optimism without being negative. I think a lot of punk groups can be very negative âŠ and I donât think thatâs productive at all.â
âChina Priceâ addresses globalization and the tendency of big companies to outsource factory jobs overseas, a current reality for the workers in Marystown who are occupying the Ocean Choice International fish plant with the hope of maintaining their livelihood.
âTheyâll send (jobs) wherever they can to pay lower wages, and itâs not doing any favours to workers here,â says Rowe.
âLook at âThe New Economyâ all the good jobs that are lost that allow people to buy houses and raise families. You got your middle class shrinking, right? Anybody can go out and get a minimum wage job, but theyâre not going to go out and get a good factory job because theyâre all over in China somewhere.
âThere should be regulations in place where companies shouldnât be allowed to do this, because if everybody had a decent job over here maybe people wouldnât mind paying a bit more for (things) that are made here.â
Former Stiff Little Fingers guitarist Henry Cluney makes an appearance on âWall Street Welfare,â a fact that still has Rowe in disbelief.
âHereâs a guy who influenced The Edge in U2, and heâs singing words that I wrote? That just blows me away,â he says.
âThe Stiff Little Fingers song weâre named after, Henry wrote that. So when the EP came out âŠ I found him living in Minnesota playing in a band down there.
âI sent (the band) a message âŠ and the next thing you know I get an email from Henry saying he would love to hear our stuff,â Rowe continues.
âHe said heâd do whatever he could to help the band, and so agreed to play guitar and sing on âWall Street Welfare.ââ
Though Two Guitars Clash calls a spade a spade, Rowe says as he was penning the songs he often succumbed to feelings of despair when faced with the immensity of needed change.
He describes the albumâs title track as an âidealistic viewpointâ that he thought most likely would never come to fruition.
âI could never see it being a widespread movement where people say, âWeâre not gonna have this no more and weâre going to go down to the docks and not let the container ships go, and weâre going to take our jobs back and weâre going to move all the shit back to the factories and bring everything back to life,â he says.
But now, as the Occupy movement continues to evolve, Rowe says he is embodying more of the optimism in his bandâs songs.
âMaybe it could happen now, you know?â he says.
âThe New Economyâ is a solid collection of catchy, punk-rock tunes that, with their spirited pugnacity and astute lyrics, are both distinct and true to their roots.
How rock radio will respond is another question. Are catchy tunes with impressive guitar licks and meaningful, relevant lyrics too much these days?
If youâre in St. Johnâs, celebrate Two Guitars Clashâs release of âThe New Economyâ with them at The Levee on West George Street.
Showtime is 10 p.m.