After a phenomenal debut record (via Vancouver, BC's Mint Records) which saw Cub reach the top 10 of Canada's college radio charts, the trio of Robynn Iwata, Neko Case and Lisa Marr found themselves further capturing the hearts of music fans nationwide during their first cross-country tour, including a stop in Montreal to record for the ground-breaking CBC radio show Brave New Waves (May, 1993). This is the first-ever official release of the band's incredible session.
Of this tour Neko Case later said, “I went on tour as a fill- in drummer for Cub, and I was hooked. Touring and playing live shows was the life for me.”
Includes Cub's cover of the Beat Happening song "Cast a Shadow"; liner notes written by Nardwuar the Human Serviette!
Brave New Waves was a Canadian radio program which aired on CBC Stereo, later known as CBC Radio 2, from 1984 to 2007. Airing overnight five nights a week, the show profiled alternative and independent music and culture, including film, comics, literature and art. The show was once described by longtime host Brent Bambury as "explaining fringe culture to a comfortable mainstream audience," and by his successor Patti Schmidt as "invented with an idea of what John Peel's show was, but without ever having heard it."
The following article excerpted from the weekly K News:
Robynn, Valeria, Lisa: cub! Capitol Theater, downtown Olympia, WA, 1993
My "few details" mushroomed into a tome!
I read your other two Brave New Waves release articles for Mecca Normal and Grapes of Wrath :) (which can be read HERE and HERE). They and the Brave New Waves Session series as a whole are such blasts from the past that serve to remind just how varied yet entwined the Vancouver and Canadian independent music scene was/is.
The Grapes of Wrath's first single "Misunderstanding" was one of the earliest songs by a Canadian independent band that I ever heard. I loved it and was a bit giddy that they were from Kelowna, BC because that’s where my grandparents lived. I always wondered if I’d unknowingly crossed paths with them there sometime in our youth. I never would have thought that years later I’d find myself in a band and chatting about my Vox Cambridge amp with Kevin Kane. Still got it, still works!
In the Grapes article, you also brought up Nardwuar the Human Serviette and Grant from the Smugglers. As you know, both were tour and label mates of cub, as well as being our radio kin and dear friends. Nardwuar kindly wrote the liner notes to the cub Brave New Waves release!
As for Mecca Normal, well, we were quite beside ourselves when Jean Smith agreed to produce our first record (the pep 7”). For me, the duo were at once both intimidating and inspiring. To someone raised on the AM Radio sounds of ABBA, The Carpenters, etc, it was a revelation to encounter music that could be so potent and cauterizing, sometimes uncomfortable and unpretty.
Were you and Lisa listeners to Brave New Waves before you were invited to record a session for them? It appears to have been on the air for a number of years prior to your session.
The Brave New Waves late night radio show began in early 1984, hosted by Augusta La Paix. I didn’t know about it way back then. I think I was too busy listening to Duran Duran and The Cure and watching Friday Night Videos, but radio has always been a big part of my life --- beginning with CKNW (I loved the oldies on Jack Cullen's The Owl Prowl) and proceeding through the Top 40 of CKLG and CFUN, the rock of CFMI and CFOX, CiTR (the student radio station at UBC... at least when we could hear it... the signal was very weak!) and CBC Radio 2 and 3, not to mention KYYX (96.5 The Wave!) and KCMU (now KEXP-FM) south of the border. The different call letters are like stepping stones! It was my brother Randy (co-founder of Vancouver label Mint Records) who introduced me to late night radio shows as well as non-commercial campus/community radio. It was people doing shows who were truly passionate about out-of-the-ordinary music, who did the footwork and homework to discover new sounds. It was clearly a labour of love and I jumped right in. Likewise, radio figured prominently throughout cub's existence. CiTR is where I first met Lisa!
As for Brave New Waves specifically, by the time I tuned in, it had a few years under its belt and had earned the trust of its listenership. It was always a delight to listen to Brent and Patti’s warm, friendly voices as they shared their latest eclectic music finds in the middle of the night. And they clearly didn’t just graze the surface. It wasn’t an easy task finding out about new bands back then. It wasn’t ‘everything next to everything else online’ like it is now. You would have to stay up into the wee hours glued to your radio... often with a pen and paper and a blank cassette tape at the ready.
I definitely respected it a great deal. So, for them to show such support of our music years later and then invite us onto the exalted Brave New Waves airwaves, it was a pretty big deal!
Was this all one session? It's a lot of songs!
Yes, but we kept our songs short'n'sweet. The session actually fits on a 10" record. So, we thought it would be neat to press 10" grooves on 12"s of pink'n'black vinyl... sort of hoping it would look like a 7" record got melted into an LP.
Did you take a break from your tour for a couple days to record the session or was it just another day on the road and you had a show the same night?
Further to your previous question, we actually didn’t have time to record any more than that. The recording session was actually shoehorned into the middle of cub’s very first cross-Canada/U.S. tour, just a few days shy of the band's one year anniversary.
The aforementioned Grant Lawrence from The Smugglers (and later a CBC radio host) did the booking of all cub gigs back then, and he — being in one of the hardest working bands around — had a 'no days off' rule. It was seriously non-stop!
Neko was our drummer on that tour because Valeria had to stay in Vancouver to mind her candy shop. So, Lisa, Neko and I played the gig at Jailhouse Rock in Montreal with the Smugglers and Platon et Ses Caves (Neko go-go danced during their set!), then crashed somewhere for the night, woke up and went straight to production/engineer whiz Kevin Komoda's DNA Studio in Old Montreal (not at the actual CBC broadcast studios), whipped through the songs, and were back in our Buick station wagon on the road to the next gig right after we finished tracking the vocals.
Was there a noticeable response to the Brave New Waves broadcast when you toured around Canada or back home in BC?
We recorded both the Brave New Waves session and interview in May 1993, and there was definitely a bit of an unexpected buzz going on. Around that time, our first 7” record was receiving heavy airplay at college radio stations across Canada and the U.S. as well as on Brave New Waves and Nightlines. Our Brave New Waves session actually did not air until November (and the interview did not get aired until January the following year). By then, we had toured the U.S. and Canada a whole bunch more, released our second six-song 7” record (hot dog day) in August and our first full length album (Betti-Cola) in October. The latter sat at the #1 spot on the Canadian college radio album charts for months. So, things were going swimmingly well, but the Brave New Waves session seemed to help cement a growing sense of legitimacy around the group.
Kevin Komoda, Lisa Marr, Cecil Seaskull and a mystery hand, one of our many Canada/US tours in 1995
Did Cub play any other national radio shows?
Yes, in January of 1994, we (Lisa, Lisa G and I) recorded a session in the big studios at the Vancouver CBC headquarters for David Wisdom's Nightlines show which was the weekend counterpart to Brave New Waves. That was quite a honour too! And then in the Spring of 1995, we did a live concert simulcast on Leora Kornfeld's Real Time on CBC Radio 3.
Did Brent Bambury attend your session or interview the band for the show?
Nope, we didn't get to see Mr. Bambury in person for the session or the interview. As I recall, we did the interview via telephone in the Vancouver CBC Radio studios. I did get to work with him later on when I did a guest host stint though. Someone at Brave New Waves had come up with the idea to have correspondents doing city scene reports from across the country. I had been a radio host on CiTR for a few years, was the manager at the Vancouver indie record store Zulu Records, and was in cub. So, I s’pose someone there thought me suitable, and they asked me to come in to do the Vancouver test run. I can’t recall if anything further came of the whole idea. I think it might’ve just petered out because c’mon, really now, who wanted to hear anyone other than Brent Bambury on that program? Haha! That said, it sure was fun. Brent was so personable and a pleasure to shoot the shit with about music.
Thanks for covering "Cast a Shadow". Beat Happening are in good company with your originals and a Beach Boys cover.
Props to you, Bret and Heather! Such an awesome tune! Such an awesome band!
Here's a funny, when we were first figuring out how to play it, we couldn't decipher one line of your lyrics. I guess we could have just dropped you a line to ask, but that would have been kinda lame in its own way and would have ruined the surprise. Today, 27 years later, I still am not sure what the line is...and nobody else on the internet is either, it seems.
I feel like I saw you at the Capitol Theater Backstage around this same time.
Yes, and we’ve got a photo of Lisa, Valeria and me standing in front of the marquee to prove it (it's on Betti-Cola). I was sooo excited!
Last week, Lisa and I were trying to sort out all of the many times we came to Olympia to either play, record or hang out. They’ve all blurred into a single clump of good times! I think a post-cub visit for LadyFest may have been my last time there. Egads, that was eons ago!
How long did this line-up (with Neko Case) continue after the tour?
Neko was on board for that first Canada/U.S. tour with the Hanson Brothers, Seaweed and The Smugglers in 1993 and one with The Muffs and The Queers in 1995.
and did you ever tour around the West Coast or across the United States?
Did we ever! We toured from coast to coast seemingly endlessly for four solid years. Valeria was very busy making delicious handmade chocolates and never hit the road. Our pal Smugglers' guitarist David Carswell was our tour drummer for our first West Coast tour in 1994 with D.O.A. and The Ne'er Do Wells (later The Hi-Fives) and an unbilled 15-minute set at the outdoor festival in Alberta. All the rest were with Lisa G on the drum throne including Yoyo a Gogo in July of 1994. We have a dorky photo of the three of us with Ian MacKaye in front of the Capitol Theater during that fest (it’s on Come Out Come Out).
Lisa, Robynn, Valeria and Lisa G - an impromptu cub reunion in Vancouver, late Summer 2019. Neko just missed it by an hour or so. She was in town, but was on her way to the airport!