‘Gender Poutine is the poor, adolescent decisions we make, or wish to make,” Andy Danny states, a laugh brimming up behind the words. “We’re not failures—we just haven’t quite grown up.”
Bandmate Adrien Jian cracks up sitting beside him in a car, the two sharing a speakerphone on a hell-frozen-over day in Edmonton last week, ruminating on the origins of their lo-fi power-trio.
Danny on drums, Jian on guitar, plus bassist Chris Gustav (absent for the interview), celebrate those adolescent decisions with all the indulgent joy of the band’s namesake comfort food. Gender Poutine makes scrappy, buzzing, surfy garage-pop. Everybody sings, which gives the music a perpetual gang-vox, chant-along feel that focuses power through the lo-fi haze of riffs and rhythms. The lyrics seem almost stream-of-consciousness: there are mentions of Wunderbar, of roommates eating the pizza you were saving for the morning, of “MILS” (that’s “Mothers I’d Like to Serenade”) or, on 2013 single “Gee, I Wanna”, of Vue contributor Chris Gee. But the hooks are sharp and the messiness of it all has an enthralling pull.
Maybe that sort of sound wasn’t quite the initial idea, Danny and Jian note. But then again, there really wasn’t any initial idea at all: the band’s creation was a spontaneous moment of creativity, first recognized and latched on to after a different band’s rehearsal.
“I would say it’s a complete surprise that we ended up making the kind of music that we make,” Jian says. “I never really imagined being in this band. We were just hanging out. Creaks [another band Jian and Gustav play in] were rehearsing in Andy’s basement, and we were fooling around on the drums after rehearsal one day, and Andy stepped behind the drums and started shouting in a microphone. It just happened.”
“A lot of our sound is drawn from Kathleen Hanna and the riot grrl scene in Brooklyn,” Danny adds. “Which is totally something I’m into, but I would never assume I would’ve started a band inspired by that and, like, Ty Segall.”
It seems like the sort of perfect accident that could’ve happened once and then faded away, but the band’s continued to gained traction, which has now culminated in the Dear Mom EP, Gender Poutine’s debut cassette release. Its jacket art features three variations—a picture of each of their mothers—and its four songs were recorded at each other’s houses.
“I think it just makes the most sense for a band like us,” Jian explains of that DIY approach. “Not that we’re experts in the field of recording or anything like that, but we’re proficient enough that we can do it and more or less get the sound that we want. So why would we pay money to go into a studio when that money could go into touring one day?”
That same attitude seems to translate to the band’s songwriting: a willingness to follow a creative inkling wherever it leads.
“Sometimes—I especially think some of the earlier songs we wrote—just happened kind of spontaneously,” Jian notes. “Lately, I’ve actually sat down and written a couple. But they’re always kinda malleable: Oh, let’s just do this instead, even if it was something more concrete.”
Sat, Jan 10 (9 pm)
With Wares, Power Buddies
Wunderbar, $10 (includes