Bardos: The Wavelength Interview

Purveyors of: “FEMALE FRONTED NOISEY PUNK SHIT” (their words)
File next to: L7, Patti Smith, Brody Dalle, Sonic Youth
Playing next: Saturday, October 11 9:00pm at Handlebar, 159 Augusta Ave., Kensington Market, Toronto. The weather is forecast is clear with a temperature 12°C / 6°C. What a nice night for some music!

Google “Bardos Band” and two musical options come up — a “UK-based ensemble specializing in Medieval music and storytelling” and a “CANADIAN DIY Self-Produced Post-Punk” band. Pick the Canadian option for obvious reasons. Or don’t. We aren’t judging you. (We are judging you.)

I was able to pin down Fox Killdeer, the punk duo’s “HIGHLY FUNCTIONAL PRODUCER, GUITARIST, SONGWRITER, AND VISUAL ARTIST,” for this interview. I would have loved to pick Pinky Bardo’s brain as well. She’s the “YOUNG WRITER AND DRUMMER WHO’S BEEN DRAGGED THROUGH MUD HER WHOLE LIFE KICKING AND SCREAMING IN BLACK EYELINER AND HEELS.” If those bios aren’t enough to get you out to see a show, I don’t know what would.

You recently released your album Stolen Sex Tapes on Sept. 30th. Congrats! It’s a great album. How does this record compare to your previous work?

Thanks very much! Bardos is an all-encompassing art project. We live in a minivan. We live day-to-day. Pinky served as my backing band for years, playing various instruments in other projects… Stolen Sex Tapes is Pinky taking the lead! It’s a record written by a woman who’s got a lot to say. My previous
works were much more frustrated, angular and broad. Bardos is super-potent and focused in comparison.

When did you and Pinky form Bardos? How did you two meet?

Bardos was born in June of 2014. It’s a brand new band. The two of us met over 10 years ago and have been partners in so many projects, it’s hard to recount. Pinky had a couple dozen songs she’d written very quickly. She had an album title and a companion book ready to go with the album. Basically she had it all figured out, so we took a week or two to record our best 10 songs and I started booking our West coast tour, which ended up being about 25 shows this past summer.

How do you negotiate the songwriting process?

Pinky writes all the lyrics and drum parts, although I played drums on two songs on the album. I wrote three of the songs on guitar while she improvised vocals overtop of me… “Sad Fucks” took us about 10 minutes to write. “Busy Skies” and “Stolen Sex Tapes” each took a few minutes. Pinky generally writes the songs, and I contribute lead guitar parts, bass and harmony. It’s all very natural and symbiotic.

Why do you keep your band to a duo?

Bardos is a duo out of sheer necessity! We hope to have a band someday — it feels like that’s what is meant to happen — but we’re so nomadic that it’s hard to predict when that’ll change. Playing to backing tracks is a great challenge, and extremely polarizing for audiences. The songs have to be strong, because there are no live musicians to back us up. So that’s fun!

I see you are self-produced, which has become far more common. What have been your favourite things about self-production? What have been the most challenging aspects?

Our least favourite thing about it is that it has become so common, and we use common digital tools to record most of the time. Recording music in itself is not special and everyone does it. The best thing about it is the constriction that places on us when we’re recording. We can never get that warm, lively, perfect, real sound that could be obtained in a studio with good gear and analogue equipment. We are forced to search for beauty in the hideousness of the digital age so we have to find really appropriate recording spaces.

Recording isn’t a hobby for us — it’s our life’s work — and it seems like we’ve both been working towards harnessing a new sound born of trying to make decent recordings on the cheap in this here digital age. We write punk records and we record them fast, so self-production, with no budget, allows us to get our ideas down and teaches us a hell of a lot about making the most of a shitty recording situation.

Working without an outside producer, do you find the need to being in external ears to listen and provide feedback?

Not yet. That would probably be a good idea, though!

Having a female front-person is still fairly uncommon. Are there any instances where you feel it’s helped or hindered BARDOS?

Pinky was a punk drummer in another project for about 8 years before Bardos. The transition to front-person was natural and if anything, people seem more respectful of a woman who sings lead on every song than one who’s hidden in the back corner of the stage, pounding away screaming back-up vocals.

The mainstream seems okay with guitarists like Brody Dalle and St. Vincent, so that could have something to do with the warm fuzzy acceptance. Subconsciously, I think people are tired of seeing women as gimmicks onstage — they want you to really giv’er when you’re up there.

Women are still viewed in such a way that they’re expected to prove themselves… Depending on the city and vibe, venue staff occasionally belittle Pinky before they see what she does onstage, how capable she is of carrying the show. They’ll question whether she’s really in the band, call her “sweetheart,” or ask her if she needs a hand figuring out her own gear —only because she’s a woman. Being a capable female guitarist who also writes the songs, sings and plays drums seems to warm people’s hearts and negate any outdated doubts people have about gender equality in music.

Hypothetical question: You’re planning a North American tour. What other bands do you book to hit the road with you in your dreamworld?

Dream tour would likely be Bardos opening for Brody Dalle on a bunch of European dates. Simple.

Are you touring with any other bands coming up?

Yes! We’re playing a few shows with Toronto’s John Orpheus, a like-minded spirit to whom we were drawn magnetically and vice versa. He’s got passion, soul, swagger, and sparkle. We are extremely excited to join stage forces and meld genres together.

What’s next for Bardos?

We’re headed to the East Coast for a handful of shows. When we started Bardos, we were determined to play as many Canadian provinces as possible, then move onto Europe, the US, and elsewhere. Otherwise, we’re hoping to convince a label to press up some vinyl for us, since it is our favourite format, and a very viable way to sell music right now.

I’m a painter, so I’m working towards some shows of my work in Toronto early next year. Pinky’s finishing up two books she’s written. One’s a really bizarre novel that’ll be coming out in December!

Do your parents like your music?

Awesome question! No. No, they do not. They respect that it’s our passion, and our work… but sadly they are not the type of people to rock out to punk records! It’s too bad, cause it would be fun to share our world with them. It’s some fun shit. 🙂

-Interview by Shannon Roszell