Monday, March 16, 2009


Originally published in: Chord Magazine

Album: Potemkin City Limits (Fat Wreck Chords/G7 Welcoming Committee)

Random thoughts: This was a quickie interview with their bassist, Todd, and it felt like a chat with an old buddy, down by the river, while listening to Immolation...

Catching Up with…

Considering the enormous wait for Potemkin City Limits, the latest album by Winnipeg political punkers Propagandhi, it’s no wonder the band has half-joked about having suicidal thoughts during its recording.
Maybe it was the stress of finishing their first album in four years, or them just being sarcastic and overly dramatic (remember, their website bio reads “Propagandhi is a band, unfortunately”). By the sounds of it though, the suicidal tendencies weren’t too far from the truth.
“It was a bit dramatic, but barely,” chuckles bassist Todd Kowalski nervously. “We took a month just to bail on the whole thing and then come back fresh. The suicide thing wasn’t too much of a stretch, at all, actually…”
A particular struggle for Kowalski was trying to get song ideas he had in his head to emit properly from his hands and throat. He battled with it on an ongoing basis, even shelving a song about the Rwandan genocide he had been writing for over two years.
“I think that was my biggest problem, not having the skills or talent to get what was in my head into reality, and to fall short.” But they managed to deliver such a ripping album. How? “Just more hard work, I guess.”
Another major setback was when Kowalski realized he wasn’t happy with his vocals, and decided to re-record them. Forcing himself to actually sing gave the songs “more juice,” he says, but his ragged scream is also intact.
“I was trying to learn to sing just so I had another option if I shredded my voice any more. Then I thought, ‘Oh, screw it! I’ll just give ‘er again!’”
Propagandhi is known for being outspoken and has always been a shining beacon for the un-co-opted facet of punk rock. Even in today’s sterile punk scene, it’s hard to imagine the band will ever stop caring.
“That can’t be an option,” asserts Kowalski. “I would rather just end it all than join that sad little world.”
Equal parts raging punk and amped-up metal, it’s hard to decide if Potemkin… is a metal album, a punk album, or something else entirely.
“We kinda think of ourselves as a punk band,” explains Kowalski, “but to get the darkness we want you’ve gotta bite the strings with heaviness, you know? Not to mention I listen to [classic Quebec metal band] Voivod every single day, as opposed to listening to Rancid not one day of the year.”
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