Love and Spitfire
By Kent Davies
From the ashes of Alberta punk act Bogart comes a deadly duo of potent garage rock and country soul. The combination of Miesha Louie’s fearsome guitar work and earnest, heartbreaking cries, combined with the hammering drums of Justin Landstorfer, is something of a Canadian rock ’n’ roll revelation. Tackling issues of personal loss, love and lust, they bring a level honesty that lends itself to the ferocity of their approach. Their live garage-rock confessions have already garnered quite the following their hometown of Calgary. Now the duo is hitting the top 20 on the Canadian college charts and receiving positive reviews for their first ful-length, MMMade for Me, just released on Winnipeg label Transistor 66. Stylus caught up with Miesha Louie before their Albert gig at the halfway point of their lengthy coast-to-coast tour.
Stylus: You’re at the halfway point a pretty extensive tour. How are you holding up?
Miesha Louie: It’s been pretty long. I can’t believe how many days I’ve slept in a van this tour. It’s pretty close quarters—it’s not a lot of room in there. Herb from the Hot Blood Bombers is also a giant.
Stylus: Are you excited to get back to Calgary after a long tour?
ML: I’m really excited to get home. This is the most homesick I’ve ever been on a tour before.
Stylus: How are the shows been going over so far?
ML: All the people who show up are all really into it. It’s a pretty fun rock ’n’ roll tour—we’ve had a few good turnouts so far.
Stlyus: Any good tour stories?
ML: We [Miesha and the Hot Blood Bombers] met up with Mad Cowboys from Calgary and a couple bands from Halifax while we were there. We pushed the show to be super late, so all these bands played 20 minute sets. Each of set was super fast and intense. It was just a great big party.
Stylus: It must have been a good party. I heard the Hot Blood Bombers got arrested.
ML: Yeah, that was with me. Just one of the guys. He had to spend a night in a cell. I don’t want to say more than that. I don’t want to get him in to much trouble.
Stylus: You are on tour with the Hot Blood bombers. How has it been being on tour without some of your Bogart buddies?
ML: I miss Justin. It would be a lot more fun if he was out here. Herb from HBB is playing drums for me on this tour but these guys are great. This is the third time I’ve gone on tour with them so we’re allreally good bros.
Stylus: How to do you pronounce your new album, MMMade for Me? “UMMMMMMMMade” for Me? “Ma Ma Ma Made” for Me?
ML: I’ve been pronouncing it like the song. “Ma Ma Ma Made for me.” But then, there would have been an extra “M” in there. So I just made it three M’s. It’s been actually really fun hearing different people pronouncing it differently. You get a lot “Mmmmmmmmade for Meeees.” It doesn’t really matter which way.
Stylus: It’s charting all over Canada and getting great reviews. What was the process like making this album?
ML: Well, two of the songs were from the last 7” that I did. Me and my drummer were playing so differently from when we started. Originally the project came from my acoustic songs, so it came out a lot more country than rock ’n’ roll. When I finally got Justin in, it got a lot more powerful. It’s basically what we’ve written so far as a two piece together. It’s just coming from a really good spot, I think. In Bogart, we were always to two that got along the best and had the biggest connection musically, and it’s totally carrying through with this. I’m really proud of it.
Stylus: One of the best cuts on the album is a tribute to your late father, who was killed by a grizzly bear while prospecting in the backcountry of British Columbia. How has his life influenced your musical career?
ML: Well, he was a prospector, and that life is kind of like that of a musician. Sometimes it’s painful to do what you wanna do as far as employment goes. It’s a passion thing. He would never get a “real” job. Prospecting is absolutely all he could do. So that’s definitely pushed me as far as my music career goes. To kind of follow in his foot steps.
Stylus: Your songs are very personal. Do you like letting it all hang out, or is that how you write?
ML: Yeah. Everything I write is basically like a confession or a picture of what happened. There’s a lot of break-up songs. A lot of coming-to-my-senses songs. It’s all super personal and really honest.
Stylus: When you’re performing, is it sometimes hard to sing songs that you’re so close to?
ML: In some cases, yeah. Some of the songs don’t carry the same meanings for me anymore. But stuff like “Mountain Man” [about her father, Arthur]—that hits home every time I play it.
Stylus: MMMade for Me is the fifth album that you have under your belt and you’re only 25.
ML: Well, five real albums. I guess I could toss in a couple of acoustic albums that didn’t really go beyond my local CD store.
Stylus: How does the new one compare to your previous efforts? Are you satisfied with this one?
ML: Oh, yeah. From previous recording experiences when you get the final product, I always tend to notice the little spots where you think you could have done better but with this one I’m just really happy with how it all came out. We kind of just took our time with it. We had two bouts in the studio. Four sessions. Twelve to 14 hours each, and they span over a couple months, so it gave us time to really finish ideas and really make sure it sounded exactly how I wanted it.
Stylus: How did you hook up with Winnipeg label Transistor 66?
ML: That was through my relationship with the Hot Blood Bombers and their relationship with Art [McIntyre]. When I toured with them last February for five days around Alberta, after that we started talking about doing a split, and after that we did a spring tour and we were definitely gonna do a split, so I talked with Transistor about it. Then the split turned into their full-length for them and Art suggested that I do a full-length. So that’s how I ended up releasing it.
Stylus: Are you happy now that you’re part of the Transistor family?
ML: Oh, yeah. I love the idea of a family label. It helps a lot for tour booking and stuff and having those relationships with bands helps. I only joined in September, but everyone has been super helpful on the whole team.