Friday, April 30, 2010

The Incoherent Comp

In 1996 Gerry Hubley, Steve Mannette and myself started a local fanzine in Halifax called Incoherent Crap. It was a black and white photocopied 8.5x11 folded over format. Though the first issue or two was mainly the three of us writing show and record reviews, Gerry did most of the leg work on organization, layout, and spearheaded the editor's notes.

By issue #3 it had become a Halifax collective. We started getting reviews, editorials, comics, ads and rants from all kinds of people in our tiny, secluded scene. Most, if not all, focused on local happenings with bands and eventually branched out into politics and subsequent arguing. The amazing thing was that, in this pre-internet savvy punk world, so many people began to use IC as a means to air out dirty laundry in both a positive and negative way, we all still managed to get along. Maybe it was the fact that we were all teenagers stuck in a city right on the Canadian coast line hours and hours from anything resembling a "big city", we knew we had to keep the peace and be progressive about our little punk scene.

With IC quickly becoming the essential scene report for most of Maritime Canada, by issue #4 it was time to do more. Gerry began putting the word out to any and all local bands that we'd be taking submissions for a compilation to accompany the new issue. Using a basic cassette 4-track, we got an immense amount of help from Derrick Hiltz in recording several bands who would have otherwise not been able to be included on the comp. The result was 28 songs from 15 bands from Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The cassette came free with IC #4, which I believe was sold for just a dollar. Due to Derrick's volunteering his time to record bands, and several people donating old tapes to be dubbed over, costs were kept low enough so that everyone was able to get a copy of it this cheap.

Because all the copies were dubbed over existing tapes (most were intentionally left with the label of what was once on it - mine has Sarah McLachlan: Solace on it with a single line crossing it out) the quality ranged from decent to shitty, depending on the age of the tape and how many times it had originally been dubbed. But the quality didn't matter. This was the humblest of efforts just to give small bands from a small town a voice, even if for just a fleeting moment.

At the time, we had never dated anything with a year. Though proud with our efforts in all of our ventures, I think we assumed that all we did had a shelf life - that we wouldn't look back on it past short term memory.

The Incoherent Comp came out in late 1997 or early 1998. Upon listening to it, I'd be dumbfounded to find someone who would love listening to it who wasn't there to experience it. There's some real stinker bands (and I should know - I was in two of them), and some great bands with just poor recordings.

But nonetheless, this was a snap shot of punk rock in Eastern Canada in the mid to late 90's. It's truely a piece of history that could remain one of the best kept secrets Halifax ever produced. And looking back, now 13 years later, I can honestly say it's one of my proudest moments in punk rock to have been a part of it.

In an attempt to maintain the grit that was our time and place, all of the songs are mostly a direct rip without much EQing at all. I wanted to keep the same quality as an indicator of the honesty of the recordings - a time before digital recording, before any of us had the money to produce anything the least bit "slick" sounding. I wanted to maintain that undeniable indicator that this was truely by the punks, for the punks.

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