Jun. 05, 2007 - Issue #607: NextFest 2007
Gather ‘round, all kind folk, it’s time to say farewell to Choke
The members of Edmonton’s long-running Choke have managed to skip out on working laborious jobs, taking over a dozen years longer to grow up than most people are allotted, and they aren’t complaining.
Known across Canada for their demiurgic style and gripping musical smarts, the boys in Choke have been playing and sweating hard for 13 years. They have put out six full-length albums and have been on countless tours across the continent. But now, the band has decided to call it quits.
“There are people that are always telling us, ‘Please don’t die!’” says Choke’s longtime bassist, Clay Shea. “Some nights, especially this month on our final tour, I feel like we’re bailing on a really healthy relationship here. We still get along great, and we’ve been having so much fun on this tour.
“[Drummer Stefan Levasseur] has been getting a lot of the slack for it, but he shouldn’t,” he continues. “Everyone knows Stefan moved to Vancouver, but that’s not why we’re breaking up. We weren’t able to work enough and put enough time into the band to warrant him not going to school any longer. That’s totally understandable. Life happens, and that’s basically it.
“For a bit, we thought we’d try and maintain the band,” he adds. “We thought we’d fly in occasionally, and try to do a few shows here and there in the summer. But it didn’t take long for us to realize that we’re not going to be able to make a new record, and put the same amount of time into trying to top that last one.”
In 2005, Choke released Slow Fade: or How I Learned to Question Infinity,
the group’s final album and one that the musicians consider their
crowning achievement. The band feels that the album fully captured their
musical ideas at the time and that there could be no higher note to end
“My favourite record is our last record,” Shea admits. “It did really well, and that’s kind of the sad thing too. I notice now that we’re doing this last tour that we’re still picking up new fans, which I didn’t really realize. I loved everything about the album: making it, playing it.”
Shea and the rest of the band—Levasseur, vocalist/guitarist Shaun Moncrieff and guitarist Jack Jaggard—are all embarking on new musical projects, but Choke will be missed as leaders of the punk rock community.
“Oh God, we only have six shows left,” Shea notes. “I know I will cry like a baby. If I don’t, I’ll be blown away. The things that Choke has accomplished—it’s a tough business, and if we ever get to that level again [with a new band or whatever], that would be something else. This tour is bringing us some kind of closure, and we will play as hard as we can until the end.” V
Sat, Jun 9 (8 pm)
With Ghosts of Modern Man,
Fractal Pattern, nevertheless,
Hills Have Eyes
Starlite Room, $16
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