Home Music Under the radar: 25 years of Chris Burns

Under the radar: 25 years of Chris Burns

by Archives October 9, 2007

Chris Burns has certainly changed since first taking the stage as a pimply 15 year old virgin, but fortunately for the Montreal music community, he hasn’t changed too much. He still remains one of this city’s most entertaining and eclectic musicians, currently playing in rock n’ roll super group Nutsak, as well as in various genre bending improvisational ensembles. Over his career Burns has collaborated with over 50 other bands and musicians, from godspeed! you black emperor! to Mike Watt. On Sunday October 14, at La Sala Rossa, 25 years of rock n’ roll glory will be packed into one incredible night, as Burns will celebrate his 25 years of musical madness by reuniting, for one night only, three of his former bands, Slaphappy 5, Bubblegum Army, and Terminal Sunglasses.
The evening will begin with a short set from GlassBurns, an improv duo featuring Burns on guitar with drummer Will Glass, they’ll also be launching their new album The Pain Dingus at the show. This will be followed by a video retrospective including two Terminal Sunglasses music videos, (one of which was banned from Much Music), and their appearance on MTV’s Basement Tapes, hosted by Frank Zappa. After that the reunions begin with the Terminal Sunglasses playing together for the first time in over 20 years, followed by sets from Bubblegum Army and Slaphappy 5. The evening will be capped off with a performance by Nutsak, who have just finished recording their first album.

What was the first gig you ever played?

The show on the 14 is actually the anniversary of my first gig ever, October 15, 1982. At midnight it will officially be 25 years. I was playing bass on three or four tunes, in a garage punk group that had no name. It was comprised of future Sunglasses members Lawrence Joseph on guitar and George A. on drums. Chris Barry, who had been in one of Montreal’s first punk bands, The 222’s, joined us for one number on vocals and saxophone. I was only 15 and my parents were none too thrilled about my playing in a band, let alone in a bar. I can’t recall exactly what the hell we played, but I do know we did a Swell Maps medley and that the song Chris Barry joined us on ended up turning into Terminal Sunglasses’ “My Cat Got Run Over By A Bus”. It was opening up for American Devices at a tiny little place called The Scottish Hall, which was actually some sort of Scottish social club.

When you were playing in the Terminal Sunglasses in the 80’s did you feel like you were a part of the local scene or where you guys just doing your own thing?

I definitely felt like we were part of a certain lineage, though I knew we didn’t really sound like any of the bands that had come before us, nor the bands we tended to share gigs with. When I first started, there really weren’t a lot of local bands playing original music, and by original, I don’t necessarily mean unique, I just mean groups that were getting gigs that weren’t cover bands. It was a very small “scene” if you could even call it that. To a certain extent, I was aware of some of the late seventies Montreal punk bands that had paved the way like The 222’s, The Normals, The Chromosomes, and The Electric Vomit, but I had a bit more of a knowledge of the wave of groups that were playing in the early eighties like the American Devices, The Blanks, Ulterior Motive, The Pseuds, and The Nils. By the end of our run in the mid 80’s, I felt a certain affinity to other underground bands like Déj

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