DATELINE: TORONTO, CANADA, APRIL 2003, SUNDAY
…And then Kieran says “I want to start a band called The Two Koreas,” and then Stuart says, “I’ve got song titles,” and then Jason says, “I’ve got a pen,” and David says, “I’ve got paper,” and then Ian asks ever so sheepishly, “Can I watch?”
And so it’s settled then: there will be a rock ’n’ roll band called The Two Koreas, and it will be good. Copious pints are consumed, handsome tips are left at the table and off they go, creating lists and drafting battle plans. Stuart will bark orders into amplified vocal apparatuses, Kieran shall extract jangular sounds from his electric twanger device, Jason will open up canyons with but a gentle tap of his Farfisa, while Ian and Dave pave autobahns to run through them with rhythmic/percussive precision. The band will simply function as a microcosm of human civilization and evolution, i.e., heeding the lessons of the past (in this case, those first taught by The Fall, The Modern Lovers, Billy Childish and Neu!) to create a better future.
In the winter of 2003/04, The Two Koreas reconvene under grey skies to learn and unlearn songs in an industrial outpost located on the shores of Cherry and in a small studio space on Donlands adjacent to deliciously fragrant Greek bakeries. Songs are written with assembly-line economy; their meanings are only implied, but psychoanalysts have since discovered recurring themes of working-class heroism, wanton consumerism, numerology, surveillance, geographic dislocation, malicious elitism, linguistics and feelings of inadequacy that result when getting shit-faced with members of former Soviet republics.
Their first introduction to the marketplace came on the 25th of February, 2004, at Toronto’s Drake Hotel; The Two Koreas looked resplendent in their matching sweaters and button-downs, and netted $313.56. First gigs soon turned into seconds and thirds and 25ths, stages were shared with associates from near (The Constantines, Metric, Uncut, Controller.Controller) and far (The Ponys, Electrelane, Read Yellow, The Zoobombs). The shows were a hit with young lesbians and old men. A limited-run CD-R (like, really limited – 50 copies), Live at the Beach Trials — featuring first-take dictaphone recordings from the winter Cherry Beach sessions— is made available for $2 at said gigs, and quickly sells out, receiving sporadic airplay on local university-funded broadcast frequencies.
In July of 2004, The Two Koreas set about recording their debut full-length in the claustrophobic confines of their new practice space on Geary Street in Toronto’s west end, surrounded by empty warehouses and discount furniture stores. Under the influence of vending-machine sustenance and the scent of rotting dead rodents in the air-conditioner ducts, The Two Koreas record 10 songs in two four-hour blocks — live, immediate, in the raw, just as god intended. (However, minor concessions to Spector-esque grandiosity are made when the band agrees that some tambourine, melodica and maraca overdubs would sound “pretty rad.”)
This collection of songs is called Main Plates & Classic Pies. Fin.