Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The differences between the metal scenes in Canada and the U.S.

When I first set out to do Canada Rocks week I knew that I wanted to do something besides just reviews. My knowledge of Canadian bands and the metal scene there is just what I read in magazines. So I decided to ask some bloggers who were from Canada and were metal fans. I asked them this question-"What do you think are the differences between the metal scene in Canada and the United States?" I have decided to list their responses in their entirety and then I will add some thoughts.


DPTH International writes a blog called Psychotic Philosophy. He said-
My first thought on this is that Canada has like 1/10th the population that the United States has which translates into 1/10th the revenue. Music, Television and Film industries are not nearly as well supported as the US, meaning if a Canadian musician, band or actor really wants to succeed, they need to break into the United States. There just isn't enough money in Canada to sustain a decent career. On another note, I find Canada is like an after thought when it comes to tours and album releases. All kinds of bands will tour the US, but won't breach the border until a couple albums in and several tours later. Or so I see it. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough. For instance, Blind Guardian essentially did their "Nightfall In Middle-Earth" tour in Canada 4 yrs after the album came out. And the same can be said for Trans-Siberian Orchestra who only added some Canadian dates to their Christmas tour a few years after the release of their second album. Again, it simply comes down to money. So, in the end, I'm not complaining so much as observing, but with the US's larger population, there is more of a market for all varieties of music. I'm not saying it's easier for bands in the US either because US bands are up against Canadian bands who are also vying for record deals and tours, so in fact it's probably more difficult. To me, though, despite a strong Canadian support for metal music we still have to filter it through the United States before we can enjoy it.

The Mule writes a blog called Difficult Music. He said-
As for the differences between the music scene in Canada and theStates, here are a few:1. The music scene is smaller here, which makes sense because we have1/10 the population of the States.2. It's way harder to tour across Canada, because, again, we have 1/10the population, but it's scattered across a larger land mass than theStates!3. The Canadian music industry has to take measures for self-preservation, or else it'll be swallowed up by the American musicindustry. For example, radio stations here have to play 35% Canadiancontent to ensure that Canadian artists get exposure and sales. (see
https://ccplmail.carr.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_content ). This has been successful, enabling a lot of mainstream artists to gain success hereand abroad. Some groups, like The Tragically Hip, are successful enough in Canada that they don't even need to tour or sell records anywhere else.When you apply this situation to metal, these differences don't have much of an effect, in my opinion. Metal's always been a very small, very international community, and it doesn't really matter what country a band hails from. So Canadian metal has always been a great export. Instead of really commercial bands like Loverboy (who clearly aimed to"make it" in the States and tailored their music for that purpose), you had bands like Anvil, Exciter and Voivod who did things on their own terms and became legends around the world, even if they were pretty much unknown in Canada. The "unknown in Canada" trend continues to this day. Here in Vancouver, you hardly ever heard about Strapping Young Lad. It's only in the last couple years that they've got some coverage in the mainstream local media. Same with Annihilator. Yet both bands are huge around the world! Canadians in general are great at observing other cultures and shapingwhat they see to their own ends, and this is what Canadian metal did with the NWOBHM (Anvil), thrash (Voivod, Exciter, Sacrifice), and death(Cryptopsy) scenes. In just about every type of metal there's some Canadian band that's on the cutting edge. I don't think a Canadian band ever invented a well-known genre of metal (except Rush, who probably invented prog-metal, much to their chagrin), but there's at least one Canadian act that's world class in any given sub-genre.Canada also has Quebec, which is a unique culture unto itself, as youprobably know. There's more of a European sensibility, which is why the lion's share of great Canadian metal has come from Quebec.

Both of the people I asked thought of the population difference first and that is a big difference that effects bands who come to play and where. I think back to concert shirts that were for a band's North American tour and you would normally have a huge list of U.S. dates and a handful of Canadian ones. I don't there are a lot of differences in influences because metal is and has always been fairly international. Metal bands from Canada in the 80's could just as easily be influenced by the same bands as a band in the U.S. I think it helped that labels like Noise, Megaforce and Metal Blade didn't see a band's location as being a problem so some truly deserving bands got signed and their albums were distributed here. I think that being on the same continent we tend not to see bands from Canada as being that different unlike bands from Europe or Japan. There are cultural differences, but they are neighbors. Thanks to these two great bloggers for sharing their thoughts on the matter. Feel free to add your own thoughts and opinions.

8 Comments:

Blogger Metal Mark said...

Ooops, forgot to mention that I will be off on Thursday and then back on Friday with a review of Rush's 2112.

10:09 AM  
Blogger DPTH International said...

Great post Mark. The Mule makes some great points, I often never realize a band is from Canada, until someone points it out to me (Voivod and Rush are the exceptions. Metal being a global community is a powerfully true statement and that's what really is important.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Bruce said...

Every once in a while, I'll fire up the old Internet radio, and listen to a station out of St. Catharines, Ontario, CHTZ-FM
I've heard some pretty good rock from Canadian bands I'd never heard of.

11:48 AM  
Blogger The Mule said...

Thanks, Mark and DPTH Int. Good posting from both of you. I guess the original link in my screed got garbled. Should be: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_content

9:13 PM  
Blogger Curare_Z said...

Bruce -- the Antidote is FROM St. Catharines! LOL. That's great.

Mark -- the Antidote would tell you that the difference between Canadian and US metal is that Canadian is better. :-) Not really -- but I agree with Bruce. When we go to visit his family you really get to hear some really great music you don't get down here.

7:12 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Canadians are big fans of Canadian music. Thanks to state run radio and television, Canadian artists will always be playing.

6:47 PM  
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Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

this is very cool... I just got wind that Exciter has a new singer and they're working on a new album...got a line asking if I wanted to do an interview...you're damn right I do!

I'm so sick of the Romans here in the U.S. ragging on Canada. I asked one guy who normally has a superior intellect why he dogs Canada. He goes "They're all French! Fuck the French!" What a dumbass.

I just did a post on Voivod's Dimension Hatross. Is there a difference between Canadian and U.S. metal? Not really. Canada has all sorts of bands in the underground that I'm aware of like Penetrator, who are a really good power metal band. Their guitarist roadied for Tony Iommi before.

I just got the new Mayhem sent my way...it's outstanding. They're a techincal metal band. Those are a couple, but think back to Anvil...they should be considered one of the first thrash bands when they started, and the Bay Area thrash scene had hardly begun.

Then even though Piledriver is a sort of cult band with a very interesting story, "Metal Inquisition" the song is a classic and sounds grimier than most of what came in the eighties, unless you're talking the New Renaissance acts, but I'm blathering...

This is a very interesting topic, and when you consider that to not like Rush is considered un-American here in this country, there's a bit of hypocrisy going on. And let's not forget The Guess Who are Canadian and literally handed us "American Woman" as an unintentional anthem.

So in other words, all the ethnocentric U.S. Romans, stop and think a minute... I say open the damn borders and let's unite the whole thing.

7:14 AM  

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