Pride Tiger and The Double Pumpers Live In Ottawa

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Wednesday, February 28, 2007 @ 7:45 PM

At Zaphod Beeblebrox

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I went to a rock concert at Zaphod Beeblebrox on February 3 and all I got was an awesome night out and an impromptu high school reunion that was 4 months early. And all you’re getting is a review to show for it as well as some new bands to investigate. Everybody wins. Unless you’re Diana DeVille or a member of the Mighty Eagle Band or 3 Legged Dogg reading this review and there’s my excuse for missing your shows that day.

This show at Zaphod’s was a bit of a last-minute show for me. That day, I spent the day teaching French to the neighborhood kids next door from me, ran 6 km. with my running group in -20 degree Celsius weather, partook in an ice sculpture festival at Winterlude, then drank excessively at a friend’s house after feasting on too much cole slaw and Polish sausage. All this before 5 PM at the cost of $10 and Diana DeVille’s interview with Vinny Appice on WildSide which I would’ve been too tired to catch a listen to anyway. But as 3 Legged Dogg’s music will be all over KNAC.COM in a few months anyway I thought I’d catch a show featuring 2 relatively new bands that could also use a chance for some exposure here. Initially there were 3 bands to review if you include the aforementioned Mighty Eagle Band whom I missed because I was sleeping off some of the beer I drank on my run and showed up after their set. If they sound anything like the 2 opening bands I’ll give their site a mention as well. And they do. So I will.


Local hard rock trio The Double Pumpers – owed big time for a KNAC.COM review since last September – were the other opening band to rock the hallowed and heavily-stickered walls of the Ottawa indie mecca that was Zaphod’s that evening with a setlist that mostly featured their older songs from their first EP and their first full-length CD as well as a few new songs I was completely unfamiliar with as the band’s penchant for bringing the rock and the fire prevents them from occasionally updating their MySpace site with new mp3’s. That said, songs such as “Oh Lord”, “Woman Of Mine”, “Devil’s Wings” and “Gotta Get Gone” remain awesome live staples for the band and are four out of several good reasons as to why they coveted the #6 slot on my Top 10 Albums list of 2006 (I think they’re somewhere between Queensryche and Kataklysm on my list). In between, singer-guitarist Wade Martindale can still solo and riff like his life depended on it, drummer Paul Granger can pull off a steady beat even while drumming with one arm and holding a beer with the other and bassist Damian Sawka still teases the audience with his 6-second intro to Deep Purple’s “Child In Time”. God help him if their future audiences include Bullwhip or Junkman who call him out on actually playing the whole 11-minute song. On the other hand, Damian and Paul’s side project Ukrainia did play a traditional 45-minute piece without stopping at a show a few years ago so at this point playing “Child In Time” in its entirety must be like playing anything by the Ramones or Nasum for them.


For the average headbanger, a band making the transition from playing songs inspired by Iron Maiden and Judas Priest to playing songs inspired by Thin Lizzy and ZZ Top might come off as an almost unconvincing transition if not an outright mockery of their genre and music. Vancouver’s Pride Tiger know this better than anyone as ¾ of the band were formerly in seminal battle metal band 3 Inches Of Blood and played on both Battlecry Under A Winter Sun and Attack And Vanquish. It was after that particular album that then-drummer Matt Wood discovered his classic rock side, shared it with guitarists Sunny Dhak and bassist Jami Hooper and after not being able to nurture that side while recording the follow-up to Attack And Vanquish the two parties were forced to go their separate ways. The band recruited a friend from another local band and Pride Tiger were born, delivering their 70’s style groove-laden rock swagger to many drinking establishments across Canada for the past 2 years or so. The band jokingly describe their music to be far away from trad metal and closer to the Tragically Hip but going on the strength of their standout performances of “Let ‘Em Go”, “56 Days”, “It’s Only You” (a song whose riff Wolfmother should’ve built a song around instead of unleashing the by-the-numbers “Joker And The Thief” upon us) and the driving “Hard Rain Fallin’” we’d be referring to the energetic pre-Trouble At The Henhouse years rather than the current abomination of the band that Gord Downie and company sound like now. Wood handles both the vocal and drumming duties like a young Gil Moore and the 2 guitarists trade their rhythm and lead fills and riffs with ease during the show. This, at the stroke of 11 PM, is too early for a show to end. As the house lights dim and the strains of Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin over the PA give way to a cavalcade of faceless indie rock I make my way to the front and end up striking up a conversation with Matt Wood about Pride Tiger’s brief history, his reasons for leaving 3 Inches Of Blood and the state of hard rock and metal in general (he’s not what one would call a big Hatebreed or He Is Legend fan). After being fortunate enough to get a copy of Pride Tiger’s setlist I wished Wood the best of luck with his new band and let him resume packing up the equipment with which he had more than enough roadie help despite offering my services.

And as for that setlist that Matt took the trouble to write down for me:

  • “No One’s Listening”
  • “A New Jones”
  • “It’s Only”
  • “Let ‘Em Go”
  • “What It Is”
  • “56 Days”
  • “The White Witch Woman Blues”
  • “Forget Everything”
  • “Hard Rain Fallin’”
  • “The “Lucky Ones”
  • “Sweet Dreams”

And for something completely unrelated to the show, it was afterwards that I headed to the nearby Dominion pub with Damian and another friend of his named Zack and kept discussing the future plans of The Double Pumpers and the approximately 2500 other side projects that both him and drummer Paul Granger – who had a prior engagement and had to leave early – currently have going on. After about 40 minutes of listening to news about the recording of the next Double Pumpers CD – tentatively titled Old Gold and whose release date is yet to be determined – I heard from Damian that a couple of people I attended high school with were at the other end of the bar and I ended up chatting with them for a bit. It turns out that two of them were the brothers of two other twin brothers named Chris and Paul whom I knew from back in the day. Chris is currently working at Nortel in the data entry/electronics department although probably not for very long as the company just announced it was cutting 12,000 jobs worldwide including close to 200 alone in Ottawa. Meanwhile Paul had been living in New York for the past 3-4 years working in advertising up until he hooked up with a Danish woman last summer, fell in love and ended up moving to Copenhagen with her where he found work with Nike where he’s rumored to be working directly and indirectly with several big-name European soccer teams such as Manchester United, AC Milan and Real Madrid in promoting Nike’s athletic products. Incidentally, Los Angeles will probably have him to thank for helping to bring David and Victoria Beckham to California for the record.

A couple of exchanged e-mail addresses afterwards and I caught yet another concert just down the block: Evolver playing at nearby Patty Boland’s. This local 4-piece covers band were formerly known as Stone Melodies up until 3 years ago when their original lead singer left the band in questionable circumstances (in this case, a week before the band were due to launch a CD release party). The remaining members who include another friend from high school named Jason who’s been the band’s bass player since the very beginning recouped their losses as best they could and reformed as Evolver and for the past few years or so have been one of the city’s top covers band. For lack of a better comparison here for the Cali folk reading this review, imagine, say, Candy-O but instead of doing Cars covers they do covers of songs by Neil Young, Stone Temple Pilots, Jimi Hendrix, the Black Crowes, the Tragically Hip, the Beatles and a Pink Floyd/Sam Roberts/Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air medley that totally works. They even cover two songs by Weezer which would normally bug the hell out of me if performed by the original band but actually rock when Evolver play ‘em. For their reputable choice of crowd favorites and for me knowing the band members personally Evolver are officially one of Ottawa’s best bands to pick someone up at a bar to. I’ve already done it twice myself.


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