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Music

Call & Response: Little Foot Long Foot

Posted by Jer / September 7, 2011

Little Foot Long FootCall & Response is a series of Q&As with bands, artists and random people we dig that live in Montreal, visit here, or have some dubious connection to the city.

Little Foot Long Foot make dirty grungy bluesy rock. It's probably cliché to call their tunes sweat or whiskey-drenched, but let's just say I wouldn't be surprised to find Little Foot Long Foot bathing in a tub of bourbon, or recording their next album in an iron-cast oven just to keep the perspiration flowing. The band used to be a duo, Joan Smith and Isaac Klein (full disclosure: I was in a show with Joan and was a teaching assistant for one of Isaac's classes). They've recently added organist and vocalist Caitlin Dacey (full disclosure: I have never heard of this person before reading the band's bio, though her harmonies in "Missing the Point" are killer).

If you can deal with this flagrant flouting of journalistic credibility, I'd encourage you to check out the band's sophomore album, the recently released Oh Hell. It's their most fully realized album to date, and that's not simply because it's their newest. The production is full, with Dacey's organ adding important layers of heft - a sonic dynamic that was missing on their debut effort, Harsh Words. The band already made far more noise than they had members, but the sound here seems exponentially bigger. Oh Hell's guitars are blistering; its lyrics scathing. The best example is probably "Sell Out While You Can", a 3-minute exercise in propulsive rock riffs. (Be sure to check out the accompanying video too, which showcases the band's trademark humour via a nod to the Beastie Boys circa 1994). Little Foot Long Foot have two shows coming up here in Montreal this month, so before they hit the stage, I sat down with Joan Smith to talk about life's most intriguing questions:

Who is your favorite Canadian Artist?
That used to be such an easy answer: Joel Plaskett. I will say Joel Plaskett from his Thrush Hermit days right up until he started working with Gordie Johnson. From there on in, though, I would prefer to think that he retired.

Besides family, friends, other music, and long summer nights, what influences your music the most?
Things that irritate me (lyrically) and songs from other artists that make me think, 'Damn! Why didn't I think of writing a song like that?'

Where is the best place to listen to your music?
In a dingy yet somewhat hip rock bar, while you get drunk and talk to your hilarious friend about your failed relationships. Or maybe while you're trying on bathing suits at Winners (does Montreal have Winners?).

LFLF used to be just you and Isaac. Did you guys add more members just so people would stop comparing you to the White Stripes (and start comparing you, more aptly, to Zeppelin)?
We actually added the organ so we could sound more like The Dead Weather. Seriously, though, we never minded the White Stripes comparisons. The 'Why don't you get a bassist?' question bothered us, as well as the 'Which is Little Foot and which is Long?' question. An angel lost its wings whenever that was asked...so adding Caitlin has made both those questions die a slow death. Oh and yes, we will always sound like Zeppelin, since Isaac and I met in a Zep tribute band. 'Black Dog' is pretty much a part of our DNA.

What do you love most about Montreal?
Bagels! And architecture!

What do you love most about Poutine?
That my drunk friends think it's a good idea to buy it late at night, eat half of it, and let me eat the rest.

What do you hate most about Poutine?
The shame spiral that invariably occurs after eating it.

Your new video is killer. A throwback to the Beastie Boys of 1994. Do you think music videos are outdated, or has youtube breathed new life into the form?
Music videos are still useful, if only to take a quick glance online to get a handle on what the band is about (i.e. Are they attractive? Energetic? Funny? A big fat bore?). It's funny to think about how elaborate videos used to be, though, or at least presented such amazing ideas - I will never forget the first time I saw 'Just' by Radiohead. I haven't had a video-watching moment like that in more than a decade. I think a lot of the effort and creativity has been lost since so little money goes into them these days.

Who was your first live concert? Was it everything you had ever imagined?
It was the Barenaked Ladies at Canada's Wonderland when I was in Grade 8 or 9. I remember jumping up and down like a spaz while wearing way too much tie dye, as I assumed that's what one would do during a concert. The houselights went up and I jumped up and down even more aggressively, my dyed bright orange red hair flying everywhere. Ed Roberts pointed right at me and said, 'Hey! Is that Phyllis Diller?' I stopped jumping. I am now usually fairly subdued at concerts for fear that the musician onstage might make fun of me.

If your music was a famous historical figure, who would it be and why?
Queen Elizabeth the first. She was aggressive. She got shit done. She had red hair?

There's palpable anger in your songs, be it towards the mainstream music machine, Bay Street financial culture, or even specific people (e.g. The Ballad of Ryan Malcolm). Do you see music as a way of working out issues, or a way of trying to incite those emotions in others?
I don't see the music as being therapeutic, necessarily. Yeah, I think it's more about 'Hey! This is an annoying thing! You should agree!' Since the nature of our music is pretty aggressive, it's easier to muster up the necessary energy if drawn from a well of anger, versus singing about love or being generally content with my lot in life. I don't think many people would enjoy listening to songs like that if penned by me.

What's the best way to spend a Million dollars in 10 minutes?
Assemble as many miniature animals as possible around me, at a water park that I have rented out for myself.

What's the best place you've ever been to?
On a roadtrip of North America, I camped in a red earth canyon in Oklahoma. Upon leaving the campsite, there was a sign on the highway that said 'Caution! Hitchhikers might be escaped prisoners!' and several yards ahead of the sign, there was a miniature horse farm. This place contained all the elements of things that make me happy: Beautiful nature, complete absurdity, and tiny animals.

What's the worst place you've ever been to?
Standing in a portable in front of some dude and his camcorder trying out for Canadian Idol 8 years ago, after waiting in line for 12 hours. I sang 'I Just Want to Make Love to You' by Etta James. I was in a group of five. Two of the other singers forgot their words and stopped mid-song. One started outright crying. After we sang we were all told we were not good enough, and to 'work on our notes'. That was definitely the day I saw the man behind the curtain and realized that show business is a horrible and heartless place and the world would do me no favours for being able to sing well.

Your voice is pretty powerful. Like, speaker melting powerful. Ever lost it mid-show?
It has only cacked out on me once right in the most intense part of what is usually our last song of the set. It sort of cracked in a teenage boy way, so I just yelled 'FUCK!' and everybody seemed to enjoy that more than me actually hitting the note.

Listen to Little Foot Long Foot music on their website or their myspace page. The also have a blog (how new media) and a music video (how retro media). And be sure to catch one of their upcoming gigs in Montreal:

Little Foot Long Foot
September 9th @ Grumpy's

September 24th @ Club Lambi, 12:30am
Pop Montreal Musebox Showcase with Bloodgroup, Max Burgundy, Pigeon Phat and Anna Rose

photo of Little Foot Long Foot showing off the magic of freeze frame by Sam Hudecki and found on the band's website.

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