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interview by Nick Ketchup

The Smugglers rock...

We really have waited long enough! Four bloody years have the Canadian Ambassadors of Rock'N'Roll not set their foot in a recording studio! And now finally comes the word about their upcoming full-length record, 7th or 8th or 9th depending on how you count it, once again internationally released on Lookout and Mint and Screaming Apple and god knows what else label. The release is scheduled for early 2004, so let's hear it straight from the lead Smuggler mouth, Grant Lawrence! Yippie!!!

What's going on with the Smugglers? There's a new album coming out, tell us a little about that!
Hey Nick! Long time no talk – hope all is well. Yes indeed, the Smugglers have a new record coming out called “Mutiny In Stereo”. It’s being released in March of 2004 on CD on Mint Records in Canada, Lookout Records everywhere else and Screaming Apple on vinyl. It has eleven songs on it, all original, and it’s our first album that’s completely self-produced. Lots of great songs are within. Can’t wait til it’s out! There’s a couple songs from “Mutiny In Stereo” available to be heard at www.newmusiccanada.com. Just type in the Smugglers in the search field.

It took you four years since "Selling the Sizzle" to make "Rosie", and now, four years again... Why does it take you so long? (I get the impression it didn't take so long when the Smugglers were younger? [no pun intended])
It just simply takes us four years to make a record, that’s about it, Nick! It’s true that when we were younger, we made records a little faster. But back then, pretty much half of each record was cover songs. Ever since around 1995 or so we made an effort to basically stick with our own songs (unless we stumble across a really, really great cover like “Kings Of The Party”!) And so we’ve realized that it simply takes EXACTLY four years to the month to write and record a new batch of original songs, that’s all there is to it! We just hope people remember us!

There were some fine guests on the last record, Rose from Go Sailor, Kepi from the Ghoulies, Dr. Frank writing songs for you... Are there any special features on this record, or is it just Dave's songwriting wit and you guys banging to it?
Some of Dave’s songwriting, but also a lot of my songwriting, and Nick’s too. Nick wrote the first two songs on the record, “Pirate Ships” and “Billy Billy” and both are killer. A great one-two punch! And for this record we really decided to rely on our own devices, so not so many special guests this time around. We didn’t need the help like last time! We do have two extra people playing on it: Mike Ledwidge from Zumpano plays keyboards on three or four songs and this skinhead punk guy (good skinhead, not a bad one) plays a wailing saxophone (my all-time favourite instrument) on “Don’t Mess With Beez”. That’s a hilarious song about all the antics that Beez gets up to everywhere he goes.

Is your line-up the same, does Beez manage to keep the pace?
A perfect segue to Beez! Yes, same line up – Dave, Nick, Graham, Beez and Grant. It’s been the same since 1998 which is very nice. And yeah, Beez is not only keeping the pace, he’s SETTING the pace! If it were up to him we’d tour way more than we do! He recently retired/quit from his job as a phone sex baron and has since been traveling the world on his riches! I’m not kidding! He has been living in India while we prepare our new record. Everybody can read about his India Adventures in the tour diaryas section of www.thesmugglers.com.

How come you're back on Screaming Apple (among other labels)?
The first time the Smugglers ever put out a record outside of North America was with Screaming Apple, way back in about 1993 I think. It was a 7” single called “At Germany”. We’ve pretty much been friends with Ritchie ever since – we see him everytime we play Germany, and we’ve always hoped to put out another record with the label. On this record, we were finally able to make it happen! It also works well for us because it gives us a release in Europe.

With a new album, are you going to tour a lot this year? What about Europe?
We will be hitting the road quite a bit this year. We’ll be in Toronto and Montreal and areas like that in early March, then down to Texas for South By Southwest, then over to California, across New York, back up into Canada, all over the place. Of course we would like to tour Europe again as we have many great friends there, but we’ll have to see. Europe is SUCH a grind! At least for us it is! We tour in a Mercedes box van with little heat and little room, usually in a cold month like February or November, freezing our asses off, playing lots of punk squats, getting horribly sick, never having a day off, endless driving. During the awful UK part of our last tour was the sickest I’ve ever been in my life. I ended up in a Welsh hospital after eating some outrageously disgusting British food. They would have to pay me a LOT of money, or at LEAST put the Smugglers on the cover of the NME before we would go back to England. Fucking dump! The rest of Europe, we hope to be back there in the fall of 2004 or the winter of 2005.

The Smugglers posing...

Is there any place in the world cooler than Vancouver; if not, what's the second place? And in Canada?
In my humble opinion, of all the places I have been lucky enough to experience, Vancouver is, by far, the best place on earth. It’s the coolest city in the world. Mountains, ocean, excellent beaches, warm temperatures, beautiful summers, nice people, a great hockey team – what more can one ask for? Outside of Vancouver I really enjoy New York City – it’s a great place to see. I try and go there once a year and have been lucky enough to be able to do that for the past eleven years in a row, whether the Smugglers are playing there or not! We haven’t played their since 2000 unfortunately, but what a gig that was, playing with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts AND the Donnas at the Roxy, a huge old disco club.

Are there any new bands in Vancouver you'd recommend (except the New Town Animals who I hear are back together)?
Yeah, there’s a few. There’s always a few good bands from Vancouver. Of course there’s the Evaporators, Dave’s other band, with Nardwuar. Then there’s Nick’s new band, a really cool act called Franny and the Flames. Franny is this HOT 18 year old Quebecois belly dancer that Nick discovered. Luckily she can sing like Ronnie Spector so their band is great! Jeffy from the New Town Animals has a new band called the Clones I believe, and there is an excellent ska-punk band who has played with us a couple times called Los Furios.

What happened to the Distress Signals?
The Distress Signals were pretty much a joke band – sort of like a Depeche Mode-style Spinal Tap that Dave and I did with another friend of ours for a few years way, way, way back in the EIGHTIES when we were in highschool. We only did three gigs. The amazing thing about that band is that Dave wrote all these songs on this little keyboard and throughout the years we’ve brought them back to be Smugglers rock songs and they’ve become really popular with our fans!! “Especially You”, “Rosie”, “Cans Of Love” and “Rock and Roll Was Never This Fun” are ALL originally Distress Signals songs! Hardly anybody knows about that though – how did you know about it?

They're always around...

Chest hair became the symbol of the Smugglers? How come?
WHAT? What do you mean? Only two Smugglers are endowed with plenty of chest hair and that’s Nick and Grant. Dave, Beez, and Graham are all very smooth-chested. Our roadie Ska-T is the hairiest of all… maybe you’re thinking of HIM?

What do you think about men who shave their chest?
I think it is a lot better to simply TRIM your chest hair, as smartly suggested on “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy”. Shaving is problem. Think TRIM, not SHAVE if you have an abundance of hair that you want to keep under control!

Hey, it's still better than women who shave their chest! Now, if I remember correctly, the rest of the band always made fun of you (Grant) for dating ugly girls... What was the ugliest girl like?
The ugliest girl I ever dated was a gal named Bear-Butt Betty who had a massive ass that was hairier than my chest, and a moustache that felt like steel wool against my rock hard cock. She weighed about 250 lbs and when she got on top of me she almost knocked the wind out of me. She wanted to fuck all the damn time and I couldn’t keep up because I couldn’t keep IT UP because she was so damn ugly! She was one NASTY BITCH!! YEEOUCH!!! Ever since I’ve fucked nothing but guys.

Merci beaucoup.

Have a lot of fun at

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