Saturday, March 20, 2010

Article: Vancouver's Cub scouts cute curse (October 31, 1995)

Vancouver's Cub scouts cute curse
By Hollie Shaw

TORONTO (CP) You can call Cub almost anything, but please don't call them cute.

When the Vancouver trio first formed in 1992, "cuddlecore" started out as a joke among friends as a way to define Cub's music.

Indeed, their junior excursions into catchy retro surf rock were as light and tasty as meringue. But times have changed, and the members of Cub are baring their teeth.

"It can be frustrating. Some people still view us as cute little girls fiddling around with instruments," says guitarist Robynn Iwata over breakfast at Toronto's O-Boy Cafe.

But isn't this the same Cub drawn to resemble a tawny version of Josie and the Pussycats on their first album cover? The Cub who became notorious for the infectious, maddeningly repetitive "Ooh La La Ooh Ee Cha Cha?" The Cub who threw candy at the audience during shows?

"The candy was ONLY to get people to come to the front of the stage," says drummer Lisa G., blanketing her bagel with white sugar.

"The one-dimensional cute image implies that we're not capable of thinking about things," adds Lisa Marr, Cub's lead singer and bassist.

"People seem to think that the songs are always happy, or by extension that we're always happy. They must not be listening to what we're singing," says Marr.

"People often don't get the camp or the sarcasm. But we'd like to be perceived with an open mind. Some of our stuff is pretty serious. It's not all one big rollicking joke for us."

Cub met at UBC's campus radio station. When they started doing live shows, they were still learning to play their instruments. No one was more surprised than they were when their first single, Go Fish, became a huge hit on college radio charts.

But two albums (Betti-Cola and Come Out Come Out), five videos and 11 tours later, they'd like a little respect.

"What bugs me is people still say things like, `Cub can't play.' Of course we can play. What do people think we've been doing for three years?" says Lisa G.

A recent live show at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern revealed just how much Cub has progressed.

Looking every bit the murderous debutante in her floor-length multi-hued ballgown, Marr sang fiercer than ever. As the band launched into a tight, thrashy cover of Motorhead, its Nancy Sinatra days became a faint memory.

"The music changed as our playing evolved. Once you learn how to play a C, a D and a G, you want to experiment. But we didn't say `OK, let's try to sound harder no,'" says Marr.

Cub plans to complete a third CD by springtime for its independent record label, Vancouver's Mint. Staying with a smaller label allows them to participate in every aspect of the music, from cover art to song production.

"It's also important that the label is local. Everybody knows each other. It's a family atmosphere," says Marr.

Cub has finished playing its eastern tour and is working its way across the United States with another hot Vancouver indie act, Pluto.

Back home, Cub will go back to mailing out packages to its fan club, which boasts 450 members. The package includes a newslatter, posters, stickers, toys and candy.

Toys and candy?

"Well, maybe next time we'll send out nasty things like rusty nails and rat pelts," says Marr.

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