Thrashing the scene for nearly 40 years, Ripcordz are easily one of Canada’s most tenured and respected punk rock groups. Forming in 1980, the trio from Montreal have been wreaking havoc on these maple-leaf ridden grounds, and lands beyond, with their speedy, guttural sound, influencing wild mosh-pit behaviour into audiences, who dance and wail like beings possessed by spirits of anarchy. Anyone who has seen the Ripcordz perform would concur that shit will undoubtedly go haywire in the same way any punk rock show should, no matter how big or small the stage.
“Half of Canadians are fun, friendly people and the other half are crazy which makes this country so much fun,” explains frontman Paul Gott, the sole remaining founder of the group. Shredding the punk scene for nearly four decades, there is no doubt that so many years of touring the world will subject you to some unimaginable situations. With circumstances that range from funny, to horrific, to just plain fucking punk rock, Gott recalls some of the craziest stories from the road and the stage during the band’s thrashed-out career.
05. BASSIST PLAYS ENTIRE SHOW BLEEDING FROM HIS HEAD
“We were playing a show in Thunder Bay and about two songs into the set our bass player Alex [Gauthier] jumps on stage and hits his head on the monitor,” Gott recalls. “He got this big orange gash in his forehead. There was blood pouring and we were like ‘Are you okay?’ He was like ‘Yeah, yeah I’m fine.’ He would wipe blood off his brow and start throwing it into the crowd.”
Gott continues: “At the end we took him to the hospital. we were like ‘Alex, don’t call your parents,’ because he was around 18 at the time and it was only his second show on tour. We were like ‘Okay, this could be the end of the tour.’ But it wasn’t. It was one of those things where you think crazy stuff happens to you on tour and you still want to play.”
04. BAND WAKES UP IN CHURCH PARKING LOT SURROUNDED BY DRUNK PUNKS ON SUNDAY MORNING. BASSIST IS MISSING.
Between 1992 and 1993, Ripcordz embarked on their first ever Western tour. Despite having zero expectancy of a crowd, the band ended up performing in front of nearly 500 punks in a jam-packed venue. The promoter of the show threw a wild after-party at his house, and the band found a big empty parking lot nearby. With an absence of “no parking” signs, Ripcordz anchored their ship and went to the party.
“We were up till like four in the morning and we walked back to the van to go to sleep,” Gott states. “People followed us, there were punks all over the place in this empty parking lot drinking and slowly passing out over time. When I woke up in the morning the van doors were open and there were punks and beer cans everywhere.”
It was then that Gott realized that the band had parked their van in an empty church parking lot. Except now, the area was filling with cars full of families looking to attend Sunday Service, shocked by the valley of punks and puke spewed throughout the lot.
“There were all these people walking by in their sunday dress trying to avoid all the punks past out in this parking lot.”
Gott then realized that the band’s at-the-time bassist Danny Laflamme was missing. Because the year is 1992 and cellphones were still years away from becoming the extended limb of human civilization, the band had to do the only thing they could to find their bassist.
“All the houses looked kinda similar so we figured we just had to go knock on people’s doors. We weren’t our best, we hadn’t showered, we smelled like stale beer and we’re knocking on all these doors. People would answer the door and we’d say “Do you have a punk rocker who doesn’t speak English sleeping in your basement? Eventually we found Danny in some basement, we had to lift some girl off of him and that’s pretty much how it was for the rest of the tour.”
03. SINGER OF THE OPENING BAND PUNCHES GUY IN THE FACE. INSPIRES NEW RIPCORDZ SONG
“We have all sorts of songs written about incidents that have happened. We were playing a show in Vernon, British Columbia and in the middle of the set we were watching the fans. There’s always this one guy in the pit who is really obnoxious, elbows up and doesn’t really know how to do the pit thing. We were watching the singer from a band called the Atomics, his name is Josh Nickel. You could see him watching this [obnoxious] guy. At some point and time we’re playing and we see Josh just break the guys nose right in the middle of the pit. There was an explosion of blood and everybody sort of splits up in the pit. Then we wrote a song about that called ‘Blood on the Floor,’ which was all about being in a post-apocalyptic British Columbia and how this opening band’s singer just goes nuts on a guy.“
02. RIPCORDZ SLEEP IN HOTEL’S “DECAPITATION ROOM”
“As a general rule we try to stay in the quote on quote worst places in Canada, which are usually also the most fun. At one point and time I put together a five star punk hotel thing. Basically, if you’re staying at a punk hotel, a one star rating means the door has been repaired multiple times because somebody has kicked it in. Two stars is nobody has shit in the room recently where you have to clean it yourself when you got in. But the top rating was for when you don’t actually have to stay in a room where somebody has been decapitated within the last week. And that happened to us once in Winnipeg.”
Gott continues: “We were set to play the Royal Albert and when you play there you get to stay in the hotel. We heard that somebody had murdered a guy in one of the rooms. Decapitated him, sawed off all his arms and his legs and then called the cops. That’s a terrible story but I was also wondering if we were gonna be able to play there in a week, because the show probably shouldn’t be happening. So I call the hotel and nobody answered for days. Then, we finally get a hold of them and the staff said they had just taken all the police tape and everything down so we’ll be fine for the show. Jokingly I said ‘So we’ll be staying in the decapitation room?’ And the guy said ‘yup.’ We actually stayed in the place where a guy got decapitated. There were still stains on the floor and some blood on the walls.”
01. SINGER GETS SHOT BY A COP ON HIS BIRTHDAY
Though this situation wasn’t directly related to Ripcordz, this has to be one of the craziest things to happen to one of the band’s members, and also the most recent. Only two weeks ago, Gott was attending a May Day Protest in Montreal, filming the event. The protest, which dominantly featured members of the Black Bloc anti-fascism movement, turned violent and Gott was caught in the crossfire.
“I was at the Mayday Protest which happened to be on my birthday, May 1st. I was actually filming it and I got shot by the cops. So yeah, that wasn’t fun. It was either a teargas canister or rubber bullet. It set my subhumans shirt on fire which pissed me off a little bit. But then I thought ‘oh, they lit my Subhumans shirt on fire, that’s pretty cool.’ But then i realized it also put holes in my Subhumans shirt so I’m back to being pissed off again. It also put a hole in my chest.”
Gott continues: “When you have a camera, you have tunnel vision. I didn’t even realize what was happening. I just kind of heard a loud bang and started feeling an incredible pain in my chest. As somebody said, getting shot by the cops adds to my punk cred. I told them if I want more punk cred I’ll just take out an ad, it’s a lot less painful,” he chuckles.
Ripcordz are currently touring Alberta and B.C. with plans of soon recording a new record. Their last release, 2017’s The Vinyl Countdown is a cleverly titled wax-pressed compilation of some of their favourite previously released tunes plus eight new tracks. The 33-song double-album also features a bonus christmas CD as well as a 26 page magazine that covers their seasoned history as a band.
Despite being around for so long, Gott ensures that Ripcordz are a band who keep their heart in the present and the eyes on the future. The frontman concludes that there is a “Golden Age of Punk Rock,” and we’re living in it.
“When anybody talks about the ‘Golden age of Punk’ I say this is it. There’s more bands out there, there’s more venues, more places to play, there’s more ways to get music and find music than ever before. There’s so much out there, just listen to it. Don’t be one of these people who say things like ‘oh, punk was so great in the 80s,’ you might as well sit around the fireplace and sing ‘Kumbaya’ with a distorted guitar because you’re thinking about what punk isn’t, you’re thinking about nostalgia. There were great bands before and there are a ton of great bands now. You’re living in the golden age, just enjoy it. Stop thinking about the olden days, stupid!”
Ripcordz play Fenando's Pub (Kelowna) on May 16, Gator's Pub (Abbotsford) on May 17, Pat's Pub (Vancouver) on May 18, and Logan's (Victoria) on May 19.