Winning’s first album , “This is an Ad for Cigarettes”, is a clumsy acrobatic act beneath the Big Top of punk rock. Gracefully stumbling, they deï¬le the last 50 years of rock music with just two tangled guitars, a drum kit and some vocal harmonies. It’s unquestionably one of the most original albums I’ve heard come out of Vancouver in years, but if you think it sounds like 40-minutes of the band tuning up, they probably aren’t making it for you.
ONLY: Do you think you are deconstructing punk to take it in a new direction or making something totally different?
Andy: I think that the former is pretty accurate. [Punk] is so stale now. For me the initial idea is totally lost, which was like a ‘fuck you’ to pop culture or the mainstream. That’s just not really happening anymore. I think a lot of people that want to respark that kind of thing sort of have to be against even punk culture.
ONLY: It feels so free form at points but does it start with a riff or what?
Paul: A riff or a concept, rhythm-based or even a game.
A: Yeah, like an exercise. Sometimes one of us will come up with a “riff” but it seems a lot of our writing process is even deconstructing our own songs.
ONLY: The lyrics seem pretty critical of certain practices today–culturally and politically. The ï¬rst lyrics of the album are “Upper management is tan, tired, and touch/ Keep the ship/ Sell the crew.” Where does that come from?
A: I feel like I only have so much choice in what I want to write about. I’m not a poet so whenever I need to write some lyrics it’s just what’s on my mind. I mean, I’m a business owner now [The Chemistry Design] and I need to make money. The lyrics are a documentation of that struggle of having to pay your bills but not particularly wanting to sell your soul. And with the record label [Ache Records] I feel like the bottom line is my responsibility to get that music to the people that would want to hear it, right? But there are so many avenues that I don’t necessarily feel comfortable taking or feel like I should have to take.
ONLY: It’s pretty difficult to make an album with those kind of statements and not sound contrived.
A: Well, I mean, you just heard my rant. I didn’t even know what the fuck I was talking about half the time.
ONLY: But who on the left wing does, really?
A: I think that’s what’s recurring in the lyrics: someone that is genuinely confused. There is no preaching, clichÃ©s or numbers thrown at you. It’s just trying to work these things out but never really coming to a conclusion.
ONLY: Do you guys even know how the economy works?
A: I… don’t know what that is.