Wednesday, October 02, 2013


The Quahogs formed from the ashes of two of Halifax's best know 80's hardcore bands: System Overload and False Security. But they went in a different direction focusing on the poppier side of things (not unlike Montreal's The Nils) and were embraced by both the punk and indie rock scenes. During their 4 years as a band they released a demo tape and a 7" EP. I recently (Sept 2013) spoke with their guitarist Todd Calder just to find out some basics about one of my favourite Halifax bands of all time. Let us begin.

When did the band start? System Overload kinda broke up. I moved to Montreal for a year to be a visiting student at McGill. When I got back John Vine and Dave Shandel were gone. I called Len and Johnny to see if they wanted to play some music (or maybe they called me, I don't remember). Anyway, they told me that Gerard Water of False Security would be into playing some drums with us. So we began to practice in an abandoned store in Cole Harbour. That was in 1990 I believe.

What was the lineup? At first is was just Gerard, Johnny MacKenzie and Leonard Wooly. We played a party with that line up, but that was about it. Some of us wanted to have a lead singer in the band (at that point Leonard and I were singing). I asked Scott Tappen if he'd like to sing for us and he was stoked. Johnny was into it too since he and Scott were briefly in a band together. After we got Scott in the band we started play the Club Flamingo and the Double Deuce.

Did you ever play outside of Halifax? We never did put a tour together. We played Moncton at Rick's Shipyard. I think that might have been it.

How did the 7" with Cinnamon Toast Records come to be? I think the Cinnamon Toast people asked Scott if we'd like to do a single with them. Or maybe Scott told them that we were going to record. I don't remember the details.

Quahogs Glaze 7" cover

The following is from a piece my incredibly good friend Mark Black did for The Coast magazine on Halifax 7" records. Here's more info from Todd about the 7"! 

“We saved the money we made from playing shows (mostly at the Double Deuce) and decided to record some songs. At some point the Cinnamon Toast people got in touch with us and asked if we'd put it out on their label. I think this was before the recording. They said, “If you do the recording we'll do everything else including promotion.” Scott Tappen, the singer in the band, was in frequent contact with the Cinnamon Toast people, but we all knew Shawn Duggan and Walter [Forsyth]. 

Terry Pulliam did the recording at Soundmarket Recording. He was a big wacky hippy guy. He was always talking about this voodoo shit that was on the record. We never really knew what he was talking about. But he had lots of effects on his board, which really impressed us at the time. I don't think we were completely happy with the sound of the seven-inch when it came out. But then…maybe nobody is ever completely happy; especially back then when it was difficult to make a good quality record outside of a studio. He fixed the intonation on my guitar (a shitty Hondo with one good pick-up), which was good.

But it kinda sucked because we were paying so much money to be in the studio at the time. The release of the record was at the Double Deuce. I can't remember who we were playing with, but it was a good time. I remember that the Cinnamon Toast people were making cinnamon toast in the back of the bar and every time they pushed down the toaster the power went out. We didn't know what was going on for a while. It caused some chaos.
I was able to get a hold of "Songs from the Tiki Lounge"...was that ever released officially? No, that was never officially released. We recorded that just before we broke up.
Aaaaand finally...any favourite memories?? Lots of great memories. We used to break strings and not have back up guitars. That made for some interesting shows. I remember Johnny getting really pissed off and throwing his bass around. Luckly he was able to borrow someone else's bass. I'm a lefty, so when I broke a string they had to play songs without me till I put a new one on. I wrote a song about that happening one night at the Café Ole. We got to play with some great bands which was super awesome, e.g. Eric's Trip, Sloan, Hardship Post. I think I'll stop there before I incriminate anyone.

Demo tape cover
The Quahogs broke up in 1994...though not officially, they just stopped playing together. Members went on to form the band Trike. Sadly vocalist Scott Tappen passed away in early 2000 from cancer, but his memory lives on in the music and his artwork. In fact there is a retrospective of his art happening Oct 19th, 2013 in Halifax. Check out more info HERE.

And of course you get what I believe to be a complete discography of The Quayhogs. It includes:
"Raw" demo tape, 1992
"Glaze" EP, 1993
"Songs From The Tiki Lounge" unreleased 4 song EP, 1994
"Back To The None" live song from Cod Can't Hear, 1992
"Back To The None" early version from Mass Turbulence comp, 1991

Listen to their demo tape here:

And the unreleased "Songs From The Tiki Lounge" here:

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