Nardwuar cooks up some serious fun

Evaporators' new album features help from a slew of famous friends

The Evaporators record release weekend: Saturday, March 3, 2 p.m. at Neptoon Records, 3561 Main St., Vancouver. Free. All ages. Saturday, March 3 at 7 p.m. at Venue, 881 Granville St., opening for Andrew W.K. Tickets: $25 via www.ticketmaster.ca. Info: nardwuar.com.

NARDWUAR the Human Serviette has fond memories of those afternoons.

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The then West Vancouver high school student president was renowned for bringing in bands for dances and other events at his Hillside secondary alma mater. His peers would often offer local band suggestions, causing him to hop on a bus, head for a Vancouver record store to seek out their music.

His mission successful, he'd spend the entire ride home meticulously studying his purchase, anxious to complete the journey so he could give it a listen.

"I would walk home, through the pouring rain, get home, put the record down, put the record on, get some cheese and crackers, listen to the record, look at the record, study the back of the record, the photos of the record," he says. "If there were liner notes, I just loved the idea that there were liner rotes I could read and enjoy, just to get those scraps of information."

In an era where music is typically downloaded and album art is, to some, a foreign concept, the punk rock journalist, CiTR host and frontman of The Evaporators remains committed to maintaining the tradition. His band's newest LP, Busy Doing Nothing! (Mint Records/Nardwuar), is set to drop March 6 and is a fascinating piece of work. Released on vinyl, white splattered no less, the 13-track compilation comes with extensive liner notes, a digital download and a free 40-page glossy calendar featuring photos taken by Vancouver music photographer Bev Davies. Images, taken in the 1970s-1980s, include The Cure's Robert Smith, Joan Jett and Iggy Pop at the Commodore Ballroom, and Pointed Sticks at Rohan's.

"I think it basically harkens back to a time of my youth when the only way to get information was by buying a record, was by getting a book. You couldn't just look it up on the Internet, etc. It was basically because I love cheese and reading liner notes," Nardwuar laughs.

In celebration of Busy Doing Nothing! Nardwuar and his Evaporators band mates have got a busy release weekend planned, including a free all-ages in-store at Vancouver's Neptoon Records, March 3 at 2 p.m., followed by an evening gig at Venue. The Evaporators will open for album contributor Andrew W.K., who's kicking off his first tour in almost seven years, celebrating the 10-year anniversary of his debut I Get Wet.

Busy Doing Nothing!, the first Evaporators LP release since 2007's Gassy Jack and Other Tales, took a couple of years to compile. The band and Andrew W.K. released a split seven-inch A Wild Pear in 2009. Nardwuar's plan was to release another, this time around in partnership with Franz Ferdinand. However, the project continued to increase in scope as more and more artists came on board; as well, Nardwuar was interested in finding a way to include the calendar insert, a follow to his 2007 punk rock calendar collaboration with Davies.

"Her photos are just amazing," he says. Busy Doing Nothing! also speaks to Nardwuar's long held passion for and commitment to preserving the music of Vancouver, and introducing it to new audiences. All songs pay homage to the Canadian punk rock tradition. In addition to a number of Evaporators' originals, the record features collaborations with other artists - Andrew W.K., Jill Barber, Sage Francis and Megan Barnes included. The Cribs, Kate Nash, Franz Ferdinand and Fuad & The Feztones offer covers of legendary Vancouver punk bands.

"I'm hoping that when people read the liner notes they might go, 'Oh The Evaporators covered Pointed Sticks' (or) 'Oh, The Cribs did The Dishrags - they're from Vancouver.' And then they get into a different type of music that they may not have heard before. I love the history part, how it all ties together," says Nardwuar.

He's happy the contributing artists are likewise showing an interest in spreading Vancouver's music to their respective audiences. For example, Nash has since performed her Busy Doing Nothing! cover of local 1990s all-girl band Cub. A video of her singing "My Chinchilla" at a European festival is on YouTube.

"She steps up to the mic and she (says) something like, 'This is by an all-girl punk band from Vancouver called Cub.' . . . That really made me excited," says Nardwuar.

He's truly proud of the effort, flattered that so many artists were willing to support it and how it all came together so beautifully, seemingly the result of a series of happenstance.

For example, one original song, featuring The Evaporators and Andrew W.K., entitled "I Hate Being Late When I'm Early," was penned as a result of a North Shore power outage.

"I just sat down at the piano and I tried to come up with some songs," says Nardwuar, of how he passed the time. He videotaped what he'd come up with and emailed it to Andrew W.K. They completed the song together via Skype. A video for the track, shot at CiTR, is currently viewable on both YouTube and Nardwuar's website.

Following The Evaporators' Vancouver shows on March 3, they'll head south, continuing to open for Andrew W.K. March 4 in Seattle, Wash., and March 5 in Portland, Ore.

Nardwuar is also preparing for an upcoming trip to SXSW in Austin, Texas, March 9-18. The Evaporators are set to play, as well he's deciding which artists he'd most like to interview.

He's also set to host a panel discussion where he'll interview Harley from the popular Internet web series Epic Meal Time cooking show.

"You never know what's going to happen," says Nardwuar. "It's just so exciting. That's why I keep doing it because every day there's some neat sort of thing to explore. You can never run out of people to interview or record ideas to do.

I guess you can run out of money, thank you Mint Records for helping with this too, but aside from that, I'll never stop because there's just so many great record ideas to do and so many people to interview and things to discover."

emcphee@nsnews.com

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