By Carl Begai
Bif Naked and I crossed paths for the first time 20 years ago. Ground zero was the long-since-gone Nightmares rock club in downtown Toronto; I was on M.E.A.T Magazine business prior to her show that night, and she left a lasting impression. Barely two years into my career as a journalist, she was one of the first “rock stars” I ever met and thus set the bar for the future quite high. It was also the first time I’d met a girl with real tattoos; a lot of ’em, decorating her arms and other areas of exposed skin. And no silly tramp stamp, no ridiculous upper-boob blotch of ink that’s supposed to be Japanese kanji for “Love” or “Truth” or “Vegans Rule!”. In stark contrast to the intimidating biker-goth image she wore – however unintentional – Bif was warm, friendly, and possessed a wicked sense of humour, making the 15 minute encounter a cherished memory. Although she doesn’t remember our meeting of the minds Bif most certainly recalls the show, one of a multitude of stories from the adventure that is her life.
“I got robbed at that show,” Bif laughs. “All my luggage and make-up got stolen by a drag queen; he took off running down the street and we couldn’t catch him. The cops gave me a ride from the gig in the back of their police car to where me and the band were staying, and they put the siren on for me. There were four or five undercover cops at the show that night and I got a police uniform shirt with the patches and all that. I wore it on stage for years and years after that. Yep, me and the Toronto police have a long history (laughs).”
Our previous interview took place in 2009 while Bif was out promoting The Promise. Four years earlier she was on top of the world with the success of her Superbeautifulmonster album; in 2008 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, making The Promise a comeback album in the truest sense. She actually recorded it while undergoing treatment, which was and remains a mindblowing fact. Bif was surprisingly upbeat in the aftermath while discussing some of the more stomach-churning aspects of her fight to survive, making her positive attitude in present day 2015 less of a shock in spite of several tragic events that have plagued her over the past few years. Divorce, medical issues, the loss of loved ones… Bif has taken all the punches fate has dealt her and continues to move forward undaunted. Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
Anyone who became a fan of Canadian bashers Neurosonic during their short but volatile run between 2006 and 2009 will agree the band should have been much bigger than they were. From a commercial standpoint their debut (and only) album, Drama Queen, had plenty of radio potential that was never tapped, and on the live front Neurosonic was known for delivering the same face-melting show for 2,000 or 20 people on any given night. Sadly, frontman/founder Jason Darr unexpectedly pulled the plug on April 1st, 2009 based on his growing discontent with the music industry. One of the most original almost-mainstream bands to come out of Canada in years had been silenced.
Fast forward to March 2012 and the rise of Crashscene, an outfit that is essentially Neurosonic minus Darr with a few new twists thrown into the mix. Bassist Jacen Ekstrom is now up front as lead throat backed by guitarist Troy Healy and drummer Shane Smith, with new faces Ean “E” Scream filling Ekstrom’s old boots and guitarist Josh Volkov. The band’s debut album, I Fall Apart, is a welcome picking up of Neurosonic’s pieces worthy of serious attention.
“Darr and I are in contact a lot, but he doesn’t want to be in a band anymore because it’s a lot of hard work without a lot of the rewards you’re hoping for,” says Troy Healy of choosing to move forward with Crashscene. “Jacen and I are lifers; we couldn’t run from this if we wanted to (laughs). It’s a blessing and a curse.” Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
Even if you don’t buy into the idea of a critically acclaimed metal authority like BW&BK offering regular coverage on a radio (pop) rock artist like Bif Naked, you have to respect the amount of work and in-your-face commitment she put into her new album, The Promise. On a purely selfish and personal level it’s an honour to spend the time, having watched and waited over the last year as she battled breast cancer, praying for a positive outcome. The Promise has become a guilty pleasure, and a bloody inspirational one to boot for reasons that will become painfully clear. It was written and recorded while Bif was undergoing chemotherapy, an endurance test that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, and fans will be far from disappointed. The best part of it all, however, is that the Bif Naked who made an unforgettable impression on yours truly 15 years ago with her warm-hearted tough as nails approach and became a fave interview over the years hasn’t changed. Okay, a few more tattoos, but the person underneath the ink is alive and well. Thus, the question about whether or not Bif ever broke down with a “Why me?” after being diagnosed – especially after her successful run with the Superbeautifulmonster album and in her personal life – is wasted breath. Continue Reading