BW&BK Interview: FAMOUS UNDERGROUND – Cracking The Surface

By Carl Begai

If you’re a Canadian that lived through big-haired rock/metal scene in the the late ’80s and early ’90s, you don’t need the history lesson that comes with the name Slik Toxik. For those that find themselves here thanks to the buzz created by former ST frontman Nick Walsh’s new band, Famous Underground, all you need to know is that before grunge showed up to ruin the party in the ’90s they were a big deal at home, with a smaller contact buzz in the United States. Songs like ‘Helluvatime’ and ‘White Lies, Black Truth’ from their Doin’ The Nasty record were MuchMusic staples through ’92 / ’93, and Walsh was the kid with a huge voice that overshadowed / excused his pin-up status depending on your sexual persuasion. Slik Toxik died a quiet death in ’94 after releasing their second album, Irrelevant, and the band members went their separate ways. Walsh held a singer’s course, however, and pursued various projects before forming Revolver with bassist Laurie-Ann Green, a band that enjoyed middling success but never hitting that Slik Toxik high.


A name change in the fall of 2011 to Famous Underground came with a new focus, however, and the pieces of their long-unfinished puzzle began to fall into place. A record deal with German label Dust On The Tracks, a new self-titled debut in stores, Famous Underground is now more than just a cool idea and Walsh is on his way out from under Slik Toxik’s shadow after almost two decades.

“The label is actually utilizing the Slik Toxik name as a positive thing, which is odd for me,” Walsh admits. “It’s like ‘What happened to the 20 years in between? Why weren’t you people using it then?’ (laughs). Now I see stuff saying ‘Featuring Nick Walsh of Slik Toxik, who gave us that great sleaze rock album Doin’ The Nasty!’ I’m like, ‘Really?’ (laughs). I don’t mind saying I’m the guy from Slik Toxik but I don’t want that to be a focus for people. I’m the guy spearheading my new band.”

Something that’s going to take a while to catch on, particularly at home from Walsh’s first-hand experience. He offers a very recent example of what he’s had to deal with since Slik Toxik packed it in almost 20 years ago.

“I had a call from the promoter who did the Todd La Torre-fronted Queensryche show back in March here in Toronto a few weeks before it went down. Just a message on Facebook asking me to give him a call when I had the chance. I was thinking that it could work for us, that doing a show supporting Queensryche would look good on our resumé. I called him up and he told me that he has Slaughter coming to town this August, and he was wondering what it would take to do a Slik Toxik reunion show. I had to wonder what rock he’d just crawled out from under (laughs). I told him that we were offered a bucketload of money 10 years ago to do a reunion and I turned that down, so it wasn’t about the money. On top of that, some of us haven’t spoken to one another in 10 years or so. I told him ‘It’s not gonna happen, but since you got in touch with me through Facebook, have you not seen any of the new stuff I’m up to now?'” Continue reading BW&BK Interview: FAMOUS UNDERGROUND – Cracking The Surface

FAMOUS UNDERGROUND – New Album Review: “Leaves No Room Or Reason For Disappointment”

By Carl Begai

Being the first to embrace an original band with a unique vision takes balls, because doing so is an exercise in uncertainty and fear of “What will everyone else think?” Famous Underground is that road test, you’re the deer in their headlights, and the impact is a skull-rattling reminder that a stand-alone identity in the here and now overshadows past glories and current blood-sucking music industry trends.


Or, if you prefer your promo without the formality, Famous Underground is one of those present day rarities that defies being dumped in the genre box. Fangs and all. A cross between Guns N’ Roses when they were mean (Appetite For Destruction) and latter-day non-suck Metallica (‘Sad But True’, ‘King Nothing’), Famous Underground is a heady mix of ’80s attitude and ’90s grit with former Slik Toxik frontman Nick Walsh at the helm. The man’s voice is still a big fuckin’ deal some 20 years on since ‘Helluvatime’ – a bigger deal, actually – and the songwriting is darker with more muscle behind it; a lot less hit-and-miss compared to the Slik days. Continue reading FAMOUS UNDERGROUND – New Album Review: “Leaves No Room Or Reason For Disappointment”

SVEN GALI Guitarist Dee Cernile Loses Battle With Cancer – “An Illness That Was Bravely Challenged And So Valiantly Fought”

By Carl Begai

The Canadian metal scene has bid farewell to another hero.

On February 25th, Sven Gali guitarist Dee Cernile lost his three year battle with cancer. I didn’t know him personally, but I had the pleasure of seeing him and his band tear up the Toronto club scene for a number of years in the early ’90s. Good times indeed, with Sven Gali one of several hopefuls on the Toronto scene at the time that managed to secure a record deal and go places beyond the nearest downtown watering hole. Thanks to my early involvement with M.E.A.T Magazine, I had the opportunity to interview Cernile on a couple occasions, and one of my earliest “I’m with the band” experiences took place at the legendary Gasworks in T.O., when myself, Cernile, Sven Gali vocalist Dave Wanless and a couple Killer Dwarfs partied into the wee hours of the morning… because we could.

Rest in peace, Dee, and thanks for the memories. Here’s one of them, back when I was learning how to use a camera…

Dee’s passing has hit much closer to home for people on the Toronto that worked, played, and occasionally butted heads with Sven Gali. Famous Underground vocalist Nick Walsh – who made a name for himself fronting Slik Toxik at the same time Sven Gali was raising hell – paid tribute to Dee when he received word of his death: Continue reading SVEN GALI Guitarist Dee Cernile Loses Battle With Cancer – “An Illness That Was Bravely Challenged And So Valiantly Fought”