The moment I open the bar door I know tonight will not be an average Saturday night at my local watering hole. I am immediately immersed in a wall of heat. The smell of sweat-soaked leather and cheap, spilled beer nearly takes my breath away. The sounds of heavy drums, driving bass, and vocals as ferocious as the fast-paced guitar nearly roll me as hard as the guy who just moshed into me, donning the smile of a mischievous six-year-old boy. This is a vibe I haven’t experienced in over a decade. There is no doubt about it. Punk rock has sailed back into town and tonight The Doomsday League is at the helm.
A few days later I met with front man Matt Brett to talk about the trials and tribulations of punk rock, over my first vegan dinner. Short, but broad in stature Brett strolls in calm and unabashed. I assume by his attire he is a Henry Rollins fan. After a quick bout of small talk and musician jokes (the inspiration for the title of this piece), we get right down to business.
Over a year ago, The Doomsday League started off with the three founding members: brothers Matt and Mark Brett, and Chris Dawson. It wasn’t long before Matt Careswell and Scott Landry joined the ranks to complete the band, and things started to come together.
After writing and practicing together for nearly eight months, the band felt they were ready to get out there and rile some people up. However, one of the biggest challenges for the Brantford punk scene is finding venues. This has become increasingly difficult since the closure of punk-friendly venues like The Turnaround and The Pelican in the late 90s.
“They don’t want you back after a bathroom gets smashed,” said Brett. “It only takes one asshole to ruin it for everybody. It happens once and they (bar owners) see moshing and beer getting sprayed around and they start to correlate the two.
“You just gotta get that venue that kinda doesn’t give a shit. The place that everyone knows isn’t the nicest place in town, but this is where the good shows are at.”
As Brett goes on to explain his luck with booking the bands show at Two Doors Down, I can’t help but notice what a far cry this soft-spoken, well-mannered man in front of me is, from the one I saw just days ago, red-faced with veins protruding from his neck screaming into a microphone and dripping sweat, while fighting back numerous strays from the mosh pit. The kind and soft demeanour of punks always amazes me. Well, aside from the whole mosh pit mentality.
Brett touches on this by saying how difficult it was at times in the small venue. The band’s gear had taken up the small corner stage, leaving the vocalist to deliver from the front of the pit.
“That’s why I learned that if you’re a lead singer for a punk band going to the gym is mandatory … you need to get stronger ‘cuz you’re fending for your life the whole time,” he says with a chuckle.
Networking is a tactic that seems to have always been used in the punk scene and is something The Doomsday League has had the foresight to do by teaming up with other local bands like Sweatshop Kids, Thunder Monk and Gag Order. Networking helps to increase turnouts and secure venues. Which in turn keeps the scene’s revival alive and well.
“If we all play shows together a lot, and do it once a month in frequency it’s going to create a scene again,” Brett promises. “You just have to get the ball rolling. Then other bands will start to come out of the woodwork.”
Which seems to have proven effective with a Gag Order show just weeks ago at Club NV, and The Doomsday League this month at Two Doors Down where they will also open for Harbour on Dec. 23. As well, as The Brantford Punk Extravaganza is being held at Our Place in November. It’s been a long while since Brantford has seen such a variety of punk bands and venues on such a regular basis.
The Doomsday League plans to continue writing and focusing on recording a six-song EP in the next three months. Based on the roaring, enthusiastic crowd last Saturday, I have no doubt it will be more than well received.
I know I don’t stand alone in the feeling of nostalgic excitement as I watch the revival of a scene that once embraced so many of Brantford’s youth. Punk is back boys and girls, and it won’t take no for an answer.