A Tale of Chaos & Innocence
by Poison Candi
I am “Poison” Candi. I am a professional artist, a painter of murals, and an art teacher to inner city kids in my hometown of Saskatoon (in the frigid Western Canadian wasteland). I love spooky makeup, creepy costumes, corsets, and fancy boots. I play the theremin, I try to play the guitar, and I am one of the lead vocalists of the NEW JACOBIN CLUB.
***(A theremin is that instrument that makes those creepy wailing noises in old horror movies – and there’s an unfunny story behind how I got the name “Poison Candi” – which was originally “POISONED” Candi.)
This is my FIRST ever blog post, and I’d like to tell you about a couple of songs that will always be extremely important and close to myself and the rest of the band. In a way, working on them laid the groundwork for the the New Jacobin Club as it exists today.
To tell you about these songs, I’ll have to tell you my story 🙂
12 years ago
I never really considered myself a true musician like the rest of the band members, but I was taking a forced break from working on my fine arts degree due to an injury, and found temporary employment at the same guitar shop that Horde and former bassist/vocalist Swarm were working at. I had known them for a while before that, and everyone knew who the New Jacobin Club was. They were eager to expand the group to include a theatrical stage show new instruments – that’s when both Luminous (cello) and I joined. I recorded some theremin bits for “This Treason” in 2009 and began performing live with them the following year (a video of my FIRST live show with the band is in the bonus material found on the “Inside the Cannibal Circus” DVD).
For some reason a dark cloud of doubt hung over everything – despite the fact that things were beginning to look very good for us. We had begun to play to near capacity audiences at venues that only 3 years ago were mostly empty. We were becoming a controversial commodity, but some people didn’t approve of our success. It was probably because of the way we earned that success. We were crazy. Our live show was crazy. Our music was taking a backseat to the chaos. Or maybe that’s what we were really selling our audience…. chaos.
When “This Treason” came out in 2010, critics and music journalists either loved it, or hated it bitterly. It was as if nobody understood what we were trying to do. To be honest, we sometimes didn’t really understand either. The band was pulling in so many different artistic directions at once. It couldn’t last forever.
One year after the release of “This Treason,” the band fell apart.
In a way that’s hard to describe, I felt partially responsible.
I barely knew how to play the homemade theremin I bought from a friend in town, and yet I was somehow an equal member of the band. Likewise, the theatrical performers were helping to redefine the image of the band – Rima the Birdgirl and Mistress Nagini ruled the stage with fire and authority.
The last remaining original member of New Jacobin Club, Xerxes Horde, was ok with that. Some of the others were not. I know that I had been refered to as “stage dressing” more than once, and that the odd negative review of the band’s album or live show sometimes treated me harshly. Why was I even doing this? (oh right – because I get to dress up as an uber Goth Queen and get on stage with New Jacobin Club – duh!)
Horde was not even originally the one who had asked me to join the band, but he was immovable in his decision to keep me. Years later he would tell me that he was tired of artistic differences and egos, and that he just wanted to surround himself with kind and willing people, regardless of their musical ability or street cred in the music scene.
So that’s what happened, and we started to write new music for this “new” band.
Actually, Horde and RatKing wrote most of the music, while the rest of us put our own spin on the parts – often unintentionally. Since the band’s other vocalist and backup singer had left in 2011, everyone looked at me to start doing those bits. Horde insisted that I could sing, because “you are so damn loud already” – haha. I *have* been known to be rather loud and extroverted, and I’d been keeping my past highschool musical days a bit of a secret from the band.
One night we were working on a new song called “Parade of Innocents” (click to download!) Horde and I were recording some vocals for a demo version of the song. I sang my part, which was in the chorus. Then he asked me to sing HIS part in the chorus as well (we had harmonizing lines).
Then he erased his vocals from the recording.
“There – that sounds way better. I think you should be singing this by yourself. It doesn’t sound as good with my voice in there too.” And with that, the chorus of the song was MY voice alone.
Noooooo! I don’t want to be singing ALONE! I’m just a backup singer!
But Horde went one step further – he asked me if I wanted to sing lead on an older song that the band hadn’t played in years. I knew it pretty well already, it was one of New Jacobin Club’s early “hits” from 2003. I did it. It felt weird… but good. (we later shot a video for it featuring some naughty concept footage that I directed myself!)
Earlier that year, Horde lost his voice completely on the last night of the “Left Behind” tour… as in, no voice. Just air. For the last decade there had always been a second vocalist in New Jacobin Club who would sing the odd song, giving Horde’s chords a break. In 2012 there was no second vocalist.
Then it dawned on me…. that was going to be ME!
The first concert of 2013 was my first time fronting the band beside Horde. I wasn’t just playing a goofy instrument, I wasn’t just there to dance and look pretty. I was there to sing. I was a musician, I was an artist on stage.
Up until the moment I started singing in front of the audience I felt wildly vulnerable.. but as I started the energy that I felt blew my mind and I was at home – as if I’d always been doing it.
In the end, we went on to write and record the most successful album of the band’s 20+year career (“Soldiers of The Mark”) wound up headlining our first UK tour in 2016, and for the FIRST TIME I participated in the band’s songwriting!
So here is MY first collaboration with the band – “Behind the Veil”. It is about LARPing – that’s Live Action Role Playing Gaming, in case you are not a big enough nerd like me. Horde likes to tell people it’s about “feral werewolf-like folks living in a post apocalyptic world,” but it’s really about LARPing. Haha. Sorry Horde.
Till next time…
Keep it Weird,
– Candi xox