Music series (2) - The Smalls

I had so much fun writing yesterday’s entry about Iron & Wine that I really wanted to do another. Remember that these entries are attempts at documenting important moments of my life for posterity’s sake. I’m not here to promote one band or another, but to give the reader a glimpse into what music shaped the writer.

Today I’ll be covering a Canadian hard rock band/metal called The Smalls, a stark departure from Iron & Wine’s mellow folk sound. I was introduced to this band by a Canadian friend on a music forum. I distinctly remember being blown away by them and turning up the volume on my headphones every time I sat down to listen to them.

When you listen to “Waste & Tragedy” (1995) you’ll undoubtedly be pulled in by the band’s intense energy. I’ve been told by the person who introduced me, who was many years my senior at the time and had seen them perform, that their live performances made people absolutely lose their shit. I can only imagine.

I deeply regret that I’ll never get to see them.

The Smalls were a brilliant band drawing inspiration from a wide-variety of genres, from country music, to jazz, speed metal, rap and many others. The band didn’t like to be pigeonholed. Here are Corb Lund’s thoughts:

“We’ve outlived a bunch of different scenes that people have tried to lump us into, but we’ve never seen ourselves as part of a ‘scene;’ we’ve never been really into the punk scene, or the speed-metal scene, or the rap-metal scene. People just try to fit us into whatever music happens to be playing at the time, but we’ve never really paid too much attention to that." – Wikipedia

I think I was about 15-16 years old when I first listened to them. I wasn’t having a good time at school. The bullies in my class hated my guts. Listening to music and exploring my interests outside of school is how I managed to cope for a little while.

I felt deeply apathetic and empty at the time. I wanted to feel and any band that made me feel something became my obsession du jour. It’s not like I was aware that that’s what I wanted, or needed. It’s just what I intuitively felt most drawn to and filled my time with. I was operating on little else but willpower.

The Smalls made me feel like there was still life in me.

Their songs are generally so high-energy that you can’t help but be moved by the sheer intensity of their sound. I encourage you to listen to the whole “Waste & Tragedy” album on Spotify or YouTube with a good pair of headphones on cranked up high to get a true sense of what I listened to and experienced during a time of great hardship.

For a mere glimpse of what they sound like, listen to “Never Be Ready” on either Spotify or YouTube.

It’s gonna be fast
And you ain’t gonna last
It’s the end of the line
It’s the end of your time, friend.

I’m gonna tear you in two with a fury
And a vigor that you’ve never known
It’s gonna rip you apart with a merciless
Assault all on your pleasure dome

And you’ll never be ready
You can never be ready
No matter how steady you can ever be

It’s gonna be fast
And you ain’t gonna last
It’s the end of your line
It’s the end of your time, friend

A crushing attack it in the plans to do
Some damage you can never fix
It’s coming in sharp with a heavy handed
Trip; you’ll feel it when it hits
It’s gonna mess with your mind, man, with
An ultra violent bite

In retrospect I understand why I liked them so much. Look at all that rage on display! That’s what I felt underneath the mountain of pain that was preventing me from feeling much of anything. It makes so much sense now. This song perfectly encapsulates hatred; I daydreamed about hurting my bullies.

I’m actually taken aback by how powerful a force my intuition has been, always pointing me in the right direction even when I couldn’t be consciously aware of it due to being stuck at the bottom of the ocean. I mean this is just one example of many, but still, the extent of it is staggering.

Created on August 11, 2021
Published on August 11, 2021