Music Interview: [Insert simile here for No Hands]

By Rachel Betts-Wilmott

There’s an old man standing at the corner of 17th Ave. and 8th St. yelling about religion–usually claiming we’re all going to Hell, though he doesn’t restrict himself to ranting about general damnation. Many times he’s heard calling young girls “dead whores” and referring to kids with piercings and visible tattoos as “devilish fiends.”

Comparisons can be horrible things. The person doing the comparing can make the scrutinized feel elated or degraded. No Hands have faced their share of similes and they’ve made it through them all relatively intact.

Often compared to a phoenix due to their regenerative powers, guitarist and vocalist Clayton Skinner thinks of his band as more of a Greek god of pleasure than a mythical creature.

“A mythical creature, eh,” swaggles Skinner. “We’re just here to have a good time.”

The analogies to the fiery bird of resurrection are not undeserved. The similarities between No Hands, bobo balls and boomerangs should also be noted: you just can’t seem to get rid of them.

In other words, No Hands concentrates on having a good time rather than focusing on the changes it has gone through. A while back, Skinner and bassist Matt Webb were in Assemblage Point, but due to the loss of a drummer the band dissolved. After a couple of years, Skinner and Webb got back together to play again. No Hands then handed over the rhythm responsibilities to Kris Burwash whose guitar and drum machine made quite the difference.

“Our song structure’s changed now that we’ve just got the drum machine,” says Skinner. “I’d say we’re a more experimental punk rock. We’re still cohesive, we just want to create a more colourful atmosphere. The weirdness is part of the fun.”

The weirdness he’s referring to might have more to do with their stage show than their avant-garde sound. Skinner, a pasty shoe-gazer, is known to don dresses from his mother’s closet. Their on-stage theatrics aren’t meant to offend or alienate audiences–he just wants the show to be as good as it can be.

“That’s not to mean we play lightly or frivolously,” says Skinner. “We’re not a work in progress. Every show is a defining moment of a unified theory. We’re dedicated to the band, as the label shows.”

No Hands’ label, Roast Records, is run by Skinner out of their home base in Edmonton. Along with No Hands, Roast Records takes care of two other Edmonton bands, including The Last Deal, which No Hands will play with this Saturday.

Say what you will about No Hands; maybe they’re like a dark rye or a shape shifting Nereus. Comparisons aside, if the band’s previous behaviour is anything to go by, this show is one you surely don’t want to miss.

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