I answer a lot of emails as part of my duties as the porcupette. Submission queries, requests for materials, author questions, announcements, newsletters, even spam—you name it, chances are, I’ve got it in my inbox at one point or other. But recently, one email stood out to me as one of the most amusing and original messages I’ve ever received in my many years as porcupette.
I hope you are well.
I stumbled across this Ashthorn demo tape while doing research into their career post “Ghost Note”. Apparently, the members of the band are working as music instructors/counsellors at a children’s bible camp in the Kawarthas.
Pray for those children.
OK, let’s back up. You want context.
Daniel, is, of course, Daniel Bryant, author of the darkly comic collection of short stories called Rerouted. The collection is loosely linked by a mysterious character, Benny Tak, and follows a variety of characters who find out just how easily their plans can be derailed by events beyond their control. One story in particular, “Ghost Note”, follows Lars, Dougie and Angus, who form a fictional group of musicians named Ashthorn. As they tour Northern Ontario with their act, they encounter an otherworldly creature called the wendigo … but bad song writing is the real challenge.
With such an amusing and creative tale, you can surely understand why an author like Daniel couldn’t quite let go of the characters he created. So he wrote and recorded the demo for “Beast”—an Ashthorn original!—as an offshoot of the story. And, being the irreverent writer that he is, he of course had to give it a backstory—that the band members had found work at a bible camp and that they had, unbelievably, found time to write and record the song “Beast” while dealing with all social distancing and masking protocols.
Please listen to the song here:
While you are listening, you may, indeed, pray for those children.
(A few Hail Marys on Dan’s behalf would be, I am told, greatly appreciated.)
Naturally, I had to ask Daniel a few questions about this creative endeavour.
PQL: What gave you the idea to jump beyond prose writing and record “Beast”?
Daniel Bryant: After writing the lyrics for “Tim Whoretown” in “Ghost Note”, I obsessed over what that song would actually sound like. I knew it would have to sound cool enough for the band to think it was good and lyrically repellent enough for an audience to hurl empty beer bottles at the band before they reached the chorus. Challenge accepted, I said.
PQL: What was your process for coming up with these “repellant” lyrics?
DB: I always ask myself when writing lyrics, “What would Lars say?” followed quickly by, “Who would Dougie eat?”
PQL: Will you be writing more Ashthorn songs inspired by the story?
DB: I am still working on “Tim Whoretown” and hope to release it on Spotify by the end of the summer. In the meantime, I banged out “Beast” in two afternoons with my iPad and a guitar. Watch your back Justin Beiber!
Hope you enjoyed this jaunt into the wacky world of Rerouted as I did. Don’t forget, copies of the book are still available in print and digital format.