December 18, 1997

Artificial Joy Club: Peabody’s DownUnder

December 18, 1997 

Back in the days when their band was still known as Sal’s Birdland, Artificial Joy Club’s resident “chick singer” Sal and guitar guru Leslie Howe used to spend their free time helping out another young singer named Alanis Morissette. Alanis, as we all know, has since exploded into the stratosphere with her debut release, JAGGED LITTLE PILL, but AJC have noisily assembled a smashing major-label debut of their own in the form of MELT, and Thursday evening at Peabody’s DownUnder, the charismatic Canadian quintet put on a display that made Morissette’s JAGGED LITTLE live show seem novice by comparison. 

Playing Peabody’s nearly two years to the day since Birdland’s last Cleveland gig at the venue, AJC electrified the sparse but enthusiastic audience throughout the otherwise chilly December evening. Opening with the deliberate defiance of MELT’s “I Say,” AJC generated some serious energy from the start. The brooding “Cheeky Monkey” followed suit, as Howe and fellow six-stringer Michael Goyette honed their razor edge attack as Sal wound herself into a frenzy, prowling the stage barefoot on an oriental rug as she sang. She’s napalm with Novocain, this one. A kite in a hurricane.

The band hit an early stride early on with MELT’s opening salvo, the sarcastic-laden “Psychic Man,” which Sal playfully dedicated to soul sister Dionne Warwick. Dripping with drama and showered with shimmering guitars, “Psychic Man” was a caustic treat. “No Shame” offered a slight change of pace, a wry look at being the underdog in a bussiness full of sharks and piranhas. “This song is about not being famous in the music bussiness,” Sal quipped as the band sauntered into “No Shame.” “We can definetily relate to that.” With muscular guitars, soaring vox, and torching solo by Goyette, “No Shame” perfectly set the stage for AJC’s first single.

As bassist Tim Dupont sprang to life with a twisted, pulsing groove, Sal introduced “Sick and Beautiful” as “a song about a few of my ex-boyfriends.” The explosive energy of the dark radio hit carried over into the crowd.

Feeling plenty of love from the audience, AJC rewarded the longtime fans in attendance with several cuts from Birdland’s NUDE PHOTOS INSIDE, including “I’m so Fucking Happy,” which perfectly reflected the attitude and wit that is Artificial Joy Club. I’m so fucking happy/My life is a dream/A day at Disneyland, Sal smirked. I’m so very happy/ I just want to scream.

“Wake Up” simply cooked, raising the temerature in the previously frigid room to its boiling point. While many of the songs on MELT have a full sound replete with lush keyboards, this was an all-out, in-your-face guitar assault. Next up were a couple more vintage Birdland treats, after which the lively Goyette coaxed an assortment of squaks and screams from his guitar for “Skywriting,” the bands soaring second single.

Their momentum at its peak AJC brought the set to a rousing finish with a funky, cosmic reading of “You’re Too Good to Me.”

Begged back onstage for an encore, Artificial Joy Club dutifully obliged with a jarring cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” that matched the power and fury of its original note for note. Sal may just be a “chick singer,” as she puts it, but she went toe-to-toe with a legend and came out on top.

If you’re among the 16-or-so million people who ran out and bought JAGGED LITTLE PILL but have yet to experience Artificial Joy Club, you’re seriously missing the boat. Their junk is habitual. It’s sick and it’s beautiful.

Bottom line: there was nothing artificial about the joy experienced in the club on this night.

by: Steven Batten

December 1, 1997

Artificial Joy Club Shows

AJC is doing a short tour, here are the dates:

December 9/97 – Ottawa, Ontario – Barrymore’s
December 10/97 – Montreal, Quebec – Club Soda with The Matthew Good Band
December 11/97 – Kitchener, Ontario – Mrs. Robinson’s
December 12/97 – Toronto, Ontario – Lee’s Palace
December 13/97 – London, Ontario – The Embassy
December 16/97 – Detroit, Michigan – Shelter
December 17/97 – Chicago, Illinois – Double Door
December 18/97 – Cleveland, Ohio – Peabody’s Downunder
December 19/97 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Club Laga
December 20/97 – Rochester, New York – Milestone

November 30, 1997

Making People Melt: Artificial Joy Club Take Flight

by Steven Batten

What’s up am I on chat line?/My name is Sal and Capricorn is my sign/I like “Star Trek” and Brad Pitt/ I watch Kung-Fu B movies and shave my armpits…

So goes the opening salvo of “Psychic Man,” the introductory track on Artificial Joy Club’s impressive Interscope debut, MELT. And now that you’ve met Sal, the “chick singer,” as she puts it, for the Ottawa quintet, we can commence discussing why MELT may just be the best album you haven’t heard this year.

You might remember Artificial Joy Club from their disturbingly alluring summer single, “Sick and Beautiful,” which briefly flirted with regular airplay. Or, perhaps you caught their second-stage set at this summer’s Lollapalooza at Blossom. If your memory is especially sharp, you may even remember them from one of their previous visits to Cleveland, when they were known as Sal’s Birdland. In any case, there’s plenty more to the story, so we’ll dispense with the formalities and get down to business.

We’ve already learned some of Sal’s likes, though she fails to mention in song her particular disdain for the freezing rain and snowthat assails her as she phones from Ottawa, awaiting the start of a new tour that will bring the band— Sal, guitarist/keyboardist Leslie Howe, bassist Tim Dupont, drummer Andrew Lemarche, and guitarist Michael Goyette— back to Cleveland for another visit. With performances at Wilbert’s and the Euclid Tavern already under their collective belts, they’ll add Peabody’s DownUnder to their growing resume this Thursday, December 18.

In the meantime, she’s got little choice, but to sit back and chill. That’ll be easier said than done, however. Still hyped from their summer Lolla run, Artificial Joy Club are itching to get back on the road. Especially Dupont, who’s freshly recovered from a broken arm that had temporarily sidelined the band.

“[Lollapalooza] was fun. We had a great time,” enthuses Sal — Louise Reny to her old friends back home — an easygoing and talkative soul whose honest and off-center lyrics give MELT much of its bite.

“It wasn’t the coolest lineup in the world, but I enjoyed it cause I really like Tool. And I got to watch them every single day for free!”

It was an unexpected bonus for artificial Joy Club following a long and circuitous path to their current scenerio.

Having finished touring in support of their previos effort as Sal’s Birdland, 1994’s NUDE PHOTOS INSIDE, the band set about writting a follow-up for then-label Discovery Records. Hoping to get away from their everyday responsibilities in Ottawa, the songwritting axis of Sal, Howe, and Dupont packed their bags and headed to Los Angeles to write the songs that would become MELT. Eventually.

“We decided, ‘Let’s just go there for a whole month and just concentrate on writing songs, instead of staying here for six months trying to work between everyone’s schedules,” Sal recalls. “So that’s what we did, and we wrote basically the whole album while we were there.”

Having finished recording in Ottawa, everything seemed to be set for album number two. Or so they thought.

“We delivered the album to Discovery, and they hated it,” Sal offers empathically. “They said, ‘You know, it’s a little weak, and we don’t hear any hits.’

“I just thought, OK, fine, whatever. I don’t agree with you,” she says. “Normally, sombody would say that to me and I’d probably say, ‘Yeah, you’re probably right’ and think about writting other songs, but I was convinced with this album. I was really proud of it, so I was kind of insulted.”

The band asked for and was granted, its release from the Discovery deal. Then, album in hand, it was time to go shopping. Label shopping, that is.

“We got interest right away,” Sal notes. “We were free and clear, and were being wined and dined by all these great record companies. We chose Interscope, and here we are.”

Writting in L.A., Sal says, didn’t necessarily play into the songwritting on MELT, an edgy mix of vibrant mood swings and intoxicating soundscapes. “I’m never really inspired by where I am,” she says. “We were really stuck up in our room. We didn’t take advantage of being in L.A. We weren’t even listening to the radio there. We could have been in a room up in Alaska.

“It was just a question of finding a neutral place,” she adds. “We didn’t spend a lot of nights looking at the sunset over Hollywood Boulevard.”

In any case, the result was as solid a batch of tunes as any this year.

“We’ve been writting songs for a long time,” Sal says, “and some of the songs on this album are some of the best songs we’ve written, for sure.

“The Sal’s Birdland album was more of a whining kind of album, and, to me, this is more of a funnier album,” she says. “It’s a little bit more up, for sure. Both albums have a lot of sarcasm, but I think the first album was a lot angrier. But then the whole Alanis Morissette thing happened, and it was, ‘We don’t want to hear about girls being angry anymore.’ And who can blame you.”

The “Alanis Morissette thing” she refers to goes a little deeper for Sal and Artificial Joy Club than you might expect. Sal and Howe were mentors of sorts for the budding superstar as she was making the transisition from the teen star of her first two albums to the hurricane of emotion that unleashed JAGGED LITTLE PILL on an unsuspecting alternative rock world.

“I’ve known her since she was 12,” Sal says of her former protege. “I was always in a band and she wasn’t. She wanted to be a singer, and we helped her out. I helped her get a record deal and wrote songs for her first two albums. One of the songs I wrote actually got her a record deal.”

The friendship continued as Morissette experimented with the sound of PILL and Joy Club sharpened their edge for MELT.

“Then she got famous,” Sal adds, “and we haven’t heard from her since. She won’t return my phone calls, and it’s really depressing. The worst part is when people think that I copied her. It rips my heart out.

“Everybody in Ottawa knows,” she adds. “In fact, people are pretty cruel about it. ‘She stole from you’ and ‘She’s such a bitch’ and blah, blah, blah. I’m like whatever. We always sounded the same. You can’t make your voice sound like somebody else’s. It was a weird kind of coincidence that our voices had the same tone.

Outside of their hometown, it’s been harder to convince the skeptics.

“It bugs me because, yeah, we do sound alike, but obviously everybody’s going to think that I sound like her no,” Sal laments. “I’m not stupid. It doesn’t matter who came first. She’s a huge star, and I happen to sound like her. So it’s kind of to my disadvantage now.”

Sal admits to taking some pleasure in the pressure that awaits Morissette as she readies her next album. But it’s all in good fun, she insists.

“I have faith in her,” Sal offers sincerely. “I really think she’s going to be the next Madonna. I think she’s going to have a really long career.”

And that’s exactly what Sal’s hoping for with her own band.

“We’re touring untill Christmas,” she says of their immediate itinerary. “And in January, our album comes out in Eupore, so that’ll be good. We’re supposed to go over there for a while.

A tour with red hot Smash Mouth is in the works, and a video for new single “Skywriting” is due in January.

For now, Sal says, she’s happy to be able to stay busy doing what she loves. She’s optimistic that larger success is just around the corner.

“I love playing,” she says. “I love being in a band, you know. Being rich isn’t everything…. I think we have a great album and I’m really proud of it.”

Besides, she adds, “We’re having fun.” And that’s what really matters.

“We had a great summer, and some of the gigs we played were just unbelievable.” Sal relates. “It sort of fulfills some of your dreams. We’ve played in front of 20,000 people at some shows, and it was like, ‘Wow this is pretty cool. This is what I’ve always wanted to do.’ They weren’t all there to see us, but it’s still a pretty cool feeling. So I’m happy.”

Except for the snow, that is.

October 13, 1997

Back Home

Been back at home for a week now just hanging out and relaxing. We were supposed to start a tour with the Refreshments last week but, Tim the bassist in AJC broke his hand. So we’re off for a little while now. Hopefully I’ll have some time to add more drum stuff to my web site, If you have some comments about my web site or about anything I should put up e-mail me and let me know.

If you want to download the video clip of “Sick & Beautiful” it’s on the AJC site.

October 6, 1997

An unnatural kind of joy: Melting in the LA sun with a content Artificial Joy Club

Artificial Joy Club with Velveteen
Tuesday, September 30

It’s both appropriate and ironic that when Sal (no last name), the smoky throated vocalist of Ottawa’s Artificial Joy Club, rings up Fast Forward for a little mandatory press chat she’s not calling from the one of the exotic climes you’d expect from a member of the Cancon FM radio posse (Kitchner or Moose Jaw, for example), but rather chilling on a cell phone on a beach in Los Angeles. 

Ironic because Sal’s lyrics (as evidenced on their new platter, Melt, featuring the hit single “Sick and Beautiful”) are so chock full of pop culture references – the Bionic man, the Brady Bunch, Godzilla, lesbian porn (?), etc. – you’d expect someone more used to the dull blue flicker of the tube as opposed to the blazing California sun.

“Of course I watch too much TV,” quips Sal, reinforcing the notion of cathode-ray victim. “I’m just a product of my twisted upbringing – well not that twisted. It’s just that I watch television quite late at night and I don’t know if any one else has noticed, but Sunday nights suck because all they show are infomercials and I get pissed off because I pay extra money for cable and now they’re showing me commercials all night long!”

Anyway, Sal hasn’t really had much time to be irritated by Richard Simmons, Tony Robbins and Co. lately. Which brings us to the appropriateness of the picture of Sal frolicking about in the land of silicon and surf. See, the Artificial Joy Club (who sound like an agro update of the ’80s Cancon pop sensation, One to One) have just wrapped up three incredible months of climbing the post-alternative ladder of success. Besides the hit song, the quintet managed to score a second stage slot on Lollapalooza (sure it’s kind of sucked since… well, alright, its always kind of sucked – but you probably wouldn’t complain if your band was asked to play).

“It was great,” recalls Sal. “Although I was really kind of freaked because I thought, ‘Oh man, we’re way too pop to be on Lollapalooza – we’re going to get killed.’ But, people liked us. The last show we played there must have been 3000 people watching just us.”

Of course, the touring life inevitably has its downsides; Sal cites the mosh pit uber goons pelting them with stuff as one, and being holed up in a van with her all male bandmates as another.

“There’s probably a part of me that will never understand men,” she explains. “When you’ve been on the road for three months without a break it definitely does wear you down; all guys talk about is chicks and sex. Constantly. It’s so tedious and boring. Like, oh my God, they could have had sex five minutes before and they’re looking to have it again. It’s like, ‘Don’t you have anything else to think about.?'”

All in all, though, Sal’s pretty content with her lot in rock and roll life at the moment. For the time being, at least, she seems more concerned with sunscreen than Nick at Nite.

“It’s been an amazing summer. I haven’t seen one day of rain – except when Lollapalooza went to Toronto. Other than that, though, it’s been 90 degrees every day. I’m definitely having a good time.”

FFWD Weekly
Copyright © 1997. All Rights Reserved.

September 26, 1997

Update from the Road

Tonight is our 61st show since the beginning of July and the Lollapalooza tour.

We’re finally back in Canada for a short tour across the western provinces, and then back home to Ottawa for about a week off.

On this tour so far I have stripped my snare stand, used about 40 pairs of drumsticks, changed my snare head once a week, cracked my favorite Sabian Rock Hats and changed my tom and kick drum heads once a month. I ordered 50 more pairs of sticks from Rimshot that got lost by UPS, so I’m down to my last few pairs on this tour, but I will have more waiting for me at home next week.

September 5, 1997

Artificial Joy Club Festival Updates

Just in Nashville right now and off to St. Louis, MO in the morning.

Updates for the Festivals on September 6 and 7.

September 6/97
Omaha, NE
KDGE Radio Festival
Westfair Amphitheatre
Sugar Ray, The Nixons, Smash Mouth, Artificial Joy Club, Puzzle Gut, Radio Iodine, Soak, & more

September 7/97
Tulsa, OK
Mohawk Park
KMYZ The Edge Presents, 12 pm
Faith No More, Helmet, Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Our Lady Peace, Artificial Joy Club, Outhouse & more

September 4, 1997

Update from the Road

Hey there, just thought I’d do some updating today since I’ve kind of slacked off doing stuff on my web site. We’re just on our way to Nashville, TN for a big rock show there tonight. I also updated the gigs page on my site, it has the same stuff as the AJC tour dates page. Other than that the tour is going great, we’re having a good time and meeting as many fans as we can.

August 29, 1997

Update and KTZB Buzz Fest in Houston, TX Line-up

We just got back from a gig in Austin, TX. The guys from Matchbox were out to see us on a night off. We’re flying to Kansas City, MO tomorrow morning for a radio festival show and then flying back to Houston, TX on the morning of the 30th for the KTZB Buzz Fest.

The line-up for the Buzz Fest in Houston, TX is:

Matchbox 20
Abra Moore
Cowboy Mouth
Artificial Joy Club
The Old ’97’s

August 27, 1997

Artficial Joy Club Dates

Artificial Joy Club

Artificial Joy Club Dates for September & October

September 2/97 – Tallahassee, FL – Floyd’s Music Store
September 3/97 – Birmingham, AL – Nick
September 4/97 – Nashville, TN – 527 Mainstreet
September 5/97 – St. Louis, MO – The Side Door
September 6/97 – Omaha, NE – KDGE Radio Festival Westfair Amphitheatre
September 7/97 – Tulsa, OK – Mohawk Park – KMYZ The Edge Festival
September 11/97 – Fresno, CA – KFRR Radio Festival – Paul Paul Theatre
September 12/97 – Sacramento, CA – Hard Rock Café
September 14/97 – San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
September 16/97 – Reno, NV – Little Waldorf
September 19/97 – Tucson, AZ – Club Congress KFMA Radio Show
September 20/97 – Phoenix, AZ – KEDJ Festival – Peoria Sports Complex
September 22/97 – San Jose, CA – Cactus Club
September 24/97 – Portland, OR – EJ’s
September 25/97 – Seattle, WA – Colourbox
September 26/97 – Vancouver, BC – Richard’s
September 27/97 – Victoria, BC – The Limit
September 29/97 – Edmonton, AB – The Rev
September 30/97 – Calgary, AB – The Republik
October 1/97 – Saskatoon, SK – Louis’ Pub
October 2/97 – Winnipeg, MB – The Pyramid



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