When you spend a lot of time touring, bad things are bound to happen. Vans break down, a show might go poorly, a booker might stiff you or you might get sick.
Last year, Wax Mannequin, the alter-ego of Chris Adeney, was robbed in Calgary. This year, when I called him for an interview, he was in Lethbridge getting a new tire for his car after getting a flat 300 kilometres out of town.
“It’s been a really good tour so far but inevitably there’s some automobile complications going on and I’ve encountered them,” said the Hamilton-based performer in a phone interview while he dealt with his car trouble. “It’s all solved itself pretty smoothly.”
Adeney was on his way across Canada on yet another cross-country tour that will see him stop at the River City Pub in Revelstoke this Wednesday, Aug. 1. He’s no stranger to travelling across Canada, either solo or with a backing band. This time he’s touring solo and collaborating with friends along the way.
This will be his first show in Revelstoke, so he doesn’t have any friends here yet, but he did issue an invitation for people to join him.
“Maybe you can point me towards some local folks who might want to collaborate,” he said. “As far as I’m planning its going to be a solo performance.”
Words like ‘surreal’, ‘freaky’, and ‘post-modern’, have been used to describe Wax Mannequin’s style of folk music.
Adeney started performing as Wax Mannequin while in art school. He started playing nylon-string guitar, developing a style that was influenced by the likes of Bruce Cockburn, Frank Zappa and other folk musicians.
“I would write a lot of words. I really got into folk-finger style on a nylon string guitar,” he said of his early material. “From there I branched out on my guitar playing and hit a lot of finger-style arrangements I felt were really experimental and really challenging.”
He started off playing strange, sombre acoustic folk music, but released two electric albums that were much more rocking and poppy than his early efforts. Recently he has gone back to his acoustic roots after finding a nylon-string guitar at a music store on Commercial Ave. in Vancouver.
“It had a nice tone when put through an amp, really punchy. It didn’t feedback all the much so I started using that for my live shows and putting it through an amp and getting a nice distorted sound when I wanted to or getting nice acoustic tones when appropriate,” he said. “It was a turning point finding the right guitar and the right sound for what I do.”
Wax Mannequin will be releasing his sixth album, No Safe Home, on August 5 while on tour. He described it as “strange folk music” that is sparsely produced. “A lot of it is just me and a guitar but we have a lot of guest musicians playing various instruments too. Catchy sombre is how I think of it.”
As I spoke to Adeney, he dealt with his tire problems and told me he was on his way to Edmonton where he was meeting up with his wife and son for the rest of the tour. He said his new songs look at the connection between his personal relationships and the political climate.
“When I talk to about No Safe Home I talk about travel on shifting ground,” he said. “I think at times like these I fall back on my nomadic instincts and I’m more comfortable when I move and more safe. I bring my family with me and we get to meet up with all of our friends.”
Wax Mannequin is playing solo on his current tour. He has a set up of electronics and other noise-makers, while he plays acoustic guitar.
“Its strange, catchy folk music that will make you dance; and dark humour that will make you think,” he said. “Just a good time. It will be a party for me. It will be a one-man party at least.”
Wax Mannequin performs at the River City Pub on Wednesday, Aug. 1, at 9 p.m.