Funky Winkerbean’s is a blood red hallway, its vertical lines of cardinal geometry flying into false cornices and climbing into vaulted voids. This darkened corridor, paddocking its patrons in balustrade fences, is littered with seating and lined on one side by an extended Naugahyde bench the color of cigarette smoke. Opposite this, the bar sits huge and heavy, a patchwork walnut edifice of solid finish and scarred stain. Bottles provide a backdrop and arrange themselves in stacked shadow boxes, becoming the mirror-lined space between bulkhead and bar top. Turn again into the deep and perspective collapses around a plywood bulwark jutting into a bay of bamboo dance floor separating the pogo set from the performer.
The combined cultural effect of Funky’s interior design is somewhat akin to post-modern country bordello. A tornado hit of neo-classical buttresses, barn wood and industrial art. Sepia remnants of sketched anatomical study draw a series of feminine nudes at eye level, giving continuity to the open sanguine length of the walls. Winkerbean’s comes at you in tatters, swaddling you in stale smoke, flat beer and sweat. It is a place of varied levels, if only in irregular inches. Winkerbeans is home to Wendy Thirteen. After kicking ass at the Cobalt for so many years, Wendy has a rep for bringing a musical beat-down better than anyone in this town. On January 7th, Wendy headlined one of Vancouver’s elite guard of garage punk, Motorama.
Motorama is a monster trio that powers through their set like a stripped down ’72 Vette, leaving a thousand mile blur on a forever stretch of death valley blacktop. Marcus Motorama, Rich Motorama, and The Bert Man on lead, bass and drums respectively make the backbone of this beast that savages the stage like a fourteen inch cannon cut loose of its moorings in savage seas. Marcus is a surgeon of technique and attacks the mic like Bonn Scott, David Bowie and Pelle Almqvist rolled into one and set on fire. Rich hammers on his bass like Mike Watt in Corona if he was possessed by both Uncle Milty and a drunk Buster Keaton. The Bert Man is hands, feet and consummate rhythm; he is Michael Shrieve, Thomas Lang and a whole lot of Animal. The murderously sharp edges of their syncopated assault cut the senses like a sheet full of razors and all you want to do is stand there and bleed. Motorama is a fifteen year story aching for an outlet, but first a musical break.
The Interview (Faceplant practice space – 2010)
Faceplant is a hidden door on an industrial corridor, only in the alley does it grow a porch and trellis. This was the rendezvous. The gathering place for Motorama as they meticulously operate on their repertoire with Occam’s Razor. Among many others, it is also home to Big John Bates, Suck up to God and the Centers of the Universe. The entrance; admittance-only, is triggered by a button and recognition. Mr. E Plant, lord and guardian of Faceplant, let me into the tangled pith of his urban landless manor. Design was definite ‘Jawa with hoarding issues’. Low-hanging circuit board lampshades illuminated scattered islands of mid-operation computer towers and mixing boards. Wires and plugs abound. It is Giger in the making – a hybrid of high tech and hobbit. This is where Marcus, Rich and The Bert Man unraveled the skein of Motorama.
Marcus met Motorama in 1996 after the life he had been building in obligated increments came to an abrupt end. He had a guitar and a desire to play… (Listen to audio clip)
Fifteen band mates starfished on impact and fell under the wheel of Motorama’s growth, leaving brain flowers and broken dreams on the pavement, but for the last six years there have really only been three, but how did the other two that finally made the grade come to be? The Bert Man and Rich told their stories… (Listen to audio clip)
Here’s another musical break:
Marcus is an alchemist minus the robe and false hopes when it comes to Motorama’s repertoire. “I log ideas over time and I write music, because I basically can’t stop. I pick a piece of music – it’s my favorite at the time. Is this something I can do something with? Then I look through my lyrics to see if something matches it rhythmically.” When I asked about their resulting creative process, all three were quick to explain… (Listen to audio clip)
Rich considers Motorama family, “I ended up taking a break for about a year, because of some time management issues. I wanted to come back so bad. Just hoping the guy they had playing bass got hit by a bus.” After the laughter subsided, The Bert Man quietly corrected in a tone as dry as the desert, “Well, he didn’t get hit by a bus, he got hit by a Chilean.” Laughter for another ten seconds. Relationships between band mates are intense and can be incredibly volatile. Even band mates that get along come to points of conflict. Rich explained, “We’re musicians and musicians are pretty passionate people. You spend a lot of time together, at practice, at shows, touring…. Pretty soon somebody is going to rub somebody the wrong way….but there’s something different about us. I plan on playing with these guys until I’m old.” Marcus went on to add, “Sure, yeah, we all get on each other’s (sic) tits at times, but it passes.”
Almost six years of hard touring miles between here and Mexico proves it. Logging hours on stage at Diablo’s Downtown Lounge in Eugene, Oregon, The Anarchy Library in Downey, California, and The Emerald Lounge in Asheville, North Carolina, Motorama clocked enough life experience to make Dr. Phil do a Linda Blair head-spin. There are no soft drinks promoting their tours, no primetime TV press junkets, they’re strictly DIY, on the hoof and taking what they can get. Why do they continue to hammer away night after night, when all that waits to chauffeur them home after a show is a beat up van in the parking lot? Marcus went anecdotal to explain… (Listen to audio clip)
If you crave the dulcet tone and Coolwhip melody of Barry Manilow, attending a Motorama gig would be, as The Bert Man puts it, “…like being pistol whipped for forty-five minutes, it’s not for everybody.” So you got a hankering for the Hives and you skanked at a Mudhoney gig, what are you going to get when you lay down the dollars to drink yourself silly and then burn it all off in an all night pogo-fest? (Listen to audio clip)
2011 is another auspicious year as Motorama is due to release another cd, only five songs away from a good bludgeoning, but as Rich says, “…must see live, seriously, must see live, lord knows I love the records, but most people’s home stereos don’t go loud enough.” The end of Rich’s mouth curled into a devilish smile and the rolling baritone of his winking laugh filled the room. You can catch Motorama at the Gates (333 Clark) on February 12th – intimate gig/underpowered PA. Or you can haul your lazy carcass to the Princeton Pub on March 26th and have the sound waves shred your outfit.
Okay, another taste of Motorama. If after this, you still don’t want to give these bastards some of your hard earned money, you hate punk and I have no idea why you read so far into the article, or you’re a useless poser that should be shot in the neck with an arrow.