In 2005 ( I’m Guessing the year, it was a blur) I was living on top of The Rex Hotel at Queen Street West across from the practice space we shared with John McLeod (Johnny and the G-Rays), down the street from The Horseshoe. It just so happened that I read in NOW magazine that the Evaporators were playing The Horseshoe that night, so I swallowed my beer and headed down to introduce myself to NARDWAUR.
He said in a gentlemanly fashion: “ It’s an honour!” Took a publicity photo with himself, yours truly and the bass player from THE EVAPORATORS. He gave me a copy of RIPPLE ROCK, The Evaporaors CD at the time. When I got home and opened it, I found it had loads of great liner notes on myself and CARDBOARD BRAINS. Which I would like to share WITH YOU NOW:
“ I would love to see Cardboard Brains play live. If I may turn the reins at this point to my friend Marc Coulavin who will now subject you to a short history of the real Cardboard Brains (not The Evaporators song!):
“ Deadly Alien Foam. That’s what you could be reading about here. It was one of the names the band considered before settling on “CARDBOARD BRAINS”. An interesting and humorously self-deprecatory name, compared to the more obnoxiously provocative ones chosen by their fellow musicians on the Toronto punk rock scene. Things like Arson, The Battered Wives, the Cads, the Curse, The Fits, the Forgotten rebels, The Poles, The Rage, Rex Chainbelt (after a cement mixer part!) The Sharks, Slander, Swindled, Teenage Head, Tyranna, The Ugly, The Viletones and ZRO4.
It’s also a clue they were slightly different from the rest. Although their first EP, a 7” bearing the legend “Cardboard Brains 1977” contains four blasts of primitive and raw punk rock, there are definitely shades of quirkiness. Both in the lyrics as on the presumably sarcastic “I Want to Be A Yank”, and the music. Certainly in the vocals.
“Their on-stage presentation was also out of the ordinary. Eschewing the ripped jeans and T-shirts aesthetic of his contemporaries, singer John Paul young favoured dressing up in costumes. On at least one occasion, he removed his clothes to reveal a Riddler-like turquoise body suit covered in question marks. Young also integrated his training as a thespian into their shows, displaying behaviour qualified as “pretty bizarre” by a third year performance studies student (who should know!), at Ther 1982 Sheridan College gig. A first year business student called them “danceable but weird.” Not unlike The Evaporators in some ways!
In December 1978, Cardboard Brains appeared at The Last Pogo, a two day event at the Horseshoe tavern marking the end of that establishments “New Wave” booking policy. Parts of these shows, including numbers by Cardboard Brains, were committed to celluloid and vinyl. the more adventurous bent of the group reveals itself further on these contributions, as well as their second outing, a four song 12” EP released in 1979. this is perhaps due to the departure of original bassist Paul Oconnel and drummer Richard Miller, who were replaced by John Thomas and Dave Richardson on The Last Pogo recordings, and by Patrick Gregory and Mickel Keena on the EP.
In 1980, Mr. Young went solo and produced a rather depressing concept LP entitled The Life Of Ermie Scub, The group reunited in 1981, with Young and guitarist Vincent Carlucci as the only original remaining members. This resulted in a live album recorded at new wave club The Edgar, issued the following year in a very limited edition of 441 numbered and autographed copies, by then their music had evolved into fully-fledged prog punk, years before anyone came up with a name for it…but that was also the bands swan song. Since then they have reunited for a few club dates, one of these being a retrospective compilation CD.
Young went into acting and composing for the movies. Carlucci formed Station Twang with Carl Tafel (a later Cardboard Brains alumnus, whose previous vehicle had been Terraced Garden). Patrick Gregory became a member of The Woods are Full of Cuckoos and the Lawn.
The Cardboard Brains version of The Monkees’ “Stepping Stone” off their first EP, appeared on the all-Canadian Killed By Death Vol. 26 in the mid-nineties, raising their profile accordingly. Someone anonymously issued a facsimile of that EP in the last year or so. Now you can look forward to the pleasure of a song called “Deadly Alien Foam” on your next Evaporators platter! Cheers!and now back to your host Nardwaur…Thanks Nardmeister!”
So those are the liner notes from Ripple Rock by The Evaporators featuring Nardwaur The Human Serviette.