Men: Mirror (July 12, 1990)
surf geniuses Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet dream in technicolor
legend has it that Stan Ridgeway and the Wall of Voodoo didn't
want to be a new wave band, but a collective hip film composers
for hire. Have cult, will score.
didn't want to be a band at all, they just wanted to do scary
soundtrack stuff, and they never did because they found there
was no money in it," says Reid Diamond. "We sort of ended up falling
into the sort of trap, too. We always wanted to do soundtrack
stuff, and we got to do Comic Book Confidential and Kids in the
found out they were half-right," Don Pyle jumps in. "There's no
money in it."
Diamond and drummer Pyle are two-thirds of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy
Planet, perhaps Canada's most unlikely film composers and definitely
Canada's coolest surf guitar-playing cult heroes.
Shadowy motto is "Instrumental since 1985," and the Toronto-based
trio has been churning out gritty little nuggets of surf magic-sans
vocals-in the most unusual packages. Their initial 8-track release
featured wobbly massacres of Simon & Garfunkel songs. Schlagers!
was a 7" 45 that included a board game with lunar bingo chips,
while the Explosion of Taste EP remained true to its name-it came
glued to a package of Jiffy Pop popcorn.
you've gotten past the golden topping, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy
Planet offer an atmospheric, trashy, and noirish surf party that's
fueled by the four-colour energy and humor of cartoons and comic
books as well as the usual teenage dementia.
stuff that influences us the moist is stuff we all listened to
as teenagers, like Alice Cooper's School's Out," says Pyle. "I
bought Beatles records, I bought Stones records, I bought Who
records, I bought Sex Pistols records, I bought George Jones records,
there's so much stuff we've listened to over the years, but I
think we're more influenced by movies we saw when we were kids,"
says Diamond. "We grew up with James Bond, Clint Eastwood, John
Barry, and Ennio Morricone."
1986 documentary film maker Ron Mann was intrigued by The Shadowy
Men's visual edge, and invited them to tackle the score for Comic
Book Confidential, a celluloid tribite to the vibrant, pioneering
work of graphic artists like Sue Coe, Los Bros Hernandez, Lynda
Barry, Robert Crumb, and Charles Burns. "Despite what you way
[sic] think, we're not big comic book fans," says Diamond. "Ron
Mann isn't either. Ron documents pop culture, and makes films
about what interests him. The only comic we all read religiously
was Mad magazine. The Superhero as a cultural icon never really
interested us. However, we revere Bugs Bunny a lot. And Saturday
and the Pussycats," Pyle puts in.
of the segments of Comic Book Confidential features artist Charles
Burns narrating a beastly tale entitled The Baby, The Shadowy
Men liked it so much, they borrowed it for a bonus CD track on
their upcoming album, Savvy Show Stoppers.
As in compact disc? "The fact that it's in album, cassette and
CD is gimmick enough for us," says Pyle. "We've put out everything
on seven-inchers before."
pretty much impossible to press seven-inch singles in Canada anymore,"
laments Diamond. "We've done some shows where we've make singles
o give away for special occasions, and we had to give out coupons
and mail them six months later."
becoming a sort of exclusive for diehard collectors to buy 45s,"
adds Pyle. "The only way to sell them is by mail order or at shows,
because no stores carry them anymore." Diehard collectors need
not worry, for Shadowy Men are partipating [sic] in a four single
project for Washington's Estrus Records, where they will be one
of eight bands sharing four 45s wrapped--wait for it--in a lunchpail.
is going to be music for pets," enthuses Diamond. "It'll be a
whole record not for people, but for their pets. We're interested
in songs about pets and for pets, 'cause nobody's addressing pets
in music and how they feel."
thematic, if you haven't guessed," deadpans Pyle.