Pine Tarts
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Pine Tarts

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"Chuck Livid Talks Punk Rock Business, Miami Love, and DJing"

The line between weekdays and weekends gets blurry on Thursday night. For college students, it signals the end of the school week. For working stiffs who gotta get up early Friday morning, it's more of an "I'll go out for a few beers, won't stay out too late, shit it's 3:00 a.m., fuck! I overslept" kind of thing. For the gang behind Shake at the Vagabond, Thursday nights are a labor of love.

Tonight that last crew has commissioned a couple from across county lines to come and join them in the party business. The husband and wife team of Chuck Livid and Helena Garcia will be running shit in the Vagabond's back patio.

Garcia will be painting a mural in her sugary style, while Livid will be spinning some of his favorite punk rock tunes and some tracks from his label's growing catalogue

We took a moment to ask Livid some questions about his label and tonight's jam.

New Times: What's your name, nationality, and where are you from?

Chuck Livid: My name is Chuck Livid. My parents are from the Dominican Republic and I was born in Brooklyn and raised in Miami. And no, I don't like reggaeton.

For someone who lives in Boca, you seem to have a lot of Miami ties and a lot of Miami releases. What's your 305 connection?

Miami's where my heart is. I was raised in Sweetwater, went to school in Westchester, had friends in Cutler Ridge and Palmetto and had some of the best times of my life at Churchill's in Little Haiti.

I fell into Boca Raton by pure accident. But I've got to say that I enjoy having quiet time to work on projects. If it weren't for Boca Raton, this record label wouldn't exist. Miami can and will trap you into an everyday crazy cycle full of distractions that make it real difficult to focus on things and get them done.

Is Shake going to be your first foray into DJing?

Kinda. I wouldn't call it DJing though. I'm just playing from bands that inspired me to get into music and songs from artists I respect. DJing is an art form for some people and I wouldn't want to take that away from them. Let's leave it at something rather pretentious like Livid Records presents Chuck Livid's Battle Royale 2011.

What is your all-time favorite dance tune?

That's a really good question. For some reason, I'd think it'd be anything from Le Tigre because I love Kathleen Hannah.

Do you think rockers and bros can live in a world peacefully?

You know, if Run DMC and Aerosmith ever taught us anything, it was that yes it could work.

What kind of stuff are you going to spin?

Everything from Pixies to Suicidal Tendencies to Peaches. It's gonna be fun.

Tell me some choice tracks you're spinning and why you picked them.

I'm really psyched to be adding Livid Records artists to the mix. So if people enjoy a little Pool Party with their David Bowie, then I'll be as happy as a fly on shit.

What's the occasion, what's making you make the long drive south to DJ some tunes?

Aholsniffsglue asked me if Helena, my wife, and I would be interested in doing a night at SHAKE. I was honored because I know Slim Biscayne, Jason Jimenez, and Ahol pour their souls into that night and do a hell of a job making it a success. So not in a million years would I have thought anyone would ask me to do this. I'll be sure to make the night a battle royale that everyone there will always remember.

Running a record label in today's climate seems a little crazy. How do you keep doing it so consistently?

I'm not going to lie, it's real tough. Livid Records basically functions on an equation that consists of taking a percentage out of my salary from my day job and releasing records, period, no matter what. I run the label in a real unorthodox way in the sense that, even though it's a corporation with one employee, the bottom line isn't profits; it's making sure albums are being released by bands that deserve their albums seeing the light of day.

You'll be giving away a Livid Records Mix Tape for free. Can you give a breakdown of the bands and point out some key tracks and what they mean to you?

It has one or two tracks from every Livid Records recording artist. I admire and respect every single band on it, and hope people will enjoy it and check out those bands. They all mean the world to me.

How the hell do you have two Canadian bands?!

Canada has some of the best bands in the world. Seriously, shit's crazy up there. Livid signed Zero Cool and the Pine Tarts, and I'm not kidding when I say this: they may be two of my favorite bands of all time. We also have a Swiss band and an Icelandic one.

Anything you wanna add?

I want to know where the girls are? I don't mean like "yo call me girl", because I'm married and that'd be weird, but like where are the female leaders of the Miami music scene? It can't all be Afrobeta, Raffa Jo Harris and that chick from Suenalo? I love 'em, but Miami needs like a RiotGrrl 2.0 revolution real soon.
`Jose Flores

Chuck Livid and Helena Garcia at the Vagabond resents (((SHAKE))) Monthly Mural Series. Featuring DJ sets from DZA, A-Train, and Chuck Livid. The Vagabond, 30 NE 14th St., Miami. The party starts at 10 p.m. Call 305-379-0508 or visit - Miami New Times

"PINE TARTS' Faux Fauves"

Faux Fauves
Mark Hamilton

Jesse J. Powell is the type of lad about town who cuts a unique figure, instantly recognizable by his mod-styled bangs and de rigueur black leather jacket. The visual tie to old-school rock and roll is equally reflected in the music of his band, The Pine Tarts, whose newest EP, Faux Fauves, blends sock-hop-ready mod-pop hooks with the buzzed-out guitars of ’90s garage-inspired indie rock.

The Pine Tarts’ sticky vocal melodies reveal a needle-sharp lyrical wit shared between Powell and keyboardist Laurie Fuhr, whose lead vocals on both the frantic en français “Etoiles” and sugary-sweet “Come” display the group’s soft, gleeful centre. “Hiver”‘s “We’re going to giver in the hiver / forever and ever,” is the type of sly vocal hook that should be destined for Canadiana indie-anthem status, while the biting age-of-consent protest “16/14? leaves Powell breathlessly shouting, “She read all of Ulysses, then got into Proust right after that / She borrowed my Tale of Two Cities and loaned it to a kid she baby-sat,” over fuzzy guitars and pounding piano.

Most striking, however, is the way in which standout opener “City” captures Calgary suburban ennui, the scene cleverly set by Powell’s description of a life spent “in a green room / in a grey house / in a beige part of town,” while still managing to rock out despite the commentary. If The Pine Tarts can maintain the energetic pace they’ve set themselves with Faux Fauves, Calgary’s sure to start feeling all the more colourful for it.

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Hear more at

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Jesse J. Powell on the songs of The Pine Tarts’ Faux Fauves

Track by Track

City “That’s about the frustration I had with living in Calgary when I was going to ACAD. I just dropped out and took off to Banff. The mountains have always seemed like a refuge to me, and I grew up in the forest in northwest Ontario. I’m 30, but I’m acting like I’m 18 again.”

Come “Laurie Fuhr wrote the lyrics to that one. It was kind of a scary one in the studio, because when I heard what she was saying I thought the lyrics were too pop. I even made her cry, but it was just the ego problem of having a cool riff that other people put words to and letting it go. I really want Laurie to continue to write songs. Even if she wants to play guitar I’d be happy doing something else like shaking a tambourine.”

Etoiles “Laurie wrote the words and I wrote the music. I don’t know it exactly word for word. She sings it in French and it’s about kids who get eaten by bears under the stars and only the birds see it happen. It’s part of our Canadiana schtick.”

16/14 “It’s sort of a diss on the madness that seems to have happened over pedophilia. I just thought it was something that needed to get poked in the eye. The way Stephen Harper changed the age of consent from 14 to 16 is ridiculous.”

Hiver “It’s an English joke on winter. It’s got a simple sort of Beach Boys lyric about surfing, but it’s more about Canadian sports like skating and snowboarding. I was thinking of A Hundred Years of Solitude, and the family whose farm is falling apart, so they crack a bottle of Champagne and it all turns around.”
- Swerve Magazine

"Pining For Banff's Beauty"

It's always hard to judge how profound and significant a band's name is. Some names have oodles of thought put in to them and when you hear the back story or the genesis of the name, it can alter your perception of the band altogether. Others are clearly the creation of a bigwig at record company, or the product of the bravado that comes with a few too many beer. Rage Against the Machine -- profound, Pussycat Dolls -- not so much. Pine Tarts fall in the former category, though it may be hard to glean the significance at first glance.

"I was living in Banff, and I thought of it as a slang term for the type of kids that lived in Banff," explains frontman and vocalist Jesse Powell. "Sort of whimsically minded young people who end up living in abject poverty, but living the crown-jewel of beautiful places of the world. People coming from all over coming Canada and elsewhere to this beautiful place, and living super poor, but it makes them super rich."

Though the explanation provides startling insight into a side of Banff that isn't often seen, it still doesn't explain the connection between the town and a garage-rock/power-pop band. If one were to associate music with the idyllic mountain locale, folk and country seem like the most obvious genres, but Powell disagrees.

"It's the funny division of the facade culture existing in this deep, profound wilderness," says Powell. "I was trying to reconcile that shiny, glitzy edge of Banff with its roots. I was trying to take a form that was a folk culture to young people, which I don't think is folk anymore. It's rock'n'roll."

Though he concedes he doesn't find it as beautiful, Powell has since moved to Calgary to focus on his music, citing the transient nature of Banff's populous as a severe obstacle when starting a band there. Powell has a solid idea of the course he wants to chart through Calgary's music scene.

"It's a tricky situation. In Calgary, and most scenes in Canada I suppose, the people that go to shows are the people in the bands for the most part, with a bit of crossover," he says. "With Pine Tarts' music, I was always trying to make it more pop. It's not just for band people who know all the strange, rare garage-rock. The bands that are big hits with local crowds are generally bands that are for musicians and for collectors, and they hit a lot of reference points that other people won't get. It's an exclusive club."

Powell isn't putting this kind niche down, he's just aiming for a wider audience. He has friends in these scenes and wants them to be able to appreciate his music, but he also wants to make it accessible enough for people to just pick up and dive in to. He's carried this thoughtful approach into how the band intends to distribute its music.

All their releases -- including the recently released 10 inch, Two Moons -- have been on vinyl and Powell has no intentions of changing things. This may seem contradictory to Powell's intention to make the their music accessible, but each record will include a download card for fans to grab the songs in mp3 format online.

"No one wants to collect CDs, they are just clutter and garbage -- they don't look nice on your wall," he says. "One of the things I think about with our music and our shows is the ritual aspect and vinyl fits in. Often it just sounds better too."

Though it comes with a cost. Records are more expensive to produce than CDs, but Powell think it's worth it.

"All we do is lose money on that stuff, so if you lose a few hundred bucks more, who cares?" Powell laughs. - The University of Calgary Gauntlet

"MOON ROCKERS: Seasons Change, Pine Tarts Party Hardy"

According to a recent photo comment on Facebook, “A party doesn't really start until Jesse starts removing articles of clothing.” The Jesse in question is not this article’s author, of course (though I have been known to loosen the ol’ tie on special occasions), but rather Jesse J. Powell, founding frontman of grungy garage-pop combo the Pine Tarts. He’s a fun-loving man-boy-about-town and voracious party animal the likes of which Calgary hasn’t seen since the glory days of Tommy Chong.

Dating back to the Tarts’ earliest gigs, Powell’s high-energy performances — not to mention his trademark leather pants — have thrust him into the local spotlight.

Fast-forward to February 2010, and his band is set to drop a brand new collection of tunes onto your turntable via the stylish blue-coloured 10-inch vinyl mini-album Two Moons. From fiery instrumental opener “New Moon” to the Morrissey-inspired hopscotch of “Mosel,” all-out rocker “The Horrors” and four more toe-tappers, it’s by all accounts the culmination of the Pine Tarts’ recorded output to date. The collection also includes “Twilight Blue,” a song Powell first penned back in the 1990s.

“When we went into the studio, there were a lot of new songs, and I had a feeling those were influenced by my contemporary tastes,” he says. “To make it true to my heart and the essence of everything in terms of my songwriting, I thought the album should include some older stuff. ‘Twilight Blue’ is almost the very first song I wrote by myself, so I felt the need to bring it out.”

It’s also one of two numbers — along with “New Moon” — that could remind listeners of a popular series of teen vampire romance novels and films. According to Powell, this shared imagery was completely unintentional and is actually starting to drive him a bit batty.

“I’ve always preferred werewolves to vampires, and people with a tan rather than being completely pale,” he laughs. “The album title, Two Moons, just references the two songs with the word ‘moon’ in their name, and could also be related to the forces behind the tides of your life. Those could be other people, and traditionally, the moon is also connected to a feminine energy. So yeah… no vampires.”

That might all sound somewhat mystical, but the songs also remain rooted in the real world thanks to Powell’s lyrical allusions to people and places in Calgary — ex-girlfriends, Kensington, the Bow River and his dog. He returns again to the Beach Boys as an inspiration, along with several possibly surprising touch points.

“There doesn’t always have to be a separation between art and life,” Powell muses. “As a band, we aren’t a different group of people at night as we are during the day. Brian Wilson’s lyrics are always personal and confessional, and it’s the same way with Of Montreal. If I could imagine the confessional style of the Beach Boys mixed with the fantasy of the Misfits, that’s what I’d like it to be.”

Following the recording of Two Moons, two band members who appear on its sleeve have amicably parted ways with the Pine Tarts — drummer Mike “The Nuder” Bressanutti to focus on his other project, Sharp Ends, and bassist Jester Suzuki to study kung-fu. Now, Powell has enlisted an all-new rhythm section with bassist Harvey Hinton and former Endangered Ape stick-man Stuart Bota. The trio will make its live debut at the release show.

“The new lineup is blowing my friggin’ mind,” Powell says. “We’ve been practising like crazy and I really love how it’s the same but new, with some unanticipated powers surfacing. I think it’s simultaneously wilder and more cohesive than ever before. So the release show — which both Nuder and Jester are going to attend, but not play — is going to be a fond farewell to the past and an exciting meeting of the future.” (Jesse Locke) - FFWD Magazine

"ALBERTA BOOM: Provincial Punk Rock Tour Strengthens Civic Ties"

The Pine Tarts

The Pine Tarts’ line-up has been given the same treatment as their drinks, drugs, and love affairs. Things are taken in, adored, cursed, and promptly disposed of. Now that half of the members who recorded their latest EP, Faux Fauves, are now gone, Pine Tarts is a formidable power trio: JJ Powell on vocals and guitar, Jester Suzuki on bass, and Mike “The Nuder” Bressanutti is on drums. Together, they put more blood, sweat, and suspicious white stains into their shows than ever before.

From smashing pints over each other’s heads to putting ring pops on tree branches and encouraging the audience to lick the candy before sticking it to Suzuki’s ample chest hair, Pine Tarts never fail to entertain. They’ve amassed one of the most loyal groups of fans in the city. While onstage, Powell’s hyperactive cantillations and propensity for falling over (often with the aid of several amorous friends) keep the energy levels at an ecstatic near-rapture. The stolid cool of Suzuki (dressed in a cape and not much else) and solid beat of The Nuder keep things at a mostly coherent level. Pine Tarts’ shows are disorienting and exhilarating. They’re a band so accustomed to chaos that they can make the most inadvisable night of debaucheries feel absolutely routine.

Dirtied punks and soulful indie poets, the Pine Tarts will pull you in with catchy hooks, clever lyrics, and hold you close with audience participation drinking games, love songs about dolphins, and sudden mass snogging sessions. A show by these deviates is not one to be missed. (Caitlyn Spencer)
- Beatroute Magazine


With Calgary’s top indie rock festival only a week away, we offer an inside take on the best bands you’ve never heard of.

Pine Tarts
These ebullient Calgarian pop punks combine classic, fast-paced punk riffs with melodic sock-hop rock. They mix two-parts Sid Vicious, one part mod mishmash and one part sunshine to create highly addictive musical amphetamines.
~Jane Thompson -


Aurora Borealis/Lit A Path b/w Goodbye Kitty (7" 45 rpm 2007)
Pine Tarts (CDR 2007)
Faux Fauves (CDR 2008)
Two Moons (10" 33 rpm 2010)
Hark (7" 33 rpm 2011)



"Calgary's most treasured garage-pop band" (FFWD Magazine)

"Their blend of ’90s alt-rock (more Rentals and Pixies than angst-laden grungers) and ’70s power-pop is positively infectious." (FFWD)

"Pine Tarts are Calgary's most original band since The Sandwiches" (Beatroute Magazine)

"These ebullient Calgarian pop punks combine classic, fast-paced punk riffs with melodic sock-hop rock. They mix two-parts Sid Vicious, one part mod mishmash and one part sunshine to create highly addictive musical amphetamines." (

Pine Tarts are a band from Calgary, Canada. They make punchy tunes and jump around and knock bottles over. They crash heedless through the bush and show up at Broken City with bleeding palms. They are found brooding, pupils wide as saucers, in a corner of the Ship & Anchor, speaking in tongues some nights. People do double-takes when they see what Pine Tarts are wearing. They have been spotted on midsummers eve, when the green aurora is bright above Cascade, on Banff Avenue with an elk skeleton.

A lust for all that is lovely and loamy and slippery and sun-licked coupled with the fervent desire to crawl all over peoples of this same persuasion, inspired these kids to attempt to make contact with kindred spirits through the mass-communication possibilities of a dusty little scrum of a rock n roll band. Too impatient to learn their instruments, they instead forced their instruments to learn what their fingers could already do, and immediately began recording demos. Too poor to afford proper gear, they were forced to use ghetto blasters as amps, and rather than replace strings as they broke on their no-name guitars they simply fiddled with the tuning. Finally one day they took the bottles back and bought a used rental 4-track. Pine Tarts are Jesse J, Harvey Hinton and Stu. They are ever searching for the sounds to fill joydrunken hearts with love and fire. They want small shows, not big ones, they want to drink wine in the parking lot with the audience after the gig and jump in lakes with all the beautiful boys and girls they meet.