Republic of Safety
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Republic of Safety

Band Alternative Punk


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Montreal Mirror feature -- April 21, 2005"

Toronto's Republic of Safety tout socialism and sex
Have you ever contemplated an idyllic socialist refuge from your daily socio-political grind? What if I told you that such a place exists and will welcome you for one easy payment of rocking out and dancing (plus tax)? Now, I'm not talking about a warring nation, a wannabe-sovereign state or extreme Star Trek fandom, but a secure, peaceful republic with open arms to hold you. All the Republic of Safety asks is that its citizens "try to love one another right now."
"We want to celebrate the positive things that make life worth living, as much as we want to criticize the systemic violence that drags us
all down," says the Republic's singer/Prime Minister Maggie MacDonald, a dual citizen of the Hidden Cameras who once sojourned in The Barcelona Pavilion.
At their upcoming diplomatic summit in Montreal, MacDonald and fellow PMs Jonny Dovercourt (guitar, vocals), Evan Davies (drums), Kat Gligorijevic-Collins and Kate McGee (basses) will showcase the Republic's manifesto, aka the Passport EP. The bloody-raw post-punk document boldly states their position on work and play ("I like to work! I like to fuck!"), missile defence ("Does a weapon in your face make you feel safe?") and relations with "the Nation of Fear" ("We burned down the White House once!"). On a related note, the PMs are planning a trip south, to the red states as well as the blue.
"We will play for any audience, even people who watch Fox News," says Dovercourt. "But as the lone dude on the Republic's frontline, maybe I should be wary of flying bottles."
"We are interested in diplomacy," adds MacDonald. "The truth is, we are not so different from America, and that is okay for the most part. But we must be ever vigilant, keeping one eye turned outward and one eye inward on guard against oppression. And the Republic of Safety will never bomb anybody. And there will be no WMD at our shows. None!"
"But," adds Dovercourt, "there will be rock 'n' roll." - Lorraine Carpenter

" review -- April 11, 2005"

Republic of Safety. Passport EP.
The day I bought the Passport EP, I brought it home, listened to it twice in a row, and immediately wrote the following:
HA! Ha Ha Ha HA! I don't care how many bands these people are in! I don't care if they have dedicated their album to their lovers! I don't care that their politics make you want to move to Toronto! (I already live in Toronto! — can you imagine?) This — HA! — EP, Nordicists, puts your whole shabby, smelly, lazy movement to shame! A-HA-HA!
I sent a copy of this to the other editors, warning them that my enthusiasm might fade. I was accused of drunkenness. I was reminded that Republic of Safety is by all accounts a scenester band — that Maggie MacDonald, for example, is associated with the Hidden Cameras and the Barcelona Pavilion and that Jonny Dovercourt is Wavelength.
I was, however, absolutely right, and my enthusiasm remains. Passport is the best thing I've heard this year. Negatively this is because it serves as a marvellously compact fifteen-minute refutation of all that
I loathe in the Canadian indie-rock scene. Positively, it's because it is the funniest, catchiest, most entertaining punk rock since the Voidoids.
Let's discuss things in order:
My feelings regarding "political" music are roughly as follows. On the one hand, I am sure that I like "The Guns of Brixton" primarily for its politics. On the other, I have almost no idea what The Clash are upset about. Beyond the general outline of "things are bad and they've got to change," the specifics elude me. I could not locate Brixton on a map, for instance, and I forget what precisely it was that Margaret Thatcher did that was so reprehensible. If the song were called "The Guns of Jane and Finch" and it were about storming Toronto City Hall, I would probably like it less.
This, then, is my contradictory position: I like political music, but
only when I don't know what it's about and only when its message is incoherent. And so you might think that a song about Missile Defence
or a lyric like "North of the Nation of Fear we have a responsibility to build a Republic of Safety" — both of which are conspicuously topical and familiar — would hold no appeal.
Republic of Safety, however, would seem to value the energy and vitality of political punk more than they do the transmission of coherent political programmes. They are quite aware that the savagely
simple form in which they are working is entirely unsuited to this
purpose. And so, when forced into a choice between political perspicacity and a rhyme, the politics are always sacrificed to the form.
Thus "Get Your Horses Back" — the song that begins with the above-cited "responsibility" of Torontonians to build a counter-republic — bafflingly but amusingly locates the crux of
Canada/US relations in horses and resources: "Get your horses back! / Get your horses back! / Get your resources back! / (Alright!)."
Following a similar line, the chorus of the song about Missile Defence is the following:
Do weapons in space
Make you feel safe?
Does a weapon in your face
Make you feel safe?
It's a crude comparison, but that's the point: it's there because it's funny and it sounds good, not for its normative value. The case is the
same with another of the political complaints in "Get Your Horses
Back": "I don't want Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger / Telling
me and my friends what to do." This is not an especially sophisticated political analysis, and Maggie MacDonald is probably aware that Bruce Willis holds no political office, but it unquestionably belongs in a punk song.
This does not mean that Republic of Safety are apolitical. These are songs mostly about politics, at least, and they are songs that make you excited. The idea is presumably that you think about the issues for yourself and use the energy to do something.
The delicate province of Canadian indie-rock is generally conceived of as a utopia of smart, awkward Platonic hippies in touch with their emotions and willing to share. This is emphatically not the utopia favoured by Republic of Safety. An effect of their faith in punk-rock politics is that they stand for action in the real world. Which is a euphemistic way of saying they stand for sex.
This is clear right away in "Baby I'm It," a tale of lechery that the band defends in interviews on the grounds that "we should all be so confident" as its sexual-predator protagonist. It is clearer still in "The Moon," which turns the usual softness and warmth of Nordicist indie-rock neatly on its head with its vulgar and unsentimental chorus
"The river is wet / The river is wide / It's hotter and it's wetter
when you get inside." "I Like to Work," the best song on the EP, deserves top honours on all counts, but especially for its hipster-bashing self-contradictory sexuality. The album's finest lyrics, delivered with utmost brattiness - Adam Hammond

"Chart review -- March 22, 2005"

REPUBLIC OF SAFETY Passport EP(independent)
"We might be a small country in population but/we burned down the
Whitehouse once!" Republic Of Safety lead singer Maggie MacDonald
screams on "Get Your Horses Back." The Republic's debut is a
smoldering piece of ragged punk rock. It's a slightly under-produced,
but exciting introduction to one of Toronto's best up-and-coming acts.
Guitarist Jonny Dovercourt's Hot Snakes-esque guitar licks sear
menacingly beneath Hidden Camera MacDonald's whip-smart lyrics.
Republic Of Safety display substantial pedigree and promise on
Passport and even manage to make Canadian exports seem sexy — no doubt
the best is still yet to come. Massive props also to The Complaint
Department for their brilliant passport-style package design. --Noah
Love - Noah Love

"Chart interview -- March 18, 2005"

Friday March 18, 2005 @ 03:30 PM
Bands try all sorts of things when it comes to marketing. Some wear
suits, others create fictional identities, but few actually create
their own nation. Enter Toronto collective Republic Of Safety, a band
that formed last summer and since then have become one of the city's
hottest commodities.
"The concept is that were a fake nation, we're a utopian nation and
we're a perfect version of what we want Canada to be," lead singer
Maggie MacDonald says. "It's kind of a joke about how Michael Moore
says Canada's so safe and no one shoots each other in Canada, it also
makes fun of the idea that Canada is this safe country.
"I think when you state something, you're also suggesting its
opposite, so when we say, 'Let's build a Republic Of Safety,' it's
kind of like saying we're living in this terrifying environment."
The group's bombastic live show, which they describe as a "sonic
attack," has been getting Toronto's indie kids to dance like few other
bands have. Guitarist Jonny Dovercourt has been in four previous
bands, but thinks this is the one that will truly have an impact.
"It kind of blows everything else out of the water. It's pretty
gratifying, it feels like everything has been leading up to this," he
says. "We don't have any delusions about how popular we might get, but
I think with music these days that anything is possible. I think we're
doing something unique and it might have a chance to reach a wider
audience than it would have five or 10 years ago."
Then there's the issue of politics. In addition to being an artist and
musician, MacDonald has been a professional NDP election strategist
and often wears her politics on her sleeve.
After singing for Joel Gibb's Hidden Cameras and for the Barcelona
Pavilion, MacDonald saw the new band as a more personal outlet.
"Republic Of Safety is really important to me because it gives me the
chance to combine all of my areas of interest," she says. "My music
isn't just a political project… I think music has to be more than
politics. It's a project that aims to inspire confidence and a sense
of inclusion."
MacDonald, Dovercourt, bassists Katarina Gligorijevic-Collins
(Barcelona Pavilion) and Kate McGee and drummer Evan Davies will
unleash their first manifesto, Passport EP, this Saturday.
The disc was recorded primarily in their rehearsal space, with the
vocals done in Dovercourt's attic. They'll release the EP
independently for now and hope to find a distributor down the road for
Passport and future records. In the meantime, they'll tour the new
record around Eastern Ontario and Quebec and plan to tour in the U.S.
later in the year.
If you decide to check out the release party, you won't be expected to
just stand around and listen. The band want everyone to get involved.
"We're creating a situation in this moment in which this is a nation
and we are all citizens and when the Republic Of Safety attacks, we
all attack together," MacDonald says. "It's participatory — anyone can
come to the Republic Of Safety."
Dovercourt adds, "I've always been a big supporter of DIY, but we've
updated it to DIT — Do It Together."
Tour dates for Republic Of Safety:
March 19 Toronto, ON @ Stone's Place, (Passport EP release at Hey
Ladeez w/ DJs K.P. Regina + Barbi)
April 9 Toronto, ON @ Lee's Palace (w/The Weakerthans and The
Constantines, all ages matinee)
April 15 Toronto, ON @ Sneaky Dee's (w/The Doers and Run Chico Run)
April 22 Montreal, QC @ Casa Del Popolo (w/The World Provider and Let Lowns)
April 23 Ottawa @ Irene's Pub (w/Burn Rome In A Dream and Cadeaux)
—Noah Love - Noah Love

"eye Weekly feature -- March 17, 2005"

Along with words and concepts like "egalitarianism,"
"communitarianism," "social democracy" and "inter-subjectivity," a key
word in the Republic of Safety experience is "compression." We're not
talking about the production tool that can suck the life out of a
recording but rather the way in which the Toronto dance-punk
five-piece cram a lot of ideas -- both musically and ideologically --
into compact spaces.
The band's soon-to-be-released Passport EP features a series of tight
and spastic mid-fi blasts -- spearheaded by Jonny Dovercourt's searing
guitar work and fortified by the dynamic rhythm section of dual bass
players Kate McGee and Kat Gligorijevic-Collins and drummer Evan
Davies -- that run through multiple breakdowns and prime post-punk
progressions while keeping on the short side of the three-minute
barrier. Meanwhile, when singer Maggie MacDonald (also of The Hidden
Cameras) doles out a lyric like "I like to work / I like to fuck / My
mind is my body and my body is a truck," it may appear to be a simple
rhyme on the surface but it's actually MacDonald's entire
undergraduate thesis -- concerning the false hierarchy of mind over
body and its relationship to social prejudices -- compressed into a
mere 19 words.
There's a lot coming at you during the course of Passport's 15
minutes, which is why the lengthy interview is an ideal way for the
group to elaborate on ideas compacted to suit punk's emphasis on
brevity. Most prominent among RoS's causes -- reflected by the band's
moniker and embedded in the anthemic "Get Your Horses Back" -- is the
push to form a Republic of Safety, i.e., an idealized version of
Canada imagined as a guitar-shaped island off the coast of Torontopia.
"In a time when our neighbour and largest trading partner's government
is so terrible and a large portion of their own people think that way
as well, it's easy for us to have a proud smugness and think we're
fine because we're not them," says MacDonald over coffee after band
practice last Thursday. "So building a Republic of Safety is a way of
saying that we can't just sit at home and feel that we're better than
people who we aren't -- we have to create something beneficial to
"I see the Republic of Safety as this radical version of Canadianism,"
says former eye staffer Dovercourt, "this kind of alternate-reality
nation where we take all the best aspects of our country and make them
more extreme..."
"...without buying into the idea of mainstream Canadian nationalism or
identity, like those Molson Canadian 'I Am' commercials," adds Davies.
While left-wing activism constitutes a major aspect of the RoS m.o.,
equally represented on Passport are songs where sexuality is pushed
right up to the forefront -- our initial introduction to MacDonald is
as a lascivious neighbour ("Baby, I'm It") and a randy space vixen
("The Moon"). It's a sexuality they deliver with the same urgency as
their politics -- according to the band, Passport's libido-driven
tracks and their politically charged counterparts espouse the same
eventual ideal end.
"The songs about sexuality are a version of empowerment, as an
expression of the completeness of the person," says McGee. "It's about
elevating pleasure and the status of the body. And elevating the body
is elevating the person."
"There also seems to be this assumption that left-wing activism is
this pleasure-denying practice," says Dovercourt.
"The bridge between having the sexual confidence to say 'Baby, I'm It'
and building a Republic of Safety," says MacDonald, "is simply having
the confidence to go for it, to make a better world. Nobody wants a
filthy, sad world. Everyone wants a better world. All we need is the
confidence do it." - Ryan Watson

"NOW magazine feature -- March 17, 2005"

Republic of Safety make politics sexy
REPUBLIC OF SAFETY CD release with DJs BARBI and KP REGINA at Stone's
Place (1255 Queen West), Saturday (March 19). $5. 416-536-4242.
The cats in local indie punk quintet Republic of Safety are a sly
bunch. On first listen, their bouncy riddims, raunchy riffs and
shout-out vocals make 'em sound like a party band of Charlie
Sheen-sized proportions. ut just when you start to get down, band
mouthpiece (and former NDP staffer) Maggie MacDonald'll slip in a
diatribe on the militarization of space and smack your ass with a
lesson in Canadian history. Ouch.
But don't stop dancing; like a bitchy Le Tigre, Republic of Safety pen
political tunes that are also surprisingly fun.
"This is a way of being involved in activism, but activism can be dull
and alienating," says band guitarist Jonny Bunce (also known as
Wavelength co-founder Jonny Dovercourt), chilling with his mates in
one of those wooden booths at Sneaky Dee's. "This is our chance to
rock out and communicate."
"We do party with our politics, but sometimes you need a social
lubricant," adds Katherine McGee, one of the band's two bass players.
"We have to counterbalance the politics."
In a time when most musicians' politicizing comes off as either trite
or cheesy (!!! and System of a Down come to mind), McGee says part of
their mandate is to provide new anthems. They're off to a good start,
with live shows that feature banners and fist-pumping sloganeering.
And their debut EP, Passport, offers raunchy, politico-punk workouts
and enough vitriol to rival a vexed Bea Arthur.
On Get Your Horses Back, MacDonald ominously spits, "We might be a
small country in population / but we burnt down the White House once."
Elsewhere, the message is just as powerful, if more tangential. Sung
from the perspective of a dirty old man, Baby I'm It is a
post-feminist call to arms for coy females.
"I used to be very embarrassed about singing," explains MacDonald. "A
lot of girls don't have enough confidence to pick up a guitar, but a
dirty old man can walk up to a 16-year-old girl and with no shame tell
her she should want him. I wish girls could have that kind of
Though they've been around barely a year, the roots of RoS (the band's
rounded out by drummer Evan Griffith-Nash-Davies and absentee bassist
Kat Gligorijevic-Collins) go back a decade to when MacDonald was
publishing a punk rock zine called Saucy. Bunce came across a copy and
loved it so much, he wrote MacDonald a letter – on map stationery, no
less. Though the pair became pen pals, they eventually lost touch.
Fate wouldn't reunite them until a Hidden Cameras gig at Lee's Palace
in late 2001. Legend has it that Camera MacDonald spotted Bunce in the
crowd, grabbed a mic and started freestyling at him.
"After I saw that, I was like, 'Who is this girl?' I have to start a
band with her,'" says Bunce. Combining his razor-sharp riffage with
MacDonald's "off the top of her head" lyrics, the pair clicked
immediately, and their first jam session yielded four tunes.
"This is our utili-topian fantasy," continues MacDonald, adding that
the songs are a chance to "amplify" what they love about Canada.
"Nationalism can be dangerous," she says, "but people have to think
about what they want from their country. It's a way of laughing about
nationalism, but it's also a way of daring to dream." - Jered Stuffco

"eye Weekly live review -- Jan. 20, 2005"

Logic dictates that music fans spend January indoors, enjoying the
warmth, saving money and sparing their livers. But after two weeks on
the sofa, the prospect of braving the urban tundra to sidle up alongside hundreds of bodies in a cramped room becomes oddly inviting.
What's more, January gigs can serve as uncannily prophetic indicators
for what the new year holds -- lest we forget, it was only a year ago
that The Arcade Fire were warming our bones at Sneaky Dee's. If two
packed shows this past weekend are any indication, 2005 could be the year of hyper-sexualized polemical party-punk.
Walking up the stairs to Rancho Relaxo on Jan. 15, attendees were
greeted with an impenetrable wall of people raising their beers and
lighters (some perilously close to the ceiling-hung streamers) to sets
by raucous roots crews The Silt and Jon-Rae & The River, before getting
down to the evening's formidable headliners, Republic of Safety.
Boasting an agenda that cheekily demands Canadians embrace socialism and sex in defiance of the puritans south of the border, RoS are themselves a study in contrasts: vocalist Maggie MacDonald -- playing
the black-clad evil twin flipside to her crowd-motivator role in The
Hidden Cameras and The Barcelona Pavilion -- and guitarist Jonny
Dovercourt contort themselves on stage left, while dual bassists Kat
and Kate, dressed like trashy cocktail waitresses, face each other
motionless on stage right, having a private conversation with their
Coming on like Sonic Youth if they knew how to party, the RoS offer
equal amounts of encouragement (MacDonald: "This next song is about confidence -- dirty old men have it, you deserve it too!") and
antagonism, best illustrated by their encore: an inspired rip through
The Undertones' "Teenage Kicks" that bled into MacDonald's acerbic
diatribe about inbreeding in her hometown of Cornwall: "40,000 people, only nine names, what does that tell you about their favourite game?"
Judging by the action on the dancefloor, there was reason to believe many at Rancho were feeling hot 'n' bothered enough to hump their own cousins, too.
A similarly riotous reception greeted kindred spirits No Dynamics at
Sneaky Dee's 24 hours later. And like RoS, No Dynamics revel in the
collision of oppositional forces: in their case, the dissonant disco of
'70s no-wave and the hormonal thrust of '60s soul and classic rock.
While testifyin' vocalist Vanessa Fischer (who, coincidentally,
replaced MacDonald in The Barcelona Pavilion) spent most of the evening
writhing up against bodies in the crowd -- and inspired that most
quaintly anachronistic of rituals, the mosh pit -- guitarist Daniel
Vila controlled the chaos with steely blues-damaged riffing that echoed
everyone from The Stooges to Hot Snakes. No fun indeed.
So there you have it: Republic of Safety and No Dynamics -- The
Beatles/Stones, Oasis/Blur, Sonic Youth/Pussy Galore of Toronto's new sex-punk underground. Here's to a new year of fucking and fighting.
STUART BERMAN - Stuart Berman

" live review -- Jan. 18, 2005"

A good weekend of live music for me, though not so much for you - too
much showgoing makes Zoilus a weary and busy-catching-up-on-things boy,
even a couple of days later. The sights and sounds taken in included
the packed-like-a-garbage-scow-full-of-refugees show at Rancho Relaxo
on Saturday with The Silt, Jon Rae & the River (who did a great
screamalong of Kris Kristofferson's-->Johnny Cash's Sunday Morning
Coming Down, one of the best songs ever) and Republic of Safety, seen
above, led by singer/future-leader-of-the-free-world Maggie from the
Hidden Cameras with guitarist-Torontopian Johnny Dovercourt of
Wavelength with bassist Kat from the Barcelona Pavilion and second
bassist Kate McGee and drummer Evan Davies. RoS may be the world's only
post-punk-grrrl band about north-south trade imbalances, democratic
socialism, a robust welfare state and really loud orgasms. As Maggie
proclaimed in between songs, "Who's having the most sex? The people who
pay the highest taxes!" If Maggie can wiggle out of her duties as Joel
Gibb's wingman (I'd say she's done her service for that front of the
Toronto invasion) and doesn't get distracted by running for Prime
Minister, RoS could really become a cult band - Johnny's
Mission-of-Burma-channelling riffs and Maggie's surreally ecstatic
brand of Canadian nationalism are like nothing rest-of-world has
imagined. -- CARL WILSON - Carl Wilson


Passport EP (six songs; independent, 2005)
"The Moon" (track on Good Grooming for Girls compilation, Shameless/Permafrost, 2004)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Republic of Safety is a rock band/fake nation that was founded at an International Congress in Toronto in Dec. 2003. Its five Prime Ministers also contain dual citizenship in The Hidden Cameras, The Barcelona Pavilion and the Wavelength music collective. With its combination of socialist/feminist-positive vocals, jagged guitar riffs and booty-quaking rhythms, the RoS has garnered favourable comparison to post-punk superpowers like Sonic Youth, Le Tigre, Wire, Hot Snakes and Mission of Burma. The Passport EP is Republic of Safety's first recorded document, and it was independently issued in March 2005 to extensive critical acclaim and radio airplay. Most recently, three Prime Ministers were the subject of an hour-long interview on Canadian national radio programme Brave New Waves on CBC Radio Two, with host Patti Schmidt. Audiences in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Guelph, Brantford and Hamilton have all experienced a Republic of Safety ATTACK, or intense/inclusive live show -- Tim Ford of The Ford Plant in Brantford declared RoS's June 6 gig to be one of the top five shows ever performed at that venue.