Snubdom Blog

Suzie Joseph was one of the first members of “The Devices,” as we were called, before we slapped “American” in front of it, which members of my first punk band The Electric Vomit had formed with ex-Ulterior Motive bass player Phil Nolin in 1979. When Vomit singer Rabid Roy Random left, Devices were a three-piece for a bit with Vomit drummer Guy Lapointe. I was on bass & Phil sang & played guitar. Keyboardist Suzie joined this formation, playing Farfisa Organ, & then eventually also String Machine.

At first you could tell which Devices songs were made from my riffs & which ones were Phil’s but as we got better at playing with each other a unique hybrid sound began to evolve. Guy got replaced on drums by an old friend of Phil’s, Carl (Cups Von) Helm, & after seeing us play a few times Rob Labelle, from one of Montreal’s first seventies punk bands The Normals, asked if he could join on extra guitar. This blew my mind because seeing Rob’s band when I was a teenager was what made me wanna start a punk band in the first place.

Devices were listening to a lot of garage, punk, post-punk & no wave back then. A loose list of what was constantly on my own turntable would go a little something like this; “Pebbles” Volume 2, Iggy & the Stooges: “Raw Power,” The Germs, Can: “Ege Bamyasi,” Velvet Underground: “VU,” “No New York” (especially The Contortions), Suicide (second LP), Lydia Lunch: “Queen of Siam,” & The Feelies (first LP). Everybody else brought their own influences into the mix, I started playing a six-stringed bass, & the resulting songs were unlike anything we’d ever heard before.

When Phil left, along with all the tunes he’d written, Rob took over on vocals & guitar & I went back to guitar so we could start writing a brand new set. This is where we slapped “American” in front of “Devices,” keeping the brand name going for previous fans while differentiating ourselves from our old outfit. Despite Rob & I occasionally switching from guitar to bass for a few of my old riffs carried over from the Devices & The Electric Vomit, most of the earliest American Devices numbers deliberately had no bass because Suzie was able to provide all the bass we needed with her Farfisa organ. We ended up sounding even weirder than before. This is where the strange sound of The American Devices solidified.

Suzie left the band in the early eighties & we’ve been through many member changes since then, but Rob & I have remained since the beginning, continuing our odd combo of intertwining riffs throughout the decades without ever having broken up once. He & I have gigged every year together as The American Devices since 1980 & we continue to write new numbers. But for our next show we’ll be reunited for the first time in almost 4 decades with keyboardist Suzie, performing the very first numbers we ever wrote. She’ll be accompanying our current lineup with Howard Chackowicz on drums (since 2000), & Andre Asselin on bass (since the mid-nineties). As such, we’ve had to tweak some of the tunes so everybody could contribute live, for instance there will be bass guitar care of Andre on songs that originally had none, there will be new riffs written by Rob for songs where he originally played bass but can’t anymore because Andre is now playing his old bass riffs, & I dug up my old Hagstrom Corronado six-stringed bass for the tunes that were written with that insane instrument, but since Andre will also be playing bass there will be two basses on those songs! More for your money’s worth! Don’t worry, we figured out a way where Andre & I can alternate between the high notes & the low notes so it doesn’t all sound like mud! We worked very hard to recreate/refurbish this peculiar classic American Devices set & I’m incredibly proud of the results, so please come check out this ultra-rare opportunity to hear what was considered by many to be one of the oddest combos in early-eighties Montreal!

For anyone familiar with our tunes who’d like to know which ones we’ll be doing, below is our set-list. Note: Since Rob was the lead singer during Suzie’s tenure the first few years of The American Devices (I only started writing lyrics & singing circa 1983), the band wanted to throw in some token songs where I do the yammering, so we added a couple of relatively recent numbers that Suzie’s gonna sit out so she can take a little break. Buy her a beer! She deserves it for having tolerated this messy concoction the past bunch of months that calls itself The American Devices!

1) BAY OF PIGS (Suzie keyboards, Rob guitar, Rick guitar, Andre bass, Howard drums)

2) SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION (Suzie keyboards, Rob vocals/guitar, Rick guitar, Andre bass, Howard drums)

3) SEE MY WORLD (Suzie keyboards, Rob vocals/guitar, Rick guitar, Andre bass, Howard drums)

4) GOT THE FEELING IT’S (Suzie keyboards, Rob vocals/guitar, Rick guitar, Andre bass, Howard drums)

5) FIFTY/FIFTY (Rick vocals/guitar, Rob guitar, Andre bass, Howard drums)

6) SUDDEN DEARTH (Rick vocals/guitar, Rob guitar, Andre bass, Howard drums)

7) IN LOVE WITH THE FACT (Suzie keyboards, Rob vocals/guitar, Rick six-stringed bass, Andre bass, Howard drums)

8) SOMEONE WE ONCE KNEW (Suzie keyboards, Rob vocals/guitar, Rick six-stringed bass, Andre bass, Howard drums)

9) COALSHAFT (Suzie keyboards, Rob vocals/guitar, Rick six-stringed bass, Andre bass, Howard drums)

10) WET NURSE AKA DEATH CAMP (Suzie keyboards, Rob guitar, Rick guitar, Andre bass, Howard drums)

11) MEANING OF LIFE (Suzie keyboards, Rob vocals/guitar, Rick guitar, Andre bass, Howard drums)

Pictured below: L to R; Rick Trembles, Rob Labelle, Cups Von Helm, Suzie Joseph. The American Devices crucify Santa around 1981. Not only was the Xmas theme supposed to be dripping in sarcasm but so was the term “new wave” in the tagline. We didn’t think we were “punk” anymore but we certainly didn’t identify as “new wave.” We didn’t know what we were. “Post-punk” was a term I only started hearing about much later, which is what we apparently were/are. The caption coming out of our drummer Cups’ mouth WASN’T sarcasm though, because we thought he looked like Donny Osmond. We only had one PA head but we did a special effect to make it look like we had many by reproducing the same one over & over again in the shot to poke fun at all the “after-punk” people we knew that were jumping on the electropop bandwagon at the time. Whenever we’d go see their bands they’d have so many synthesizers onstage stacked one on top of the other to make themselves look futuristic it seemed like half of them were just props. So we wanted to one-up them & show off how much fancy fake techno-looking gear WE had. Kinda like fake Marshall stacks. All that product placement in the foreground of The Ulterior Motive was from photostats I snatched at the commercial art studio I was working in at the time, doing paste-ups for shopping center catalogs. They kinda look like stocking stuffers. We made that Satanic Santa crucifixion scene ourselves too. Poster by yours truly, Rick Trembles. All photography by Cups Von Helm. Ulterior Motive bass player Dave Hill pictured left eventually became an American Devices member for years in the nineties (he was also one of the founding members of Men Without Hats in the seventies). To see image full-sized, click on it to open in a new window & use the magnify function.

Pictured below: Current gig poster drawn by American Devices drummer Howard Chackowicz. THE AMERICAN DEVICES / LES DEVISES AMÉRICAINES with BLEU NUIT and NONESSENTIAL PERSONNEL, Halloween weekend, Friday, October 27 at Casa del Popolo, 4873 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montreal. Doors: 8:30 PM, Music: 9:30 PM, Admission: 10$/PWYC. To see image full-sized, click on it to open in a new window & use the magnify function.

I made the first Building 108 cartoon entirely by myself in 2016. This time around I’m teaming up with artist Raphaele Bard. I got to know Raph in 2015 at the Montreal “Dump & Draw” comic jams she puts on every Saturday night at a bar near my place called Notre Dame Des Quilles. Local cartoonists take over a table near the can, drink lotsa beer & either doodle inside their own sketchbooks or contribute to exquisite corpse comic strips that get passed around. In fact, over time we’ve amassed so many pages of these improvised stories that we collected them all into a hundred-page book being made available as a perk on our crowdfunding page. Last year, silkscreen master & cartoonist Simon Bossé asked me to contribute to Journal L’Étiquette, the massive newsprint comics paper he puts out periodically with the place he works at, Brasserie Dunham. I drew my contribution at NDQ & asked Raph to colour it because her palette & technique are exquisite. The only requisite was that the story had to do with beer. Your wish is my command, Simon. It only took me ten-and-a-half beers to draw. (To see image full-sized, click on it to open in a new window & use the magnify function).

Raph is gonna kill me for this but I found these loose inspirational sketches she did for the next Building 108 so much fun that I had to share them. She’s a professional storyboard artist, some of her work can be seen on Teletoon as we speak, & it shows, with these quick studies she just tossed off in a couple minutes while brainstorming. Here’s a background art idea for a sperm bank crime scene sequence we’re planning:

And here are some ideas she had for a sequence that’s gonna take place in a snooty fashion shop called Callipygian’s (look it up, it means “having well-shaped buttocks”) which is run by, what else, pigeons with nice butts. Get it? “Pygian’s”?

And it completely blows my mind that renowned oil painter Peter Ferguson contributed to our list of perks with this one-of-a-kind painting of the dilapidated house that our post-apocalyptic mutant characters live in. You can own your own beautiful signed gicleé print of it if you contribute to our campaign!

Here are my extremely loose thumbnail sketches detailing the whole new “Building 108: Barnacle Bill The Tailor” show scene-by-scene. But don’t look too closely, now! No spoilers allowed!

So please visit our official crowdfunding page HERE where you can view the first Building 108 cartoon in it’s full three-minute entirety made available for the first time since it opened for Anna Biller’s fantastic “The Love Witch” back at Fantasia Fest 2016. Plus you can read lots of info about what we’re aiming to do story-wise, who we’re gonna get as voice actors, & check out all the insane perks we’ve set up for you. We’re offering to have you pie us in the face full of live worms for crying out loud! And someone already paid for Raph to get one! Doesn’t anybody want ME to get a noggin fulla creepy-crawlies?

As much as getting published in the high school paper was thrilling (the first person to ever publish my comix was its editor Brian Topp; runner-up for the federal leadership of the NDP in 2012), by the time I was being flung out into “the real world” I knew I needed a new gig! And Montreal’s premiere scene-report punk mag Surfin’ Bird was loose enough to run my crap! I did a comic for their second issue about jerking off to Charlie’s Angels & then submitted this drug-addled stream-of-consciousness one for their third & final! The title “Boredom Abolishing” was also the name of a song by my first punk band The Electric Vomit & on the second page you can tell I was starting to grow outta The Sex Pistols & becoming obsessed with No Wave by declaring my fandom for The Contortions! “Normality is an illusion, for teenagers it’s confusion” was a lyric from Boredom Abolishing. Gee, can you tell I was still a teenager when I drew this? (To see the pages full-sized, click on them to open in a new window & use the magnify function).

This Sunday I’ll be accompanying Canadian Golden Age Cartoonist & “Giants of the North” Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Doug Wright Award winner JACK TREMBLAY at the FantastiCon comics convention taking place from 11 am to 1 pm at Collège André-Grasset, 1001 Boul Crémazie Est, Montreal. We’ll have a table & he’ll be signing prints. More info HERE

BTW, WHO’D LIKE TO REPRINT SOME RARELY SEEN 50-YEAR-OLD CANADIANA?

Hey, this year is not only the 150th birthday of Canada but it’s also gonna be the 50th birthday of a series of gorgeous little Canadiana books my father wrote & drew in honour of Canada’s 100th birthday just in time for Expo ’67! They’re compact, about 6 X 6.5 inches, around 14 pages each, & heavily illustrated in full colour in his whimsical post-Canadian-Golden-Age-Comics style (he was inducted into the Giants of the North Canadian Cartooning Hall of Fame by Seth in 2014). Last year, I had interested a Montreal publisher in possibly reprinting these in time for Canada’s Birthday Celebrations, which will probably be in full effect by this summer, but they recently apologized & told me they wouldn’t be able to handle the printing specs. They’re more used to text-only projects. Would anybody out there be interested in such a project, or know who I could try to reach to get something like this happening? The company that originally published them, Brunswick Press, is long gone. In fact, they went outta business back in the sixties without publishing or sending back the original artwork for my father’s last instalment in the series! Would I ever like to dig THAT stuff up! Contact me for more info!

Here’s a full sample of one of Jack Tremblay’s Beaver Books from Brunswick Press, “THE BIRTH OF HOCKEY,” followed by the cover art for his others.

In the early 90’s. Montreal artists Rick Trembles & Eric Braun invited dozens of local & international cartoonists to contribute a drawing of a creature for an Exquisite Corpse-style comic book. Each artist’s creature had three sections that could be combined with those of other artists, allowing for many possible combinations. The original artwork has now been turned into magnets, so you can mix & match these creatures on your own fridge door! There are two different series of Distroboto magnets, each featuring different artists. And there are two full critters per $2 pack, each one split in three, but you never know which of these crazy “Cretins” you’re gonna get with your purchase so collect them all!  © 1993/1995 The Artists.

Official launch at the Distroboto “Sweet 16” benefit party this Sunday, March 26 at Casa del Popolo (4873 St-Laurent, Montreal)! Featuring  OSB (1-speed bike), GMACKRR, fourthousandblackbirds & Alexandre St-Onge! $8 suggested donation! A CKUT co-presentation.

From the Distroboto press release: “Celebrating 16 years of Montreal’s unique art vending machine network with a party & concert where the project began back in winter 2001, the evening will also launch a crowdfunding campaign to help this non-profit project stay alive & to upgrade the machines! About Distroboto: Since 2001, these unique art vending machines have sold over 100,000 works from more than 1200 different artists from around the world! It is open to submissions year-round & the artists keep nearly all the revenue. Distroboto is run by Arcmtl, a non-profit arts promotion & preservation organization.” For more info go to distroboto.com

NOTE: ALL PROCEEDS FROM EXQUISITELY CORPSED CONCOCTION OF CRETINS FRIDGE MAGNETS WILL GO TOWARDS KEEPING DISTROBOTO ALIVE!

Pictured below: The original comics that accompanied the print version of “Exquisitely Corpsed Concoction of Cretins” number 1 (1993) & number 2 (1995). The contents within these pages, made up of a multitude of odd creatures by varying artists, each had to be hand-sliced in three! Now you can experience the same sensation via fridge magnets!

Pictured below: Sculptures by Rick Trembles from the original photo shoot for the front cover of the print version of “Exquisitely Corpsed Concoction of Cretins” number 2 (1995).

Pictured below: The only two existing print versions of “Exquisitely Corpsed Concoction of Cretins” left from Rick Trembles’ personal collection.

Pictured below: Sample animated GIF of “Exquisitely Corpsed Concoction of Cretins” by Rupert Bottenberg & Daniel Clowes from the rare out-of-print version which you can now obtain as Distroboto fridge magnets currently on sale now!

Remember Lollapalooza blowing through Parc Jean-Drapeau in ’94? Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, Breeders, Nick Cave, L7, Boredoms were all on the bill. I was confined to a “cartoonists’ tent” that we each had to pitch in 25 bucks for, trying to break even selling my comix while drawing in front of passing multitudes like some kinda circus sideshow freak, too broke to buy a beer. So naturally the comic I drew “live on the premises” had to feature me grumbling. Every kid in the long lineups passing by, without fail, would pick up our comix, leaf through them feigning interest, look at us with puzzled faces, & quickly put them down & move on to the next tent without buying a thing. Where did all these clueless brat punks suddenly come from? Never saw a single one at any local shows. Grunge was finally full-blown mainstream & the “Sha Na Na of the nineties,” Green Day, were starting to get huge, so I guess they were all getting their cues from Montreal’s MTV; “MusiquePlus,” clueless that artists & bands had already been doing this kinda stuff here for decades, & not giving crap one. “Krapolapalooza” indeed! Wonder what they’re into now? Original inks on 11 X 15 inch paper for only 100 bucks! (To see image full-sized, click on it to open in a new window & use the magnify function).

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For original art info, contact Rick Trembles @ ricktrembles (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Well it’s that time of the year again when I have to pay my annual fee to keep snubdom dot com going. It costs me about 100 bucks annually so let’s sell off some original art! BTW, the reason I still maintain my own mausoleum of a site is so I don’t have to kowtow to various social media platforms’ fickle mores. Some of my work tends to include dirty bits I can only get away with by LINKING to various social media rather than uploading directly to it. I drew 1995’s Home Sweet Home when I was still into making horror special makeup effects hence its preoccupation with mold making. As much as I opposite-of-heart CGI, I sure don’t miss those days of cluttering up my tiny apartment with monster mask molds crumbling white dust everywhere exacerbating my asthma! Original inks on 8 X 11 inch paper for only 50 bucks! (To see image full-sized, click on it to open in a new window & use the magnify function).

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For original art info, contact Rick Trembles @ ricktrembles (at) hotmail (dot) com.

This project has come a long way since my first rough Rube Goldbergesque conceptual thumbnails a year ago (see image below). I’ve been working very hard on this with producer Ari Cohen of Big Cheeks Studio on & off since 2015 & now I’m incredibly pleased to announce that my new animated short Building 108 will be having its world premiere on the big screen at the prestigious Fantasia International Film Festival this Saturday, July 16 at 5:15 PM. And I couldn’t be happier that it’s opening for Anna Biller’s new film The Love Witch since I’m already a huge fan of her first feature Viva! This is going to be an amazing screening! Get your tickets now HERE!

We’re hoping this initial pilot episode develops into a series of some sort. Here’s our official synopsis: “Building 108 chronicles the misadventures of a ragtag trio of young broke mutant musicians who live & rehearse in a dilapidated building in a post-apocalyptic predatory urban environment that has pesky hazards like bumbling hucksters, zombies, & aliens from other planets & dimensions around every corner. Each episode is based around the charmingly quirky way the crew fends off a different antagonist to their routine of trying to make ends meet and playing music at their neighborhood hangouts.”

Montreal Music Trivia: Did you know that the theme song for Building 108 was written & performed by one of the longest lasting post-punk bands anywhere, The American Devices? And the voice(s) of Building 108’s character “Cobweb” is/are by Sacral Nerves singer Esther Splett? BTW come see my band Sacral Nerves play with Ishi Tishi & Nobro this Monday night, July 18 at Bar Le Ritz PDB (179 Jean Talon West)!

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Braindead,” one of the characters from Building 108 says; “Come see my new movie!”

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Original rough Rube Goldbergesque conceptual thumbnail from 2015. (To see image full-sized, click on it to open in a new window & use the magnify function).

When you’re so broke you can’t even afford to eat, what else are you gonna do but draw a comic about it? As the day winds down, twiddling your thumbs fretting over another fruitless 24 hours gone by after desperately trying to rectify the situation to no avail, it’s good to have something to channel your nervous energy into lest you go stark raving bonkers. I decided to beat the counterproductivity by disciplining myself to do at least one creative thing a day. For 22 days in April/May of 2015, I secretly documented my broke ass trying to get by on nickels & dimes on my first Tumblr page ever. Hilarity tries to ensue. The gimmick was that I had to make one biographical drawing per day in under a minute but I dropped the ball when I got too busy with other stuff so I decided to delete the whole page. Here published in print for the first time are all my sloppy automatic unrehearsed drawings from that now-deceased “One Minute Worries” Tumblr page. I actually don’t even think a single person ever saw it back then because I never bothered to follow anyone on Tumblr. Come check out the launch of my brand new ACTION PACKED 24-page mini-comic “One-Minute Worries” at this year’s Expozine, Saturday & Sunday, November 14 & 15 @ Eglise St-Enfant-Jésus, 5035, Saint Dominique, Montreal. I’ll have a table there & will be selling other goodies dirt cheap like my Motion Picture Purgatory Volumes 1 & 2.

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$5 POSTAGE NOT INCLUDED (FOR MAIL ORDER CONTACT RICK TREMBLES THROUGH THIS WEBSITE).