It’s already an established fact that rock n’ roll will never die, but it’s important to stop and recognize the brave souls keep it alive. That’s what Allister Quinn has been doing for the past 10 years with his band Light Bulb Alley. As the only original member, it can be tough to keep the dream alive, but Quinn was able to gather a cool crew of alley cats to put out Light Bulb Alley’s second full-length “The Bright Side of the Dumpster” last September. The album blends garage rock, blues and pysch punk, with songs about drugs and lost love.
A short documentary about the band was put out recently by Brian Barnhart. Check it out below.
I contacted Allister a couple months ago through e-mail. He and his guitarist Sean CB (also of UUBBUURRUU) were prompt with their response, but I was buried under piles of school work, so was only able to publish the interview once the semester came to a close. Now you can learn all you need to know about Light Bulb Alley, coming soon to a dingy bar near you!
Chris Aitkens: Light Bulb Alley a meth reference? What does it mean?
Allister Quinn: I have been asked that before. When named the band I was watching the Bob Dylan movie Don’t Look Back and Dylan was doing an interview with a Giant Light Bulb that he found in an alley. They were asking him where the light bulb was from and he said ” a friend gave it to me”. I liked the sound of Light Bulb Alley it is kind of like life and death.
CA: Why did you choose the title “The Bright Side of the Dumpster?”
AQ: Sean named it. The music we play stems from broken place, but when we play it, it is supposed to make you shake your ass. it is fun music. you can find a bright side to a dumpster if you look deep amongst the trash. It is like an Irish funeral you celebrate someone’s life instead of over mourning their death.
CA: Why have you cycled through so many band members over the years?
AQ: people get married, go to school. I had a keyboard player I was trying out before who is now becoming a priest.
CA: Why did you choose to come to Montreal?
AQ: I’m from Yellowknife and I lived in Vancouver then Los Angeles. After Los Angeles I was trying to find a city to hunker down in to play music. I met a girl and went for it.
CA: Over your ten years of being in the band, what are the biggest changes you’ve noticed in the Montreal scene?
AQ: I noticed the garage/psych/punk scene became more accessible. When I first started playing, it felt like bands like Demons Claws, King Khan and BBQ were the only ones around I guess the kids grew up and eventually started copying them with their own twist. Also the rise of Ty Segal and Thee Oh Sees helped. Promoters like Analogue Addiction, Montreal Psych Fest and Anachronic helped rock n roll too! Around 2013 I felt the scene got a big boost. Now there is all sorts of bands a bunch of them on Fish Bum Records.
CA: How were you first introduced to rock n’ roll?
AQ: In the womb.
CA: Has the rock n’ roll lifestyle ever gotten you in trouble?
AQ: Not really. I smashed a guitar hero guitar on the street and climbed many things. I guess you can’t get in trouble if you don’t get caught.
CA: How did you meet Brian Barnhart?
AQ: We met at a coffee shop. I noticed he had a Dealer sticker (my friends’ metal band) and we immediately understood we were on the same wavelength. And Brian is a filmmaker extraordinaire.
CA: When it comes to rock n’ roll, image is almost as important as your sound. How would you describe your look?
AQ: I think image can be important. Music is theatrical and people should dress how they feel more or less. I find the members I play with all have similar tastes so we don’t have to coordinate anything style wise, it just happens. I think we have the dirty Raven Look
CA: You recently played in New York. How would you describe the music scene in NYC in contrast to Montreal?
AQ: We just got back from NYC. I love it there. It’s more expensive than Montreal, but its a fantastic city. Its harder to get New Yorkers to dance, but we don’t have a problem with that. We have been well received there over the years. Its really exciting when your all amped up from going over an international border and riffing with New Yorkers, finding places to stay and eat with awesome people and being a bunch of pirates with your band mates and friends. Once you hit the stage after all the build up it is such a purposeful release! New York has so much energy and grit. My bandmates and I appreciate the history and the people. We have been fortunate to play with so many cool bands there like Lyres, Quitty and the Dont’s, Party Lights, Electric Mess, Savage Hearts, just to name a few.
CA: What kind of effects do you use?
AQ: I had most of my pedals stolen so I just let Sean and Nic take care of that. I like the use Fender tube amps with a bit of overdrive.
Sean CB: On the album I used a fuzz, reverb, delay, tremolo, and a wah. Live I keep it more simple and just use a fuzz once and a while. Less things to trip on while on stage.
CA: If you could revive one dead rockstar for one night out on the town, who would it be?
SCB: GG Allin, but I would wear protective gear.
AQ: I would love to drink with [Charles] Bukowski. I consider him a rock star.