The triumphant return of July Fourth Toilet
Robert Dayton promised July Fourth Toilet would still exist after his move to Toronto in 2008, and true to the man’s word, the “most lucid” band in existence (his description) makes a probably triumphant return to the stage on Thursday (January 12) at the Waldorf.
In a call to the Straight, Dayton said that at least eight of the Toilet’s roughly 80 members who are still alive will be there—including Jody Franklin, Julian Lawrence, Andre Legace, Mark Gabriel, Josh Stevenson, plus newcomer Jay Rose—and the theme (every J4T show has a theme) is 2012, the Shortest Year Ever. Which means what, exactly?
“We’ll be performing the movie in its entirety,” Dayton says. “No, we will not. Some people find it hard to get a handle on July Fourth Toilet. It’s not the easiest thing to explain. But definitely one facet is the element of ritual. So there will be elements of ritual, regarding fear, and banishing fear, eliminating fear…”
Straight: Okay, but what covers will you be doing?
“The Osmonds were a band of brothers. And they were also Mormons. And because they were such staunch Mormons, they recorded an album—I’m surprised we’re not doing the whole album—it’s an album called The Plan. This is an album about the end times according to the book of Mormon, and it’s a concept album that uses sub-Ezrin production values.”
“Yes, it’s a great album. You could put it somewhere between Kiss’s The Elder, and Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and maybe [Alice Cooper’s] Love it to Death. It could be around there if those albums were done by Mormon bothers with big teeth. It’s got that quality to it.”
Straight: Okay, you’re not doing the whole album. Can you name a song?
“’Last Days’. There’s an amazing YouTube clip of that, actually.”
Straight: Also, I understand Paul Anthony is bringing his Talent Time Pop Up Shop, which includes a performance by some sort of child prodigy, and then longterm July Fourth member Jody Franklin is doing a solo… What is Jody Franklin doing?
“Jody Franklin’s going to do some rituals, a solo ritualistic performance. I hope the child won’t be seeing Jody nakedly performing his rituals.”
Straight: Me too. Anyway, a couple of years back, while DJ-ing a regular night of easy listening music in Toronto called Feelings, you began performing impromptu “candle-lit recitations”, which developed into a character, the Canadian Romantic, and then a one-man show. On Friday (January 13), you bring An Evening with the Canadian Romantic to UNIT/PITT Projects. Plus, you'll be serving dinner, right?
“For 25 dollars you get dinner and a very long show. Dunlevy Snackbar is making the dinner.
Straight: Tell us about the Canadian Romantic.
“I realized I’ve looked basically the same for 20 years, and there were certain stylistic nods when I first grew my mustache, almost 20 years ago—I think my mustache is older than me—to people like Lee Hazelwood, Richard Harris, and that kind of dynamic: men pontificating over easy listening music about romance and life, and so there is that reference. It’s a very now character, too. It does discuss a lot of things about the now. I’ve had too much experience. I’ve just had too much experience. That bleeds over into this persona of a man who’s had too much experience pontificating about romance in Canada.”
Straight: UNIT/PITT also prompted you to produce a pen-and-ink book, The Canadian Romantic Book.
“There’s a section on new friends, for lonely people, if they need new friends, drawings of new friends, there’s beauty secrets, historical knowledge of how Sir John A MacDonald discovered maple syrup by his quaint habit of fucking knot holes in trees when he’s drunk. Historical knowledge. Because we, as a culture, we tend to demythologize, partly due to a strong legal system. It sounds funny, but it’s true. If you want to know why any media portrayals of our historical events are so dull, it’s because of legal repercussions. That, and just piss poor talent.”
Straight: Excellent—so two-hours of the Canadian Romantic, dinner, and a book of lies.
“It’ll be fun. That’s my bite-sized quote. Fun!”
For those who didn’t snap up any July Fourth Toilet product when it was available, and even for those who never wanted to, Dayton has archived both the band’s albums (2002’s Something for Everyone, and 2008’s July Fourth Toilet Presents: Balls Boogie Featuring: Me And Bobby McGee Plus!: Kentucky Whore And Many Others), and a whole lotta other stuff (like their very first project, in which they took onThe White Album, sort of) over at Bandcamp. There’s also a YouTube channel featuring, among other things, “a full show when I blacked out onstage, and that’s an intense 30 minute watch.”
And there you have it. That’s a whole bunch of Dayton to groove on for the next couple days of his whistle-stop return to Vancouver. What’ll he do at the end of it all?
“After all that I get to try to clear some of the wreckage from my past.”