What’s the history of Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir?
Three road-worn musicians hanging out and playing old gospel classics, just for the hell of it. Then one day realizing that if they just tweaked some of the words, the music could remain just as joyous, just as powerful, but instead of praising God, they could use it to challenge the hypocrisy and arrogance of the religious establishments (plural). After four years of gestation, songwriting and song subverting, the project officially launched in June of 2011.
What are the inspirations behind “The Introduction” EP?
Musically, Mahalia Jackson. Spiritually, Christopher Hitchens.
You won the 2011 St-Ambroise music grant, you’re playing this year’s NXNE music festival in Toronto and you’re headlining the opening night at Fringe Park (Montreal Fringe Festival), obviously things are going well, what’s next for the band?
Hell, most likely. But before that, a single, an EP and an album. In that order.
Who are some of your favourite Montreal Artists?
Oscar Peterson (rip) and Oliver Jones for their chops, Leonard Cohen for the biting verses, Arcade Fire for the showmanship, Barr Brothers for the inventiveness, Loco Locass for the outcry, Kalmunity for the soul.
How’s the Gospel scene in Montreal?
Lively! And gifted. Jireh, People’s Gospel, The Jubilation. There are some pretty magnificent pipes in this town.
A lot of artists are starting to voice their opinions on the student protest in Montreal, where does Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir stand on this subject?
That student leaders failed to denounce all forms of violence from the outset was unwise and unjustifiable. And it likely cost their cause the majority of public opinion (without which there can be no victory in instances such as this). But that the Charest government should pass a special law to stifle descent is just as worrisome and, in our view, illegitimate. As with most conflicts, the reasonable majority are, once again, stuck between two extremes. Ironically, this situation is illustrating once again just how lucky we are to be living here and now. Normally when clowns such as these are running a show such as this, things turn out much, much worse. Our stand is that access to education is primordial in a healthy democracy. But as always, peace lives and breathes in the middle ground. Message to our brave leaders: Work it out. The stakes aren’t as high as you yourselves are making them.
Where can people find out more about Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir?