It’s a long Hitchcockian zoom-in, the omniscient clouds part, the sleazy waterfront scene is set. Like Steve Zissou’s Belafonte cross-section, we can see a number of little hives of activity: a young man loiters behind a cramped bar; faces light by low lights listen intently while one speaks, gesturing wildly; a captain barks orders at his crew to hurry the fuck up; someone throws flowers into the sea; a vintage jukebox amuses the hipsters on a crawl. Welcome to the borough of a possible nowhere.
Apostle of Hustle first took shape after a two-month sojourn in el barrio Santo Suarez in Havana in 2001. This experience was mind blowing for AOH’s lead – Andrew Whiteman - from the ground up: the community, the fashion, the speed and the music. Whiteman returned to Toronto invigorated about a possible music that did not yet exist. Knowing he wanted to create it, Whiteman took up residency at a local dive as Apostle Of Hustle, a quartet. The band played Brazilian and Cuban folksongs, as well as Tom Waits/PJ Harvey/Marc Ribot covers. Whiteman played guitar and tres; plus he recruited Dean Stone on drums and Julian Brown - an old buddy from the mid 90's indie scene - on upright bass. The fourth position was a kind of 'open door' to whomever might show up on their nights - anyone from Bryden Baird ( feist ) on flugel horn to Daniel Stone (cache) on percussion.
Apostle of Hustle’s first endeavour - Folkloric Feel - was released in July of 2004. It was a Frankenstein of a record - recorded in over 4 different locations at different times. By this point, Whiteman was almost completely consumed with recording and touring with Broken Social Scene and finishing the AOH record could only happen in between tours. A collection of tracks and mixes and ideas was brought to BSS producer Dave Newfeld's door and he somehow was able to create the psychedelic debut that came out on the Arts & Crafts label.
National Anthem of Nowhere was recorded in Montreal at Studio Masterkut in March of 2006. This time around the band sought the production talents of Martin Davis Kinack (BSS/Sam Roberts front-of-house man, as well as Sarah Harmer producer) National Anthem of Nowhere was finished in Whiteman’s bedroom in September and mixed in the woods at Marty's secret studio locale. The vibe was almost completely vin rouge, even after the Montreal stint. A few guests lurk: Liam O’ Neil from the Stills, Evan Cranley & Chris Seligman from Stars, Lisa Lobsinger who sang with BSS on their 2006 tours. Daniel Stone is present on almost all the tracks playing conga, bongo, and especially caja. The record sounds so good, he even decided to skip part of the salsa season to tour with apostle of hustle in 2007. Nice one, compañero.
What does the album title mean?
Everyone who feels they have no voice or can’t be heard can suddenly be united. They hear the title and something stirs inside them. Then they hear the song and they feel that they “know” it. They meet strangers in nowhere places and will never forget those meetings. They wander out into the suburban, in-between zones and there, are welcomed.
What’s with the name-dropping? Looking for props? Who is Jimmy Scott? Are they all dead or old?
Socrates and Victor Jara are dead and the world is worse for it. Scheherazade told stories every night to save her own life. Carnivale was a TV show about the devil walking towards the depression-era dustbowl picking flowers and hunting his enemy. Name-dropping just focuses things a bit.
What’s with the Spanish?
It’s purely rhythmic.
What do you want from music? I mean, it’s been what, twenty years?
A skinny songwriter with a penchant for skulls once said, “ Music is my boyfriend”. I suppose I’d go a step further and say Music is my Pimp.
Can you give identities to your crew?
Julian Brown = bear, grumpy or dazed coming outta hibernation. Alternating sluggish or sudden.
Dean Stone = Sheriff Bullock from the TV show Deadwood. Tall & thin & tightly wound. Seeming moral rigidity.
Andrew Whiteman = a stray dog, sniffing. A magpie, stealing. Aka: Fables, Santo Nino, Duende3000.
Justin McWilliams = “The new guy” but only in AOH. Justin dropped out of the same high school as Andrew 3 years later.
Daniel Stone = Caracas born, friendly neighborhood rhythm killer. Le gusta harde el pedicure a sus amigas.
T.C., from Montreal, Quebec, wants to know, who is your favourite painter?
That’d be de Chirico or Rothko or Andrew Ruckledge. But photography is still where it’s at.