Gag Order Won’t Shut Up
The hardcore band reflects on the punk scene in our community.
Maichina Veri, October 17, 2022 // Brantford, OntarioTerry, Brian, Chico, Glen and Jeremy of Gag Order. Photo credit Paul Smith, Photohouse Studio.
It is Sunday afternoon after band practice. In the back of an autoshop around a makeshift table with beer cans and scattered remains of joints sit Glen Grimster, Terry Martin, Jeremy Butler and Chico Tamilia (absent is Brian Fowlie, and Terry is filling in for Jeff Carpenter). Together these Gen Xers make up local hardcore punk band Gag Order.
“People probably just want to tell us to shut up,” says Chico, founding member and lead vocalist for the band. He’s referring to the reason for the band’s name, but truthfully it was selected from a two-page list of potential names.
Gag Order in the jam space in Brantford, Ontario. Photo credit Paul Smith, Photohouse Studio.
Gag Order is influenced by ’80s hardcore punk, which is evident in their music, but they have been around long enough to have developed an original sound. The band has been playing with various members since 2010, and in other bands before that, so these seasoned veterans of punk know a thing or two about creating music that pays homage to the past, but still stands on its own.
As long-standing members in the community’s punk scene, Gag Order offers thoughtful and honest perspectives on how things have changed over the years – in the scene, in the city and in the youth. Glen notes there has always been an ebb and flow with the period between 1995-2000 being a high point for the punk scene and now being a lower point in the city. Jeremy recognizes they need a place to play, with both Glen and Chico mentioning the former venue Turnaround Bar as being an “explosive” hub for punk rockers back in the day.
Gag Order slaying live. Photo credit JJ Tamilia, Double J Photography. Submitted.
Brantford remains a town with a working-class background according to Jeremy, which is “dirty and mean” Glen says, but it hasn’t moved forward. Mainly the band plays in Toronto and Hamilton. The band says, despite having Wilfrid Laurier University, the community doesn’t feel like surrounding cities with post-secondary institutions. “Brantford downtown – it’s dead. There’s nothing there,” says Chico, “I think part of the problem with the town is that it wants to try to remain a small, little village-type community. We’re over 100,000 people now. It’s time to think a little differently.”
Though the city seems to be stuck at this point according to Gag Order, Chico, a father of two, has noticed a positive change in the youth. “For years and years and years every kid came out of high school looking like they came out of a frigging factory,” Chico recalls. Over the last year or so, Chico has noticed kids starting to develop their own identities – some of them punks.
Gag Order out and about in the gritty city of Brantford. Photo credit Paul Smith, Photohouse Studio.
BTOWN can’t talk to hardcore punks without discussing what punk is and Gag Order refuses to pigeonhole it or gatekeep. “It’s the most individual group of people,” says Jeremy. ”It’s smashing the perceptions of the normal,” adds Glen. Overall, the group agrees that punks are good people who take care of each other and you should feel safe and free at their shows. Though they have various open and wide-ranging definitions of punk, they do unite behind one thing: zero tolerance for Nazis and fascists.
The band talks about people from all backgrounds fitting in at their shows, specifically mentioning the acceptance of transgender folks and those living with autism. At a Gag Order punk show, the audience can be themselves – a luxury they might not have in their real lives. Terry says, “They can be themselves and fit right in. And be safe, because everyone looks after each other.”
At a live show you’ll find Glen on bass, Terry on drums, Jeremy and Brian shredding guitars and Chico singing and jumping around “like a lunatic.” Jeremy says they haven’t recorded their best song yet, but Gag Order agrees their most popular, microphone-grabbing song is “Where Did You Go?” Make sure to grab the mic from Chico at their next show and sing along as these punks bring the noise.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Maichina Veri is a writer based in Brantford, Ontario. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Montreal’s Concordia University and has a background in Journalism – Print from Niagara College.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Paul Smith has been shooting photos professional for the past eleven years. After graduating from Applied Photography at Sheridan College in 2008 he returned to Brantford and opened Photohouse Studios with his partner.