Just admit it, you like disco

By Peter Hemminger

Debate it all you want when you’re sober, but when you’re drunk everyone loves disco. There’s something about the four-on-the-floor beat, the wah-wahs and falsettos, that just drive a crowd into frenzy. How else do you explain the continuing popularity of “YMCA” and “Staying Alive” at nightclubs across the country, nay, the world? So just relax. Ignore the stigma and admit you love it.

"It’s like porn," explains Magic 8 Ball’s Brent Kawchuk. "Everybody digs it, but we don’t always want to own up to it. Well, the six of us have owned up to it outright, with the big platform boots, the pants, the shirts, the chest hair and the chains. You need the visual–again, like porn–and is it any coincidence that the wah pedal is used in both? I think not."

Magic 8 Ball is one of the various incarnations of Calgary’s Dino Martinis, a swing outfit that’s long been a party favorite. While the Martinis write their own songs, 8 Ball sticks to the true disco classics. Sure, they could write their own, but why bother?

"There’s such a rich catalogue of this stuff, it’s like playing a character," Kawchuk acknowledges. "There are certain things that people expect. If you’re gonna get everybody with a big smile on their face, grooving along to these crazy hits, then why make any bones about that? Just play the hits baby. Why not be a big K-Tel record? I don’t see that there’s much wrong with that. If you’re gonna play an hour of disco music, why stop and go ‘here’s one by us?’"

While he looks forward to the playing Bermuda Shorts Day, Kawchuk isn’t exactly sure how it all came about.

"I don’t know," he admits. "I’d certainly been to it enough times in my life and I think this is the fifth BSD I’ve played in one band or another, so it’s an honour to keep being asked. But I honestly don’t know.

A more apt description of BSD would be hard to come by. So while people are participating in this drunken splendor, what are they likely to hear? Well, Magic 8 Ball wants to give you the ultimate mix CD experience.

"My all-time K-Tel record would have anything by Hot Chocolate, just because they looked so damn good," Kawchuk says. "You gotta have the BeeGees in there. A little bit of Abba for the ladies. The Wild Cherry’s ‘Play that Funky Music White Boy,’ because that’s what we all are. And ‘Disco Inferno’ I think is the first one we’re going to play, because that pretty much sums it all up."

The Martinis are respected among Calgary musicians not only for their unique style and energy, but also for their songwriting chops. So what drove them to form Magic 8 Ball on the side? Why would songwriters devote themselves to playing another band’s works?

"At the end of the day, you want people to be entertained," Kawchuk says matter-of-factly. "It’s a pretty fun little ride for people to take part in. That should be one of the goals of any band. We chose this crazy fromage to do this once in a while on the side, in the name of entertaining people. That’s just as noble as anything."

Despite the unseasonable weather looming over BSD, Magic 8 Ball is determined to put on a good show. Kawchuk’s philosophy is "if you’re gonna get really hammered, do it with a smile," and he’s not going to let a little frozen water get in the way.

"As long as there’s no snow on the fro, it’ll be a good time–Indoor or outdoor."

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