Pilsner and the Rubber Duck

By Russ Dyck

“By the way, I prefer to be referred to as the Rubber Duck.”

"That’s from Convoy, right?"

"Dude, you’re like the first fuckin’ guy that has ever, ever nailed that."

So, my small town background is good for something and came in handy interviewing another small towner.

Rubber Duck, along with Waylon Nelson, Gordon Leadfoot and Luther Chickengravy, make up the Calgary hard rock/country concoction known as Agriculture Club–a band that is all about the country, excluding the Nashville scene, playing at this year’s Bermuda Shorts Day festivities.

This will be the first time the group will be performing at the university, but they are eager to do so as they know what BSD is all about.

"The mayhem, the destruction, the alcohol-fueled craziness, and that’s certainly what we’re about," says Rubber Duck. "We try to get on [campuses] since we figure drunken students are an obvious audience for us. We’re a soundtrack for a drunken good time."

Agriculture Club knows drunken good times after playing their ballads in a modest number of bars in Southern Alberta and across Canada for the past five years. They have played shows with the alt-country likes of the Sadies, the Corb Lund Band and Caroline Mark, but like it better being at the top of the bill.

"Most of the time we headline our own shows ’cause nobody knows what to do with us," explains Rubber Duck. "We’re either too punk for the alt-country acts or too country for the punk acts."

Three-quarters of the band have country backgrounds. It’s the story most small town kids share: "move to the city to go to school, get into the music scene or just to escape." But now Rubber Duck is ready to get back to the country.

"I don’t like cities, but Calgary was the first city that I could really settle into," says Rubber Duck. "But now there’s a movement to purge the countriness out of [Calgary] and get rid of that country image. It’s becoming just another city. It’s being ruined."

Kiss, Motorhead and AC/DC are the great rock bands that have been labeled as inspirations for Agriculture Club, yet their songs have strong country background. Both their 2002 release Farmageddon and 2000ïz´S Smell the Dairy Air contain song titles that are very country: "Prairie Wildfire," "Take ‘Em for a Walk Behind the Barn," "I’m the Bad and Ugly," "Rednecks, Pickups, Gun Racks, Six Packs" and the song that hits home for yours truly, along with the greater rural population of Southern Alberta, "The Ballad of Pilsner Beer."

"I think it’s the quintessential song for small town kids and punk rockers," Rubber Duck correctly assumes. "People bought Pil since, for a long time, it was the best of the cheap beer. We look for those touchstones that people can identify with–and who doesn’t have a Pilsner beer story?"

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