Over the past decade, one of the favourite Ontario bands of the mind behind Woodstein Media has been Barrie’s Beaver Slap. A search online showed no action from the band since late 2019, so the question was whether the COVID-19 pandemic was to blame for the hiatus or was the end intentional and were the members moving on to new projects.
Three of the four members of Beaver Slap joined in a virtual chat to discuss the band’s status and what they are currently working on. Unfortunately, bassist Kalei Lynn could not attend because of technical difficulties. It sounded safe to say that Beaver Slap is over or at least on an indefinite Fugazi-like hiatus.
“We haven’t played together in a long time, but I would not rule out if the right show came,” said Julie Marchione, the guitarist. “If we were asked to play with a big enough band, I would.”
Megan Young, the vocalist, agreed that it was legit; if the right offer came along, the band might take the stage together, so they said Beaver Slap would go with the Fugazi indefinite hiatus theory for the status of the band.
“If we were asked to open for D.R.I., I would consider it,” said Marchione.
Drummer Cailyn Fitzgerald and Young are now in Angry Spells.
“It’s like witchy, grungy punk,” said Young. “Not quite Beaver Slap. It’s adjacent, and it’s its own whole thing.”
Young is working on some solo material under a new project name yet to be announced.
“All I know for sure is that the EP will be called Class War. So that will give you an idea of what is happening with it. A little political – cozy queer folkish.”
“I’m going to talk about politics and queer stuff and probably some conspiracy theories because that’s my jam,” said Young. “I’ve got five songs ready to prove you all wrong.”
“I feel like people are digging it,” she said.
“I dig it,” said Young.
The conversation returned to conspiracy theories and politics that Young had referred to when describing the as-yet-unnamed solo project.
“I’m going to say this – 10 years ago, I was on track to fully be a QAnon person,” said Young. “I was in a place where if I would have stayed in that situation, I would have ended up at that point but coming out as a gay person helps you reassess certain things. I am always interested in conspiracy theories, and I have been able to come like a 180 about it, look at it objectively, and pull things apart. When I talk about conspiracy theories, I come at it from that angle: I love Bigfoot; I love me some Bigfoot. I will always be a fan of Mothman.”
“Bigfoot is often confused with sasquatch; Yeti never complains,” said Fitzgerald.
“That’s the angle I take with my conspiracy theories,” said Young. “There are fun ones, and then there are ones about 9/11 and antisemitism that I don’t believe in but have been in my sphere of knowledge as long as I can remember.”
At the height of Beaver Slap activity, when they were invited to play the Phoenix with Leftover Crack, Fitzgerald had just started going back to college.
“I’m working in healthcare – long-term care,” she said. “It’s a combination of physio and occupational therapy, which I studied. My job is to get all the people moving, and I try to disguise it as fun.”
She runs a biking program.
“I call them my bike gang, and we go on stationary bikes and listen to great music,” said Fitzgerald. “I do a drum fit course that is appropriate, so I blow up these big yoga balls and hand everyone drumsticks, and we beat away for 20 minutes, and that’s a good time. Then just basic prevention measures making sure people’s wheelchairs fit properly, making sure that they can keep moving and standing and walking and maintaining their independence as long as possible.”
Marchione said she had started a private investigator course and was spending a lot of her time sewing.
Young described herself as retired and “fabulously unemployed.”
“If nobody is going to do anything about capping the rent and if nobody is going to do anything about the minimum wage – I got laid off making above minimum wage, I have no reason to work right now,” they said. “So maybe by October if somebody cares enough about the homeless situation, about the fact that people are starving and unable to go anywhere because gas is too expensive. If anyone is willing to do anything about these things, I might consider getting a job. Until then, I’m trying to help other people unionize their jobs, advocating.”
Young described their recent work history as a “shitshow.”
“I would rather take care of my health,” they said. “I spent 2020 and 2021 not living for myself and being completely miserable. I went through a second stint of my life being homeless, and I never want to do that again, so this is like the summer of George 2022 because I ignored myself for two solid years there. Once I got laid off, I said, ‘fuck it. I need to prioritize myself.’”
Marchione, the only Beaver Slap member who has not moved on to a new music project, has been busy homeschooling three children since the pandemic began.
“Julie has her full-time job there,” said Young.
“I still play here for fun, but it’s hard to find time for anything,” said Marchione. “I’m learning how to sew, and that keeps me busy. I still bake cakes, and I showed you the Divine one I want to make.”
Fitzgerald said that the Beaver Slap schedule was becoming too frenetic when she returned to school.
“We had an opportunity to do some recording that Christmas, but it was hard to see what we wanted the finished product to do,” she said. “I tried to get people on board because we had an opportunity to do some free recording, and my take was, wouldn’t it be cool to capture these seven years of effort we had put in. The culmination of what we sounded like when we opened for Leftover Crack.”
Young said the pandemic made it easier to focus on writing.
“2021 was more my writing year,” said Young. “Again, fueled by politics and queer shit and conspiracy theories. I like to say conspiracy theories. It’s like the queer shit. It freaks people out, and you want to listen and know what I’m talking about. I know how to work a hook man.”
They elaborated on the queer politics in their music.
“Right before I joined Beaver Slap, I came out as a lesbian,” they said. “Cut to during quarantine, I had a lot of time to unpack some shit and understand more of who I am, so I also took the time to come out as a trans nonbinary person, so there’s that. Coming out a few times is a struggle for queer people sometimes. This solo EP that I am doing will be released under a chosen name that I’m trying to re-establish myself as.”
Young feels that they came out as a trans person late in life because there was no language to describe how they felt while growing up.
“Being an adult now and looking at my baby queer self and seeing what’s happening in the United States (with Bills being introduced to suppress LGBTQ2S+ friendly language), and the fact that we have language now and they are trying to take that away from people. You can’t do that. The cat’s out of the bag now, baby.”
“Trans acceptance is suicide prevention,” said Fitzgerald.
“It’s the mental health stuff,” said Young. “It would have given me a better framework for understanding that I wasn’t a broken person, that I wasn’t the wrong kind of person. If I had known that as a kid, I wouldn’t be such an angry adult because as an adult, I grew up into a person that was characterized as an angry human being. I know now I’m a deeply angry queer. I’ve always struggled with expressing my queerness because I never felt comfortable doing that … We’ve got to stop hating ourselves, and we’ve got to stop hating on other people for being weird. If you are weird, there is probably a reason for it.”
Fitzgerald said weirdness does not need to be justified with a reason.
“Just be weird and be accepted,” she said.
“We don’t have to understand other people, we just need to respect them, and I’m ok with that,” said Young. “I’m not hurting anybody being trans. That’s for sure. I wish I had the kind of parents that were not so hung up on being a certain way and being correct and just being in a box because if it was made ok for me to be outside of the box instead of finding every reason to get back in there it really would have saved me a lot of problems. So that’s something I struggle with as an adult, but all I can do with that is be the accepting parent that I never had.”
“It’s nice that you remember Beaver Slap fondly and that you had an interest in finding out the story and figuring out what is happening with that project and where the offshoots are going,” said Fitzgerald. “So, thanks for that. It’s nice to think that the music we made impacted people.”
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