The Alter Kakers get artsy on their fine new single and animated video The Great Upheaval — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
Inspired by The Great Upheaval art exhibit at the Art Gallery Of Ontario, the Toronto trio’s new power-popsters’ nugget is told from the perspective of painter Marc Chagall in the first verse (“I made my name as a painter; I helped create a new style, and we changed the landscape for a while”); switching to Pablo Picasso in the second verse (“I’ll put your ass on a canvas, cut you into cubes; they’ll know your name but never recognize you”).
The exhibit included works spanning from 1910 to 1918 by artists such as Picasso, Chagall, Kandinsky, Matisse, Mondrian and many other masters, and it highlighted new styles such as expressionism, futurism and cubism. “It was about leaving realism behind and exploring where art could be more abstract, leading to new creative styles,” explains singer-guitarist Steve Bronstein.
Bronstein’s mother used to take him to art galleries when he was growing up, and he always felt a particularly strong connection to Chagall because of their shared Jewish heritage. “I always liked his paintings that recount his growing up in Belarus in a Jewish shtetl, which would have been similar to my own grandparents who emigrated from Ukraine in the 1900s,” Bronstein said.
“Pretty heady stuff,” Bronstein admits, “But we countered that by turning The Great Upheaval into a straight rock song, including a cowbell intro/outro, handclaps, and a ’70s-inspired guitar solo.” For that solo, producer Dean Mario suggested using a vintage Big Muff fuzz pedal to get a suitably raunchy and distorted sound. “At first I resisted, but now I really love the result — it jumps out,” Bronstein conceded.
Along with Bronstein, The Alter Kakers include Cary Corvair on bass and vocals, and Dan Barsi on drums. They formed after meeting in another band and noticing they had a shared sense of music and humour. And just what is an alter kaker? It’s a Yiddish term for “old fart.” Is this a group of alter kakers? Probably.