It takes a very talented and creative person to be as highly regarded for his work as a writer and filmmaker as he is for his theatrical alter ego. Meet Malcolm Fraser. When he’s not writing for Cult MTL or making documentaries, the Renaissance man extraordinaire is assuming the role of his superheroic alter ego and main music project, The World Provider. We were thrilled to find out that the multi-faceted Fraser just recently penned a book too. In Wooden Stars: Innocent Gears, the fourth instalment of Invisible Publishing’s Bibliophonic series, Fraser looks back at the under-rated ’90s Canadian indie band, shedding light on the influence of Wooden Stars in Canadian music. We caught up with Fraser to find out more about the book, his life and alter ego as well as his future projects.
Give us a snippet about you. What should people know?
I play music (with The World Provider, Lion Farm and other projects), I have made two documentaries (on outsider musician Gordon Thomas and Canadian underground legend Corpusse), and I am a writer for Cult MTL and other publications. When not doing these things, I might be serving you at Dépanneur Le Pick Up, Montreal’s finest convenience store/diner.
What made you want to write a book on Wooden Stars in 2013 and what interesting experiences did you have putting it together?
They have always been one of my favourite bands and I always wanted to write something about them. When I found out about Invisible Publishing’s Bibliophonic series, which is an ongoing series of short books on Canadian music, I pitched them a few ideas and this is the one they went for!
Luckily all the band members and a bunch of their colleagues were kind enough to talk to me. I also did quite a bit of research online, at libraries and so on. It was a bit unsettling to see how much media culture of the last 20 years has disappeared or is hard to find, but that also made it an interesting challenge to undertake.
Why haveWooden Stars been such an important band to you in particular and to Canadian music?
As far as Canadian music, I see them as a bridge from the pre-internet days of the early 90s to the current era. They were mentored by a lot of independent bands back in the day, and in turn inspired and influenced many musicians who went on to great success today, several members of Arcade Fire being only the most obvious example. For me personally, I just really love the music. I have always tried to turn people onto it and this was just an opportunity to do so on a bigger scale!
What are you hoping people take away from the book, both old fans of and newcomers to the band?
I see the Bibliophonic series as a kind of alternate history of Canadian music. A lot of musicians from here are quite well known, but this series tells the stories of the artists who are less obvious examples of what Canadian music has to offer. In that sense I like to think that the book can be a bit of a historical document. For people who already like the band, it’s just a chance to geek out!
What current Canadian bands do you think are doing some of the most interesting things in music right now?
I’m not an expert in Canadian music per se, but there’s a lot of stuff going on in Montreal as always. My favourite local acts right now are Baked Goods and Foxtrott, super talented people with great songs. I’ve recently come to discover a whole other side of music through contemporary Canadian composers such as Mark Haney, Isaiah Ceccarelli and Nicole Lizée. Finally, I want to give a shout-out to some expat Canadians doing interesting things – Mocky (currently based in LA) and Taylor Savvy (in Berlin).
What have been some of the most important albums and/or bands to you in your life?
I listen to so much music and always have, it’s tough to narrow it down. I always say my most influential bands are the Ramones and Devo. Besides that a few other long-running faves have been Talking Heads, Leonard Cohen, Pixies, Beatles, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, The Harder They Come soundtrack… I could go on and on. And the Wooden Stars of course!
What’s next for you as a writer and filmmaker?
I don’t currently have any film projects on the go, it’s such an epic undertaking that I’m waiting for inspiration to strike. As far as writing goes, I have a few ideas sort of germinating but I’m not ready to discuss them publicly just yet! Once the promo of this book has wound down, my immediate next project is to get back to doing some World Provider recording sessions and put that project back on the front burner for next year.
How do we stay up-to-date with you?
I’m on Facebook under my name (though I don’t friend just anybody, I’m not that kind of girl!) and on Twitter. Sites for my various projects: TheWorldProvider.com, Lion Farm, Gordon Thomas, Trailer for Corpusse doc, and Cult MTL.