On Thursday, December 14, we witnessed - in the flesh - perhaps one of BanTOR Radio's biggest influences...Nardwuar The Human Serviette! The gonzo journalist and national treasure flew out from Vancouver, BC with his band, The Evaporators, to present an insightful collection of his Video Vault. Through engaging discussion, video clips and esteemed recollection, a packed Drake Hotel explored the mind and motives behind his incredible work and interviews. Following, we were treated to an intimate set of The Evaporators' brand of Canuck punk.
Ola and Nuruddin reflect on the experience. Peep the photo galleries as you read below!
I’ll never forget the day I delivered a PowerPoint presentation to my colleagues in Journalism’s Best – JRN404 to be exact – while completing by Bachelor of Journalism degree at Ryerson University. We were assigned to cover the career of a journalist we admired, and while many chose Barbara Walters, Anderson Cooper and Peter Mansbridge (for fuck’s sake, you’d think everyone would at least try to highlight more Canadians considering we’re at a Toronto university and write in CP Style), I chose Nardwuar.
My slides were complete with a highly inaccessible, AODA-unfriendly (I am sorry, AccessON) plaid background, quotes, candid images, videos and notes on John Ruskin’s humble beginnings. As I moved through each point, all the while bleeping out expletives while reciting excerpts from his interviews with Tyler The Creator, Snoop Dogg and Slipknot, we were nearing the end – my favourite part – the concluding slide that explained why I chose Nardwuar, and how he has created an unparalleled legacy in the world of gonzo journalism and DIY.
I stood in front of the class. Pressed the forward arrow button to show an outgoing portrait of the plaid-clad journalist donning a golf cap.
“Keep on rockin’ in the free world, and, doot doola doot doo…”
SILENCE / OLA PAUSES
“No one is going to finish it?!” I asked.
SILENCE / STANK FACE CLASSROOM
I removed the USB and sat down to weak applause.
At the time, did I care that no one else was as excited as I was? Yeah. Do I now? Fuck no.
Would Nardwuar have cared? Ever?
This is my point. The opportunity to witness Nardwuar discuss his career in front of a packed Drake Hotel on December 14th answered this query, and so much more. The truth is, you PAY to be different. You PAY to be unique. And not with money. With your soul. Is it a wise investment? Definitely. Nardwuar is living (and relentlessly driven) proof. He is SDMF (Strength Determination Merciless Forever) incarnate. But beside the point – he has been through immense adversity, numerous career transitions, harassment, and ridicule. On the flip side, equal amounts praise, accolades, growth and respect. The latter arguably the most significant result of him being “different.”
I have been following Nardwuar for years, since his early days on MuchMusic where he hosted a segment on the now defunct Going Coastal. It was one of my favourite shows and remains to this day, a huge inspiration on my style of journalism.
BanTOR Radio is made up of two graduates of the Ryerson School of Journalism. Quite frankly, this means shit. I am grateful for the opportunity to earn a degree, and post-secondary is certainly a discipline worth pursuing. But at the end of the day, it’s what you extract from your education and how you apply it in the field – with flair. As someone who loves to delve into the nitty gritty with artists, by examining who they are at their core; whether through adversity they have overcome, or life-changing experiences that have shaped their work, I have always set the intention to unearth the human aspect behind all the artists and creatives I have profiled. Highlighting vulnerability, while unearthing strengths – with honesty and sincerity.
One thing I love about Nardwuar is the fact that he responds not only with a “thank you,” but “thank you for caring.” That is it. The “caring” part. You have to give a shit in this industry – whether about your beat or subjects – to really understand and tell a story. You need to care about your work to do this in a unique fashion. You need to have PURPOSE.
“Why should people care about ______?” is a question Nardwuar asks his subjects to conclude interviews. They either hesitate to answer or dive right in.
I ask, “Why should people care about Nardwuar?”
Because he is the only person doing what he does, with passion and purpose – yet, without fear. He isn’t only a journalist, member of the Evaporators, survivor of illness – he’s a human that has set out to delve deep into the condition and puzzle pieces of what makes us…human.
I found Nardwaur like many of you did, on MuchMusic making my favourite bands and artists squirm and smile with his zany questions and larger than life personality. As a kid everyone on TV was character and Nard was another, albeit an all-Canadian character. Growing up you realize that these TV characters are fake personalities that disappear after the cameras go off. Nard's endless positivity and enthusiasm never seemed real (to this pessimist) and I always thought maybe there was a straight laced researcher under Nardwaur's punk rock journalist aesthetic. After meeting him, I'm happy to say that this is not the case, with Nardwaur what you see is what you get. Plaid, tunes and decades of music history.
I can't count the many times I've frantically texted a friend about a Nardwaur interview dropping. It's fucking unparalleled that he's able to get as much information and reactions out of artists in the short time he's given. I've learned more about my favourite artists from a 10 minute Nardwaur video than the many 30 minute radio interviews I've listened to over the years. Studying journalism has only made me appreciate his gonzo interview style even more. He's really one of the only music journalists approaching the craft in a unique way. I hope he never stops and someday gets the recognition he deserves. Someone get this man the Order of Canada!