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Q&A : Ryan Allen on the Khyber Compilation VOL. II 

Labour of love

The inimitable Old and Weird
  • The inimitable Old and Weird

This Saturday is your chance to add to the attractive cassette spines on your shelf with the Khyber Compilation VOL. II, featuring new and unreleased tracks from ULTRATHIN, Quaker Parents, Old and Weird, Green and Darnell, Dog Day, Moonsocket, Mike O'Neill, GUILT, Long Weekends, Long Long Long, Each Other, Monomyth, TORSO, Hand Cream, HYMM, and more. It’s a mere $7 for the 26-song tape, all proceeds from the compilation goes towards the Khyber Arts Society. Also available for download here.

The show starts at 10:45pm, $7, and promises treats, MC PATSY and performances by ULTRATHIN, Quaker Parents, Old and Weird and Green and Darnell.

Ryan Allen, patron saint of the Khyber, made the tape happen. He talks to The Coast about hard work, low pay and the importance of the artist-run centre.

Q: Tell me about this compilation—how long have you been working on it?
A: For this second volume I started hassling friends in bands/friends of the Khyber maybe in late August/early September. The first volume (a small run of 250 or so, digital version on Bandcamp) had been sold out for over a few months. Rather than just putting in an order for a second run I figured I might as well do the whole thing over again.

As you can see, things moved quite slowly after that. But that's how it goes when you're relying on artists who are generously—with no prospect of payment—giving you a piece of their art. No one's getting paid. I'm glad any band was into doing this at all. But that's what makes it so great. It's an awesome document of what's been happening in our scene over the past year.

With the help of Grant Pardy, Matt Carswell and Hannah Guinan The Khyber’s really become a regular venue for local bands again. The people on this comp helped make that happen.

Old and Weird practiced in the attic last year and Hannah practically lives there. Mark Grundy (Quaker Parents) volunteers there regularly, Matt Samways (Transfixed) has been going to shows there with legal forms saying he was allowed since he was probably like 16 or something, Craig Leonard (GUILT) used to be on the board of directors. The Khyber's a special sort of place, I guess. We wind up bugging everyone for favours when the going gets tough—when we need mics, a bass amp, people to help clean up at the end of the night. But in turn, we try to help our friends out too. It's not just any bar. It's a place that people give a shit about while they're there and want to see it survive.

Q: Why did you choose the musicians/groups you chose?
A: The rule for the second tape was no repeats. Which wasn't really a problem. There are still bands I wanted on this tape that I just couldn't fit (Maybe I'll find time to do Volume III?) Aside from maybe one or two exceptions, every band on the tape has played the Khyber in the last little while too.

Q: Why do you think the Khyber is such an important Halifax institution?
A: It's an artist-run centre and those who are involved with it in any way, be it for exhibitions, movie screenings or sweaty, stinky shows know that it's those very things that are sustaining it. It's also one of the more, er, charming arts centres around. The floor of the ballroom looks like it's been through hell and back and the bar is filled with weird furry cats and red light. It's got it's own thing going on. Everyone from coatcheck, bussers, bartenders to whoever are the same people who'd there be checking out the event anyway if they weren't volunteering their time. Friends of the Khyber are often running around during shows picking up empties or grabbing ice for the bar. It's because they give a shit and want to take part. It's a great venue that serves as an alternative to other bars in the city. It doesn't always sound good, and the bar may run out of whiskey by 10:30pm but people still seem to show up and want to volunteer or book shows. I wouldn't say the Khyber is wholly responsible for the awesome sense of community I feel in Halifax, but without it there would not be a Khyber.

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