British Columbia

This is Spinal Tap comes to life with female-led supergroup at VIFF

It was nearly four decades ago that the fictional English rock band Spinal Tap toured the US to promote their new album Smell the Glove.

Turn it up to 11 with a live score of the famed mocumentary this Sunday

Catherine Hiltz, Jody Glenham, Louise Burns, Adam Fink and Ayla Tesler-Mabe are part of a Spinal Tap cover band in Vancouver. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

It was nearly four decades ago that the fictional English rock band Spinal Tap toured the U.S. to promote their new album Smell the Glove. 

Though the tour never came close to Vancouver, this Sunday night a female-fronted Vancouver supergroup will pretend it did just that.

The famed 1984 mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, which captured that ill-fated tour, will be screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival tomorrow as a live band plays along.

The band tapped for the "This is Spinal Tap: Anniversary Live Score" is a local supergroup lead up by Vancouver musician Louise Burns along with Jody Glenham, of band Jody Glenham and the Dreamers; Catherine Hiltz, bassist for Tegan & Sara and Hot Panda; Ayla Tesler-Mabe, guitarist for Calpurnia and Ludic, and Adam Fink, drummer for ACTORS.

The original movie, directed by Rob Reiner and starring Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer has gone on to become one of the most loved and quoted music movies of all time.

In the movie, the band shifts from a hippie band from the 1960s into a heavy metal band with the values of the day. The movie also featured a pretty great soundtrack with original songs that have also endured.

 
It may have been released in 1984, but film This is Spinal Tap is still making a splash. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The Vancouver musicians performing at VIFF met up for practice Tuesday and talked about their enduring love of the movie, and what's it like re-creating the famed songs.

A lasting effect

Though it is 35 years old, Burns feels the movie is timeless for many reasons.

"It acknowledges how awful they are as misogynists and dudes in general. It takes the rock star, really gross rock star tropes and it makes fun of it," Burns said. 

"But it makes fun of it in a way that is totally acceptable today. They also got the timeless issues of the music industry just right."

Vancouver has its very own Spinal Tap, and they'll by performing Sept. 29 for the Vancouver International Film Festival's 'This is Spinal Tap: Anniversary Live Score.' (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Tsler-Mabe also acknowledges that a mostly-female band can make the event more palatable than the original band really can in 2019.

"I'm singing 'Big Bottom' which, in this day and age coming from a dude would go over fairly poorly. But coming from someone who isn't a dude makes it interesting and funny because it's owning the absurdity and it makes it so obvious," said Tsler-Mabe. 

All of the members of the band have seen the movie countless times, but look forward to putting their own stamp on it this Sunday evening.

With files from On the Coast

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