A Brief History of Austria

Well, we’re back from another jaunt around the globe via the beautiful Austria and Germany. We love keeping all you INTERNETLAND STUDS up to date and informed on the places we’ve been. So, here you go. (Since we’ve been to Germany a couple times already, you can read all about us eating disgusting raw fish here: Fun Times in Germany) A BRIEF HISTORY OF AUSTRIA

Austria is a country with a population of 8.5 million people. 44% believe in God and trains are very fast there. No one knows if there is a correlation between the two. The Sewing Machine was invented by Austrian Josef Madersperger.

World War 1 was started when modern day Glaswegian indie-dance rock band, Franz Ferdinand, went back in time to pose as an Austrian Archduke and was ultimately assassinated. From my understanding of the situation, various parties were incredibly angered that their grandkids would not be able to dance to the upbeat jam “Take Me Out” in the future. Thankfully, the song was salvaged.

The Most famous people from Austria are: 1. Mozart 2. THE TERMINATOR 3. Hitler * 4. Arnold Schwarzenegger 5. Sigmund Freud

* They are not proud of this fact.

In the entertaining documentary “Terminator 2”, famed Austrian, THE TERMINATOR, is shown in his quest to save a young boy, John Connor, from assassination. To this day, it is said that no human being has watched this heart-wrenching documentary without shedding tears. I know I have.

THE TERMINATOR is married to Maria Shriver – the niece of the 35th President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated November 22nd, 1963 at the age of 46. Coincidentally, 32 years later in the year 1995, John Connor was saved from his own assassination by THE TERMINATOR himself (full circle). This may be almost impossible to fathom, but believe it or not people, at this time, THE TERMINATOR was ALSO 46 years of age!!! I don’t know what this means, or the bearing it has or will have on mankind as a whole, but I’d be willing to venture that if more Austrians were aware of this astonishing fact and correlation, the percentage of believers in the Big Fish up in the sky that I mentioned earlier, would skyrocket!

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, was the son of a wool merchant and also, his mother. A notorious advocate for snorting as much nose candy as possible, Freud only visited the U.S. once in his life. On this trip to New York City, it was quoted at the time by an unknown source that… “Freud and Carl Jung are some badass motherf$@#ers. Those nerdy, old dudes know how to party. I haven’t seen that much blow since the dawn of 80’s hair metal… which, still hasn’t happened yet… so yep… haven’t seen that much ever!”

Vienna, the capital of Austria and also known as “The City of Dreams”, is said to have its architecture based around that of my own hometown of Inverness, Cape Breton. The similarities are astonishing. It contains the oldest zoological garden in the world, the world's largest emerald, and, from this writers own personal experience, zero clowns.

50.8% of Austrian males are overweight and the country has the highest per-capita Nobel Prize winning percentage. Each Austrian mentioned in this article has been a recipient of a Nobel Prize, including THE TERMINATOR for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Famous Austrian and Recipient of The Nobel Peace Prize, THE TERMINATOR TheTerminator

(Un)official Bio

A most crucial component for every artist is their written biography. This gives people an idea of what the group sounds like, who they are and what they’ve done. After reading one, people should have a generally clear idea of what the band is all about. However, when seeing a bio on a webpage or in a press kit, people are typically seeing something that’s been edited, revised, rewritten and edited again. To see our “official” bio, you can click on the “Info” link up above. But, to let you all in on what could have been, here’s some writing and information that didn’t quite make the final cut. The Town Heroes: Unofficial Artist Bio

Cape Breton’s answer to Chumbawamba, The Town Heroes sound like a cross between the lovechild of Dwight Yoakam and DMX (if men could have babies and this particular baby grew up in small town rural Eastern Canada listening to classic rock records) and The Silver Surfer. Members Mike Ryan (Inverness) and Bruce Gillis (Mabou), have been playing music in bands for the last ten years – three of which they have no recollection of. Both have never flown in a helicopter.

The Town Heroes are like an unforgettable and vivid dream of Wayne Rostad’s (On the Road Again) faultless moustache tickling you in all the right places; like the unwavering and soothing tones of Bruce Frisko’s flirtatious Live at 5 banter with the incomparable weather queen, Cindy Day; like a wild donair running free through the open wilderness before it’s caught, butchered, mutilated and put on a giant spool of spinning meat in the pizza shops of Halifax for incredibly inebriated twentysomethings to order at 3 in the morning to cap of a night (and add to the already lengthy list) of poor life decisions beforehand.

Inspired by Steve Yzerman, the hit T.V. series “Life Goes On” and thick sandwiches, TTH have carved a unique spot for themselves in the world of competitive Ball Hockey. To this day, no other band has defeated them in a match. Their overall record is 0-0.

In the year 2000, 4 months after the world DIDN’T end at midnight on New Year’s Eve when the clock struck 12:00 and VCRs and Packard Bell Computers were SOMEHOW able to realize it wasn’t 1900 (thank God!!!) and self-destruct by creating inadvertent time machines taking themselves back in time to an age in history where they were yet to exist and would therefore implode due to this horrific fluke of nature/man/science, Bruce Gillis received an 8.1 ranking on HOT OR NOT. Shortly after this, he began working at the Mabou Convent – mowing lawns and preparing piping hot King Cole Tea for nuns. In addition to developing a love for the ol’ King Cole, it was there, between the lawn mowing and forcefully non-abrasive chats with incredibly old women that Gillis first began listening to Much Music’s mish-mash of hip and cool songs of the time on their much celebrated “Big Shiny Tunes” records. This was to lay the foundation for all things BRUCE GILLIS.

On Halloween night in 1994, while dressed up as Michelangelo from The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mike Ryan had his treats stolen by an older assailant dressed as Yogi Bear. This event heavily influenced Ryan’s musical career. “I had a lot of good candy in that bag. I even had a full, big bag of Roast Chicken chips! That’s something ya hardly ever get on Halloweens. I was distraught. I had no idea how to carry out the rest of my days. I thought my life was over. Not long after this horrific event, I picked up a guitar for the first time. All the pent up energy, anger and heartache inside of me began to spill out. It was an avenue to ease the pain of a fractured childhood.” With a means to escape the horrors of that night and the turmoil it brought him, Ryan’s guitar playing flourished. Although, this isn’t to say it was behind him. “I still feel the pain of that night, sometimes waking up in a cold sweat with the vision of Yogi Bear ripping the delicious candy out of my hands. And the thing is, when it happened, being dressed as Michelangelo, I obviously had a set of nunchucks with me. I watched enough Van Damme movies in my life to consider myself fairly competent with most martial arts weaponry. But… I didn’t react. I could have doinked Yogi Bear upside of the head and kept my delicious treats… and who knows what would have happened if I got to dive into that big bag of Roast Chicken chips and various other tasty snacks. But I didn’t. I can’t allow that to happen ever again.” From then on out, Ryan had a new lease on life – no opportunity would surpass him. Legend has it, that if you look hard enough, you’ll see that most Town Heroes songs have underlying themes about losing delicious treats on Halloweens night. YOU be the judge.

In 2014 while in Scotland, The Town Heroes ate Haggis.

The band’s goal is to have a blue checkmark beside their name on social media sites, have THE ROCK follow them on Twitter, to play on the TITANTIC 2, and to save humanity from most evils. Both members have been defecated on by birds at various times in their lives.

The most famous people to have copies of Town Heroes CDs, are: Jack White, Phillip Glass and Donald Driver (NFL Star and winner of Season 14 of Dancing with the Stars)

Notable Quoes: “The Town Heroes are good!” – Mike Ryan, Lead Vocals and Guitars for The Town Heroes “Not my cup of tea!” – Harry O. MacDougall’s opinion of the band as stated at “The Hoff”, 2011 “The Town Heroes are like a warm river of David Hasselhoffs flowing softly against our lean and attractive German Bodies.” – Random German girls (rough translation)

A shot from the past into a future that thankfully didn't happen. We took this shot in the year 2000 if the world DID end at midnight. Scary stuff
A shot from the past into a future that thankfully didn't happen. We took this shot in the year 2000 if the world DID end at midnight. Scary stuff

Dear Sarah

Dear Sarah, Thank you so much for getting in touch with us and choosing our band to do your school project on. We’ve had students from all over the world do projects on us, but never one from Crapaud, PEI. This is a historical event in our careers thus far and we are grateful for the opportunity. I hope the answers written below are what you’re looking for and enable you to carry out your project successfully, responsibly and drug free.

Who are you? Stage name (real name)

Our band name is The Town Heroes. My name is Michael Stephen Ryan and I play guitar and sing. Bruce Gillis (no middle name! I didn’t believe him when I first met him, but it’s true…. I swear to God!) plays drums. Within any band, family, or business, there are multiple roles within the group which must be followed out in order to make it a functional and viable unit. We are no exception to this. In addition to our musical roles there are various tasks we must each partake in for this to be a successful dynamic. For instance, Bruce is the designated driver; as in, he is always designated to drive. I got my license two years but don’t really like driving. Also, I don’t think Bruce would trust me behind the wheel (LOL) of his car/our luxurious band vehicle, a 2005 Impala. He also has a credit card with a decently moderate limit, so he often purchases anything that needs to be paid for, such as plane tickets, hotel accommodations, large sums of peanut butter, etc…. He usually takes care of BBQ assembly, twitter updates and is good at emailing people between the ages of 19-25. I myself usually take care of writing such letters as this, making sandwiches, finding couches to sleep on/free meals and writing lyrics. I demo and record a lot of our music, do 1 on 1 interviews and am good at responding to emails from people over 25.

How did you start out?

The Story of The Town Heroes starts on Christmas Eve, 1982. On the same day that my father purchased a brand new lawnmower on sale at the local Co-op in Inverness, I was born. This lawnmower, which still runs and operates today, would ultimately, and ironically (in the Alanis Morissette sense), become a crucial part of my adolescent years, serving as means for summer jobs: cutting grass on the hot, endless summer days on the west coast of Cape Breton, the sun setting on the Atlantic Ocean, mesmerizing us all with it’s fabulous display of colours so vibrant that it almost seemed fake. The smell of freshly cut grass still lingers in my nostrils, the memory of it all distant but never forgotten. Often when I reminisce of my carefree lawn-mowing days, my eyes swell up with the remembrance of what one might consider to be my “Glory Days”, which was aptly the title of my Grade 12 Yearbook. Do people still make yearbooks? What do you think the title of yours will be?

Meanwhile in Mabou, less than a year after my father had fatefully purchased the lawnmower and I came to fruition, Bruce No Middle Name Gillis was born on November 29th, 1983. And although he was only 15 minutes away, even though his mother cut my mother’s hair, we both mowed lawns for summer jobs, our fathers graduated in the same class together and we both played music, our paths were not destined to cross till many years later.

Our official bio, which you can read on our website, doesn’t divulge into these meticulous details, but I want to give you the whole story, I want your project to be a success, I want you to have the best class project to ever come out of Crapaud, PEI. I remember what it was like back in my days spent as a student in the halls and classrooms of Inverness Academy. I remember a school project much like this. I remember writing to my favourite NBA basketball player and asking him one simple question; a joyous, excited child with but one request: “What is your favourite kind of sandwich?”. He never wrote back. It was a hurtful and painful experience, a devastating blow to my younger self. This is why I want to give you every bit of information you possibly need. For there was a time when I asked for answers but received nothing in return; there was a time when I was left to fend for myself in the big, bad, cruel world that we live in and was forced to find the answers, or at least try, on my own. I know the sting of that; I know how much it can hurt. I could never wish that upon you, Sarah. Never in a million years. So, as the story goes....

We both grew up in our individual small towns fifteen minutes apart, unknown to the other, the people and the characters around us influencing us and inspiring us all at the same time. I started to play guitar when I was about 13. I had an old, decrepit no name acoustic that couldn’t play past the 7th fret and had no tuning gears. I kept a pair of vice grips on the head stock that I tuned it with. By the time I was 14, I had saved up all the money I made from mowing lawns with the lawnmower that was purchased the same day I was born (talk about the circle of life, eh!), and bought a Fender Stratocaster from one of my good friends, Danny MacDonald. This guitar is the same guitar I use to this day at every live show we play – talk about longevity! The first band I was in was called Hailstone. When I was in grade 9 we played our first show, a variety concert at my school. The first song I ever played on stage was Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World”. That, along with a song we wrote titled “And Still I Wait”, was my musical debut to the world. From then on I was hooked. Like a drug that worked its way into my blood, I couldn’t stop. I had no idea what it would do, where it would take me, but I had to see. I was a junkie, I needed more, I needed it all the time. I wanted to be on stage and I wanted to create.

Meanwhile in Mabou, fifteen minutes away, Bruce started drumming when he was 16. He was low on funds since lawn mowing, coincidentally his summer job as well, was his only income and there was a recession (drought) on so grass wasn’t growing like it used to. He turned to the infamous Maritime Merchant, found a drum kit for $250, and, after skipping school (which you should never do!) his brother Brennan drove him to purchase the kit with his own lawn mowing savings (who would have thought that lawn-mowing would ultimately lead to both our starts in music?!). It was a "Sound Source" kit that, in his words, “sounded terrible!”. He got Sabian B8 cymbals for $100 from a gentleman that his father knew at the pulp mill in Port Hawksbury and he went from there. He practiced along to 90's rock tunes in his basement in the winter months and in the garage during the Spring, Summer, and Fall. As Bruce was falling in love with beating things with sticks, his neighbor, although too polite to ask him to stop, was amassing a definitive hatred for Mabou’s second most famous son (#1 - Jimmy Rankin).

He played in a high school band named "Red Exit" which, much like the drums he purchased from the infamous Maritime Merchant with his lawn-mowing money, sounded terrible. Aside from the sounding horrible aspect, Bruce began to fall in love with all the aspects of playing music. After graduation from High school, his generous aunt gave him $500. In his own words, he states: “I took that and put it towards a $1000 Mapex drum kit that was sold to me by a clown in Antigonish. I drove to a random garage that I heard sold instruments, fell in love with a kit, and found out that the guy running the garage was a real life clown. He's the first and only real clown I've ever met to this day and will probably ever meet for however long I live. Oh yeah, I also still play this kit to this day and will never sell it.”

Back in Inverness, things were progressing in a similar way, but unfortunately, sans clown. My first band, Hailstone, eventually turned into Shed who eventually, by the time I was 19, turned into Billy’s Flick. All the while, I continued to practice/write songs daily, and tried to learn as much about music that I could. (Note: At this time, I had a cat who could use the microwave. Once, while repeatedly practicing a song for our first ever appearance on “Breakfast Television”, we had to time our song to be sure it was under three minutes and thirty seconds. This was years before the technological explosion of smart phones and their various technologies, such as a timer or stopwatch, that exist in all our pockets nowadays. The only viable option we had to time the song was with the microwave. While we practiced the song in my basement, my father was upstairs continuously setting the microwave to 3:30 at the start of the song to see if it fell within the predetermined time constraints. Unbeknownst to him, earlier that day my mother had cooked a batch of incredibly tasty chocolate chip cookies. Our family often used the microwave to store such baked goods as cookies and other various delicious snacks. While my father incessantly timed us upstairs with the microwave, he was inadvertently melting and destroying the cookies inside. When my mother returned home hours later to find a batch of literally nuked cookies, my father, not knowing what he had done and in sheer honesty, had blamed the cat. Since my cat was capable of such an act, he was effectively let off the hook. Days later I clued in to the fact that he was using the microwave to time us and realized it was him who brought about the demise of the incredibly tasty chocolate chip cookies. To this day I have never told my mother this fact).

After two years of playing summer shows with Billy’s Flick, we decided to go for it, to see what we could do with music. It was the summer after my second year of university. I remember the music, playing shows nonstop, writing songs every minute of every day and believing in every one of them; endless parties, uncle Tommy’s infinite supply of red wine that we continuously got into (Don’t drink until you’re at least 19, Sarah!); getting by on gigs and not having to work a ‘real’ job; beach days, tanned, the warm salt water, our calves big from beach volleyball; no desire to rest, a hundred different campfires and the perfect smell of burning driftwood stuck to our clothes; I remember the late nights and the sunrises, watching the fiery sphere rise above the Appalachian Mountains like a ball of enlightening fire, letting us in on all the little secrets that we pined for our whole lives, confiding in us that what we were doing was right, that it was the way.  I didn’t want to sleep. I didn’t want to miss anything. I didn’t want anything but to be alive in that feeling of blissful certainty – and that’s an amazing way to live, to be. We didn’t want that summer to end or that feeling to be lost. We wanted every day for the rest of our lives to feel like they did on those hot July days, when we felt what it was like to be completely uncontrolled, when we saw the potential to be a part of something we were 100% sure about. We had to do it. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t. We had to extend that summer eternally, to never let it die. We couldn’t let it just end, go back to the lives we had before and forget completely about our dream. Music, partying, girls, and that feeling of conviction, of being more alive than we’ve ever been before, made it a pretty simple decision. We quit school, said no to real jobs, moved to Halifax, found a slum with cheap rent and started at the bottom.

Now, this is where Mr. Bruce No Middle Name Gillis comes into the equation. We moved to the city without a drummer. My cousin James, rhythm guitar player with Billy’s Flick, had met Bruce at a party a few years back and knew that he played drums. James asked him if he’d be interested in a try out. Bruce came over and the rest is history. He joined the band and we set out to take over the world. We played all throughout the Maritimes, recorded an album, toured to Ontario a few times, got some radio play, brewed up some stories that Hunter S. Thompson himself would be proud of, and made a lot of new friends along the way. I even know of humans who now exist solely because of Billy’s Flick! That’s kind of cool, don’t you think Sarah? The band eventually broke up in about 2005. At that time, a repetitive strain shoulder injury forced me to stop playing guitar. Up until this point in time, I never sang. I wanted to continue playing music, writing songs and keep getting better as a musician, but I couldn’t play my instrument any more – the fingers on my left hand lost all mobility and my arm felt like World War 2 was happening on it all the time. It wasn’t very fun! I decided to get a piano and teach myself that, along with learning to sing – all the while, rehabbing my shoulder daily to hopefully be able to play guitar again. After about three years with no guitar playing, rehab every day, and playing keys in a number of bands, Deadline Sunday and Silvergun, I eventually weened myself back onto guitar. I couldn’t play the way I used to, and still can’t, but I can at least make a few sounds come out of the guitar, and that has seemed to work well enough so far. Myself and Bruce were living together at the time and, once I got back to playing guitar, we jammed every day for almost 2 years straight. We wrote countless songs together, and improved our musicianship as much as we could. Initially, we were looking for other members to join us, but soon decided to play our first show as a duo. Under the name Holdin’ Up Grants, our first show was held in my hometown of Inverness at the Arts Center. After playing under that name for about a year, we eventually changed our name to The Town Heroes, and here we are. That takes us up to the very start of The Town Heroes. A lot has happened since then and we've gotten to experience some things and places that we never thought we would. We've been fortunate enough to have played in 5 different countries and meet some great people along the way. Who knows what the future will hold. Hopefully rocket launchers, convenient trips to space, portable microwaves and maybe even the answer to what Michael Jordan's favourite sandwich really is. That and lots of songs and stories.... you can never go wrong with that!

I hope that answers any questions you may have had, Sarah. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.


The Town Heroes