Recipe of the week: The Artist Life

The Artist Life By: Sheena Lyonnais
November 20, 2008

Combine in a large mixing bowl four parts punk rock attitude, two parts semi-matching blonde spiked hair, several servings of catchy punk rock riffs, several dedicated moshers, a stellar live show, one hot high school teacher, pop music to taste and ex-members of Jersey, At the Mercy of Inspiration, the Fullblast and Always Outnumbered, and you’ve got yourself the mixings for one lean mean takeover machine.

It is no surprise the Artist Life were recently voted the band to watch in 2009 by the Punkorama awards, because they’re damn good at what they do.  Their first EP release from Underground Operations Let’s Start A Riot came out October 28 and was promoted via a supporting gig on the just finished Unity Tour with the Means.  The record is a nice departure from their previous hospital-imagery oriented music. 

The Artist Life Live“Four or Five of the songs that ended up on the last record had to do with loss or sickness or disease or mental health,” guitarist Dean Richards said.  “[Ian and I] literally spent a lot of time in hospitals last year dealing with some pretty heavy stuff and it just ended up coming out in the music. That’s something I think Let’s Start A Riot moves a little bit away from.  It’s a little more uplifting and poppy and fun.  We love the old record, we love the songs, but we’re happy to move on into other stuff. We had to spend a lot of time in hospitals.  Now we’ve spent a lot of time touring and playing shows and having fun, so that’s what the record sounds like.”

Richards is a private high school ESL teacher by day and a punk rocker by night.  This past year while finishing teachers college and starting his career he managed to play 50 to 60 shows with the Artist Life.

Interview With The Artist Life“Teaching is a lot of fun and gives me a lot of flexibility,” he said. “The time demand is not the same as it would be in a public school system, so it actually works out really well with the touring.  I’m on tour now and there’s a supply teacher in working for me.  It’s a ton of fun and I love it.”

This is not too shabby when you consider this band never started out with intentions of rising to perpetual punk stardom.

“I was still a student and Ian [Blackwood] was still acting seriously on Instant Star. I met him on the Fullblast tour a few years ago and he was like, ‘let’s get together, we’ll just jam.’ We liked the same kind of stuff.  Ian hadn’t played in a while, I hadn’t played in a while, and then we began it very, very casually.  One we figured out we enjoyed it I guess we stopped denying how much we really liked being in bands and how much fun it is to put out records and go on tour. It was a gradual thing but I think in the back of our heads it was always there that we wanted to be pretty serious with it,” Richards said.

The New Year brings a lot of promise for this young band.  They plan on writing, producing and then releasing their first full-length album in the spring. Following this, they hope to call up the supply teachers and head back out on the road. 

Toronto Band Artist Life“That’s really where this band wants to be right now, that’s where we put all our focus is to become a fulltime touring band, so I mean that’s definitely what our full intentions are.”

The Artist Life does not currently have any shows listed for Toronto, but you can check out their addicting punk music at


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