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*** Do they know it's Halloween? ***

Featuring:

Beck
Sum 41
The Arcade Fire
Sonic Youth
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Sloan
Peaches
Feist
Devendra Banhart
Wolf Parade
Postal Service
Buck 65
Comedian David Cross
Sex Pistols’ founder Malcolm McLaren
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
60s soul legend Gino Washington
Psychedelic singer Roky Erickson
Los Angeles 70s group Sparks
Inuit throat singer, Tagaq (a frequent collaborator with Björk)
AND MANY MORE!

Ripping Geldof for good cause
Montrealers raid Rolodex for UNICEF

Halloween track parodies Band Aid
BERT ARCHER
SPECIAL TO THE STAR

The first question was about the genesis of the project.
"Funny you should say `genesis,'" said Nick Diamonds, the Montreal musician who co-wrote with Adam Gollner "Do They Know It's Halloween?" a fundraising song for UNICEF that was released today.
"Phil Collins was the main inspiration, the genesis of this project," said Diamonds, former frontman of the defunct band the Unicorns. "Phil Collins and Adam's father know each other, they both live in Hungary, and they take this acting class together. We met Phil Collins and he told us he was snubbed on the `Do They Know It's Christmas' song. He was in the studio and everything and at the last minute, he was like, `Wait a minute, these lyrics are kind of patronizing.' So, Bob Geldof — who may or may not be the devil — said, `Well, you can just get out of here.' Collins related this to Adam's father, and he relayed it to us."
A compelling story except Gollner's father doesn't live in Hungary, and he's never met Phil Collins.
But it's that kind of song and Nick Diamonds is that kind of guy.
"When we first started doing interviews," Gollner said. "I was scandalized."
But Gollner, a member of the band Dessert, has since come to terms with what he called Diamonds' "storytelling abilities."
And he's also really chuffed that he's getting to talk about the Halloween song, the first collaborative writing effort for the Montreal musicians, which was recorded by a who's who of indie artists, from Beck, Thurston Moore and members of Arcade Fire to Arrested Development's David Cross, Mistress of the Dark Elvira and punk-pop svengali Malcolm McLaren.
Both songwriters — who are too young to remember the telethonic saturation of TV images from the Ethiopian famine to which "Do They Know It's Christmas?" "Tears Are Not Enough" and "We Are the World" were responding in the mid '80s — agree that the lyrics and approach were, to use Gollner's word, "colonialist."
The subtext of these songs, Gollner said, is that "these poor little countries can't do it on their own." "Do They Know It's Halloween?" turns the conceit of the earlier songs on its head, pleading with Latvia, Laos, Chad and Peru to save North Americans "from the fear we endure once a year" on Halloween, "drowning in a bucket of apples bobbing, parents are hiding, our babies are sobbing."
"It's a benefit song for a younger generation better versed in irony, in sarcasm," Gollner said.
"We also wanted to satirize the fear-based climate we're living in," Diamonds said, "and Halloween was the perfect metaphor."
Unlike previous musical charity efforts, there was no big catered event where everyone got together to sing in merry unison. It took six months of Rolodex raiding, Gollner said, to pull it together. They got Inuit throat singer Tagaq, who recorded her bit in a local radio station in Nunavut and emailed it in. Gollner and Diamonds drove from Montreal to Detroit to record soul legend Geno Washington's track in his kitchen. Gollner says they faxed Bono a couple of times, but never heard back.
They did manage to get Sloan's Chris Murphy, who lives in Toronto and recorded his contribution at bandmate Jay Ferguson's house after getting a call from Leslie Feist, who's a friend. He hadn't heard the final cut of the song yet when the Toronto Star contacted him, and was happy to hear he'd been paired with Beck and McLaren.
Though he does think "We Are the World" was "obnoxious" and "the Canadian one was never as catchy," Murphy's a big fan of the Band Aid original.
"I sang it non-ironically three days ago with my family," he said. "We weren't thinking about the colonial aspect of it. I think Bob Geldof's great, but what do I know?"
"Do They Know It's Halloween?" is available in stores today. Hear it at: http://www.vice-recordings.com/halloween/lyrics.php. Ringtone also available at xingtone.com.
 
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