This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

July-August 2004

Red vinyl diaries

Tash Fryzuk

The Vertical Struts, named from a photo of the remaining stubs of one of the World Trade Center towers, are a two-man (Raymond Biesinger and Trevor Anderson), ’50s-style garage-rock combo from Edmonton. They are self-proclaimed throwbacks with songs about boys who love boys, boys who love girls and socialism. They recently released their first single—recorded in Edmonton by Veal’s Nik Kozub—solely on seven-inch vinyl.

Raymond Biesinger (left) and Trevor Anderson: Butts will shake.

Sit and spin The decision to disseminate their music on record is not a move of vinyl snobs, but of men who hold strong to their artistic ideals. Both are creative forces of nature with successful careers outside of the band, Biesinger as a freelance illustrator for local and national publications and Anderson as a playwright and theatre director.

“The way I get music and the way I understand it is through the filter of a very bad record player in my bedroom. If we made something that I couldn’t play on that, it would just feel weird,” explains Biesinger. Anderson adds that people who are excited about a lollipop-red 45 “will probably also understand what we are trying to do artistically.”

Get your gay on! What they do has, so far, brought gayness and queerness to the forefront of Edmonton’s independent music scene, with their single reaching number two on campus radio two weeks after its release. Good news for the duo, who strive to circulate their music and lyrics to as much of the homosexual population as possible—especially those young kids stuck in the judgmental small towns that populate Alberta’s landscape. Their message to fans is simple: “You can do this; it’s so easy. And if you don’t want to do this now, then come and dance.”

Socialist party Biesinger, the straight-guy socialist with a 1962 Harmony H-75 guitar, sings most of the songs. Anderson—“the homo-socialist with entitlement issues” and drummer who doesn’t do fills—was adamant about this set-up from the band’s inception.

Jokes aside, the band has devoted many hours of careful thought and negotiation to the level of “gayness” they wish to communicate. In Biesinger’s opinion, his mouth, when singing, is “a federal entity, and [he] and Trevor are but provinces” in the collective band experience. “Butt Provinces!” Anderson shouts, delighted.

Butts will shake in eastern Canada in August when the Struts go on tour with another two-man Edmonton garage-rock band, Whitey Houston. Remember: the drummer likes boys, the singer likes Marx, and both agree: “Zero pretensions—just shake your bum.”

Hear the band on or get more information at

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