"The Empty Bed" is a darkly funny pen-and-ink break-up book, a self-pitying lonely odyssey taking place after the end of a romantic relationship. It is playful and mystical, there are many one page jokes of heavy truths, an interview with my Mother on divorce and death, and The Death Wish Guide To Loss. All of it is rendered in my quill and brush where words and pictures mingle freely. Here are a few small samples from a much larger work. Contact me if you are interested and want to see more.
The Canadian Romantic is a character created by Robert, a melodramatic figure of faded glamour who tries to bridge and explore the gap between Canada and romance with somewhat dubious results. So far he exists through live performance (having performed across Canada and the U.S.A.), a series of videos, an album with music by Marker Starling (unreleased), a lenticular winking photo, a doll and an art book.
The Canadian Romantic Oh Canada
Erotic version. Co-directed and written by Robert Dayton (The Canadian Romantic). Co-directed/camera/editor Jeremy Singer. Featuring Siânteuse, Chris A Cummings, Nyles Miszcyk Thanks to The House Of Hot Breath for location and Maura Doyle for beaver footage. Not visible: drums by Jay Anderson and other musical flourishes by Justin Ladd! https://thecanadianromantic.bandcamp.com
The Canadian Romantic Winking Pic
At last a WINKING wallet sized photo of The Canadian Romantic! Move the pic and it winks just like Jesus or a pretty lady! It's lenticular! Photo by Brendan Ko.
The Canadian Romantic is a book by the artist Robert Dayton consisting of tenderly hand-drawn illustrations and musings by the artist and his alter ego. Its publication coincided with his performance An Evening with the Canadian Romantic.
Softcover 5.5″ x 7″ ISBN:9781927394021
The Canadian Romantic doll
Every doll comes hand glittered just like The Canadian Romantic! App. 13 inches tall
The Canadian Romantic Live (Double Double Land, Nov. 8, 2013)
Canned Hamm are two very special ‘entainers’ who bear gifts of good times, fun and laughter for all - with just a sprinkle of life’s harsh realities. Big Hamm, a.k.a. Stephen Hamm and Lil’ Hamm, a.k.a. Robert Dayton. They've toured plenty and made some albums (Karazma!, the tribute to Karazma! featuring many top acts like Destroyer and Neil Hamburger and Bobby Conn and Nardwuar and more, the dance-pop opus Erotic Thriller, Sincerely Christmas and the unreleased Balloon Fantasy aka Salon) and videos.
Our original album ‘Karazma’ has truly become a modern classic (and it is still available, drop us a line or visit your fave record store) (updated note: it is here on Bandcamp!). This is a reimagining of that album as rendered by many of today’s top artists. Somebody out there just asked, “What does it mean to reimagine?” Good question! The only easy answer is this album, this document of terrifically turbulent times composed of a top secret recipe. We hate to use the word genius but hey!
released 17 May 2003
CANNED HAMM are: BIG HAMM & LIL’ HAMM
All songs written by Robert Dayton and Stephen Hamm except Shortenin’ Bread (untraditional), Socan 2001
All songs recorded by various artists at various locations around the world!
released 25 December 2007 All songs written by Robert Dayton and Stephen Hamm, Socan 2007. First I Make Love To you by Stephen Hamm and Johnny Uljevic. LBJ Rap and Clean Up this Mess by Terry Russell and Stephen Hamm. Design by Lester Smolenski at Users Group design.
Canned Hamm - Boyz Nite Out remix
July Fourth Toilet
• July Fourth Toilet may just be the most lucid yet visceral musical act in existence! • Legendary long-time West Coast Canadian musical act July Fourth Toilet has been doing it their way since 1994. • July Fourth Toilet have made it their mandate to never perform the same show twice. Show themes for this multi-piece, multi-instrumental co-ed bargain basement technicolour variety revue have included thirty second songs and medleys, as well as tributes to tea, candy, Davy Jones and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, "Their Satanic Majesties Request", September 11th, and legendary songwriter Paul Williams (with Paul Williams himself enjoying the show from ten feet away). • July Fourth Toilet ritualistically combines and transcends pop songcraft, versatile musicianship, performance, non-musicians, and pure improvisation to create their unique and inimitable sound and persona. • Named by Gregg Turkington and John Singer of the anarchic and confrontationally comedic experimental two piece Zip Code Rapists.
Blending gnomish acid folk, honky tonk stumble, glam tarnish, raw sweat ballistics boogie, synthesized organ matter, cult murder a cappella, crafted cacophony, archaic ritual invocation harnessing of the astral universe and aspartame pop balladry. A lucid "Something For Everyone" of murk gloss arcana recorded studio matter and a wide variety of viscerally moody candy-coloured bargain basement showbiz extravaganza theme shows that walk the risky razor's edge. All infused with simultaneous childlike wonder and shambolic ritual, melody and sass, wrapped in a burnt husk warm crepe: cream spilling out the side, yearning to be free. Become one with us and find yourself if you haven't found it already.
"Something tells me that maybe something is going to happen with the kind of giant musical ensembles that were responsible for Hair. You've got the Polyphonic Spree, the Arcade Fire, and the Hidden Cameras. They all have this big-ensemble feel. The leader of this multimembered, costumed concept movement will be Vancouver's July 4th Toilet." - the infamous Nardwuar the Human Serviette
"Novelty rock to the max. Their live shows often fall into the legendary category." – Chartattack
"July Fourth Toilet did an eastern mystical-snake preacherish Krishnabilly set... (They) are hillbillies. Their music is challengingly communal (though each member seems deeply tuned or purposefully detuned in to their own specific instrument, there is a snugness and dedication to the whole, and a sense of friendship...) The lyrics are high and close, the melodies range from delicate to foot-stomping, and the ethic is for hard work, wonder and woe... July Fourth Toilet has a musical sensibility I admire more and more every time I hear modern rock and realize how much it has tortured, betrayed and corrupted the childhood musical appreciations that each of us is born with." - Terminal City
July Fourth Toilet's 10th Anniversary: a tribute to K-Tel's Rock Fantasy
July Fourth Toilet-Cosmic Metharthasis
July Fourth Toilet does an improvised ritual of cosmic metharthasis where they try to focus on the universe's energy. Robert's inspiration was an elderly sexy flamenco dancer that he saw perform once. Nov, 2003. Camera: Nick Campbell.
July Fourth Toilet-Deep Sea Diver
July Fourth Toilet, April 14 2000, Vancouver Canada playing with Bobby Conn and Destroyer. Song is from their first album "Something For Everyone."
July Fourth Toilet Rock n Roll Show Nov 13th, 1998
The insufferable frontman gets so drunk that he has a black out on stage. One of the messier July Fourth Toilet shows. Their next show was an Apology show, a romantic pop set that apologised for this one with a fruit basket and corsage for one lucky audience member (Evan Symons). Columbia Hotel Vancouver Camera: Nick Procaylo Clancy Dennehy uploaded by Craig Irving
It was our intent to create a warm pop album to make you feel loved.
"It's time for that record, you know the one that comes around every not-so-often to defy description. Don't be scared off by the vast Toilet spectrum, from old-world folk ditty, to amped-up helium romp through mythical lands of never-was, to the tenderest of ballads. It's an astonishing arsenal of pop hooks and poetic aplomb, weaving through eleven testimonials to the joy of song, where Laughter and Sadness and Whimsy commingle. Witness 'One Day Is Representative of Our Time Together,' perhaps the pinnacle of all shambling folk-pop sing-alongs, where the band picks itself up from the initial mournful dirge and rises phoenix-like from its own sad ash, building, voice by voice, horn by synth-horn, into a jubilee of wailing falsettos, chants and fanfare. Follow those voices and find the thing you've been waiting for." - Dan Bejar of Destroyer and the New Pornographers on our album Something For Everyone
"Something for Everyone is... pretty fun, especially if your idea of fun is the kind of soundtrack you might hear if you fell asleep watching The 5000 Fingers of Dr T and then had a nightmare about The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. And, speaking of The Beatles, it’s hard not to sing along with the final track, the six minute anthem, 'One Day Is Representative of Our Time Together.'" - Discorder
"July Fourth Toilet is… sort of a modern day Zappa and the Mothers or Bonzo Dog Band… A wild ride through happy pop, Waits-ish weirdness, demented '60s era folk-rock and points in between." – The Province
"A fresh dose of weird art-rock that is eclectic and undeniably catchy. Sounds like a comedy album camouflaged behind the sounds of an elementary school band tuning up to play some T-Rex. Pure musical schizophrenia!" - The West Ender
released 25 December 2002
Lyrics: Robert Dayton Music: Julian Lawrence, Robert Dayton, Clancy Dennehy, Andre Lagace, Susan Box, jody franklin, J McLaughlin, Seressa Gardener, Corinne (The Gypsy Queen) Alexander, and others.... Recorded at Method Studios, Produced by Clancy Dennehy, mixed by Mark Gabriel Released by Pro Am Entainment International
July Fourth Toilet Presents: Balls Boogie Featuring: Me And Bobby McGee Plus!: Kentucky Whore And Many Others
"What do I say of a reprobate eight man/one woman ensemble (one man/woman, four longhairs, two ska dudes & a Mexican!) that just delivered 13 songs of extreme diversity, ranging from Death C&W to Soviet-powered Detroit Space Rock, via wonderfully excruciating mush-mouthed male-female Vow Renewals and Sober’d Up confessionals. For fans of Destroy All Monsters (all periods, kiddies), Armand Schaubroeuk Steals, the Afrika Corps, BALLS BOOGIE rescues several Long Dead musical genres from the Straights and slams them out eins, zwei, and drei, without so much as a soundcheck..... Search out this hot slab pronto, Tonto, and check out those front men while yooz at it! Ooer, missus!" - Julian Cope, Head Heritage, 2009
"If one is willing to use the word "Legendary" to mean "band that's been around a long time and even though no one has ever heard of them, if people in Vancouver had any taste or intelligence they would have long-ago embraced and canonized this ambitious, outrageous bizarrely brilliant performance art rock band that surveys pop history's greatest moments and transmutes them into weird gold", then this is the new album by the legendary (italics) July Fourth Toilet. Paying homage to the finest aspects of the 1970s; the weary magic of Kristofferson's voice, hair salon culture (and its cultural brother, the arm wrestling fad), shameless drug use, and ess eee ex (italics)! When I say this record is heavy, I mean some kind of otherwordly heaviness that Jack kirby would write about in one of his doesn't-quite-make-sense, making you question his ability as a writer Fourth World pseudo-science moments! Seriously heavy! The best record recorded by a band with "Toilet" in their name EVER!" -Roctober Magazine, 2009
"Riding their truck through a cornucopia of styles, the oddly named July Fourth Toilet are a force to be reckoned with on theirs album "Balls Boogie", a disc that has stoned running through its centre, clear as a stick of cannabis flavoured rock. After a ramshackle, but oddly compelling version of "Me and Bobby McGee", the band suddenly shift into hard rock biker boogie mode, as "Hard Working Man" roars out of the speakers, a full on rock guitar solo adding to the wonder, as does a nice change of pace in the middle, bring it on and turn it up. The hard rock then continues with the heavy stomp of "Kentucky Whore", more guitar histrionics included, as the song winds up the energy. Next up, another change of style as the sad country ballad of "Stoned on You" sparks up a fat one, seemingly the story of a man who’s woman has left him, it is a bit of a surprise to find out she is in prison for murdering someone, a nice twist that is complemented by more fine guitar playing and a solid backbeat. Following the tale of "Armwrestle John", more heavy rock with over the top vocals and moody guitar riffs, the first side finished off with the boogie of "Name on the Door", everything turned up nice and loud. So far so good, then you turn the album over to be greeted with "Thanks Drugs" a song that pays homage to recreational drug use, opening with the lines "Been distorting time and space again", the ever versatile guitarist dropping into west coast mode, without missing a beat. After this things get re-wired, the band turning into early Floyd with the psychedelic jam, strange noises, twisted dementia and general sonic weirdness of the next four tracks sounding like nothing on side one, the band proving themselves adept as this side of thing as well. To end, the happiness and joy of "Cute Little Baby" is tempered by a gnawing fear of what the future may hold, ending an album that is schizophrenic, slightly paranoid, happy drunk, stoned and laughing. The makings of a good night perhaps." -Terrascope
released 04 July 2008
Produced by Robert Dayton, engineered by Mark Gabriel, recorded at Method Studios. Thanks to Kurt Dahle and Pete Mills for their assistance. Album concept and album cover concept by Robert Dayton. Photo by Clancy Dennehy. Design by Lester Smolenski. Pro-Am Entainment International Catalogue number: PA 871
Though the first released (either that, or a song on a Chocolate Monk cassette comp, unsure), this wasn't the first July Fourth Toilet project. Robert and Julian had previously covered Dark Side Of The Moon playing along with a manual turntable, speeding through the lousy parts and getting it down to ten minutes, it will remain forever unreleased. This cassette was done before we had ever played live, with Lester and Michael along for the ride and released on cassette in 1994 (50 copies) then re-released in 2008. This was done mostly because we loved Pussy Galore's version of Exile On Main Street, we really loved The Beatles, and Sonic Youth threatened to cover The white Album and never did. We dare you to listen to the whole thing in one sitting! we knew some guys in Frisco who'd regularly drop acid to it.
Original liner notes by Michael: "As both a musician and a producer I look for challenges. I find nothing more boring than performers and collaborators who want the easy way out- "the quick fix". What brought me into the studio each day is that omnipresent sense of conquest, of forging into uncharted musical territory. In introducing my latest foray into pop music production- the July Fourth Toilet's White Album- - I want to convey to the listener the sheer joy and excitement I experienced working with these young men on these classic compositions. While it would have been easy for Robert (vocals, keyboards), Julian (vocals, keyboards), Lester (vocals, keyboards) to go through the motions with their own impeccable arramgements, the three fellows rose to the challenge with that je ne sai quoi, that very special oomph! that punctuates every track included here. Whether it be Julian's scorching lead riff on Back in the U.S.S.R., Les' inimitable bebop forays which dignify Blackbird or Robert's torrential rapping which closes Ob-La Di Ob-La-da, these three artists sought the very pinnacle of songcraft, both technically and emotionally. Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starkey may be listed as the composers on each track but the mood, the FEEL of the recording: pure "Toilet". Enjoy!
Review by Amy Lam from issue #4 of Offerings, September 2011: "This is July Fourth Toilet making their way through the Beatles White Album. I did a song by song comparison and I think that about 50% July Fourth Toilet are better and 50% Beatles are better. I like the Beatles' "Savoy Truffle" better. The Beatles are more straightforward about going to the dentist if you eat too many chocolates, which makes it actually more insane. July Fourth Toilet's "Honey Pie" is someone asking "can we do a song off Rumours instead." and they do, so it's better NOT ONLY by virtue of concept. "Goodnight" by both bands is a tie in terms of whether or not you can actually listen to it while trying to relax in your bed. "Martha my Dear" by July Fourth Toilet is them playing the Beatles song at 3x speed on a record player. When iTunes 26 comes out you will be able to play July Fourth Toilet's "My Guitar Gently Weeps" and hear the Beatles' version. July Fourth Toilet are the best band in all of history and if you don't like the Beatles you're an idiot."
released 01 February 1994
Robert, Lester, Julian, Michael. Cassette sleeve design by Lester, 1994. Originally released on Trakshun then promptly dropped. Reissue on Pro-Am Entainment International (PA 848).
July Fourth Toilet 20th Anniversary show
Photo by Brynn McNab
Outta This World
An Exhibition of Installation/Drawing/Performance/Video/Mystic Objects
Outta This World is a multidisciplinary show comprised of drawing, video, music, performance and installation. It was initiated by my interest in the concept of the nation-state, more particularly Canada, and the way it imposes certain identities on its citizens through violence and repression. Using strategies of humour, abject beauty, social engagement and ritual, my work proposes alternate possibilities for Canadian identity through a difficult, yet ultimately beneficial process of de-repression.
Images provided by Jeremy Singer from the thesis exhibition at The University of Waterloo Art Gallery in fulfillment of the thesis requirement for the degree of Master of Fine Arts.
"In Flanders Field I Fucked You Blind"
mixed media work on paper, 2015
"After Stephen Harper Was Executed A Prime Minister was Fairly Elected Then Another Prime Minister Composed Of Solid Vapour Took the Country To Space Through Higher Consciousness And Mutual Orgasm"
Hallmark make their own sense of melodramatic glitter rock moderne. No fear of ballads nor emotion. Red wine-stained post-decadence. A curiously unique perfume, that never quite masks the sweat from giving one's all, as well as the pervasive sense of the impeding.
In Vancouver, BC during the late 90s Robert Dayton (July Fourth Toilet, Canned Hamm, The Canadian Romantic), Dan Bejar (Destroyer, the New Pornographers) and Julian Lawrence (July Fourth Toilet) recorded an album called "Offshore" under the name Points Gray. This is an album that the three of them are very proud of these years later, a collection of melodramatic hallucinatory downer damage that informed their later work. Melodic and troubled with a playful fear of death. Freaky despair. It has never been released on vinyl. In fact it has never been released in its' entirety. But now it has. Limited edition 500 copies with MP3 download code. With this LP Robert, who is also a visual artist, has designed a brand new cover using pen and ink and washes, it comes with a lyric and art booklet, quality mastering done by Josh Stevenson (Otic Sound), liner notes by Kevin "Sipreano" Howes (who has worked with Light In The Attic on the Jamaica To Toronto series, Doug Randle, Sixto Rodriguez, etc.).
Coming across like an early seventies, slightly-fried, band of freaks, the rather excellent Wet Dirt sound suitably messed up on their album “Self Sabotage, The Early Years” with the stoned groove of “Bad Choices” setting out their stall with the chorus “Bad choices, made some bad choices, gonna make some more”. Add to this fine guitar playing, a solid rhythm section,and an ear for melody, and you have a perfect opening song and statement. Moving on, “The Chill Out Man” is weird and creepy, nonsensical word play, and a crawling guitar line creating a strange atmosphere, the song sounding like something Zappa could have created. As the album progresses the band get weirder, louder, more interesting by turns with “Hot Pink” managing all three at once. Elsewhere, “Invalids” is post-punk noise, angular guitar and an individual vocal delivery adding to the tension of the lyrics reminding me of Pere Ubu, whilst “Of Felt” is a song about the tactile pleasures of felt, as it should be. If you are searching for something different, energetic, angry and weird then this should hit the spot, a minor classic. (www.inyrdisk.com) -Terrascope
released 31 July 2013
Robert Dayton- lyrics and vocals, Tobey Black- drums, Robin Fry- guitars and sounds, Simon McNally-bass Recorded at 6 Nassau by James Anderson Released on inyrdisk inyrdisk #57
Movie I was in a long time ago.
For The Ladies series
Request series where I asked anyone who identified as a 'lady' to tell me what they wanted to see in art.
Index G, 2011 or so
Studio Visits series (six drawings total) , 2010, 109 Shaw Gallery