KT Lamond at home with her SGs. Photo credit: Matt Williams.

Instrumental: KT Lamond Has Shredded Her Family of SGs Into Oblivion

KT Lamond, who plays guitar and sings in rippin’ Halifax punk outfit Like a Motorcycle, owns three SGs. “Every single one of them right now is broken,” she tells me, sitting on the floor of her apartment. When she pulls them all out and sets them up on the couch, it’s easy to see that, yeah, they’ve all nearly been shredded into oblivion. At least two have had headstocks snapped off and necks broken, one of them has had its input jack rattled loose. Her main ‘horn,’ named after her friend, fellow musician Jessie Brown, looks like someone took a heavy-duty sander to it. You get the sense that if someone dropped any of them from, say, waist height, they might explode into a galaxy of splinters. But they keep plugging away, Lamond says. With some difficulties.

“I have three different SGs and I’ve broken every one of them in numerous ways,” she says. “I was thinking it’s kind of a funny thing that I was so obsessed with them as a kid and never got one, and now I’m an adult and I only own SGs.”

One is a blonde Epiphone (that’s Goldie Hawn), one is a Gibson (Jessie Brown), and one was made totally from scratch (Jack Black). Goldie Hawn, she says, is some secret special model that was only made during a certain time at a certain factory and is apparently a big deal to some group of people. She’s tried to sell it on Kijiji now and then, but every time she puts the ad up someone messages her to tell her not to get rid of it.

“It’s super fucking heavy,” Lamond says. “It’s so heavy. You literally can’t wear this without your hand on the neck or it flops over. That was the first one I got. It was so gnarled up when I got it—the pickups were literally green and had a centimetre of just like, old sweat and skin, so I had to go at it with Brasso for probably a week.”

Jack Black is a special case, too.

“I was getting Jessie Brown fixed by Tyson Spinney at Helm one time,” Lamond says. “And he loved it and loved how thin the neck was, so he made this as an imitation of Jessie Brown for himself. But then I guess he sanded down the neck a little too much and it was thinner than he wanted. But for me, I have baby appendages. So I was stoked on it. And I have played Jack Black for a while now—it’s just missing a tuning machine, so I need to get that. But Tyson overwound the pickups, so it’s super screechy and fucking foolish.”

Jessie Brown, though, is the main squeeze: an SG Junior that has been ground down nearly to dust. You can hear how that might happen if you listen to Like a Motorcycle’s most recent album, Dead Broke, a relentless, overdriven, breakneck brew of ear-splitting viciousness. You probably wouldn’t guess it to watch Lamond play now, but she didn’t play live until after she’d graduated university in her early 20s, thanks to heavy anxiety. Still, by the time she did, she’d spent nearly half a lifetime cutting her teeth in the basement of her parents’ foster home.

“I just skateboarded and learned guitar tabs,” Lamond says about her teenage years. “I literally sat in a basement for like, seven years, just playing Screeching Weasel songs and learning the entire Saves The Day discography.”

Not a lot has changed—she still rips on both her skateboard and her guitars. And all of them have scars that testify to the endless hours of work she’s put in.

What drew you to SGs? How’d you get your first one?

It just stuck out to me in the little fucking catalogue, just a little red Epiphone SG, $200 jobby. I just fucking begged the weirdos for it for fucking ever. And then finally they caved. But then they showed up with a little red Les Paul, so that’s what I got. I got the $200 red Les Paul instead of a red SG. But it was close enough. I was like, ‘I don’t need that other horn. It’s fine.’ I had a Les Paul from the time I was 14 until, I think, 21. And then I pawned it for an ice cream cake for my friends. I just didn’t have a guitar for years. And then I worked at Pro Skates, and one of the dudes who owns the shop had a friend who also was getting rid of a guitar because he needed money. And he came into this SG and brought it to the shop and was like, ‘Does anyone want this?’

How did you start playing live? You mentioned earlier that you didn’t start playing in bands until you had graduated university, around 22.

I would just get fucking loaded all the time and do this thing called ‘wake up Rebecca’ where I’d just like, come home and I hit record on her Photobooth, and I would just record myself doing whatever—various ways of waking her up and annoying the shit out of her. And one night I must have been super drunk, because I’d never played my guitar in front of anyone sleeping or awake. And I just woke her up by jumping on her bed singing the song I had wrote and she posted it on the Internet, and then this person Katie, who is now one my best friends, saw it and was like, ‘We’re playing music together.’ It took them months of trying to convince me before I’d even plug my guitar in and play. Then it took another year and a half before I could even play house shows or anything like that. Well, yeah, it was a band called Milk Mustache.

How did you get in the headspace to eventually play live?

Well, I used to tour—I think that’s how I ended up playing music. From the time I was 18, I would tour around with the Tom Fun Orchestra, just taking photos and selling merch. I think the sell was always that I was tour managing, but now I’m like—I was just a drunk teenager! But I got really, really invested in touring life. Then when Victor had his accident, the band stopped touring a ton. So I think, basically, I was just like, ‘I gotta figure out how to get back on the road again.’ Then I started playing with people. But yeah, it was fucking tough for me for a long time. Even my first year or so in Like a Motorcycle, which was probably four years after I started playing in bands, I would have to get so drunk before I could get on stage because I was so nervous. So fucking nervous. I still don’t even look out in the crowd. I’ll tour all over the world with Dearly Beloved and afterwards, the best part of after the show is everyone talking about weird shit that people were doing in the audience and I’m like, ‘I didn’t see that, I still can’t look out.’ I don’t have a drinking crutch so much anymore, but I’m just forever terrified.

Why has touring been so important to you?

Not to get into too much personal shit, but coming from the type of home I did, like… I was homeless my whole grade 12 year. So I was already living out of a bag and sleeping in all these random places. Once I started touring, it was like, everyone was kinda in that vibe—it made sense to me. Touring was kind of the only thing that made sense to me, and then you automatically have this little inherent family that you’re stuck with for like, two months at a time or whatever. If I psychoanalyze myself, that’s why touring was so appealing to me. I feel like the weird little surrogate family thing was just put on steroids once I joined my own bands. It’s all really wrapped up in this family community vibe for me. I think the last year and a half or so, I didn’t realize how fucking nuts I would go without being able to just live out of a bag again, which sounds crazy. But once that was taken out of my life, it was a fucking weird vibe.

KT Lamond’s SGs. Photo credit: Matt Williams.

Do all these guitars have road stories?

I feel like the story of these guitars is just them constantly being destroyed. I’ve definitely had some close encounters, where things have broke when we’re on the road. And then I’m just finding the guy.

I think we were playing Nova Scotia Music Week or something, years ago. It was the show that made our German label and German agency sign us. They used to do this fucking horrible thing at Music Week—the late night stage. It used to be a lottery. So you’d put your name in and you wouldn’t know if you were playing until later that night, and then you’d be playing at like three in the morning at the hotel for everyone. So we were just like, rip-roaring and ready to go. And these fucking German delegates came to see us. And I don’t remember anything about this set. Literally, the only visual that I have in my head from the entire set is standing on the opposite side of the stage and just pulling Jessie Brown towards me by the patch cord. It’s the only little blip of memory I have from that whole set. And the next day, we fucking met up with them, and they were fucking losing it, and we had no idea what we did. And they signed us! 

Do the guitars end up broken because you’ve got some sort of urge to destroy them?

I’ve definitely never tried to break a guitar on stage. I think it’s just been big fuck-off energy. It’s just been a lot of throwing shit around or like, you know… kicking. I broke a few knobs and random shit, broke some strings on Dave’s guitar and stuff, too, because I get really kicky. But yeah, I’m never trying to break anything. I’m just being dramatic and things get broken.

Like a tornado.

I think I just kind of lose control. My sister has this term called ‘the urge.’ She’s like, ‘Don’t you ever get the urge? It’s just like—ERGH!—you get the urge!’ I definitely get the urge onstage where it’s like, ‘Something’s about to happen, and I don’t know what.’ Things get broken. I’ve definitely hurt myself on stage, often. Kim chipped my tooth on stage one time. I definitely saw Tweety Birds with Kim’s bass headstock. Yeah, she got me. But I think that I’m just so fucking pent up and anxious and ridiculous all the time, that it’s just one of the places I can freak out. I’m never trying to put on a show or anything. I just have the fucking urge. I have a want in me.

Sounds like you’ve never been precious with your gear, then.

No, I’m not really precious with anything. I’m not a gearhead and I’m not very material. I don’t think materials are really one of the higher values for me. So I don’t have a bunch of expensive stuff because I’d rather just have something that I can enjoy instead of something I’m constantly terrified about –– I kind of live that way all the time anyway. There’s this show, a dark comedy called Please Like Me. And I think that this kind of aligns with how I feel about material things in tune with my anxiety: the main guy, there’s this one episode where he’s talking about being a little kid at the circus. And his parents bought him this giant red helium balloon because they thought it would make him happy, but then he just spends the entire day freaking out about the idea of letting the balloon go. And he couldn’t enjoy the balloon. I feel that way, sometimes, about expensive material things.

Still, how do you think you’d feel if, say, Jessie Brown was broken irreparably?

I think I’d be really upset. I think they do all occupy a specific space for me. I think if that one was stolen, maybe, or just went missing, I would have to fill its place with… This is weird, but I feel like a lot of the reason why I like that one so much is because of how fucked up it is. We were playing with this band Goodnight Sunrise. I think they’re from Ontario. They’re really great folks. But the guitar player in the band has that same guitar. I think the pickups are a little different, but it’s the same guitar, same finish, and it doesn’t look as fucked up as mine. And even though I’m like, ‘yours is objectively the better guitar, I’m also like, ‘That guitar sucks.’ I don’t know why. Maybe because I’ve been a skateboarder my whole life, and I find it embarrassing to have a new skateboard deck. Maybe some of that has to do with the fact that I’m a woman, And I feel like when people see me with a skateboard, they think I probably can’t actually fucking rip. I feel like, how fucked up that guitar is, it’s almost quantifiable labour or something, you know what I mean? It shows I have put in the work or time or whatever. It quantifies something for me. It means something for me. I’m sure some of that is the same part of me that has that weird, stupid insecurity as a female skater, where I’m like, ‘No, this is a brand new deck! It’s not that I don’t fucking skate and rip and fucking boardslide and stuff like that.’ But yeah, I just feel like, you look at that guitar, and you know, I’ve been doing the work. Which is such fucked up Capricorn nonsense.