Farewell, Pomeranian Fight Club!

By: Laura Oviedo-Guzman

Pomeranian Fight Club came into my life on an early fall day in 2019. I was browsing Instagram when their account appeared in my recommended section. I looked at it, wondered whether the name had something to do with a dog fighting ring, and scrolled past it. I fixed my eyes back on the TV and went about my days, thinking maybe they were the ones fighting the dogs. Two years later, I found myself sitting in their living room with the privilege of interviewing them during their final days before an academically-induced hiatus.

The Early Days of PFC

Pomeranian Fight Club, or PFC, as they’re often called, started here in Lethbridge. Unlike many other good things in this life, PFC came together thanks to a Facebook post. Drummer Lincoln Shriner and guitar player Chris Dyer had cooked up the idea in 2018, but it wasn’t until 2019 that they put out feelers to find a bass player to complete their vision. “We tried out friends on bass, but they weren’t what we were looking for,” explained Dyer during my time together with the members, “so, Lincoln put a post up on Facebook, looking for a bass player, and that’s when Erik came along.” He’s referring to current bass player Erik Trotter, who admitted to being really nervous when auditioning. “I’ve been less nervous on dates,” confessed Trotter. The other members agreed with them between laughs, reminiscing about how the person who would become PFC’s bass player had mastered the songs Shriner had proposed to play together for their first meeting, while he and Dyer almost had not.

As for musical influences, these can be traced back to way before the group came together. During the embryonic stages of PFC, when it was just a concept shared between the two members, Shriner was listening to a lot of AJJ and Michael Cera Palin–lots of punk subgenres. For Trotter, they found that the emo they listened to in high school, like the kind of emo that “the kids with the bangs and eyeliner and shit” would enjoy, substantially influenced their style for PFC, even though “that isn’t the kind of emo we play,” they clarify. Trotter goes on to cite the now-defunct band Marietta as a huge influence on how they structure songs, or rather, how they don’t. Marietta was a huge inspiration with regard to how PFC incorporates a lot of contrasting elements, says Trotter, like how their songs will have a “fast and heavy part with a really pretty and frolicky part in the same song.” Just listen to “Postmodern Baseball” and you’ll see what they’re talking about. Other bands cited are Texas duo Two Knights who are “extremely mathy,” according to Shriner. He’s referring to the style of prog-rock in which some parts sound like mistakes thanks to irregular starts and stops, odd time signatures, and purposefully dissonant chords. Again, I urge you to listen to “Postmodern Baseball” to really understand what they’re referring to.

Naming the Beast – How PFC Got Its Name

Sometime in junior high, Shriner was tasked with creating and performing a skit for health class. He shares, “I played a dude who didn’t have any friends because nobody listened to the kind of music he listened to.” At the end of the skit, the protagonist finds another person who shares his love for the same band. The band’s name? ‘Pomeranian Fight Club.’ The name rattled around in his head for about six years. When asked if there were other contenders for a band name, he answers, “Tetzel, like after the guy who granted indulgences in the Catholic church.” He was in a history class at uLeth back then, heard the name, and thought it was funny, but as Dyer says, they never seriously considered any name other than PFC.

There’s been some confusion around the name; what does it mean? Is this a battle royale situation between the Pomeranians, wonder some listeners. During our time together, the band cleared it up, resolutely telling me, “we’re the ones fighting the Pomeranians. We’ll go on record to say that we want every last one of them flung into the sun.” That last portion of their statement is in response to their Instagram account getting zucced. “Zucced” is a term used to describe the takedown of your content on social media platforms owned by Meta for allegedly violating community guidelines. In PFC’s case, Instagram thinks they run an actual dog fighting ring, making it impossible for people to tag them in photos or promote their shows. It happened to me when I made a Spyro meme that read “yum, I’m so full of Pilsner” to promote a local show of theirs. Instagram took it down before anyone ever saw it. There was a brief attempt at attaining #justice4pfc in early June but to no avail. By saying they will fling every Pomeranian into the Sun, they hope to make it clear to Mark Zuckerbeg that they, in fact, do not run a dog fighting ring or advocate dog fighting, for that matter. They’re the ones squaring up to these dogs.

The ‘F’ in PFC Stands for Friends

Although not actually true since the ‘F’ stands for ‘fight,’ it might as well be. The members of PFC love each other. “We wanna make it clear that this wasn’t a group of best friends starting a band,” says Shriner emphatically, “we’re a band that became best friends.” They go on to tell me how lucky they feel to have been able to develop this dynamic. The way they see it, genuinely enjoying each other’s presence and talents, make it easier to share a vision. “You wanna make people feel something, so it helps to be on the same page,” mentioned Shriner. “It’s easy to find people who are good at playing an instrument, but to find people that you really get along with is harder,” adds Trotter. Their chemistry can be felt in everything they do, from their live shows to the music they’ve recorded. “You can tell you guys are buddies on stage,” shares Allie Kolasko, Shriner’s partner who was present for this interview. When performing live, the members can be seen joking with each other onstage, exchanging kisses, and huddling together post-performance. This interview was no exception; it was a further testament to their chemistry. The members professed their admiration for each other, especially for Shriner, who Trotter cites as one of their “biggest vocal influences” thanks to his raw and genuine vocal delivery, which has provided Trotter with extra confidence to perform. “Watching him perform is such a treat,” they share. Everyone in the room nods in agreement.

The sense of friendship isn’t limited to the three people in the band. Part of the reason why they goof around on stage is to communicate to show-goers that they’re an approachable band. Having a “big ego” because they’re a part of the Lethbridge music scene has never been their play. “Crowds react more when they can tell you’re more approachable,” shares one member, “you get more people dancing at shows, at least younger people. I’ve noticed that it puts off older people.” The band have found many friends thanks to their approachability, both in show-goers and fellow performers. “Seeing the same group of people at the shows gives you confidence,” shared Dyer. They cite that the Lethbridge music scene is phenomenal thanks to the” sense of camaraderie,” as Trotter put it. He shared that having positive relationships with other performers allows them to borrow equipment they might need to record or perform, and allows PFC to refer other performers to the right person when they’re in search of something specific. For example, as of completing this interview, they had an audio cable interface that belongs to Jacqueline Kennelly, a fellow Lethbridge-based performer who played with Dyer and Shriner in the Cody Hall Band.

The members of this band have never intended to get famous, their goal has always been to foster a space for emo in Lethbridge. Being approachable has been instrumental to their goal. “If you’re an asshole no one is going to wanna play your music,” recognizes Shriner. Their friendliness and sociable demeanor seem to have paid off, as they feel like they have paved the road for 4BPM, a new screamo/post-hardcore band out of Lethbridge, who has been gaining traction over the last few months. “They obviously have their own sound, but they do share some sonic qualities with PFC,” continues Shriner. In his mind, PFC has passed the torch on to this new group. I feel like this is an accurate representation of PFC’s legacy. I first watched 4BPM play at Theoretically Brewing in May 2022, after a PFC performance. Being uninitiated in screamo, I didn’t know what to expect or if I was going to like it. I had always seen emo and screamo as a sort of intimidating scene, but the unpretentious and genuinely kind energy brought forth by the members of PFC assuaged my intimidation and helped me be more present and enjoy performances by bands with a sound way different than what I would normally listen to. “Having a band like 4BPM come onto the scene is something special,” says Shriner.

The ‘F’ in PFC Stands for…Feet?

During our time together, Kolasko helped me make the atmosphere sillier by asking the burning question of who has the best feet in PFC. Trotter piped up to say their feet were kind of “fucked up” because of the differing length of their toes, but they appreciated their feet’s size since they provide stability and the ability to “jump really high.” Their feet were, therefore, deemed to be the best in PFC. Dyer self-proclaimed to have the worst feet due to a running injury. “I have a nail that’s about to fall off,” he said. I, being intrigued and thrilled by grody body stuff, asked him if I could see. He took his sock off to reveal a paper-white toenail on his big toe, with a perforation in the middle. “Last time I was here, at Erik’s house, I warmed up a needle and stuck it into my toenail,” recounts Dyer, “it hissed, and a lot of blood came out.” As masochistic as this sounds, it’s not. He did it to release the pressure caused by the blood collecting under his nail following his injury. Shriner refused to do a foot reveal and kept his socks on, placing him squarely in the middle spot of the ranking.

On Noobs: The Band’s Advice for People Coming Onto the Scene

  1. Be approachable. In case it wasn’t clear how impactful it is to be friendly and kind from the section above, the band members will say it again. It influences how your shows go, your support network, and likely the amount and kind of gigs you play.
  2. Take yourself a little bit seriously. “It’s not all fun and games and beers with the boys,” says Trotter. They continue, “there are gonna be days when you’re not gonna wanna practice and you’re gonna struggle to get the song out.” Practice regardless.
  3. Find people you like. “You’re going to be spending a lot of time together rehearsing, loading, unloading, and waiting around at gigs. You might as well do that with people you like,” they share.
  4. Avoid pandemic art. It’s too soon to talk about that, plus it’s ugly and grotesque. Instead, write about a date you went on, suggests Dyer, even if it went well.
  5. Consider your successors by taking inspiration from the scene you’re in. “If you have pride about where you come from, you’re gonna wanna leave an imprint and open it up for other bands like yours to come onto the scene,” opines Shriner.

What’s next for PFC

Much to Lethbridge’s dismay, as of August 16th, 2022, PFC will take a break as Shriner moves to Halifax to pursue graduate studies in anthropology.  When asked about future directions for each of the members, each one shared their own projects that they had begun or hoped to work on. For example, Trotter recently formed Midwest emo trio Alec Arms, named after the hotel in downtown Lethbridge. It is a continuation of the PFC sound, to an extent, with Trotter writing the lyrics and fronting the band. Dyer will continue to pay tribute to his love for country music in his band, Divorce Lawyers, based in Medicine Hat. His biggest goal with music is to play bars where the max capacity is about 80 people but where his shows draw in a crowd of 50. “It’s weird to measure things by fire codes, but that’s the ideal scenario for me,” he finishes. As for Shriner, on top of his academic endeavours, he hopes to start some bands with his “weird drumming and stupid guitar playing” out in Halifax. When I asked them if they had any plans for upcoming shows or other PFC projects, they answered that a reunion show would probably happen, but they don’t know when. In terms of an EP the band’s recorded a few songs over the last few days. “When will that come out? What’s the name of your EP,” I asked the band. In true PFC fashion, a band that prides itself on improvising and recording everything in one take, they have no idea when it’ll happen, but they do have a name–Dog’s at the Farm. Keep an eye out on their Instagram @pomeranian.fight.club to find out, unless it gets zucced before the release.

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