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I think it’s safe to say the worlds of hardcore noise rock music and accounting seldom converge. Yet Jesse and Shane Matthewson, the two brothers at the core of Winnipeg’s hardcore band KEN mode, are both trained accountants. These days vocalist and guitarist Jesse is taking some time off from the office to focus on the band's business, but Shane, KEN mode’s drummer, still has a day job as a chartered accountant. So when we were looking for tax experts with musical connections to create a tax season playlist, these men were the perfect fit.

KEN mode just won a Juno in the brand new category metal/hard music album of the year for their CD Venerable, so it’s not surprising the brothers’ musical picks reflect their hard-edged personal tastes. Both men prefaced their playlists with disclaimers. Let’s start with Jesse.

“This is Jesse's feelings. It does not represent Shane's opinions nor feelings on the subject, nor have any reflection on the firms either of us have ever worked for. Jesse just needs help. “

1. Black Flag, “The Bars.”

“Sometimes when I'm buried in paperwork, I feel like my hands are wrapped around the bars. ‘I want out, right now. I've lived my life, I'm doing my time: I realize life's lie.’ Is this getting too depressing? Sometimes when you feel like slamming your head against the wall over and over, Black Flag feels like it understands you more than anyone else does. “

2. Cursed, “The Void.” 

“There's something about tax time and doing menial, repetitive accounting that makes me think of extremely anti-establishment related music. Maybe it's the rigid rule-following and conservative nature of the entire profession. Cursed were one of the best bands in Canadian history for songs that feed the anger that burns inside of all creative people trying to fit into a world that just doesn't make sense. ‘He's passed out for the night/ Lived in one house all his life/ You can count the decades in his eyes … And what will he have to show for the years of hard work/ Faithful service and standardized routines?/ And when he dies alone with nothing in hand/ Burned out shell of a working man … Somewhere past the city limits somebody pulls his file/ Stamps it void and throws it on a pile/ We take care of our own, at least on paper.’”

Cursed perform "The Void"
[listen: Cursed perform "The Void"]


3. Malefaction, “People Before Profit.”    [listen]

“Is this getting too transparent? Shouldn't I listen to political grindcore when in ‘tax time?’ Is this company leading by Malefaction's example? Let's dig a little deeper, shall we? Shane, get your auditing gloves on! What's that? You don't wear gloves? You don't think I actually know what an auditor does?”

4. Other Men, “Uhhhh.”

“My sentiments exactly ... sometimes the pile of paper in front of you resembles someone’s regurgitated lunch more than it does actual usable information. People, keep better records – you're killing me!”

5. Retox, “Thirty Cents Shy of a Quarter.” 

“Sometimes things just won't balance. Sometimes I feel like my mind is 30 cents shy of a quarter. Hours in front of a computer. Stacks of receipts. This credit card statement doesn't balance to the books! What's going on here? We can't reconcile this! *slam*”

Shane introduced himself with the following disclaimer:

“I am a chartered accountant, therefore have been trained in the ways of the tax samurai. That being said, I work exclusively in the area of ‘audit and assurance services’ on primarily private and public company financial statements. Translation: I never liked tax, and rarely do it any more.”

1. Descendents, “Coffee Mug.” 

“The thought of a stack of T1 or T2 returns sitting in front of me immediately makes me tired. I recall as a student sitting with a pile of personal tax returns next to me making deals with myself like ‘OK, do one more then you can go to the bathroom and go get some coffee.’ Everything Sucks is still one of my favourite albums, and was what I listened to every day on the way to my CA final exams.”

2. Under Pressure, “Tired Eyes.

“Fits with the Descendents’ ‘Coffee Mug.’ Excellent progressive hardcore band from our hometown. If this song can't get you moving, you are in fact dead.”

3. Future of the Left, “I am Civil Service.”

“Welsh mad-men (and mad-women) hit the nail on the head and get you riled up to talk to the civil service (a.k.a. the CRA) as to why they denied half of your expenses! If they won't listen to reason, just play this song for them, and they will likely dance right out of their offices. Alternatively, they may be so horrified by the amount of swearing in the song that they immediately hang up on you, and call for a full blown audit!” 

4. Hot Snakes, “Audit in Progress.”

“Well there we have it! Shouldn't have played them Future of the Left! Now the Hot Snakes and the CRA are getting serious. This is the last thing you want to hear about on a tax-time playlist, but maybe by playing this, you'll appease the audit gods and avoid certain disaster. Or possibly the lyric ‘audit me, audit me, I don't give a shit’ is asking for trouble. Either way, this song rocks!”

5. Made Out of Babies, “Death in April.”

“Final track to bring an end to tax time in honour of the April 30th filing deadline for [most] personal taxes in Canada. If you miss the filing deadline, you will surely wish you had died in April. Death and taxes - the only things we know for certain.”

Related links:

Jesse Matthewson of KEN Mode talks Juno metal win

Canada’s musical Stanley Cup contenders

Kinnie Starr shares her shuffle playlist

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Juno-winning KEN mode’s hardcore tax-time playlist

I think it’s safe to say the worlds of hardcore noise rock music and accounting seldom converge. Yet…


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