Rough Trade biopic based on singer’s tell-all book

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Laura Kane

TORONTO — New wave icon Ca­role Pope hopes a film about her band Rough Trade will ex­pose to­day’s youth to Canada’s rau­cous, po­lit­i­cally charged mu­sic scene of the early 1980s.

“It was no holds barred. Bands were very sup­port­ive of each other. Ev­ery­body was ev­ery­body else’s fan. It was kind of an amal­ga­ma­tion of the arts scene and the theatre scene. It was like a big, amaz­ing, cre­ative epi­cen­tre,” re­called Pope in a phone in­ter­view.

Pope will kick off an Indiegogo crowd­fund­ing cam­paign for the new film project, called Rough Trade, with a Satur­day per­for­mance in Toronto. Based on Pope’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, the film will be pro­duced by Jan Nathanson and Andrew Boutilier.

The force­ful vo­cal­ist and gui­tarist first met multi-in­stru­men­tal­ist Ke­van Sta­ples in Toronto in 1968 and the two im­me­di­ately clicked. Their break­out song as Rough Trade was High School Con­fi­den­tial, a play­ful 1981 tune that ex­plored les­bian de­sire.

When the song was re­leased, it was one of the most sex­u­ally ex­plicit songs to hit the Cana­dian pop charts. Pope shocked ra­dio lis­ten­ers with the lyric, “It makes me cream my jeans when she comes my way.”

“I guess we hit a nerve and there wasn’t any­thing like us out there, when I was an es­pe­cially an­drog­y­nous, kind of threat­en­ing woman,” she said.

Pope, now 63, said she feels the Cana­dian scene is of­ten for­got­ten in nos­tal­gia about punk and new wave. She pointed to “amaz­ing” bands like the ‘B’ Girls, the Diodes, the Vile­tones and the Dishes, all Toronto groups of the 1970s.

Asked who she would like to see play her in the film, Pope sug­gested Evan Rachel Wood, the 26-year-old ac­tress known for her edgy style and per­for­mances in The Wrestler and Thir­teen.

“I have no con­trol over any of this,” Pope added with a laugh. “But it’s gotta be some­body like that, who can bring their own stuff to the char­ac­ter.”

Rough Trade split up in the late 1980s and Pope now per­forms as a solo artist. Her new EP is called Mu­sic for Les­bians, a tongue-in-cheek ti­tle pok­ing fun at the self-se­ri­ous­ness of some les­bian mu­si­cians.

Pope said she’s watched the mu­sic scene change dras­ti­cally since Rough Trade’s hey­day. As it’s be­come more dif­fi­cult for artists to make a liv­ing, al­ter­na­tive bands seem to be tak­ing fewer risks, she said.

“I find a lot of al­ter­na­tive mu­sic is re­ally for­mu­laic and generic and weird. I can’t tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween a lot of the bands be­cause their sounds are so fa­mil­iar. Ev­ery­body was re­ally do­ing dif­fer­ent things in the ’70s and ’80s,” she said. “I can’t think of any new bands that I re­ally es­pe­cially like. I want to slap a lot of them.”

Asked which bands in par­tic­u­lar she wanted to slap, Pope replied: “I don’t know. All the ones with beards and hand claps and in­sipid singing.”

Pope said writ­ing her 2001 au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, Anti Diva, on which the film will be based, was cathar­tic. Among other things, the book ex­plores her brother’s death as a re­sult of AIDS and her in­tense re­la­tion­ship with leg­endary Bri­tish singer Dusty Spring­field, who died in 1999.

“It was an emo­tion­ally drain­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to write it,” she said but ul­ti­mately a good one. “The only thing I feel badly about is name-drop­ping some people that I slept with.”

Her per­for­mance in Toronto on Satur­day co­in­cides with the city’s WorldPride fes­tiv­i­ties. Asked why she thinks Pride is still im­por­tant in 2014, Pope pointed to the global per­se­cu­tion of LGBT people.

“There are so many op­pressed ho­mo­sex­ual people around the world and it’s a crime and you can be ex­e­cuted for it. I think there are a lot of is­sues we still have to deal with ... People are still hav­ing un­pro­tected sex, which is in­sane,” she said.

“But mostly it’s just a big cel­e­bra­tion and a big party. It’s great for Toronto to have WorldPride.”

Ca­role Pope

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