Comedy Club Metal - Johnny Dick & Zero Split!

Friday April 16th 2010
10:30pm - Jokers Comedy Club on Spring Garden Rd.

Review - Isaac Thompson
Photos/Video - Tiffany Naugler


Jokers Comedy Club on Spring Garden has decided that folk might appreciate their laughs spiked with a little hard rock and heavy metal, so on Friday April 16th , Halifax was treated to Jay Malone (Nova Scotia’s comedy champ) followed by the double-barrelled-buckshot-stylings of Johnny Dick Project and Zero Split.

Now, since we were only asked to cover the music portion of the night, Tiffany and I didn’t catch Mr. Malone’s act. I did, however, hear first-hand accounts of people laughing until their asses fell off (which no doubt will result in some lengthy and painful reconstruction surgery).

Johnny Dick Project was the first band of the night to be unleashed and those of you familiar with the Halifax rock scene may recognize JDP’s lead singer Heather Doran from the band Halcyon. She is a magnetic front-woman with a low, raspy voice forged by the gods of 90s rock. The music backing Doran is an eclectic mix of blues, grunge and heavy metal. Heather’s deep soulful vocals are backed up by the two guitar players (Rick Ferris and John Macdougal) who provide straight ahead rock harmonies and guttural speed metal screams. The strange vocal mix works best during the climactic peaks of their heavier tunes.

Drummer Ian Kean was able to switch from a typical rock 4/4 timing to a speed-metal, double-bass pitter-patter quite nicely. Bass player Kirk Shane was a blast to watch, dancing around the stage in an energetic seizure-hop that was comparable to the universal “I have to pee really badly” dance. I liked his enthusiasm. I always enjoy rock shows more when the band members lose themselves in the songs with a total lack of self-consciousness. That sort of euphoria is as contagious as a yawn (or the clap).

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After a short breather, Zero Split was released from their cage like the mighty Rancor. You Star Wars fans may remember that the Rancor is described as “a walking collection of fangs and claws, with no thought other than to kill and eat.”, which is as pretty good description of Zero Split as well.


I’ve seen Zero Split a ton of times back when they were known as Janus and I’ve always enjoyed their music. It was great to see these guys back in action. Their songs reference some of the best bands heavy metal has to offer. I hear everything from Tool and the Deftones to Pantera and Slayer in their music. They aren’t afraid to switch up styles within any given song giving them an epic feel you don’t find often in local clubs.

Zero Split’s vocalist, who goes by the handle of Hemo, is fantastic. I was in total awe of his elastic vocal abilities. His voice can come off as soaring and beautiful, almost classical sounding, and at other times he’s screaming like a werewolf baying at the moon. Hemo is an extremely fun front-man to watch. His onstage persona is trance-like. He meditatively slithers around as he delivers one seemingly effortless mind-blowing vocal line after another.

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It was a short night of rock & roll but it got the job done. Both bands had a lot to offer and were great examples of how diverse the Halifax music scene is. Like I said, euphoria is contagious and it’s good to know there are so many bands in town eager to spread the disease.

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