"He's Done It All"
Jaimie Kastner, Toronto Sun
Sebastian Agnello, mild-mannered C&W sideman-about-town, is poised to transfigure into his reaction-spewing, Fender-thrashing, real-life Bob Roberts-on-grunge alter -ego Sebastian.
"All the music we do is politically motivated," he says, long hair tucked behind his ears, skeptical eyes aglow, in the basement-cum-studio of his East End home. He's wearing knee-high Doc Martens and a Ministry "Jesus Built My Hotrod T-shirt. "This is my country look."
"Seb" has spent 30 years plying club goers with everything from punk to country, bubblegum to politics, "Cornflakes and Ice Cream" to " Pasta and Vendettas", his upcoming seventh indie album.
The maverick musician's rap sheet includes:
* A No. 1 hit on CHUM-AM at the age of 14- The Lords Of London's "Cornflakes and Ice Cream": "It was pure bubblegum, still, not bad for a bunch of fourteen year olds."
* Opening for Jimi Hendrix at Maple Leaf Gardens: "It wasn't bad; I always preferred Jeff Beck myself."
* Opening for Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention at the Rockpile: "I spent the whole night filling the drummer's milkshake container with beer and staring at his bass drum - and even that might've been an hallucination."
* Helping nurture Blue Rodeo's original rhythm section in the early "80s band "SCAB".
Through it all--including solo musical rants like White Liberals On Reggae, Stop Picking On America, and the country album Full Moon And Welfare Cheques--Seb's maintained his working--musician's cool.
"My band Spuff opened up for Hendrix at the Gardens in '69, the night he got busted at the Toronto airport. He was late for the show. We just did drugs and played a longer set--we were big acid freaks."
Although life since hasn't all been a bowl of Hendrixes and Zappas, Seb is among the few who can claim he's "only ever worked as a musician--never had a day job."
In the '70s, he shifted into the playing pattern that has financed six independent albums and created his Turtle Shell Music label.
He plays country to finance his more original forays, which, musically, absorb everything from Phil Ochs to the Dead Kennedys plus any grunge fallout since.
"Anybody who knows how to play two chords in this town can make a living."
"And when I'm not working, I'm out jamming in the bars for free. I love to play."