Interview with Parrkerr Tazin, Jared Majeski, Dean Watson and Owen Strasky of Alberta Canada’s Krang
Half Improvisation and half premeditated madness KRANG cranks the volume up to 11, tosses in a healthy dose of jazz, a clarinet and some of the most serious riffage you’ve ever heard to concoct a lethal dose of psychedelic sludge. Edmonton’s KRANG has been brewing up some of the gnarliest psych rock from across the border for years now. They defiantly give away their completely out of print back catalog and smoke enough weed to tranquilize an army; all the while producing some of the most mind bending space rock tunes this side of Mars! In the throes of producing their new album Prairie Tragedy and releasing the ultra-limited Rats Flying Planes cassette I a caught a rocket to the moon and conducted an interview with all four members of this incredible band!
Who are the members of the band? Have you had the same lineup since you started?
Jared: The members are: Jared Majeski (drums, vox), Parker “Ruiner” Thiessen (electronics, noise, environment), Owen Strasky (bass, vocals) and Dean “The Ram” Watson (guitar, vocals). The OG lineup started as me and our friend JJ Foster as The Two Man Electrical Band. Afterwards, Krang formed when Parker joined the duo with a mic’d up clarinet, Line 6 and a few heavy pedals. About a year or so after the formation of three-piece Krang, Dean joined the fray. Then when Jordan left for Montreal, Owen took over bass duties.
Were any of you involved in any bands before KRANG? It’s become common practice for indie musicians to be members of several groups simultaneously. Are any of you currently in other active bands? If so have any of those bands released any material
Parker: I have played in a few bands. Owen and I have been in an electronic noise band together for the past 5 years called Zebra Pulse (zebrapulse.bandcamp.com) and I play solo as Bong Sample (bongsample.bandcamp.com). Zebra Pulse has released a lot of material. It’s hard to keep track of it all, especially since some of the releases were limited to as few as 5 copies. We are trying to upload some of our old stuff to our bandcamp page now though. Dean, Owen and I (as well as another guy from Zebra Pulse) had a band called Rapeseed that was a more psychedelic noise project; it was very short lived.
Jared: I started to play in bands that performed shows several years ago. From one-off bands that only played two or three shows (Beyond the Valley of the Skulls, Cold Ones, Feuerzeug) to bands who’ve toured and recorded albums (Mrs. Missile) and still other projects on the go right now; Owen, Dean and I have a four-piece soul/garage group called Bonspiel!.
Ram: I’ve been in bands since I was in high school, most of them blissfully unknown, although really fun at the time and very foundational. The first serious project I was involved with was called Deadcity Serpents, and we really were almost more of a gang than a band. Our first jam space was at our lead singer’s house, in the garage. It had a very MC5 in Ann Arbour kind of vibe. Except the guy next door got arrested for stabbing his wife and it was located in between two of the worst neighborhoods in the city. There as a sign at the liquor store where we’d get our pre-jam beers: “Nothing in here is worth losing your life over”. Not that it was extremely violent, but the varied incidents, the confrontational aspects of certain scene elements at the time, as well as some certain ideological changes made for some pretty interesting music. Broken glass, broken strings, and blood on the floor…. quite frankly I still can’t quite believe I was at the center of it. The one thing it taught me, as I watched it dissolve before it was fully born, was that time is short and you have to strike while the iron is hot; which I’ve really tried to bring to bear with Krang. Rapeseed was pretty interesting, because it was Krang less Jarred; plus the charming and talented Dave from Zebra Pulse. Which is kind of fitting considering how things are with me playing in Bonspiel! after staring longingly from the sidelines when the other boys were playing in their side projects. Owen and Jared shuffled over to make room for me on the Bonspiel! bench. It’s been super-duper. We’re nothing like Krang, except, we still have the same familiarity and chemistry. I’ve never been in a band with two guitar players before, so it’s been fun to get some dueling going with Jared.
How did you guys meet? What led you to start KRANG and just how did the KRANG lineup come about?
Parker: Okay, this gets kind of weird. I met Dean at Bible College oddly enough, waaaay back in like 2002. After that we didn’t really hang out again until 2007 when we formed Rapeseed, which is where I met Jared and Jordan. They asked if I wanted to play guitar in their band because that’s what I played in Rapeseed. That quickly changed when they found out I had no fucking clue how to play guitar; in Rapeseed I just thrashed that thing around, hitting it with shit and rubbing it against other guitars! I met Owen because we were neighbors who worked at the same bar and went to the same school. I guess it’s not that weird, it’s just that we all met each other independent of one another and then all of a sudden we are all in the same band together, ha-ha. If someone would have told me when I was in bible school, that someday Dean and I would be playing in a Stoner rock band together, I would have shit myself!
Owen: I met Dean at Macewan, we were in the same design foundations class. We became fast friends because of our mutual love for rock and roll and often went to rock shows. At the time Dean played in the band Deadcity Serpents which was always a visceral experience. It’s funny because all four of us were probably at most of these shows together and didn’t know each other yet. Parker and I bonded on the same terms, walking home from class and picking up a couple $2 Boxer tallboys to drink while we listened to The Drones in his garage. I remember the first time I saw Two Man Electrical band, which was Jordan on bass and vox and Jared on drums and vox. It was at the Hydeaway, I think. Rapeseed was playing a show with them; the music definitely struck a chord with us. It was some nice heavy Rock and Roll. That project turned into Krang when Parker joined that band. Truth be told, I was pretty jealous because that is the exact type of music Ruby (my Bass) and I wanted to play. When Dean joined Krang they became my favorite band. We were all hanging out a lot so Jared and I started jamming with Jon Mick and started Bonspiel! Jared and I became pals hanging out and writing songs. There were a lot of great shows going on and I think one in particular bonded us all together more than others. It was a full moon on the night of Parker’s birthday and Bonspiel!, Krang, and Zebra Pulse were all playing at Bohemia. It’s was a crazy late night endeavor with an excess of wine and song, and things got… well… naked. It was after that Jordan went on to pursue his other passions and passed the bass duties on to me. I like to think that crazy party influenced his decision of handing me the duties, ha-ha. That night’s energy is kinda what keeps Krang going!
Jared: Like the other guys said, I think we were all going to the same shows and venues before we all really knew each other. For me, my journey started when I met our old bass player, Jordan, in about 2003 or 2004. He really introduced me to the music “scene” here in Edmonton. He and I had a couple short-lived projects before we formed Two Man Electrical Band, which of course became Krang. After that I met Dean, who at the time was playing in a punk rock band called Deadcity Serpents. Then I met Parker and Owen, likely at the same time, when they used to live together. We are all friends and into music, art and performance; the stars aligned to put us all in one band.
Ram: I lusted after Ruby’s licks for many a year before I got to play with Owen; I was maybe even a little envious of the guys that got to enjoy his skills before me. We all met independently of each other, but the rough way it worked out was: I met Parker at bible school, but we weren’t super tight, and I was only there for a few months anyway. Then I moved to Edmonton with my friend Nat and we started up Deadcity Serpents, after which I met Jordan. Then I was introduced to Jared through Jordan, and I met Owen when I decided to be responsible and go back to school, which I dropped out of. Parker moved up to Edmonton from Calgary and joined the program that I dropped out of and met Owen; kind of spooky I know, but it’s a really small town.
What is the name KRANG all about?
Parker: Originally it was onomatopoeia for a sound that would describe a spaceman in a cave or a caveman in space. Then after we chose it we remembered the ninja turtle dude, and it still worked with the whole concept so we just went with it; it’s cool because whenever someone hears our name they usually do their best Krang voice and yell, “KrAAAAAaaaaaaAAAAAnnnnnngggggg!”
What role did music play in your households when you were growing up? Were any of your family members musically oriented?
Owen: Both my brother and father write songs and play instruments. I haven’t seen my mom do it, but I bet she could if she wanted. When I was a kid my dad played in a couple of country and rock outfits. They often practiced in the basement of our house. My brother and I thought it was pretty cool. We would jam and our friends would come over and jam. I doubt it sounded very good, but it was a blast! My brother toured a bit with a punk rock outfit. When he was still in the band, we booked a show together (with my old band) at the Wunderbar before it was under its current management. It ended up being a double booking with an Edmonton Eskimo’s birthday party. It was a complete disaster, with only his band squeezing out a couple songs before the DJ faded them into his favorite club hit. All of a sudden the place was full of lederhosen-clad football players and cheerleaders. One for the books I guess.
Jared: My parents were not musical in the sense of playing any instruments. The role music played in my house growing up was not a huge one. Other than country and western (Waylon Jennings to Dwight Yoakam), I had to discover and seek out any music I wanted to listen to. The only musical member of my family is my mom’s brother, Uncle Sandy. He played guitar and accordion in country bands in Manitoba back in the day.
Ram: My mom played a bit on the guitar, but she gave it up when I was quite young. We always had a guitar, but it was behind the piano and had gone useless with age. I wonder about that guitar sometimes, and where it got to. My mom tried to foist the piano on all of us, but only my sister really took to it. They played hymns in church and classical stuff. I hated it! I still think that a lot of the music I make now is a direct rebellion against the proper musical upbringing that I had. My Dad’s side of the family is quite musical. I can remember actual sing-alongs once or twice in my childhood, and his sister taught music academically as well as being a proficient player. It was country style; everyone had a piano in their house. My dictatorial grandmother used to make the better of my cousins play for everyone else. Hard core, ha!
Who did you guys grow up listening to? Who are your personal influences and who would you say are the largest influences on KRANG as a whole?
Owen: I listened to a lot of oldies like Roy Orbison and classic rock, as well as a healthy dose of Dwight Yoakam, growing up in a rural area kind of limited my options. I watch a ton of Much Music as well; I love music videos. I’ve always been drawn toward heavier and up-tempo rock.
Jared: Like I said, growing up I had to work to discover music (before Napster it was even harder). I listened to lots of country (Yoakam, Jennings, Merle Haggard, Randy Travis) before discovering other genres by ordering random CDs from Columbia House. It was through there I heard Radiohead and The Kinks for the first time. Random? Yes. Today, my influences are wide-ranging. I’m attracted to British pop and psych as well as most African-American music. Bands and genres include country guys with the Bakersfield sound, German instrumental/experimental (‘krautrock’), jazz, rhythm and blues, Comets on Fire, Black Sabbath, MC5, and just about anything from southern Mississippi, especially Junior Kimbrough. As for Krang, the ethos of long jams, heavy riffs and crazy visuals comes from Hawkwind. We all love Sabbath and the blues.
Parker: I grew up listening to a lot of Classic Rock, there were only two music radio stations growing up and they were Classic Rock and Country. Once I got to junior high and high school I was all about Rap and Punk shit, mostly pretty embarrassing stuff actually. I think Krang as a whole is clearly influenced by Hawkwind or Comets on Fire, but when we formed the band we never really talked about what the music would sound like, it just kind of happened I think. The way the band was slowly built up from the beginning as just bass and drums and then I joined adding electronics, if you listen to our first album “cold bebop” it sounds more just like some weird style of Punk or something. It wasn’t until Dean joined that we had a real Hawkwind sound, and I don’t even know if we realized it. I didn’t at least, until old guys at our shows started yelling it, heh.
Ram: I was pretty surrounded by slick Nashville Country growing up and made a beeline for the exit as soon as I could see what was going on. Aside from the standard classic Rock and Punk that I think is pretty much standard issue in small towns everywhere, Starflyer 59, which is a band from the Christian market, is probably the most influential on me musically. Their first eight records especially, are the canon of Rock to me; very important, hugely underappreciated, and a big reason why I started looking for more fuzzed out and droning out guitar bands. When I was in high school I listened to their second album Gold at least twice a day, every day. No bullshit. Also Paranoid, holy fuck, that album really changed my life man. Junior Kimbrough too, after I started listening to him I really started to see the fretboard and what’s going on there in relation to the music in a totally different light. It was life changing. But I would be totally remiss to not mention the Allman Brothers Band under the leadership of Duane Allman. Once I really started to absorb the essence of what they were about, it was just like, fuck it man! Let’s play for an hour… He was the greatest guitar player to ever live, hands down, no contest.
Where are you presently located?
Parker: We all live in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. Sometimes it’s the second coldest place on earth.
Jared: I’m in the Allendale neighborhood in Edmonton, Alberta sitting at my kitchen table. It’s February 20th, in the evening. Temperature is at -17 C with the wind chill.
Are you originally from that area?
Parker: I’m from a small town called Beaverlodge about 5 hours north of Edmonton. It’s the home of the world’s second largest beaver statue, ha-ha.
Owen: I hail from Farmington, British Columbia. About 6 hours northwest of Edmonton, Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway, which might hold more weight in America? We’ve got a lot of giant RV’s passing through with great big Eagles and the stars and stripes airbrushed onto them.
Jared: I was born and raised in a town about 20 minutes north of Edmonton called Fort Saskatchewan. When I was young, the population was just over 10,000. There is billions of dollars’ worth of petrochemical plants east of the town, and I’ve heard Fort Saskatchewan has one of the highest asthma rates in Canada.
Ram: Sexsmith, Alberta where I grew up is a deeply religious community kind of between where Parker grew up and where Owen grew up, sort of. Beaverlodge and Sexmith are both quite close to the thriving Oiltropolis of Grande Prairie. Last year it had one of the highest rates of intoxicated drivers in the entire country, lots of dickheads.
How would you describe or classify your music?
Parker: The easiest way is to just say Psychedelic rock, or Stoner rock. But we prefer “Heavy Dad-Blues”
Owen: Sexy dangerous “Heavy Dad-Blues”.
Jared: I will describe rather than classify. Our music is hypnotic, chaotic, at-times abrasive, honest, heavy, and unpretentious. One journalist in Calgary called some songs ‘sexy desert jams’; sure, I’ll take it. But I definitely prefer “Heavy Dad-Blues”.
Ram: I’ve actually secretly stopped using the term “Heavy Dad-Blues” when trying to describe our music because a lot of people don’t seem to know what we’re talking about. I actually removed it from the bandcamp list of tags because you’re only allowed five. “Dad-Blues” is how our old bass player Jordan used to ungenerously describe bands like Blues Traveler, or to a lesser extent, Canned Heat. But really when we say “Dad-Blues”, we mean the thousands of 12-bar combos chooglin’ along all across this great land. Generally I just say heavy Psychedelic rock ‘cause a lot of people also don’t know about Stoner rock evidently.
Would you describe your songwriting process? You are pretty open about your drug use, at least smoking pot in particular; do you use it as an aid in writing or performing?
Owen: Writing is often an organic evolution on a theme or riff, some sort of muse. It usually takes hours of playing the same thing for us to start to rein it into some kind of structure.
Jared: Like Owen said, it takes hours or days to really flush out a song idea based off a riff or a beat or something repetitive. Our songwriting process is loose. As for the drugs, I wouldn’t say it’s an “aid” per se; it’s just a usual state of mind when we’re off the clock.
Parker: My stuff is often pretty improvised, I know how the songs go and everything but I like to change up what I do on a regular basis so that the song is never exactly the same, there is always a little bit of that element of surprise.
Ram: Krang songs take weeks to come together; weeks of just jamming over and over and over. I’ve always tried to make Krang more about music that fills a room and brings people together in sonic communion, than an easily digested song or idea. It’s really truly in its element in a live setting. When Rene was starting to mix our record I told him to imagine Krang less as a road that always follows a pre-engineered path, and more like a river. A river follows roughly the same course every time, but it’s always different. Krang has a lot of sections that are predetermined, but the writing takes a long time because there are large sections of improvisation that we work out by jamming; forming the walls of the canyon so to speak.
Would you talk about your recording process?
Jared: We practice, practice, practice the songs we want to record beforehand. We always try to record at least one improvised song or jam for each release. It was a practice we started when recording our second EP with Eamon McGrath. The song, “Electric Wind” kind of became a bit of a calling card for us. When you get a Krang record, you can expect to hear something you’ve never heard us play before, and likely never will again. The trick isn’t the “what” of recording, but the “how”. Who does it, where, how much stuff do we have to rent. We’ve recorded in some amazing locations and some pretty shitty places too.
Parker: I just get drunk and turn knobs and hope the other guys nail it in one take!
Ram: It generally doesn’t start rollin’ until we do… and we take regular breaks. Other than that we just play for hours and hours, which is what we do anyway. This last record was exciting because we actually took the time to make sure it was going to sound awesome before we pressed the record button. I always look at things like it might be the last time I’m blessed with being able to make music, so I generally give it everything I have. Hang it all out there so to speak…
How many albums have you have released? Which record labels put them out?
Jared: Seven albums altogether on multiple labels and formats (cassettes and records, Mammoth Cave, Psychic Handshake, Totally Disconnected).
You have put out several albums and EPs at this point but not many (if any) have been on the same labels, why is that? Who will be releasing the upcoming full-length Prairie Tragedy?
Jared: We’ve used different labels simply out of necessity and opportunity. We recorded our first EP, Cold Bebop, in Parker’s basement. The second was done at my old house with Eamon McGrath. At a show at the Hydeaway here in Edmonton we met one of the big boys in Alberta; Paul Lawton who runs Mammoth Cave Recordings, originally out of Lethbridge. It was there we started an amazing relationship, personally and musically. From that show, we were invited down to Lethbridge to play some shows and record a 7’’ at the Mammoth Cave. Along the way, there’ve been a small group of folks who’ve been very supportive of us, through promotion or helping us release an album, Mike Deane and Aaron Levin, Jesse Locke, Paul Lawton and Evan Van Reekum, Eamon McGrath. As for who’s going to release Prairie Tragedy, that’s still up in the air. We’ve been throwing ideas of a joint-label release, but nothing is set in stone. This record is going to be the biggest thing we’ve done to date, and so far we’ve always found people to help us out. We just need to stumble across the right opportunity with this one.
Choke Hits is definitely my favorite release so far and I know that you re-recorded “Provincial Flower”, one of my absolutely favorite cuts, for Prairie Tragedy; can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect from that album and when to expect its’ release?
Jared: Prairie Tragedy is mostly songs we just haven’t had a chance to record yet, songs we’ve been playing for over a year; with the exception of re-recording “Provincial Flower”. The centerpiece of Prairie Tragedy is the title track; it’s a very personal 13-minute exploration of what it means to be Native in a colonized nation like Canada. As for a release date we’re hoping late spring, early summer, if all goes according to plan at least…
Ram: There’s a few surprises left for when the record drops. We’ve got a couple new tracks, one “hymn” and the big one is “Prairie Tragedy”. It’s a concept I was working on for a while, but never really came together until I was jamming with Jared writing new material after we finished Planet D. Musically it works more in movements than a traditional song structure. Eventually it comes all the way back to the beginning which is the point we are trying to make with the lyrics. Without going into a three paragraph diatribe, the song uses both recent and historical events in Western Canada to try and start talking about the complicated nature of our country’s relationship with the RCMP; our national police force. We point out that the officers tragically slain in a gun battle as agents of the drug war have an eerie parallel to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who shot and killed our native and metis brothers and sisters as agents of the crown during the red river and subsequent rebellions. As well as how they continue to be a tool of their oppressors while these issues remain ignored and unresolved. We’ve never done anything political before, so it’s kind of a change for us, but with the recent political climate in Canada, it feels like it’s time.
Which of your albums are in print and where can people purchase your music?
Parker: To be honest I think all of our music is pretty much out of print at this point. The split with Shooting Guns is still available through Psychic Handshake records, other than that digital copies of our entire catalog are always available at krangalang.bandcamp.com
Jared: Besides our split 7’’ with Saskatoon’s Shooting Guns and the limited run of Rats Flying Planes cassettes we just put out, I think most of our stuff is pretty much out of print. You can download it all for free online. At one point our Speed of Tent 45 was available at Permanent Records in Chicago; I think they’re all sold out down there though. There may be some stuff left at Blackbyrd Myoozik here in Edmonton though.
Ram: I think I’ve seen Speed Of Tent on Discogs.com… but yeah everything is out of print.
You have several limited cassette releases. Why cassette over CD or vinyl?
Parker: I honestly think we have done cassette over vinyl just because of the ease of it for us. Jared and I both have cassette duplicators that can make three copies in about a minute and a half, so it’s just way faster. Plus people only listen to this stuff on their computers anyway so we try to make the physical stuff a little rarer. If we could do vinyl for every release we would. Also, I don’t know if it is happening in the states as much as it is in Canada, but everyone here is releasing cassettes nowadays; it seems like barely anyone makes CDs anymore.
Jared: Like Parker said, its ease and access to materials that have led us to release multiple cassettes. He and I both have tape duplicators, Owen always has loads of blank tapes, and Dean has hookups for getting cassette covers printed. For the Sonic Portage release, we hand-painted each release a different color to make it extra special.
Ram: Cassette packaging is more fun to design; also, I fucking hate CDs.
KRANG has several extremely limited edition releases, but you offer everything on an ongoing basis as digital downloads on Bandcamp. I absolutely love having a digital copy of the album to listen to on the go but I’m definitely a physical format guy. You can’t put a price on having something to hold in your hands and liner notes to read, at least in my opinion. What’s your connection to physical format releases?
Parker: I’m all about the physical release; I agree you gotta hold it in your hands. Plus you can roll joints on it ha-ha! I think we make it limited mostly due to price, and also, I hear too many bands complaining about having 300 copies of whatever album in their basement. I don’t want that to happen to our shit, it’s just wasteful.
Jared: Live recordings aside; we haven’t released any material without an accompanying physical format. Dean, Parker and Owen are all very visually inclined designers, so art and visual concepts are always important. Up until our split with Shooting Guns and Rats Flying Planes release, we had done all the artwork ourselves. Now, we’ve starting to work with a couple visual artist friends to come up with some concepts. So in the end, physicality and design are central to the music we make.
Ram: We are adept students of capitalism. The fewer copies, the greater the demand, the more money we make… oh, except you don’t make much if you only sell ten copies, whoops! Seriously though, mostly I look at it as something to reward people that actually really like our band, or are collectors or whatever. I don’t think most people really care much anymore, people talking about the switch to digital missed the switch to digital. We’ve been gunning for a while to do a full length LP, but as far as printing CDs why bother? I love the fact that people from all over the world have downloaded copies of our record, and they can enjoy it, and because we long ago recouped from recording the record, it’s only beneficial to us to make it available.
You said on your blog that “in celebration of Internet freedom, you can download our albums for free if you want”, what brought that about and what is your take on digital music?
Ram: That was basically a generic way to say that we were upset about the way they were proposing to control and throttle the internet. SOPA, the death of Mega-Upload, the fact that every band I’ve ever talked to about it couldn’t give two shits about file trading, Vic Toevs calling me a child pornographer because I didn’t agree with him… I mean it was a perfect storm when we decided to make the switch, and mostly it was just entirely out of frustration. We’d already made back the limited funds we put out for the recordings. Most of them were basically out of print at that point, so we just let ‘em loose. We also got about a thousand percent more downloads, so there’s that as well. I will say this, the people crying foul about file trading couldn’t create anything if their very lives depended on it, other than frustrations for other people. Them crying foul and spending millions of dollars to lobby our democratic institutions so they can sick their lawyers on us basically amounts to them wanting a bailout for having some of the most stupid and wasteful business practices in history. They had the resources and capital to be ahead of this thing, not still trying to drag it down and throttle it more than a decade later. I think people need to pay attention because after SOPA was defeated they basically went after all the ringleaders of this digital resistance and crucified them or are in the process of doing so. Its total informational war out there, it’s crazy.
RIP Aaron Swartz
A lot of people in the United States don’t realize that there is a thriving Psychedelic music scene in Canada. For readers outside of Canada’s sake, can you talk a little bit about what is happening musically there?
Parker: Canada has always had this insane music scene; the problem is that every city is so isolated no one ever knew what was going on in the next province let alone on the other side of the country. I think things like Weird Canada and CBC Radio 3 have really exposed the scene to Canadians, as well as the rest of the world. Weird Canada especially is helping out the local bands in every city gain this network now where they can tour and release albums and be recognized across the country. It’s like the whole country is one small town with a thousand local bands and it’s almost like, the weirder the better.
Jared: This is a tough question. To take Parker’s point even further, with Canada being so big and spread out that one city may not know what’s going on in another; I think the Internet has leveled the playing field in a way. There are bands of all shapes and sounds in all corners of the globe because you have instant access to an unending list of obscure, random albums you wouldn’t have been able to get 20 years ago. There is easier access to more music than ever before, which is really inspiring. So here in Canada, people obviously do it that way. What a website like Weird Canada does, as Parker mentioned, is give other bands in other provinces, and the public of course, the chance to hear what others are doing. Psych music specifically. I think it’s a product of living in desolate, isolated urban centers like Edmonton or Saskatoon. The Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) seem to resemble, at least physically, the same kind of atmosphere that some of the original “Stoner” bands were part of in, say, Palm Desert California in the nineties.
Ram: I think a lot of it kind of comes from certain aspects of Canadiana though as well. It’s a pretty open minded country, there’s lots of pot. There’s not much of a stigma around smoking it. Saskatoon had one of the pioneering research centers dedicated to LSD, etc. It’s also a very natural country. We’ve got vast skies, and giant mountains, the arctic shield and rainforests not to mention there aren’t a terrible lot of people living here. You definitely get some weirdos.
Who are some of the bands you’ve enjoyed playing with? Would you tell us a good story or two about some of your shows?
Parker: If you could hear us right now, we all would say in unison, “Shooting Guns, they are the best band in Canada!” Heavy, heavy, giants playing awesome heavy doomy Stoner rock, it’s great. We played with them in Saskatoon once and there was this dude, I think he plays in the band “the Switching Yard”, he was in like a full wool Cosby sweater in this bar that was hot as hell. He was wasted and sweating like crazy, drunkenly hugging the monitors trying to make the music louder, and we are already pretty damn loud, so I picked up our smoke machine and I stuck it right up to his face for whatever reason and just blasted that dude with smoke for like a straight minute!! I felt bad about it so I went to apologize to him after the show and he just yelled “DONT EVER APOLOGIZE!! I LOVE SMOKE!!” and then ran off like a madman.
Jared: Second what Parker said, Shooting Guns are the best band in Canada. We had a fucking blast playing in Saskatoon last time. We’ve played lots of times with garage bands from Lethbridge over the years (Myelin Sheaths, Fist City, Ketamines), who also happen to be just all-around good people to be around. One of the last times Krang played in Lethbridge was at an art space/venue called NAAG. After the show, the other band went to a Country bar, so we all ate some magical fungi and spent the next 6 hours floating around the NAAG before passing out on the floor. It was the first time I slept in the venue we played in. Lots of memories, hazy ones too, from shows and adventures in Lethbridge; seeing Dean jam with Damo Suzuki at a festival in Calgary was pretty amazing too.
Ram: Jamming with Damo Suzuki was definitely a high point of my life, ha-ha. There have also been some fairly crazy times with those Shooting Guns dudes, they are bigger than us and can really put ‘em back. Playing with Krang has been a pretty up and down experience altogether. We played this one terrible show in a west coast shitty that shall remain nameless, where they literally put us on after last call, then kicked everyone out as we were starting…So many good times with the Lethbridge crew though, Ketamines, Moby Dicks, Fist City, and Endangered Ape. The shows we played in Lethbridge are definitely some of the most fun times of my life. Also, Sleepy Sun was just amazing, and those guys are so nice…
Who should people be listening to from your area/scene?
Parker: The experimental/noise scene in Edmonton is where my heart is. Bands like Pigeon Breeders, Taiwan, Meat Force, WIND ROSE, and Will Scott. There is a collective here called the Ramshackle Day Parade that I am a big part of and the stuff that goes on there blows me away on a regular basis. Energetic Action is an amazing band, as is Gary Debussey but neither of them have much out there at the moment. Look Away are really good, and I always gotta mention the ex-pats Eamon McGrath (he lives in Toronto now) and Holzkopf (he lives in Vancouver now). Those two dudes are a big part of why I play music.
Owen: In addition to Parker’s suggestions: Pigeon Breeders, Flint, Pizzarrhea, Rene Wilson, NN, Morals. But man, there are a whole slew of bands that you would lose your mind over that don’t have much if anything recorded here in the city. I feel pretty lucky to get to see the shows going on here.
Jared: I’ve said it before, isolation breeds creativity. There are lots of bands in Edmonton doing DIFFERENT things from one another, which is very exciting. From the area, I truly dig Rhythm of Cruelty, Brazilian Money, Travis Bretzer, Camembert, Morals, and Sir Ma’am Ma’am. OG bands like Whitey Houston and Wet Secret still make me shake a leg.
Ram: There is this one guy here, Jason Deblanco, who is in like, ten fucking awesome bands! I love that guy and everything he’s doing; Skin, Sir Ma’am Ma’am and some others I’m forgetting. I would also be remiss to not mention Jessica Jalbert, who aside from being a real sweetheart, has a pretty great record out right now called Brother Loyola. Bombchan is a fucking killer blues combo in the Electrified Hill country style. The Get Down are crazy motherfuckers, they are the guys your mother warned you about; which is not a cliché at all, trust me, they play some truly ferocious Detroit style rock and roll. I also really like the Will Scott Band they were pretty mind-blowing when I saw them. And Famines, but they are only half from here now. The Betrayers are a new band from here that does kind of a dangerous Jesus and Mary Chain thing. Also Eamon McGrath, expat or not, is killing it. His old band The Wild Dogs have a project here called Cocaine Eyes that is pretty dangerous too.
Are there some international artists you would suggest fans listen to?
Jared: I have discovered so much random obscure world beats on Ghost Capital. I am also absolutely in love with Daniel Romano right now. I’m a big fan of Lee Hazlewood and Gram Parsons and like Romano’s write-up says, this guy has parts of both; Canadian country boy does good.
Parker: The Drones, they are from Australia. I have no idea why that band isn’t huge.
Ram: Starflyer 59’s first eight records are pretty fucking great. I’m pretty into what Ty Segall has been doing lately.As far as other Stoner bands, there’s this band Sungrazer, whose album Mirador has been a real grower for me. They’ve got some interesting stuff going on. Plus there is this band The Heavy Hills from California that I quite like as well. Also, the Buffalo Killers, not enough people know about that band.
Is there anything that I missed or that you’d like to talk about?
Just a thanks to anyone who’s out there listening or playing our record on the radio or helping us out, you are too numerous to mention. Without you we’d just be four stoned dudes, also, a big “up your ass with a broken glass” to our dead fish of a prime minister, Stephen Harper.
(2009) “Cold Bebop” – Self Released – CDR
(2010) “They Came From Planet D” – Self Released –CDR
(2011) “Speed Of Tent” – Mammoth Cave Recording Company – 7” [Limited to 300 copies]
(2011) “Choke Hits” – Totally Disconnected – Cassette Tape [Limited to 100 copies]
(2012) “Sonic Portage” – Cassette Tape [Limited to 14 hand painted copies]
(2012) “Shake Joint” (Split with Shooting Guns) – Psychic Handshake Recordings – 7”
(2013) “Rats Flying Planes” – Self Released – Cassette Tape [Limited to 50 copies]
(2013) “Prairie Tragedy” – UNKNOWN – UNKNOWN- Roman Rathert