© Meaghan Baxter
Betrayers are one of those bands, you'd have hard time putting in the time frame. Organ driven psych rockers recorded some of the nicest and grooviest music I've heard lately. Imagine organ driving of Question Mark & The Mysterian mixed with Brian Jonestown Massacre. All of their albums are available on Bandcamp. Their latest Let The Good Times Die was also released on vinyl and it comes with extremely groovy cover artwork. Straight from the '60s, I would say. Lad Mags along with Emily Rault provided backing vocals (Lad Mags are another cool band you should check out).
You're coming from Edmonton. What can you say about the scene there? Are there any bands you would like to recommend?
Edmonton, where we're from, is so far North that for a few days every winter, we're the coldest place on the planet. Colder than Siberia or the Arctic Circle or any other place. You can't go outside for 7 months of the year, so everyone starts a band. The rock 'n roll scene here seems to be really unified, and I think that's one of the reasons people are starting to pay attention to what's happening in Edmonton. It's like how Akron, Ohio seemed like a pretty dull place but it gave the world DEVO and Chrissie Hynde and the Cramps and the Waitresses. There are too many great Edmonton bands to list, but in the last year or so we've had great albums come out from the Lad Mags, JomComyn, Renny Wilson, the Wet Secrets, the Tee-Tahs, Calvin Love, the Archaics, Strangled, Power Buddies, Jesse & the Dandelions, the Switches, BenDisaster, and probably a billion other killer bands that I'm forgetting to mention. If something is tagged as "Edmonton" on bandcamp, it's either a cool rock 'n roll band or a thunderous techno megamix. That's the kind of situation we're livin' in.
What's the story behind formation of Betrayers?
We basically just needed a reason to get together with our friends every week and have a drink and maybe listen to some albums. We've got a couple of secret shredders in the band but most of us are kind of learning as we go, y'know? You don't need to be a virtuoso to play this kind of music, and that's probably what attracts us to it. There is very little fucking around and fine-tuning to be done to a two-and-a-half minute long song, which leaves more time to relish in what you're doing and enjoy hanging out with your friends.
Let The Good Time Die is your latest album (review here). Where did you record it and what gear did you use?
Most of it was recorded here in Edmonton at this amazing studio called Riverdale Recorders. It's an underground bunker that sits beneath a laundromat in Chinatown. Our friend Patrick "the Detroit Kid" Michalak produced it, he's got an impressive collection of vintage recording gear which was really nice to use on the album. We used everything from old Space Echos to weird Soviet microphones to vintage fuzz pedals.
Mad Lags provided backing vocals. How are the two bands involved?
You could say that, yeah. We share custody over Joe, one of our drummers, and the two bands have done a lot of touring together in the past. They are some of the most badass ladies you will ever meet, and we've had lots of laughs with 'em. We've done a few shows as a nine-piece with the Mags singing backup vocals and it's the best time ever. They rule to go on tour with because they always remember to bring toothpaste and they like getting into trouble and someone will always be down for sneaking into the hotel pool after hours.
The Lad Mags
Were you listening to psychedelic rock from the very beginning or did the music, that influenced you changed during time? Maybe you could name a few bands that influenced you?
When I was a kid, my folks would listen mostly to '60s music, and although I didn't understand it at the time, I was always excited by songs that were at the more psychedelic end of the spectrum. "Kicks" by Paul Revere and the Raiders was a childhood favorite, it's got that great twisting guitar riff that runs though it which as a kid, I thought was really spooky stuff. I can remember listening to "Spirit In The Sky" on AM radio in my mom's car, and the Poppy Family's "Evil Grows". Conflicting messages. We were never a super musical family but the record player was kind of a toy for us kids to play on so we got to listen to some good stuff there. Some Motown and the Beach Boys and Neil Diamond. I think that until the late 1980's, new parents in Canada were issued a Gordon Lightfoot greatest hits LP, so everyone's mom 'n dad had that stuff.
Concerts & touring?
Yeah, we try to go on tour a couple of times every year. We're planning a European tour with the Lad Mags at the moment, it was scheduled for October but now it's lookin' more like we'll be there in the Spring instead.
© Shirley Tse
Where did you release your latest album? How many copies were out?
We did the LP ourselves and printed about 300 of 'em. There aren't too many left, but I'm searching for a European label to do a repress so maybe there will be a few more out there eventually. When the records arrived at my apartment I thought "these fucking boxes will be in my living room forever", but we've managed to sell most of them already, which is a total surprise. I think garage and psych fans consume music in a special way-- they like to own and collect albums and it's a point of pride to have a cool record collection (as it should be).
It's great you've released the album on vinyl. These days vinyl is coming back again and I think that the best possible format is vinyl + digital download. What's your opinion?
Yeah, it's great. Tapes are nice because you can make 'em really cheaply and your broke-ass friends will always buy one, but I prefer an LP over a cassette. You can't take it to the beach, but there's something alluring about that big cardboard square. I don't understand why anyone bothers with CDs these days-- "here's a small piece of plastic, enjoy carrying it around for the rest of your life". I guess it works for some folks but I'd rather listen to records.
Do you all collect records?
Yeah, we all do.
What are some of the latest purchases?
We recently played with this band Outer Minds (interview here)-- they're from Chicago and gave us their really creepy, witchy LP. "Only Friend" by the Backhomes has been on heavy rotation lately, along with the new White Fence album. The label who released the cassette version of our album is called Shake! and they have been releasing loads of interesting stuff like Hag Face, the Jolts, Durban Poison, the Tranzmitors...
Do Betrayers have any future plans?
Yeah, we are hoping to record our sophomore LP in New York this fall. Maybe release a couple of 7"s in the new year and then over to see our friends in Europe in the spring. If anyone reading this wants us to come to their town, get in touch and we'll do our best.
Thanks for taking your time, guys. Would you like to share anything else with us?
To anyone reading this: if you have ever dreamt about starting a band: do it. Buy a shitty guitar from a pawn shop and learn to play Louie Louie. If we can do it, anybody can.
© Shirley Tse
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2014
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