Rage and Frustration
Heavy Metal Reviews & Interviews
Bison – You Are Not The Ocean You Are The Patient (Review and Interview)
Band – Bison
Album – You Are Not The Ocean You Are The Patient
Country of Origin – Canada
Genre – Sludge Metal
Release Date – July 7th, 2017
Label – Pelagic Records
Author – Hayduke X
Bison, formerly Bison B.C., is one of those bands that I liked, but didn’t ever love. Through their earlier work, they blended with other similar acts that I could pull out when I felt like an auditory bludgeoning. Said urge is fairly rare for me, as I prefer the slashing effect of good black metal or the evisceration of quality grindcore. This most recent release, You Are Not The Ocean You Are The Patient, has my Bison paradigm. The more I listen to this album, the more I love it. There is layer upon layer of intensity and emotion here if you are but patient enough to peel it back. Perhaps the best way to do that is a pair of quality headphones, a dark room, and about 38 minutes of your time.
Formed in 2006 in the wilds of Western Canada (actually Vancouver, a relatively large city), Bison currently features James Farwell on guitar and vocals, Dan And also on guitar and vocals, Matt Wood on drums, and Shane Clark on bass, with Farwell and And as the only original members. Woods anchors everything with choices that alternately pull back or push forward on the tension. Clark is a little hard to find in the mix, but he does a nice job of subliminally pulling the listener along, sometimes with syncopation, sometimes with more straightforward bass lines. The dueling guitars weave in and out of each other, sometimes interlocking, sometimes breaking away like a freight train without brakes. Vocally, And and Farwell give us screams and yells that overlap the cacophony of the other instruments, holding forth passionately on the state of the world in a manner more hardcore than metal. This, of course, makes sense, as there is a lot of punk in Farwell’s background at least. One can easily see the links in the chain that go back to Black Flag’s My War.
In the paragraph above, I attempt (poorly) to break down this album into component parts in order to give the reader a sense of what You Are Not The Ocean You Are The Patient sounds like. A serious issue with this is that the album is not those component parts. There is a cliché I could reference here, but will instead say that the album is immensely better than any single part. Bison take rage and violence and make it atmospheric and calming. They take beauty and make it viscerally deadly. You Are Not The Ocean You Are The Patient is a journey into the mind of Farwell, but it transcends even this. Bison have turned this inside out, making the listening experience into a journey into every corner of the listeners mind, those we want to see and those we don’t. I have become a believer in Bison.
Recommendation: A contender, You Are Not The Ocean You Are The Patient will be there at the end of the year for me.
Interview with James Farwell
Hayduke X: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me tonight. You guys recently came back from a short tour through Western Canada? How did that go?
James Farwell: Oh God! Like a fucking vacation! It was beautiful. It was just relaxing and seeing old friends and playing wicked shows. It was really nice.
HX: Is it a pretty good scene through the west?
JF: Oh, yeah. Definitely.
HX: Right on. I’m in Michigan now, but I was born in Edmonton and grew up in Saskatchewan until I was a teenager, so…
JF: Oh, really? Nice!
HX: It’s good to hear that there’s a scene out there. I wasn’t really listening to that stuff yet.
JF: Absolutely. You know, we’ve been hitting it for like ten years, so we’ve got some folks that come out to hang out. Good times.
HX: How’s the new material being received in general and in the live setting?
JF: Surprisingly, the live setting is always the real test. We’ve been out, and we do that fucking douche-y thing that bands do where they just play their new record to the fucking horror of your fans that want to hear songs off of your second record, or whatever. But, you know, people dug it. They were really kind to us. Everyone was really patient and fucking felt it, man. It was pretty impressive. I was pretty stoked.
HX: How would you describe a live Bison show?
JF: God! It stinks. We smell really bad. By the last song, I’m really drunk. You know, it’s uncomfortably loud. I think it’s sort of cathartic in a way. I mean, it’s a good feeling. Like, we’re all there for the same reasons. It’s a good meeting of the minds. We have people come out to just sort of have their troubles washed away with volume. It works. It’s poor man’s therapy. It works.
HX: Any other touring plans, like maybe Michigan?
JF: No Michigan. The next touring is going to be trying to get out to the east and Canada and then we’re going to get to Europe next year. Our new label is out of Germany. We’ve really got plans there. The States is a tough one, man. We’ve been through the States a bunch in our past and met fantastic, fantastic people. People dig it and it’s great. It’s just getting across that border now, it’s just like… I’ve got two kids. I just can’t spend thousands and thousands of bucks to go down there, you know. I don’t want to be…I don’t want to sound like a prick to people down there, because we’ve really appreciated all the shows we’ve played down there and all the that helped us out. We really had a good time, but it’s just a really hard time for a Canadian band to get down there right now. There’s a lot of red tape and it’s even more expensive now. You know, it’s just kind of not going to happen right now. I’m not sure it’s never going to happen. It’s not a political thing. It just really is literally out of our reach right now to pay that kind of cash to go down there. Things change.
HX: I understand. We’re hearing that a lot. People in the scene seem to understand. It’s not the bands. It’s the crazy shit going on.
JF: Yeah, I know. It’s too bad. That’s just the way the world is right now. We’ve just got to ride it out and hope for cool heads to prevail. Like cool, as in the Fonz. Like cool heads to prevail and then we’ll get rock and roll, we’ll get Canadian rock and roll back into the States, man. God! Where it belongs.
HX: On a lighter touring note, do you have any crazy or awesome tour stories to share?
JF: You know, the tour stories get less and less crazy. I’m an old man. The reason I want to tour is I want to play the shows and the minute there’s a wicked after party, I probably will sneak off to a motel and just kind of watch a romantic comedy and drink a bunch of beers to myself and go to sleep. I know that’s not very rock and roll, but right now it’s sort of like, the music is the only thing we can offer. We can’t be the stay up all night party band that perhaps we once were. That lifestyle lends itself to like, “Oh. Remember that one time in Savannah that tipped your boat over when we were in that man-made lake and you lost your glasses and then Dan had to strip to his underwear and dive in and randomly found them and we were all high in cocaine and it was really awesome? Ha, I love that!” But you know what? I can’t fucking do that anymore. I’m like on the ground after playing that music for an hour. It’s not like I’m going to stay up until fucking five o’clock in the morning anymore.
HX: I went up to a buddy’s birthday party slash concert, because he’s in a band and – you know, I’m an old guy too. I’m 43. I’ve got three kids. Afterwards, we all just went back to his house. There was like fifty people there hanging out and partying and stuff, and I’m just sitting on the couch like, ‘I can’t do this. I’m exhausted.’
JF: Absolutely. And it’s sort of like, like I was saying, we’ve been through that run, we’ve been through that Western Canada run so often. We’ve got good friends in those cities. There’ll be folks who are like, “Oh yeah, Bison’s down to party.” And it’s kind of like, “Yeah, man. For sure. We’ll see you later.” Then we peace out and go to our friend’s house. You know, we drink some beers and you know, talk. You know what I mean. We catch up. You know, it’s like, I’ve got two kids and I have an exhausting life, as you know, if you have children, it’s all-encompassing. You get this extra energy from who knows where, but when you’re on the road, and you’re not sleeping a comfy bed, my energy level is even less.
HX: I wasn’t even really going to ask this, because I really want to keep this about Bison, but I’m a super huge Baroness fan. I saw that you guys toured with them at one point. Can you tell me how that went?
JF: This was back when Baroness… This was their Red Album, so it was kind of like their breakout record. They were just coming up. We were kind of just starting. I think we were maybe two years in. I don’t know. I think we were on Metal Blade at the time. Exclaim! Magazine does this thing where they do a heavy music tour. They actually have a tasteful heavy music tour, because it was Baroness, us, and Ghengis Tron. I don’t know if you remember Ghengis Tron.
HX: A little bit.
JF: So, it was a pretty eclectic mix. I remember at the time thinking – I had heard one Baroness 7″ – at the time Baroness were this big, kind of, crust almost kind of band. They were a little bit more sort of rough around the edges. That was really our first big tour, and it was a lot of fun. Those Baroness guys were great. I think we showed them a pretty good…I mean we had been through Canada a bunch, so we showed them a pretty good time. We became, I mean that lineup of Baroness – I mean there’s still only two – Pete and John are the only two from that lineup that are in the band.
HX: Just down to John now.
JF: Pete’s not in the band anymore?
HX: No. It’s real recent. But yeah…
JF: Oh, shit. When did that happen.
HX: He decided to step back and do some other stuff.
JF: Oh, I had no idea. He was a great guy. Great guitar player too.
HX: Less than a month ago I think? But, I mean, I follow them obsessively. I’ve got one of John’s album covers that he did on my arm, tattooed on my arm, and stuff like that.
JF: Oh nice. Pretty cool. Yeah, it was one of those sort of things too…We met this band…They were really nice guys, you know. It was kind of one of those things where it was like, ‘Oh, this music biz is going to be ok, because these guys are on their way up and they’re just super nice guys.’ It was great, back then. Pete tells great stories about…He had pretty intense war stories that we heard from him, because Pete was in Iraq.
HX: Oh, wow! I don’t think I knew that. That’s crazy.
JF: Yeah, he has a fake eye. Anyway…
HX: Back to Bison. Let’s back up to the beginning. Can you give me just a real brief, 30 second history of the band?
JF: Early 2006 – My thrash/skate rock band Streets breaks up. Late 2006 – I start Bison with Dan And, our current guitar player. We hunt for drummers and bass players. We find them by the very beginning of 2007 basically. Start jamming. Record our first, what I call a record. I come from…I’m a punk, so anything that’s over fifteen minutes long is a record. We record Earthbound. Everyone calls it an EP. It’s annoying to me. So the Earthbound record – album – we record that in 2007. We meet this cat, great guy, who says, “You guys are great. I mean, you’re idiots, but I’m going to manage you.” Ok. 2008 – Sign with Metal Blade. 2009, ’10, ’11, ’12. I don’t remember. We put out some albums. We put out Quiet Earth in 2008. That was our Metal Blade debut. Toured endlessly. Then we put out Dark Ages in 2010. Toured endlessly. Then we put out Lovelessness. We’re kind of like, not into the Metal Blade scene anymore. We kind of want to do some different stuff. And thank fuck that Metal Blade didn’t like the record anyway, so unceremoniously dropped us halfway through the album cycle, which I’ll never forgive them for, but whatever. I mean, I don’t care, but… So that happened. So that was nice. Chill out. Write an EP in 2014, One Thousand Needles. Do some touring. Red Fang are some old friends of ours. The only time we go into the States are to play some shows with Red Fang, to hang out and whatever. You know, Portland, Seattle. They’re fun towns. You play those towns with Red Fang and it’s a wild time. In turn, we play some shows up here with them. Then we do some Canadian tours. Then I move up to…or I have George at the end of 2014. 2015, I move up to Squamish and start writing You Are Not the Ocean. Basically, Squamish life, raising George with my partner, obviously, and then having Charlie in 2016. Just having children, and a new outlook, and a kind of new purpose, and a better understanding of the world, which children give you. I don’t care what anyone says. It gives you a better understanding. Being a rock and roller, and touring, and doing this, is a very selfish thing. “Oh, but you’re giving this music to people.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. We get it. Cool it. It’s a selfish fucking thing. You’re Peter Panning. It’s good for awhile, but I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t live like that anymore. I needed some substance. This is why taking the time out, and then writing this new record was very important to me, because I had a lot of sort of…You know, he didn’t know it at the time, but George helped me write this record a lot. George, my first-born. Yeah. There you go. There’s the history right there.
HX: Awesome! Thank you. You’re kind of getting at some of one of my next questions here, and that is…Tell me about the songwriting and recording process for You Are Not the Ocean.
JF: Well the songwriting, like I touched on, is sort of this new kind of songwriting for me, which is: controlled environment, very purposeful, and very comfortable, and no pressure or anxiety around it. No pressure to impress. No anxiety that anyone’s going to like it. Just writing songs in my office and going to bed. Waking up. Having my family and interacting with my children and listening back to it with George. Being like, this is what dad wrote last night. Let’s listen to it. You know, this back back when George could just smile and make some grunting noises. It’s just like this very relaxed whatever. Is it good? Well, I’ve had a lot of time to think about whether it’s good, because I can’t just do this all the time. I have to look after my family. Then I listen to it, and it’s purposeful. And I listen to it, and what’s going on in this song and what’s going on in these parts and that’s how I wrote the whole record. I could really sit on an arrangement or a riff even. I would start with just one riff. I would sit on it. And this was back when I…I’m on parental leave right now, which in Canada, Dad’s get eight months.
HX: That’s awesome. I’m so jealous. Especially as a Canadian. I married an American woman and all of my children were born in the US and I got nothing like that.
JF: I know. It’s a fucking lifesaver, man. I wouldn’t have the relationship with my sons that I do right now, if I didn’t take this time off. But when I started writing this record, I was still working. I would listen to my work from the night before on the ride to work, which was an hour commute to Vancouver, because I live in Squamish. I could really just…in a way it was relaxing, but in the same sense, I was obsessing over it, because I could. You know what I mean? It was easy and it was relaxing to do it, but also, in the same breath, gives me the opportunity to just…I would write a riff, and I swear to God, I would listen to it for an hour, from Squamish to Vancouver, to really see if I fucking dug it. If you can listen to a riff for an hour and if you can play a riff – because then I would take these bits of arrangements to band practice – and if you can go on that riff for an hour without wanting to punch somebody in the face, unless that’s the goal of the riff of course, then that’s a keeper. I had this time to really do some finite quality control. The way I used to write albums was, I would grab a bottle of something, and I would go down to the jam spot in Vancouver. This was when I lived in Vancouver. I would drink and write riffs and record them on my phone. Quite often, I would pass out in the jam spot. I would wake up on the fucking floor and have garbage-y recordings on my phone of what I had done. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It worked quite a bit. It wasn’t healthy. It wasn’t the right way to do it. I enjoy this a lot better.
HX: So this was really a completely different songwriting process then, for this album.
JF: Completely, completely different!
HX: How do you think that affected the outcome? Are you happy with the outcome?
JF: I am very happy with the outcome. I’ve kind of been thinking about this before. I still gravitate towards my darker experiences. It’s not like, ‘Oh I have kids, and now everything’s great.” Because that’s stupid. I have kids, and they’re beautiful, and I would fucking kill for them, but shit still sucks and the world is still a dangerous horrible place and there’s lots of things that need to be worked out. So, I’ve still got to write about that stuff, because you write about things to understand them. If I’m happy, I ain’t going to fucking bother with it. I’m just happy. I don’t need to fucking write anything about it. I’m not going to question that. I’m just happy. I want to know whay I fucking see all this dark shit. I want to know where that comes from. That’s always there. I think it come through in the record, but also this idea of me…I can’t get too immersed in that, because I have this beautiful family that will pull me out of it. As corny as it sounds – I’m glad I’m talking to a dude that has kids – because, as corny as it sounds, you get into some heavy shit, man, I look at my smiling kids, you know, like, come on. It’s a fucking life line. It drags you out of some deep shit, and I’ve got some dark fucking problems, but…That’s what I like about this record. There’s a real push and pull to this. There’s some real tense, nasty moments, but there’s also, you’re getting pulled back to shore, you know what I mean. And that’s what I really like about this record. It’s truer to life to me.
HX: I’m going to jump down my question list here. I think you’re kind of headed towards…or this fits with what you are talking about, how the album title is kind of in two parts. Can you expand on that a little bit?
JF: I’ll talk about it the best that I can. I’m just figuring it out too, right. I put this out, and then other people can kind of dig on it too with what they think about it. It’s not a research paper or a scientific study. It’s like, a secret maniac trying to live a decent life. That’s what it is. It’s, ‘I’m a fuck-up trying to be a citizen.’ I surround myself in beauty and this wonderful family to insulate me, and to try to help me…like the life line, right. That’s what it is. The title idea is sort of my most extreme thought – a real sort of blanket statement on this society that I see. Like I say. If you’re happy, I don’t fucking care. Good. Don’t question it. I’m talking about the people that are on the other end of that. We have no control. That’s the idea. We don’t have any control. Even though I have this family, I still have no control. They need to be there to help me. I would be screwed without these people. I still have no control. They have the control. It’s this idea of, ‘You’re not any big fucking deal.’ Nature – and also I have a love for nature and nature will always prevail. Nature will always outshine us. Nature will always survive. It’s showing it right now. There’s this weird thing in the back of my mind, and I don’t know if you’ve felt it, because I’ve talked to a lot of parents about this, I think about it. I have brought these two dudes into the world and I have no idea what I have brought them into. That’s a big part of that. This sense that you are in no way in control. I’ve brought these kids into this life, but I have no control over any of this. I don’t know if that helps. This is a big idea for me. This is the best that I could do it in a 39 minute record.
HX: Well, it’s pretty impressive, I think.
JF: Thank you. I appreciate that.
HX: When I put it on for the first time – and it’s not that you guys have changed your sound a whole lot necessarily, and every band evolves, right. I kind of thought I knew what Bison was. You guys have been a band that I like. I wouldn’t say that I’ve been the hugest fan, but to me, this one just blew me away when I put it on. I thought, ‘Ok. I’ll listen to this’ – I’m always listening to new promos that come in – ‘I like Bison. I’ll give this a try.’ And, I was just blown away. It’s a really impressive album.
JF: Oh, fantastic. Thank you very much. I’m glad. I don’t know what to say. It’s a sobering experience to try to live a different way. It makes you think a different way and makes everything different.
HX: You’ve been talking about your love of nature. Is there a nature theme, an environmental theme, mixed in here do you think?
JF: No. No. If anything, it’s just an awe. It’s sort of like the pure brilliance and majesty of it all. Right now, in my backyard, I’m just surrounded by mountains. I have a river five minutes away. Mountains and trees and rivers.
HX: It’s pretty awesome out there.
JF: They’re always around. They protect, but sometimes they fall down. They affect the wind. They affect the rain. It’s us against the mountains? No. We’re going to lose.
HX: Right. Every time.
JF: Somebody told me, a local around here – I’ve only been up here for two years, and I’ve met some very excellent, interesting people who’ve been up here for quite awhile – a local told me there is nine active volcanoes right around Squamish. Which is wild to me, because I didn’t know that. I re-watched this fantastic documentary on Mount St. Helens. I remember as a kid, growing up in – I grew up in Winnipeg. I remember when Mount St. Helens erupted. There was ash falling on my parent’s car on 10 Wedgewood Drive in Winnipeg, Manitoba. That is wild! It impacted me. It impresses me.
HX: Yeah, the world, it’ll do that.
JF: I am a bit of a hippie. I will actually admit that. I am a bit of a hippie, but it’s more of a…like I can see the chaos in it as well. That’s what impresses me about it. It’s not like, ‘It’s beautiful, man!’ No, it’s like fucking violent! It’s gone through hell and it’s still here. We’ve tried to fucking burn it down over and over again, and plowed through, and put roads through it, and put cities where there shouldn’t be cities. That’s what impresses me. Sorry, I’m babbling.
HX: That’s ok. I’ve been to the other side of the Rockies, in Alberta. I’ve been to…I spent a week out on Vancouver Island. My brother lives in Victoria, so just a couple of years ago, I was out there. We went up to Tofino and did some sea kayaking and stuff like that. It’s just massive.
JF: It’s beautiful!
HX: You know, you’re in this little boat on the ocean. It was intense!
JF: It’s heavy, right? You’re the guest and you don’t even know if you’re wanted. It’s pretty wild.
HX: Let’s talk influences. You’ve talked about some of them, but not really any musical influences. Do you have anything that you feel has really been an influence for you?
JF: You know, I grew up with punk rock, so that’s always like my…You know that’s just, when I really think of the love and joy of music, I always think about the first time I listened to Milo Goes to College or any Descendents. I love The Descendents. They’re my favorite band. Black Flag. The first time I listened to Bad Brains. Like that’s when I really think about how I really got excited about music. The Clash. It still is with me. It was a big love affair that never ended, and it started with those bands. I’m obviously not playing that music, but that’s the real influence. Just sort of doing it. Just fucking doing it. I would say stylistically, I don’t really know, like what was the first really heavy band I listened to? The Melvins? I mean, I just want to be loud. So, it’s hard to say. Loud and heavy. There’s not really anything I can put my finger on. I love the guitar. Billy Gibbons is my favorite guitar player. I like a bluesy solo and I know I’ve gotten a lot of shit for it in the past, like, “Fucking metal band playing all these rock and roll solos.” Well, that’s pretty much all I can do, because I ain’t no sweeper or tapper or some sort of, you know, Job For A Cowboy guy. I like the blues. I love the blues. I like that feel, and I like feeling in a piece of music, whether it’s a lead… I like some real feeling in it and some emotion and some soul in it. We’re playing this chaotic, heavy music with as much soul as we can put into it.
HX: What gear do you guys use to create the Bison sounds?
JF: Oh, gear. Ok. I’m running a 5150 with a Mesa F-100 Longhead. So, I run those together. I’ve got a Marshall 412 and a Mesa 412. My main guitar is a First Act. One of their higher, like, pro models. Not the kind that you buy at Walmart. We had a great relationship with First Act when they were around making guitars for folks. They made us a couple of guitars. I still use it. I still love it. I’ve got an SG that I like to play. A black Telecaster. The reason why I finally got myself a black Telecaster is because of Joe Strummer. Dan plays Sylvano. He’s got a Sylvano Avenger. Shane, it’s the fucking mono-block, man. That is a monster bass amp. I don’t care who you are. Mono-block. It’s solid state. It can fall off a building. It’ll still work. And it sounds like that. That’s what he used on the record. We all used our own gear on the record. Matt plays a giant 28″, fucking kick Ludwig.
HX: I’ll tell you, that all went over my head, because I’m not a gear guy. I’m not a musician. I kind of wish I was a musician, but I just love music. But I know my readers like to hear about the gear, so I always ask that.
JF: Cool. That’s nice of you to get that info for them.
HX: Speaking of Shane, he’s new to the band, right?
HX: How did that all go down?
JF: It’s been a little over two years. He came in just before I started writing this record. Shane’s an old friend of the band. Shane’s band before this was called 3 Inches of Blood. Fantastic kind of like trad metal. Great guy. Bison had a great relationship with them. We did tours together and I’ve just known Shane forever. So when 3 Inches called it quits, I was playing in just kind of a fun punk band. Me and Shane are buddies, so I was like, “Dude, you should come out. We need a bass player. Come out. Play bass. We’ll drink beer and write fun punk songs. It’ll be fun.” So he did. It was great. We had always wanted to play together, even in that capacity. Just kind of getting wasted and playing fun punk songs. And then Masa left – and Shane is a phenomenal musician, right. He’s a great guitar player, but he’s also a musician in the truest sense. He understands music. Like, he really understands music. He’s always been a fan of Bison and he’s always really understood the sound. Masa left and without hesitation, the first person I thought of was Shane. He was also coming off of a band that was touring endlessly. Eventually you’re kind of banging your head against the wall a little bit. You want to just step back and take control and do it a little smarter. Which is what we did. You have kids. You can’t tour for three months straight any longer, nor did we want to, so you kind of re-evaluate things. Shane was on the same page as us. So I said, “Hey man. Join. We’re working on a new record. We’re going to do some tours through Canada, some good, fun, easy touring. Let’s do it.” So, he did and here we are. He did a fucking fantastic job on the record. And he’s a great musician too, so when it came…You know the songwriting is me, but bringing it…and the arrangements, which is fucking key. He understands the music. He’s a great guitar player too, so he just had so much to add to the whole songwriting process. It was just phenomenal to have another fantastic person. Not that Masa wasn’t, but it’s just a different vibe. He’s also more of meat and potatoes kind of bass player. Masa had these wonderful embellishments and these wonderful bass lines that were mind-boggling. They’re great. So well written and so deliberate. I think, for this new stuff, a lot of it, and a lot of the mixing was around the bass. The bass is higher in the mix. He’s an angrier, more attacking of a bass player, so it thickened up the sound. Simple as that. He has thickened up the sound.
HX: Sounds like a really great addition.
HX: Just a couple more questions. One of the things I like hearing about personally is I like hearing about the scene. Is it a pretty cohesive scene there in Vancouver? Do you guys get a lot of support?
JF: We get a lot of support. We’ve gotten a lot of support. Vancouver’s always a bit of a trendy place. Much like anywhere, but maybe more so in Vancouver, there’s waves of cool music that comes through that everyone starts doing. Whatever it is we have done, we’ve had a very consistent, strong support from Vancouver. When we started, the fans in Vancouver helped us springboard into the world. They gave us the stoke and the confidence to go out and do that. That’s what you need. Going out and touring in the world is fucking hard. It’s intimidating, and it’s hard, and it’s like, ‘How do you travel 3000 miles to play in front of literally two people?’ I think a good home town and a good home community – and that’s also other artists, visual and stuff. I think Vancouver has yet to really find it’s real, genuine, sincere self. I think it’s getting there. I’ll always say this. It’s the lack of music venues. You know, music venues are always starting up and shutting down, and starting up and shutting down. It’s a combination of people who are running them a bit half assed, and people aren’t supporting them. They each think it’s not their responsibility. ‘I’ll open up a music venue and I’ll get the band and if people like the band, then they’ll come.’ Well, as we all know, that’s not necessarily the way it goes. In the community, you have to fluff everyone up. You have to make everyone excited about this. That’s the number one problem with over here, right now. There’s venues coming up and I think there’s some good promoters that are doing really good work at bringing in international acts. Vancouver will always be a destination city. Touring bands will always go through there. People want to see those touring bands. It’s upsetting to me that when these touring bands come through, very rarely will they have local support. It’s always one of these fucking five-band, bullshit, Monster energy drink tours that comes through. They’ve got all the bands that they need. If I were in charge, that tour wouldn’t be able to come here. They’d have to have a local band on it. You have to. That’s what local bands live for. They need to play those shows. That’s how I got stoked coming up. You open for a band that you dug. You talk to the fucking guitar player that’s been touring longer than you, and you get an idea of these people. That’s how you nurture your scene. You mix it up with experience and newer musicians. They need to interact. It needs to happen. That’s why I love playing local shows, because I get to have bands play with us that I really love and I get to tell them how much I love them. That might not mean anything coming from me, but someone needs to get people stoked.
HX: That’s really cool. I guess, in Grand Rapids – I’m in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s a small city.
JF: I played in Grand Rapids.
HX: We don’t get a lot of bigger tours. They hit Chicago, they hit Detroit, they go to Toronto.
JF: We played at this crazy, weird place with Weedeater there. We were on tour with Weedeater.
HX: That would have been a cool show.
JF: Yeah, it was a great show. It was Weedeater and Saviours and us.
HX: That’s cool. Usually…almost always…we get locals on the bill, which I think is great. Personally, I’m still the kind of guy – I’m like you, I came up in punk and hardcore – I really love going to $5 basement shows. They pass the donation cup for the touring band.
JF: Yeah, love it. Grew up with that.
HX: But yeah, usually we get at least one local, even on the big shows.
JF: A lot of the time, that local may be not as proficient on their instruments, and they might not have written good songs, but how, as a band, do you progress and figure this stuff out? You need to play live. Or it doesn’t happen. You don’t happen.
HX: Thanks. I appreciate your time. What a great interview.
JF: Thank you.