A preacher’s son. Denver, Colorado. Colours and chaos; hail, tornadoes and thunderstorms. Fire. Brimstone. Timeless western. “All of those things are a heavy influence on me. For good and for bad… Everything that you see touches you in some way. Whether you like it or you don’t, it still affects your life in one way or another.” There was a calmness in the air as Slim Cessna genially spoke those words. Twenty years into his music career, the sociable stranger had a lot to discuss. He’s seen areas of the world he may never have seen otherwise; he’s met and performed with some of his all-time heroes; he’s bashfully given thanks to his sound being described as Roy Orbison meets Johnny Cash meets Johnny Horton meets Elvis with hints of Patsy Cline. “The foundation of our music is rooted in (American) folk music. Part of our tradition is gospel music. There would be no rock ‘n’ roll without gospel music. Music, as we know it now, wouldn’t exist.”
Since their nascency in 1992, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club has been bending categories with each studio album, causing even the most outspoken, acerbic critics to glean for words. “Genres are difficult,” he explains. “I don’t understand why they’re still here in this day and age… One thing we do pride ourselves on is that we create something — and we give that something — the freedom to be what it wants to be, and what it needs to be, without thinking about or depending on those guidelines and on those words to give it power.”
The history and nature of their setbacks, pointedly, “The long road and not the fast track; no sudden success, always hard work; not being like anyone else,” are typical among bands of all styles and ages, but of those, few are as content to foresee the privilege in how a simple way of life pioneers a purpose and how cultivating it contributes to the expanse of their fulfillment. “(Our longevity) is a great achievement. We never set huge goals for ourselves… and we’re stubborn enough to continue this project.”
Beyond those shackles and blessings lay the precept of Slim Cessna’s Auto Club’s uttermost excellency, which many claim to be their live act. Even from a very early age, Slim wanted to perform for the masses. “It’s all I’ve ever done. I think it’s one of the things we’re good at. When it becomes a show that someone describes as the best they’ve ever seen, I think what we did was accomplish allowing the audience and the band to lose themselves — to where inhibitions no longer exist and where worries of the world are outside of the building we’re in. It can be like a religious experience, in the same thing that gives relevance to a religious service. Where you get goosebumps and the hair stands up on your arms… I think that can happen at a good rock show as well. I think it’s something that happens at our shows sometimes. It’s not like we’re trying for that to happen, but I think everyone gets caught up in the event of it, and the spectacle, and the joy we have in doing this. Hopefully that transfers to the audience, and that makes a really good rock show.”
Withal, an awakening. Old fashioned proclamations; a fellowship flourishing; jubile, rejoicing rebellious testimonies exalting drunken, molten chronicles. Gathered hither; seeking mercy, sanctity, prosperity. Restoration in the floods of hearkening contention and depths of question, this brethren of workmen; heed instruments, effectual; breathe beginnings, everlasting; give generations innovation and havoc hereafter.
Catch Slim Cessna’s Auto Club on July 26 at the Ship and Anchor (Calgary) and at New City (Edmonton) on July 27.
By Lisa MarklingerAB, Alberta