“We don’t need Pete Roe!” The chorus rises from his three band mates, all of whom had just downed a pre-interview shot of Jameson. It’s not that they don’t need him, per se, but frontman Kamil Krulis, bassist Chris Faulkner and drummer Mike “The Nuder” Bressanutti are eager to take a trip down memory lane. You see, even though their guitarist is tied up practicing with his latest band, Ices, the four have once again decided to come together as El Caminos, Calgary’s answer to the Dwarves (when the Dwarves were good, Krulis reminds me, dead serious).
It’s a beautiful fall evening on the patio at 510 and other people’s conversations collide all around our small table, hidden underneath so many pints. Even within the chaos of the bar’s din, the three present El Caminos manage to create a vortex all on their own as they cut into each other’s stories, finishing sentences only to careen in a wildly different direction — an anecdote here, an inside joke there, a remembered moment that tied into something he said ten minutes ago a moment later.
“I thought we weren’t going to talk about this in a time context. It’s a lost episode.” Krulis cuts my question short as I try to piece together the self-styled seminal punk band’s history. They may have started in 1987. Maybe it was 1988. Bressanutti is trying to figure out how old I was when they first came together.
“We started in ’87, without Kamil,” he says, a goading grin on his face as he looks over to his blonde-haired frontman.
“That’s not really important. Do we really want to go that far back?” responds Krulis with disdain. “It was the early ’90s. We were very much anti-grunge with the scene going on.”
Regardless of when the band initially formed — or, even, when they played their last show (or even where they played it, or even who was in the band at the time. There’s confusion on both these points) — El Caminos are back and, despite their best efforts, terribly excited to share a stage once again.
The idea was first planted when Faulkner returned to Calgary at the beginning of summer. Roe and Bressanutti were initially hesitant and stalled for time. As their reunion show — sorry, this is not a reunion, as I’m reminded, it’s just a lost episode — nears, they’ve jammed twice by the time we drain another round of pints.
“I didn’t think it was going to work,” Bressanutti later confesses, “but it was really a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun. All the songs sounded amazing, we remembered them. And we even wrote a new one!”
During El Caminos’ lost episode, all the members went on to form a wide range of bands, many of which have left an indelible mark on the Calgary scene, including the Ostrich, the Sublinguals, the Sharp Ends —
“Oh, wow, now we’re just brushing each other’s egos,” says Bressanutti.
“Just, people tell me all the time, ‘Man, the El Caminos should play.’ Someone told me they were good, so I pretend I know who they are. The timing was right,” jokes Krulis.
“We got back in that cycle: we get in a kerfuffle, we stop playing, a year passes and we forget what that was, we get back together, have six months of honeymoon bliss and fight again,” furthers Faulkner.
“I can’t see that happening,” interjects Krulis.
Bressanutti adds in his two cents. “We’re much more mature now.”
“And I’ve been to a lot of therapy. I know now how not to yell the wrong thing to the wrong girl at the wrong time.”
Clearly, they’ve learned some lessons in their time apart. But why reunite? Why go to that effort for a band that vehemently denies having any sort of master plan, or even direction?
“There is an underlying reason, also, and that is because there are a lot of pussy-ass bands that don’t know anything in Calgary and we are going to school them to no end!” exclaims Krulis. “I like to see music that is not post-indie, or trying to figure out why we were indie, or whatever. Indie doesn’t exist, except for the girls.”
Catch El Caminos’ abrasive return to grace at the Bamboo Lounge on October 15.
Word and photo by Sebastian Buzzalino