After a six-year killing spree, leaving three albums and countless eardrums in their wake, Bison B.C. have turned the shotgun on themselves.
The crushing Vancouver quartet’s desperate new release, Lovelessness (see our review), marks a departure from fantastical antisocial metaphor, instead exploring the internal agony of love, loss, and the “pathetic scramble to feel good in the world.”
“I’m just surrounded by heartbreak. It’s all over the place,” laments guitarist/vocalist James Farwell, who, for the first time, wrote every song on the album himself.
“It got so heavy with like, ‘Why the fuck am I in a band,’ I need to be able to yell about this shit.”
“This shit” being the death of friends, relationships and his dog, Milo, in the past year, not to mention a 40th birthday around the corner.
“I’ve never been so depressed in my fucking life. It’s incredible. Mind-crushing.”
Despite the more self-loathing subject matter, Lovelessness still pummels with the weight of a warhammer and the more melancholic atmosphere only adds to its emotional forcefulness.
“Love is fucking violence, dude.”
To those who see such topics as taboo in heavy music: “We’re not, all the sudden, like a fucking emo band,” Farwell defends. “It still sounds dirty and disgusting and loud.”
The raw, gritty depressiveness of the record was enabled in part by the band’s decision to record at Soma and Electrical Audio Studios in Chicago with Sanford Parker, rather than “just up the street” in Vancouver.
“We were sleeping on floors and it was kind of like being on tour,” Farwell explains. “It [added] a sort of discomfort to the whole thing, which was needed, I think.”
Another major factor in the refined, “stripped down” sound is the addition of Haggatha drummer, Matt Wood, whose thundering drum punctuations are worth more than just their weight in decibels.
“The space that Matt creates on this record is incredible,” describes Farwell. “He knows when to play drums, he knows when not to play drums… sometimes the absence of something is louder than putting a bunch of drum fills in.”
Farwell’s accolades for Wood continue: “I don’t care what band you are. You could have fucking Yngwie Malmsteen, five of them, playing guitar. If your drummer sucks, your band sucks. The end. So, yeah, that’s how I feel about Matt: he totally does not suck.”
Although something of a household name — and more than just in Western Canada — Bison couldn’t care less about expanding their audience any further.
“I’m not interested in it, man. I don’t equate my income, and my tax bracket, and my job security with my passion, and my art, and my love.”
As far as goals for the album go, Farwell insists he’d be happy just to avoid the all-too-common Mastodon comparison.
“If I get one more Mastodon comparison I’m just going to take myself out into the woods and shoot myself, that’s about it,” he says, half-sarcastically.
Be warned though, Bison still don’t care what you think. As Farwell puts it, “This shit isn’t for you people, it’s for me.”
Buy Lovelessness from Metal Blade Records, out today.
By Ian Lemke