Undoubtedly Calgary’s best-looking band, The Bloody Hells invited me over to play in their weekly, after-jam poker game and reminisce about the good ole days. These boys have been around for quite a while and seen a ton of Calgary music history unravel before their eyes. Over a couple hands of poker, The Bloody Hells divulged some insights into their local music views, upcoming shows and their newest album.
Each night after jam, these boys get together for some cards, any which way they can be dealt. With a hefty buy-in of $5, each of the four reveal their funds in bundles of small change wrapped in colourful electrical tape.
“Yeah, man, it’s poverty poker,” vocalist/guitarist Chris Holley reveals proudly. “We bring like rolls of dimes and stuff. Or, taped up roles of quarters for $5. We play after every jam pretty much. We play a lot. Good luck bringing that to the bank.”
The poker table lies in the middle of the barren family room — it is clear that most of their time is spent downstairs playing loud, abrasive music. Their jam space, which is also Holley and vocalist/guitarist Justin Courtney’s home, is in the heart of an otherwise sleepy northern suburb. Holley reveals the secret to keeping there neighbours happy: “When I go to work, I say, ‘Good morning,’ to my neighbour a lot, give him the friendly good morning and shovel his walk a couple times… so, no complaints.”
“Yeah. We’ve done quite a bit to sound proof it down there,” drummer Mikey Blotto offers.
“Like we put blankets up, we did a lot,” Holley modestly conveys over the laughter of the whole table.
After I lose the first hand, Blotto gets up to grab me a copy of their new album, Why Hasn’t Anyone Killed You? The cover contains some pretty outstanding illustrations of some of Canada’s most appalling citizens, Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo. “We don’t sing anything good about it,” Courtney offers, as if to dispel any notions of idolatry.
“Holmolka was a total wingman,” Holley begins as he explains the connection. “They found Kristen French’s body near my place in Ontario. We were all suspects. At one time, everyone was suspect. If you had a cream coloured car, you had to get a sticker on it. It changed everything… my girlfriend would walk to my house and I’d walk to her house… and now it was like you had to go and pick her up. My sister’s at the end of the street and I have to go there to get her before I can go out… and it’s just down the street.”
Their newest album was released in October of last year and contains a handful of tracks that embody the essence of their punk rock roots. The tracks have a sound comparable to that of The Vandals, if they were channeled through hardcore sensibilities. The album is laced with cynical humour and some blatant immaturity, but isn’t that what this genre is all about? Not giving a hot damn when voicing your “concerns,” which is what these guys do best, next to playing one wicked live set that won’t disappoint.
The Bloody Hells are getting ready to play a show on February 2nd at Dickens Pub. The show is a photography exhibition by Sixth Degree Collective and not only contains a slew of photographers but a slew of music as well. The Bloody Hells with be playing alongside friends The Rigormorticians, The Press Gand, Spencer Jo & the River Jacks, Keith Morrison and Mitch Hamilton.
As I pack up my shit and turn to leave, the last game comes to an end as the “no re-buy-in” rule stands strong. “Every time you let them buy back in they turn around and win,” says Holley over an old Pissoffs album. “We’re getting pretty good, you know?”
Catch the Bloody Hells at Dickens Pub on February 2.
By Lori MeyersAB, Alberta