By Matt Telgen
CALGARY — Some bands take you on long, meaningful movements, others put on costumes and bring everything, including the kitchen sink, onstage. Then you get a project like Vancouver’s Tiger Prawn, who simply show up, play whatever comes to mind, and have a kickass time.
Tiger Prawn originally got started when local organizer and friend to the band Super Robertson was hurting for acts for his reoccurring show on Wednesday nights at the Railway Club, Vancouver’s longest running nightclub, which has remained in the same location since 1931. He called upon the members from Tiger Prawn to fill a few slots, and the rest was history. With an almost exclusive improvisational and jam-oriented core, this two-piece modern funky rock band draws their influences from numerous different pools and schools. Classic metal, prog, jazz, rock new and old, and cited influences like Corrosion of Conformity and even the Scottish light rock styling of the Cocteau Twins have helped to shape the band’s output. Drummer and founder Shockk notes, “Two shots and a beer and straight to the stage! All of our material is improvised, no songs really.”
Tiger Prawn is no stranger to the music scene. Indeed, this project seems like a logical continuation of their others. Both members are guitarists by trade in other local bands. Shockk was a longtime member of rock and roll heavyweights Mongoose, and also played in jazz pop band Roadbed. Over the last few years he has been playing for the Spitfires and the Slip-Ons. Bassist Johnny Wildkat currently plays in The Furniture and D Trevlon Band.
Shockk quips, “Yeah the funny thing is that we never play bass and drums in any other bands professionally. The only time we pick up these sticks is during a TP show. Both of us are self-taught.”
For musicians who are playing secondary instruments from their main enterprise, both Shockk and Wildkat have a large amount of syncopation and technicality in their improvised jams, thanks to classical training. Their pedigree and proficiency keep fan interest peaked.
Tiger Prawn does not have a web page, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel… nothing.
“It’s all about the live show!” says Shockk. “Every band has a page of some kind and most people really don’t care. I say support live music! Maybe one day we’ll put together a page… or not.”
Because of this lack of Internet presence, the band has always played to and involved the crowd in their performances. Shockk explains, “Sometimes we get a random audience member onstage for a cover or a dance off as we really like to treat them as our third member, but most of the time they decline!”
The band’s main focus has always been about the fun factor, and keeping things lighthearted. Quite often, when onstage, the band will make fun of their native Vancouver and “make asses of ourselves.”
Extending this thought, Shockk maintains, “When [Tiger Prawn] plays, we always say we are from Buffalo N.Y. I don’t know why we do it, it confuses people, but it’s funny! Too many bands are so serious, we don’t give a shit. That makes for fun! As long as there is a bass cab and a kit and good beer we show up. We’re ‘that band.’”
At present time, Tiger Prawn does not have plans for recording an album, penning written material, or booking large tours. This is music that challenges conventional music-making practices, throwing expectations in your face and laughing all the while at its own ludicrousness. It’s not fully without the traditional goals associated with being in a “band,” as Shockk does maintain, “we do need to get back to Buffalo N.Y.!”
Luigi Russolo would be proud… Or at the very least be in on the joke.
See Tiger Prawn at Burger Fest in Vancouver, British Columbia on August 16.AB, Alberta, Burgerfest, Burgerfest 2014, festival season, Tiger Prawn