By Gareth Watkins
CALGARY — Shawn Petsche of Napalmpom on Public Animal: “Oh, it’s the kind of rock and roll I love. There are huge riffs and it’s heavy and (Public Animal guitarist and vocalist) Ian Blurton’s guitar tone is just thick and musical, so it’s not just muddy and distorted. There are trade-off vocals, male and female that make every other rock band a little jealous.”
Ian Blurton of Public Animal on Napalmpom: it’s “HOT SHIT ROCK AND ROLL!”
Blurton has been playing alternative, independent music since the members of Napalmpom were infants. The flagship alternative/genre-melding act Change of Heart kickstarted his musical career in the ‘80s. The bands he has since played in and produced (far more than can be listed here) have influenced contemporary Canadian music in a thousand ways. He currently fronts and plays guitar for Toronto quartet Public Animal, a kind of meta-rock ‘n’ roll, omni-genre act that swirls together stoner-glam guitars, gospel church organs and Sabbathian levels of heaviness.
Napalmpom probably need no introduction to Calgarians given the release of The Unconditional Love of Napalmpom in October 2014 and their utterly relentless show schedule. The joke round these parts is that if you miss a Napalmpom show just wait a day until the next one. Their sound is pure, glorious, party-starting rock and roll; self-confessed rock nerds synthesizing everything they know, shaking it up and pulling the tab. They are currently working on two new albums, to be released back to back (“basically a double album if you’re not self-involved enough to make a double album” says Petsche, who is also the festival manager for Sled Island.)
On New Year’s Eve of 2013, the Calgary five-piece persuaded Broken City to host Public Animal as a way to ring in the New Year. The two bands got talking and the idea for a split EP was born. The results of their collaboration are about to be released digitally, on CD and limited edition 12-inch LP.
To see what’s up with the recording, BeatRoute had them take turns asking each other questions. We believed that we were facilitating a meeting of minds between an underground legend and one of this city’s most exciting new bands, provided that both parties could take this rare opportunity for dialogue seriously.
They did not take it seriously.
Ian Blurton: Do the members of your ‘band’ enjoy Pizza and why?
Shawn Petsche: We definitely like Pizza. Our singer PJ (Lavergne) is a pizza… I wouldn’t say connoisseur, but definitely consumer.
SP: What’s your favourite oversized road monument in Canada?
IB: I’m partial to the big nickel in Sudbury personally. As a band it might be the teepee in Medicine Hat.
IB: MC5 or The Stooges?
SP: I can’t speak for every member of the band, but I’m totally an MC5 guy. If you see live footage of them in their heyday they’re everything I want our band to be, minus the overly political posturing that I think even they weren’t convinced of. MC5 all the way.
SP: Are Public Animal songs directed by a sort of overarching mission statement of what the band is or isn’t, or do the songs come naturally?
IB: I kind of feel like the lyrics come from a mission statement because they’re what we’re feeling and we’re all about letting our feelings out, onstage and on record.
IB: If either blowing fire or spitting blood had to be included in your ‘stage show’ which would it be and what band member would do it?
SP: I wouldn’t trust any member to spit fire. We’re maybe the clumsiest rock band in the world, so that would end in disaster instantly. I kind of think that on the fire front, when James Hetfield got torched there was really nowhere to go but down. With blood spitting, we’d have to do some focus groups to see if the time is right for blood spitting. I’m going to say that we should all spit blood.
SP: Why does Napalmpom rock so hard?
IB: (sigh) I don’t know. Must be something in the water in Calgary.
Attend the Calgary release show for the Napalmpom/Public Animal split on August 21st at the Palomino Smokehouse during the “Two-floor Denim Tuxedo Party.” Both bands will be in attendance. The two groups are touring together; they play Vancouver on August 20th at The Emerald, Edmonton on August 22nd at the Brixx, Lethbridge on August 23rd at the Slice and Winnipeg on August 26th at the Windsor Hotel.AB, Alberta, BC, British Columbia, Brixx, Manitoba, MB, Napalmpom, Napalmpom and Public Animal split, Palomino, Public Animal, The Emerald, The Slice, Windsor Hotel