By Heath Fenton
VANCOUVER — Canada’s reputation on the international heavy metal stage has never been much to crow about. We do have some bright spots though: Strapping Young Lad, Voivod, Annihilator, and Anvil come to mind right away. The list, however, would not be complete without Vancouver’s own 3 Inches of Blood. For the last sixteen years they have carved out a well-deserved place in the upper ranks through relentless touring and a tremendous ability to conquer adversity. Throughout their impressive career, the band has built a loyal fan base worldwide. The core of the band for the last 7 years has been vocalist Cam Pipes, guitarist/vocalist Justin Hagberg, guitarist Shane Clark, and drummer Ash Pearson.
“We’re country men,” Clark states, “We worked really hard at blanketing Canada. Always touring Canada, especially in BC. And when we did those packaged tours in the States and Europe we’d usually be the only Canadians around representing. Cam would be waving the BC flag Bruce Dickinson style.”
So it comes as great dismay to many that they have decided to call it a day. They will play their final two shows in their hometown on November 7th and 8th at the Commodore Ballroom. The first night sold out in two days and the second night is almost sold out too. “Selling out the Commodore is one of the best moments of my life,” Clark smiles, “The Commodore, ever since I was a kid, was always the raddest place to see a show. And selling it out in your home town [is] hard work paying off.”
It didn’t start off so rosy for this band of metal purists; Clark was not exaggerating when he mentioned hard work paying off. The band came together at a time when their brand of traditional metal was getting backlash and many people wrote them off as a parody band. There were years of member changes and record label squabbles and it wasn’t until the mid two-thousands, when the band really got going and membership solidified, that they started to really make a go of it. Like any true warrior, they soldiered on with the attitude that nothing could kill the band.
Nothing has, but now they are set to bow out on their own terms. “It’s a combination of things. Creatively, the grind, and being disenchanted with the business…Being on the road for eleven years. We all feel that it’s just ran its course,” Clark explains about the choice to disband. “Technically we could do another album and tour, but the reality about that is we’d be doing all the fans a disservice because it would be dishonest and contrived.”
As mentioned, there have been many members that have come and gone. So it begs the question, will there be any surprises for these last two shows? “There are definitely going to be some surprises that will make the fans very happy,” said Clark while refraining from elaborating. One thing he would divulge is that old friend and ex bass player Nick Cates will be back on bass for these two shows, reuniting the lineup from the Advance and Vanquish era of the band. “This lineup was the best. It really ushered in phase two of the band,” Clark reminisces, “And jamming with Nick while getting ready for these last shows is just a reminder on how great it was. The band is going to be on fire.”
The 3IOB fan is a special creature. People in Vancouver may not realize the sort of rabid following they have outside of the city. There are fans flying in from all over the world to see the final shows. That is what you get for touching every corner of the earth with your music like these burly Canucks have. They play a brand of traditional back-to-the-roots heavy metal and they do it right and by the book. They have five albums of intricate galloping guitars, ransacking drum beats, and ball grabbing vocals. It is metal played to its purest form with an undaunted passion. There have been many highlights and they have lived their dreams. “Iron Maiden was the biggest highlight for me,” Pipes says while reminiscing past shows, “They’ve been my favorite band since I was young. Not just playing the same festival as them, but actually opening for them at a big show. 2006 in Irvine, California at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. We were the only opening act. My parents and my sister flew down to see it too, it was a special night.”
Be proud Canada and be proud Vancouver. Many of you already have a ticket but if you have not been properly introduced to 3 Inches Of Blood and you are a fan of heavy metal music then I suggest you jump on it and come witness this part of Canadian heavy metal history.
3 Inches Of Blood perform at the Commodore Ballroom November 7 with Bison and Black Wizard and November 8 with Hookers and Erosion.3 Inches of Blood, BC, British Columbia, Commodore Ballroom