By James Olson
VANCOUVER — For many bands, finding the right name is almost as challenging as finding the right members to play with. Bassist Darin Wall recalls choosing from a list of 40-50 different names of varying quality before stumbling upon Doc Pot, Marty McHigh and the 88 Mile Trip. “I laughed and then I looked at it and then I covered up the first part. Everyone thought 88 Mile Trip sounded pretty cool. We all love the movie and it kind of stuck,” Wall explains. Combined with a suitably trippy logo, 88 Mile Trip have blazed trails as one of the city’s premiere hard rock acts.
Over the course of two EPs and their debut album Through the Thickest Haze, 88 Mile Trip stand proud amongst a growing legion of stoner bands that have been making their mark on the Vancouver metal scene. The band is certainly in good company in their predisposition for the works of Orange Goblin, Kyuss, and, naturally, Black Sabbath. However, Wall posits that the purity of their craft sets his band apart. “I think that one thing that makes us stand out is that we are pure 100 per cent stoner rock,” says Wall. “We’re not a doom band. We don’t indulge in Sabbath worship. We are a desert rock/stoner rock band through and through.”
Canadian stoner rock is itself a very different beast from its American counterpart. The genre often references highways, canyons, and wastelands while Wall surmises that the Canuck brand is darker, heavier, and “more whiskey-driven.” “Bands up here tend to sing more about occult stuff. Maybe it’s the winter but we tend to sing about witches, drinking, and drinking witches,” Wall elaborates. “The weed is stronger here so you get a little more baked and a little more introspective.”
The latest recording project 88 Mile Trip has engaged in has been a five-track EP entitled Blame Canada. Every track on the release is a cover song from five different Canadian artists including BTO, Neil Young, and Doug and The Slugs. An idea born on the road after coming across a BTO deep cut on the radio, 88 Mile Trip has made it their mission with this EP to shine a light on lesser known songs and in some cases lesser known Canadian artists as a tribute to the history of rock and roll in the Great White North. Their take on “Tomcat Prowl” even features Simon Kendall, original keyboardist for Doug and The Slugs. “It was watching a true pro at work. He did it in like a take and a half. He just sat down and crushed it,” Wall recalls. “It was cool not only having him add his musicianship to it but it was awesome having one of the guys from one of these bands give his blessing.”
While Blame Canada will be available as a free download, Wall promises that new material is in the works. In the meantime, 88 Mile Trip will keep doing what they do best, “Playing the music that we want to play, having fun, and not giving a shit.”
Follow 88 Mile Trip for future news on the Blame Canada EP’s release.88 Mile Trip, BC, Blame Canada, British Columbia