By Brittany Rudyck
EDMONTON – Apparently farts are still funny. That may be the main take-away from an interview with northern Alberta based punks Grizzly Trail. It’s been at least two and half years since we last spoke with the four piece that have experienced literal trial by fire in the years following the release of their debut EP Dead Standing Sessions.
Their hometown of Fort McMurray went up in flames in May 2016, scorching nearly 6000 square kilometers of land and displacing over 80,000 in the costliest disaster in Canadian history. Drummer Stephen Payne’s apartment then caught on fire in Edmonton. Eventually, they had to find a new guitar player and it took a few tries to put their new album Chesterfield together. Despite the obvious tribulations, going on tour last year was the straw that nearly broke the proverbial camel’s back.
“We were almost done as a band,” says guitarist Dave Millar, with a hint of exasperation in his voice.
“The stress of tour, guitar player problems, this label we were supposedly part of… Everything came to a head. We called an emergency meeting and talked stuff out that hadn’t been talked about. Payne quit the band a few times that day, but we all calmed down and he stayed.”
The emergency band meeting seems to have worked. Tour went forward as planned and they even managed to weird out their touring bands by cracking jokes about farts. While line-up changes are not entirely exciting to discuss within any band ever, Grizzly Trail ditched what may have been a potentially toxic member for someone who most of them have loved for years, guitarist Andy Alfred. Alfred formerly played in A New Rhetoric as well as hardcore bands with bassist Robbie Egan.
“He was actually going to sell merch for us on that tour,” Millar says, laughing.
“My favourite part of Andy being in the band is that he told us he would be in our band a long time ago. Years ago when we first started he came up and told us, ‘I’m gunna be in your band.’ We just laughed at him. But look at him now. He’s even wearing a Grizzly Trail t-shirt.”
Laughter goes hand-in-hand with Grizzly Trail, which is why it was a tad surprising to hear a subdued maturity on the new tracks. They didn’t go full Blink-182 on their self-titled album serious, but the sentiment is there. Songs like “Marble Mouth,” a tribute to fallen friend Joey-D, is justifiably somber and gloomy, but for the remainder of the tracks, Grizzly Trail does not lose their fast paced pop-punk sound. It’s likely due to the situation surrounding the recording: the pre-production was conducted in Alfred’s sweaty apartment last summer mainly without shirts because (and we’ll paraphrase) it’s hot in August and drinking inspires people to get naked.
“We did all the real production sober,” says Egan with a laugh.
“The new album has more of a hardcore feel I would say,” says Millar.
“It’s really all over the map.”
As Millar finished his thought he noticed a renegade eyelash on Alfred’s face and gently brushed it away.
The world needs more punk bands that care about each other.
Join Grizzly Trail for their album release party at the Starlite Room on March 24 [Edmonton]. They will perform alongside Belvedere, Downway and the Nielsens.Belvedere, Downway, Grizzly Trail, Starlite Room, the Nielsens