By Matty Hume
CALGARY – Everyone needs to eat and everyone needs to sleep. But for Chris Naish, the mind behind the Calgarian garage rock trio Scratch Buffalo, songwriting is just as integral to maintaining a healthy routine.
”I’m always writing. It’s just a thing I need to do,” Naish says. “I need to write songs or else my body is uncomfortable.”
Aided by the physicality of drummer Mark Straub’s impressively technical abilities and Scott Wildeman’s melodic bass grooves, Naish channels that creative impulse into Scratch Buffalo. The group’s upcoming self-titled debut release offers 11 cuts of prairie surfin’ garage punk that hops around between thrashy riffs, power pop vibes and rock ‘n’ roll psychedelia.
In Naish’s estimation, what sets Scratch Buffalo apart is the band’s willingness and ability to convey sincere emotion.
“It’s supposed to be exciting garage rock that feels like it could explode at any minute, but doesn’t. Ideally, it sounds like a fun, messy and exciting blast of music,” he says.
“With the lyrics, I really tried to do something that often isn’t done in the genre, which is be very personal and honest.”
An indication of Naish’s penchant for songwriting, the tracks that did end up making the final cut for the group’s forthcoming self-titled album were selected from a pool of well over 40 Scratch Buffalo jams.
“I always like in movies, like That Thing You Do, when the producer comes by and is like, ‘Oh, these are your hits, kid!’ I need someone to tell me what connects,” Naish says of the editing process.
Luckily, Scratch Buffalo found that producer in Hutch Harris of The Thermals fame, who also pushed them to make the album itself. Naish, an artist, also opted to design the introductory album’s zany cover. A fun cartoonish landscape featuring a bunch of anthropomorphic sweet treats enjoying a day at the beach, Naish’s eye candy paradise reveals more upon closer inspection. Alas, the treats are melting in psychedelic horror. In truth, the cover’s description couldn’t fit the album better. It’s a joyful surfboard ride on the surface, but with a strong life-lesson hiding in the undertow.
“Mark told me to draw what I think the music is. You look at it and think, ‘Oh that’s fun!’ But then you look closer and it’s actually kinda messed up.”
Scratch Buffalo’s debut album is out on May 18. Catch the release party on May 26 as part of the East Town Get Down festival at International Avenue #250 – 3515 17 Ave SE (Calgary).East Town Get Down festival, International Avenue, Poltergrease, Scratch Buffalo