By Christine Leonard
CALGARY – Rising from the heart of the prairies like a rye-scented dust storm, Shooting Guns have been spinning sidewinding psychedelic tales since the dawn of their initial release, the mollifying 7-inch Dopestrings/Harmonic Steppenwolf, back in 2010. In the eight years since, the Saskatoon-based band has grown in skill and size, being nominated for a Juno and two Polaris prizes and founding their own label, Pre-Rock Records, amidst all the excitement and praise. And while their compliment has swelled in numbers, the hypnotic instrumental entity has repeatedly declined offers to take on a vocalist.
At the core, Shooting Guns remains an ironically mute weapon, which may be what attracted them to the realm of silent cinema. Known for their work on the WolfCop film franchise’s riveting scores, the band recently entertained moviegoers with screenings of the classic 1922 horror film Nosferatu, featuring an unplugged Shooting Guns performing a live soundtrack at the front of the theatre. A highlight of 2017’s Sled Island lineup, the ambitious and spellbinding project has taken on a life of its own and will soon be released in video format by the very band who brought it back from the dead.
“We’re just mixing the Nosferatu soundtrack and getting it ready for release in late summer or early fall on Cardinal Fuzz out of the U.K.,” reports guitarist Chris Laramee. “Other than that — work, life stuff, blah, blah has kept us pretty busy as of late, but it’ll swing around again and we’ll get back on more music.”
Productivity has never been an issue for Laramee, whose other labours of love include playing with bands The Radiation Flowers (formerly Powder Blue) and The Switching Yard and a recording project called Wasted Cathedral. Riding high on the release of their big orange album, Flavour Country (2017), the unfiltered sextet is looking forward to seeing how they can top their favourite LP to date.
“We have a couple things pretty developed for the next one, but no titles or anything yet. Excited to see where it goes! Our process is relax, get worked up, relax, repeat,” he relates.
“We record everything at our own jam space and studio, which is great because everyone has full time jobs and it would be a major bummer if this wasn’t enjoyable. We produce and engineer it all ourselves, by which I mean Jim (Ginther, drummer) does most of the heavy lifting while we shoot rubber bands at him and pull on his hair.”
Powering through slow-building, Sabbathy tracks with patient percussionist Ginther, along with bandmates Keith Doepker (guitar), Jay Loos (bass), Toby Bond (synths) and Brennan Barclay (guitar), Laramee has made a career out of mining the fuzzy pockets of ‘70s and ‘80s rock. From the heady mystery of Born to Deal Magic: 1952-1976, to the sludgy latitudes of Brotherhood of the Ram, Shooting Guns vision has remained as constant as a Saskatchewan horizon.
“I could fill up a book with what’s around our turntables, but a short list would be Emeralds, Steve Hillage, Ozric Tentacles, The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol, Bushwick Bill, Bob James, Jay’s extensive 7-inch punk/thrash collection, Salsoul disco, The Heads, etc! We also feed off of National Geographic laserdiscs, smoke, cats… Lots of cats. A few dogs too.”
Roadkill cafe aside, how are they going to spend their summer vacation? Laramee has his eyes on the open-air stages of Ontario and Quebec that leave plenty of space to roam and rumble while keeping the barrel of Shooting Guns as hot as ever.
“Just keep jamming it out when we can, having fun! All the folks keep busy with various projects, plans, ‘schemes’ if you will.”
Shooting Guns perform May 19 at May Bong Weekend Party at Distortion (Calgary), May 20 at Temple (Edmonton).Distortion, May Bong Weekend Party, Shooting Guns, Temple