RIVER JACKS: Folk-Punk Quintet Are Living a Strange Adventure

Thursday 24th, May 2018 / 07:00
by Slone Fox

Photo by Jay Munoz

VANCOUVER – “It’s cozy with five of us in here,” laughs Spencer Jo Burgess, vocalist and guitarist of Calgary-based punk band River Jacks. Crammed into their tour bus, a minivan with a small fleet of Lego Star Wars ships velcroed to the dashboard, it’s hard to picture anything more purely punk rock.

Consisting of Burgess along with drummer Michael Blotto, accordionist Andy “Mandrill” Shannon, guitarist Jordan Barrett, and bassist Tyler Burton, River Jacks is bursting with the kind of veteran expertise that many bands spend their whole careers trying to obtain. With a diverse set of past projects under their belts, it’s clear that music has always been the only option for the close-knit quintet.

“Without music, I’d probably be one of those boring, typical suburbanites who raises a family, works from nine to five, watches reality TV, and goes to bed at nine o’clock,” Blotto says. “Isn’t that what most people who don’t make music do?”

The band released their second album, Strange Adventures, in May 2017. With such an immeasurable energy pouring out of them both on stage and off, you can’t help but wonder what’s going through their heads and fuelling their explosive shows. Are they thinking about the shortcomings of the government? The toxicity of our capitalist society? If a black hole can absorb another black hole?

“Sometimes I think about if my butt looks good,” laughs Shannon, causing a cacophony of laughs from the rest of the guys in the van.

“Okay, first of all, Mandrill has the best butt in the band,” Burgess exclaims. “He also wears these off-black pants that just accentuate it in a way that is very helpful for all of us on stage. It really kind of gives us that little bit of energy we need. He has this sweet attention-diverting move where he clips his wireless rig to his belt just above his butt and it attracts attention that way and it’s…” Burgess trails off, laughing too hard to continue.

“What has this interview gone to?” Blotto yells.

With two albums in the bag, River Jacks have continued to blaze their way across the Canadian music scene with their unbridled intensity and infectiously welcoming personalities. With their Quest to the West Tour on the very near horizon, old fans and new fans alike can expect the band to do what they do best: play songs as fast and as loud as they can.

River Jacks is playing Pub 340 (Vancouver) on May 31st, Logan’s Pub (Victoria) on June 4th, Fernando’s Pub (Kelowna) on June 7th, and Kami Inn (Kamloops) on June 8th alongside Aanthems.