By Patrick Saulnier
CALGARY – “I’m not a number! I’m a free man!” With a band called Crooked Spies, you just have to include some sort of weird, dystopian struggle. And in true Secret Service fashion we met at in a dimly lit corner booth at the back of Calgary’s Ship & Anchor pub on an otherwise inconspicuous evening. Guitarist Dylan Evanik and bassist Aaron Samson had the intel and I needed answers. BeatRoute assignments are no joke. I had to complete the mission!
The guys inform me that Crooked Spies are local rockers, originating in 2014. Having grown tired of an acoustic project, Dylan and his brother Steven, who handles lead guitar duties, decided it was time to “Turn the fucking guitars up!”
A few years later, with Mark Lawlor providing the beats, Crooked Spies is able to boast a garage rock catalogue well-stocked with melodic but boundary-pushing vibes; a rich storehouse of creativity that includes elements of hooky pop and bouncy punk.
“Dirty riffs and hard-hitting rock ‘n’ roll, because it’s about damn time guitar music came back!” confirms Dylan. Furthermore, he asserts that they just want their listeners to smile and enjoy all the good vibes and bluesy breakdowns. After all, “If you’re not having fun that sucks!”
Turning downers into upswings, Crooked Spies’ 2017 release, High Plains, was the perfect way for the band into begin a new year, offering up kick-ass foot-stompers like “Under The Gun” and “What You Say,” as well as groovy head-bobber “Call Like The Water.” The outstanding single, “Raised by Wolves” has a bold pop-hop feeling that rounds out an album perfect for fans of Cowpuncher, High Kicks, The Black Keys and the like.
“We like to let all our influences shine through!” Samson exclaims. “We are a rock band, but our thing is we serve the song. We like to span the genre, play throughout it. We are making the music that I’ve always wanted to hear. I don’t know what it is about this band or the combination of people…we are making music that makes me emotional and that makes me really just want to play music forever!”
Expounding on that sentiment, Samson explains how proud Crooked Spies are to be part of Calgary’s thriving rock community, and that he sees big things on the horizon. Indeed, the overwhelming wealth of support surrounding them has inspired the quartet to finally get back into the studio after over a year.
“Calgary rock is simply amazing. I think the talent is just ridiculous,” agrees Dylan, noting that he believes music lovers are gravitating to the human connection they get from experiencing bands live in the flesh.
“Sure in a live performance you’ll miss chords here and there because you’re all sweaty, but that’s real shit. People can see that. One thing we would love to see is bringing in more outsiders to the community. Let’s welcome them and make live music a more regular occurrence for those that normally might not do it!”
“Jacked” at the prospect of a busy winter of writing and recording new material, Crooked Spies aim to tide the people with a visual treat; their upcoming video release for the aforementioned single “Raised by Wolves.”
“We went out to this abandoned gas station between Calgary and Canmore Alberta. There’s a little skate ramp set up in there with a ton of graffiti. It was the middle of the winter, we shoveled it all out, set up our gear and did a little jam out there and filmed a video. Watch for that in December!”
With national touring and a stop at Canadian Music Week as their target, fresh tracks on the way and video stardom impending, the group’s 2019 is shaping up to be a time of conquest. So, watch the stage and keep a sharp look out — there are Crooked Spies among us.
Check out the single “Raised by Wolves” on Spotify and experience the espionage for yourself Dec. 5 at the Annual Ship & Anchor Pub Food Drive (Calgary) and Dec. 20 at Festival Hall for HighKicksMas (Calgary)
BEATROUTE VIDEO DEBUT — CROOKED SPIES “RAISED BY WOLVES”
Crooked Spies, High Plains, HighKicksMas, Raised By Wolves, Ship & Anchor Pub, Spotify