By Mike Dunn
EDMONTON – Jon Christensen has been leading Edmonton’s Raygun Cowboys for nearly 20 years, and while the road made him a player, his three years at the University of Alberta made a great impact on his songwriting and arranging.
“It opened my mind more to the structure of music, the way the ear hears things, why classic chord changes work, changes in rhythm, and what makes music pleasing to hear,” says Christensen. “It’s based in classical music, where the rest of Western musical theory comes from, whether pop, jazz, or rockabilly, and I found a lot of those concepts made a difference in arranging The Cowboy Code from a lot of our earlier records.”
The Cowboy Code, released in 2017, is a blast of high-energy, jangled rockabilly galloping upright with freight train shuffles hitting snappy shots, along with tightly arranged melodic horn hooks and Christensen’s baritone full of volume to match his flash paced riffs. The Cowboys have always thrown a raucous show, a dancefloor boogie where the punk rockers are as punk as the Teds and Bettys are dressed to the nines.
The band’s always toured consistently, heading out next spring on a Western Canadian tour with Vancouver Euro-folkpunks The Dreadnoughts, and Christensen finds a certain appeal in one of the best strategies for hard touring acts: Europe.
“Well, besides some of the culture shock stuff, I mean they have Paprika flavoured chips,” jokes Christensen. “We do pretty well over there though. We end up covering our costs and making some money in Europe doing clubs and festivals. And the mileage once you’re there is less of a strain. A ten-day tour here in Canada, you cover thousands of kilometres. But in Europe, you do 10 days and likely play three different countries. The people gather in smaller areas, and there are a lot of them, so it’s likely you’ll play for more people in that shorter distance. It’s really to a band’s benefit to try and go play in Europe.”
The Raygun Cowboys play New Year’s Ever at The Rocky Mountain Icehouse (Edmonton).Dancefloor boogie, Raygun Cowboys, The Rocky Mountain Icehouse