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Caught In A Mosh: June 2010

| June 1, 2010

Canuck And Roll

Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise, the true north strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, fuckin’ a

The last line isn’t actually in “O Canada,” our Northern Neighbors’ national anthem, but it should be. After all, the country has provided a lot of listening pleasure this year with Barn Burner and Bison B.C. Both awesome, awesome bands, right? Fuckin’ a. I’ll start one of those online petitions. Those seem to get shit done.

I knew Bison from Quiet Earth, its 2008 Metal Blade debut, but the group stole my heart by nearly blasting the doors off Lincoln Hall back in April opening for High On Fire. That sweaty, boozy, deafening full-contact set doomed Priestess (also Canadian) and Black Cobra, the two bands appointed the hopeless task of filling the sandwich between Bison and HOF.

If Bison’s country mates/labelmates/ mate mates in Barn Burner are just almost as good live, anyone at Ronny’s June 16th (with Chicago hesher king Raise The Red Lantern) is in for an old-fashioned face-melting. If it’s almost as good as BB’s full-length debut, Bangers (released in Canada a year ago by New Romance For Kids and nationally in February by Metal Blade), Ronny’s staff better re-secure its roof. Bangers is a monster of an album — steamy Sabbath riffing, crusty C.O.C. (a comparison completely shot down in this very interview) groove, and murky Mastodon aura — fully complemented by a cold beer and/or chumming bowl.

“Mosh” recently rang Montreal and got BB frontman/guitarist Kevin Keegan out of work for 30 minutes to talk rock. Welcome, Kev.

Mosh: Talk about the Montreal scene. Was it friendly to metal and hard rock? Obviously Priestess is a Montreal band as well.
Kevin Keegan
: There’s very few bands like that. Priestess is obviously the one, sort of tentacle metal/rock sort of band. There are a few others, but it’s really a small scene. Montreal is kinda of known for its — as far as metal goes — ridiculously technical death metal. Some of the all-time champions come from here. As far as the middle-of-the-road metal stuff like ours, the more sort of rooted-in-classic-metal, there’s not too many bands. But it’s funny, we all know each other. We all go to each other’s shows. It’s always the same familiar faces that really get stoked on each other’s bands.

M: So when you guys were playing in and around Montreal, what sorts of bands did you play with?
: For awhile there, we were just trying to get shows wherever we could, so we’d end up on really random bills with hardcore bands and with, more like bar-rock sort of bands. It was a mish-mash, and you sort of have to expect that. You can’t always play with bands that are in the same vein, and sometimes it works better if you don’t. It’s all sort of, really random. Now, we’re at a point where we can cultivate our own shows and build the shows around us.

M: Weird that you and Bison both ended up on Metal Blade.
: Yeah, it was kind of a weird coincidence. In a way I think [Bison B.C.] had something to do with it because us being on tour with them. Inevitably the label finds out about us because we’re doing so many shows with a band on their label.

M: Barn Burner, Bison, and Priestess get tagged as “stoner metal” and “stoner rock.” Some bands hate it, but Barn Burner seems to embrace it.
: Yeah, I mean, we never set out to be pinned down that way, but people sort of have. I wasn’t about to be like “No man, you can’t label us.” Every band tries to do that. “Our sound is indescribable.” No it’s not, it’s totally describable. We’re guilty as charged. We listen to piles of old metal and new metal and classic rock. If people peg us as stoner metal, all right. If you want to throw us somewhere, I prefer that over boogie rock or something like that that we’ve been called. “Stoner metal” sounds a bit more menacing. I’m not about to fight that, but at the same time people will be like, “Oh, it’s another Sabbath-worship band,” and then stoner metal becomes sort of negative and generic.

M: Let’s throw a few names out there, and you say what, if any, influence they’ve had on Barn Burner: Sabbath.
: Yeah, I mean, that one for sure. The whole [publicity] bio thing, what you see, any influence that was dropped was the label’s doing. That’s kinda bit me in the ass in a way ’cause everybody sort of mentions, like, Fu Manchu and Thin Lizzy. Both those bands are rad, but I have one Fu Manchu album that I just recently got because people were pegging us as Fu Manchu [laughs].

M: I had them on the list to ask about, actually.
: Yeah, the label said something like “the three-headed love child of Iron Maiden, Fu Manchu, and Thin Lizzy,” and now people will say in reviews, “the self-proclaimed three-headed love child.” No! We didn’t say that [laughs]. We’re not saying any bands we sound like. O.K., yeah, when someone says Sabbath, yeah of course. Maiden? Yeah, of course. There’s also heaps of contemporary stuff. I listen to tons of death metal that makes its way in there. The whole Fu Manchu thing totally bugs me though. It’s like, “No, I’ve never listened to those guys.”

M: It’s funny you bought a record after being compared to them.
: For sure. I was like, “Maybe I should check these guys out.”

M: What about Corrosion Of Conformity?
: That’s another one. C.O.C. I only remember from when I was super young, when I first got into Megadeth and Metallica. This was when I was 11 or 12. I haven’t listened to them since [laughs]. We get the C.O.C. thing, too, and I’m like “Fuck, I should probably check them out.”

M: Last question. Barn Burner: one word or two?
: Two words! It is two words. It drives me crazy, too. You’re picking up on all the shit that drives me nuts, and I love it.

M: You guys should make a shirt with the band logo on the front and “Two fucking words!” on the back.
: To clarify! And have another shirt that says “We Don’t Listen To Fu Manchu!”

CONGRATS: Cardiac Arrest — The South Side death-metal stalwart recently got some much-deserved attention when it signed with Ibex Moon (Incantation, Acheron, Asphyx), which releases Haven For The Insane June 8th. If you can’t wait that long, Cardiac will host a listening party for the record when it guest DJs at Exit June 6th. It will also be part of the Campaign For Death Metal Purity Tour with labelmates HOD and Gravehill stops at Nite Cap July 9th . . . Bible Of The Devil — What happens when two of this writer’s favorite things in the world, beer and Bible Of The Devil, are combined? Devil’s Handshake, a new American Pale Ale by 3 Floyds, the Munster, Indiana brewery responsible for Dark Lord Day. Bible now has a beer named after it. Brewtal. The band celebrates the official release June 2nd at Quenchers with Broken Teeth (featuring Jason McMaster of Dangerous Toys/Watchtower/Ignitor) and The Vibrolas.

MOSH WORTHY . . . LIVE: Yakuza record release (Beat Kitchen, 6/5); Macabre, Jungle Rot (Bada Brew, 6/12); Eyehategod (Empty Bottle, 6/19-6/20); Melvins (Double Door, 6/25); High Spirits, Chapstik (Red Line Tap, 6/26).

— Trevor Fisher

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