Today’s Track of the Day comes from Vancouver-based band Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer.
From their modest folk duo beginnings to the stomping electro-blues which has defined their sound, Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer have been tearing up the airwaves and causing mayhem in venues across the USA and their home country of Canada for almost a decade now. World domination is the next step for these intrepid axe wielding, harmonica toting revelers, though, after jetting across the Atlantic for their first European tour this year. Their latest track ‘Don’t Make ’em Like They Used To’ hones their stripped back rock’n’roll style to a powerful one-two punch of fuzzed out licks and classic lyricism of back-stabbing and unfaithful love.
GIGsoup caught up with the band to talk about out their interests, influences and their three favourite Kings…
What has it been like touring Europe for the first time? What reception did you receive? What were your favorite places/venues?
Best breakfasts on the planet, hands down! Tackling new cities you’ve never experienced while driving through their collective rush hours requires a shit ton of Espresso…which, thankfully enough, there is an abundance of everywhere in Europe. Our first show was in Berlin and the crowd blew us away with their engagement…the least shy of the tour. Best venues were the Paradiso in Amsterdam, Oslo in London, and Hagen 2 in Offenbach.
I read that you met while recording a radio jingle. What musical interests did you share which made you want to play together?
Ya we did, it was also our first and last radio jingle. We both shared a love of the three Kings; Albert, BB, and Freddie. End of story.
Were you guys both sessions musicians before you started the band? I read that one of you works with film scores. Have these sensibilities made their way into the band’s music at all?
I’d say we’ve both sessioned on and off over the years, enough to know we prefer the satisfaction of running our own band. Matt works in film scores and I’m definitely sure his composing sensibilities have trickled down into our albums over the years, with the exception of his work in horror films.
How has your style evolved since you first started?
We’ve grown from a lemonade stand folk blues boom chuck chuck outfit to more of a ‘back to the future’ rock n soul boom chuck chuck outfit. Lots more pedals, Drums, amps and more grey hair…the latter being the key ingredient.
You’ve been releasing albums for almost ten years now but many people will be new to your music. Where would you advise them to start with your catalogue and why?
I’d start with ‘Checkered Past’; it seems to be an album three generations of folks can all really dig into. It’s an album that nods to the past from the ‘Beck‘ (not Jeff…no offence) generation.
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What’s special about the music scene in Vancouver? Has it had any influence in your music?
Its developed into something you can dig your teeth into on almost any day of the week…from a relative ghost town 15 years ago. A massive amount of talent live and write in the city, a lot of them unaware of each other…perhaps due to the bridges and physical geography. We’ve kinda been fish out of water as far as bands go in Vancouver, it’s not a blues, soul kinda town traditionally…however over the last 5 or so years it’s grown some good rock’n’roll stubble that we’ve both craved for so long.
Who are your favourite contemporary artists and how are they influencing your style?
Dr Dog, Dr Dog, Dr Dog, ha ha ha….no but really. They have brought back a real honest to goodness fun in making and performing music on a human level that is wonderful to watch. Royal Canoe, Canada’s future sound of science fiction soul…our white ‘Prince’. The Deep Dark Woods, for reppin’ for the purity of our prairies and creating space in music that is well needed.
Have you got a new record in the works? How are you hoping to develop your style/sound?
We’ve been working on a record since January in Afterlife studios Vancouver. We’ve gone a few different directions on this particular outting, one being roomier and live ensemble recording to tape. The other more closet projectionist highly caffeinated introspective bedroom tweeker type behavior…pretty much par for the course in our band.
‘Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To’ is out now via Tonic Records and available to buy on iTunes
This Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer article was written by Tadgh Shiels, a GIGsoup contributor.