It usually begins as an unpleasant hum, one you feel in your guts. You know, where expensive sustenance turns in to the sludge we don’t talk about even though most people’s hearts, minds and verbal exchanges coarse with it. Once it mounts from a buzz to leviathan pieces of your anatomy, mechanisms inside of your chest and stomach that are a part of you but entirely alien, start to churn and lock in to strange positions. You don’t know what they were doing before, but the things they are doing now are unnatural. If it were some kind of sonic whiplash or even better some burst pluming then you might know how to handle yourself, they’ve got hospitals and specialists for that, but what do you do with this?
Your soul’s all bent out of shape now, kid, and Shooting Guns have only just finished their sound check.
For the last few years Saskatoon’s freak set have had the pleasure of calling Shooting Guns – drummer Jim Ginther, guitarists Keith Doepker and Chris Laramee, bassist Jay Loos, and synth/electronics scientist Steve Reed – their house band. In short order they have fashioned some of the most monolithic aural meditations this side ‘Jerusalem’ and have incurred a devout, ever-swelling following in the process.
“Shooting Guns, in name, was a sonic vision,” explains Loos, attributing the initial baby steps to Chris Laramee. “Not only (the) physical concussion of firearms but the mental fatigue that can be induced by repetitious never ending explosions. So our initial goal was to create psychedelically heavy riffs that would groove you for so long that the unending riff would help the listener to transcend all conventional needs for singing and or your standard song structure as well as sonic disorientation physically.”
The gloom propelled psych-merchants’ unflinching riff obsession has indeed helped listeners transcend many conventions, and has ultimately become the undulating, psychokinetic ectoplasm bridging all music scenes in the city with converts ranging from the most preen, fashionable hipsters to the sloppiest, headbanging knuckledraggers. It almost seems a matter of hypnosis as their diverse set of witnesses pulse uniformly, their numbers growing with every performance. Is this entertainment or a new wave of the dark arts? Neither, claims Steve Reed.
“It’s not art, it’s engineering.” the electronics wizard opines. “Doom bypasses the cerebral cortex, which is fine – we’re really only interested in the crowd’s brain stem, GI tracts, and limbic systems.”
Thank god, I was worried he was going to say something cryptic and diabolical.
With the souls of their local music scene thoroughly threshed, Shooting Guns took to the road this summer to preach the good word of their self-released full-length debut Born To Deal in Magic 1952-1976, starting with a slot at Calgary’s indie-shmooze off, The Sled Island Music Festival. Within only a day of their performance local record store aficionados were already full blown converts, pushing Born to Deal in Magic on the locals and doing back to back in-store spins of the LP. Apparently, like Raveen before them, Shooting Guns are just as effective on wax as they are in person.
When pressed for details about the rest of their tour Loos and Reed spend more time praising allies with colorful descriptions then describing the actual journey. Loos references an in-the-works tour documentary, perhaps that will shed some light on the “unforgettable barbarians out in the Maritimes” and help us understand why Reed insists that “Toronto in the summer is no place for faithful men” before relenting “or maybe we’re just a bunch of creeps.”
From the stage it will be straight back in to the studio though.
“In August we’re recording some material for a few split releases – we’re still working out the details, but we’re thrilled and honored by the interest expressed by the other bands,” says Reed.
And what are their plans for us dazed, zombified, riff slaves in the meantime?
“We’re developing undead sentries on spec for mercenary firms like Blackwater. Nodding in unison is the default program; staggering around looking for brains is only useful for mine clearance. Our current prototypes are highly malleable. We’ve got a few bugs in the system, unfortunately – some of the higher functioning drones bring us unsolicited pints during their conditioning sessions – there’s an unexploited skill set there. We’ve got some systems analysts looking into it.”
It would be safe to assume then, that the uncomfortable hum that this all started with probably means that everything is going according to plan.