Despite new material, local group remains a Howard Hughes-style recluse
The Browntones, a Saskatoon alt-country group led by Craig Silliphant and Jody Cason, have recently dropped their latest EP, the four-song Brass Knuckles.
Following in the footsteps of their previous release Grit and Glory, the duo once again explore – and maybe even completely disregard – several different genres of music.
Lead track “Beer Hall Punch Up” is an infectiously fuzzy bit of garage rock muscle with a tagalong boozy-stewed horn section. Meanwhile, “Fiery Gates” opts for a more slow-burn approach, recalling the psych-country approach of bands like One Hundred Dollars. The rest of the EP similarly takes a bit more of a laid-back approach, showcasing family jams-style vocals.
Ominocity recently caught up with Craig Silliphant of The Browntones for a chat on playing music for shits and/or giggles and why you should use hand sanitizer at concerts.
Ominocity: The Browntones seem to be something of a Howard Hughes-style recluse – why keep the project in the studio?
Craig Silliphant: We do seem to be quite OCD, especially when it comes to using hand sanitizer after shaking hands with other people. It’s probably because I got really sick sharing guitars and mics at Bandswap once. The real reason we do so few shows is because it’s just not feasible without starting a whole band. The Browntones is technically just Jody and I, and we bring in friends like J Loos or James Wood to play the odd instrument. I play the majority of the instruments, but I can only play so many at once, so I’d need to grow more arms or recruit other players to play it live. We did that for that Slow Down, Molasses show awhile back, and getting everyone together that have their own bands and lives was pretty stressful. Beyond that, the main reason for The Browntones is for Jody and I, and our friends, to have some fun playing music while we knock back some beers and get the songs out of our system. So we’re not too arsed about pursuing music as a full-time career. Would it have been easier if I had just said, ‘so we can be like the latter day Beatles?’
OM: Can we ever expect a live performance in the near future? Any more recordings planned?
CS: I love playing live, so it actually pains me that we don’t do it more. I have tossed around the idea of doing a more stripped down set with maybe just Jody and I. It’s just been such a busy year for creative projects for both Jody and I that we haven’t had time to knuckle down. But I have considered it as a creative project for next year, so we’ll see. I think that if there suddenly became a demand for it, we’d consider it. In fact, the last few gigs we played were all because we were invited to join the bill. While we weren’t pursuing it, we weren’t saying no either.
As for more recordings, for sure. I think I might switch to a model of more one-off digital releases though, rather than bothering with physical product. Unless we had some vinyl pressed. Our first EP, Grit & Glory was of a more homemade packaging from the now defunct Plainclothes Press, and the new one was professionally done. But I think that, especially for a band like us that isn’t playing to move merch, we might be better off just releasing a song or two a year digitally for shits and giggles. I would love it if we could plug away in the basement, play the odd show for a challenge, and over time become a legacy band in town. Not like, legends or whatever. But just people that have been releasing stuff for so long, that we sort of get ingrained in the fibre of the Saskatoon scene.