By Doreen Girard
November 11th, Shooting Guns returns to Winnipeg near the close of an action packed year for the band. Guitarist Chris Laramee and synth jockey Steven Reed talk about the near future and the distant past, mojo oracles and the voltaic path to a behemoth riff.
Chris Laramee: We’ve all known each other for at least a decade now. When Keith moved back from Vancouver, he and Jay moved in to a place together that had a sweet garage to jam in, so Friday night burnout sessions began. That was about two and a half years ago, and here we are.
Steve Reed: Jim and I have known each other since the early nineties in Dalmeny, SK, and have been shirking adulthood together ever since.
SR: Back then we were frustrated by the fact that a lot of great local bands were breaking up without ever recording themselves; the good news was that recording equipment was suddenly no longer priced out of range for amateurs. We bought cheap Behringer junk, dented mics, and taught ourselves a bunch of terrible recording habits. Our albums and a lot of friends’ albums were published with the Teargas imprint, but we’ve never had a budget to function as a proper label, so we’ve shied away from presenting ourselves as such. We also admired the collaborative spirit of independent shows that were happening at La Salsa and (the old) Bassment, and wanted to work with whomever was also interested in reciprocal effort. This was all before MySpace and Facebook and Bandcamp, so now it sounds pretty ridiculous to say, but we were hoping to serve as a hub to connect artists who were into collaborative scene-building. Now anyone with a molecule of ambition and a computer can and should network for themselves. The website is a shamefully neglected archive now, but we still publish under that sigil. We also still occasionally receive hilarious pitches from bands that have done zero research, looking to “get signed,” in which case we try our best to encourage them to start conspiring and volunteering with local promoters and bands they respect.
CL: To be truthful, we didn’t release it. A buddy of ours, Tyler Baptist, wrangled the whole crew together, shot it in a couple of days and edited it in about the same time. He was the mover/shaker and deserves all the credit. We just showed up and drank beer.
SR: Tyler (BadMonsterFilms) is amazing. I can’t believe how fast he put it all together. Couldn’t have been simpler from our end of things. Show up. Drink, smoke, lay down.
CL: Mine would be my girlfriend Shelby’s Gibson SG. Sounds amazing. High end to counter Keith’s earth-fuzz.
SR: Speaking for myself, I’m really loving what the cheap $60 Korg Monotron can do in terms of demonic howls and bowel-shattering low end thru a Holy Grail reverb pedal. If cheap pocket-sized analog synths are the future, sign me the fuck up. Also, I enjoy Keith’s new Orange cab, and I hope my MX 55p wedge can endure my abuse. In terms of software, my pal Brennan (aka Knar) just released his first VST plugin “Knardist01.” It makes some pretty amazing squeals when automated over a percussive arpeggio.
CL: Hitting the studio a week after the Winnipeg show. We always record at Steve’s while we jam, just in case we hit gold.
SR: We’ve also got hundreds of hours of recorded jams to plunder. We’ve just finished Down and Out in Detroit, our half of a split 7″ with the Cult of Dom Keller (top psych in the UK right now, in my opinion). We’re also going to record at The Avenue on Nov 19th for a split with Edmonton’s brain-melting Krang.
Stylus: How are Shooting Guns being influenced now, as opposed to when you started writing songs together?
CL: I would say about the same method of writing; me or Keith will bring in the main riff, we’ll quickly discuss some arrangement and have at it. When the smoke clears, we’ll usually be deafened and falling down laughing and we’ll have something we can use. Or we’ll just be falling down laughing.
SR: I’ve always loved psych — thank the gods for Rick White — but I didn’t have much of a taste for metal before joining this band; now I’m glad to say that Electic Wizard, Lavagoat, and Red Fang are lighting up my soul thanks to these guys. They’ve all got sagely amounts of lore to share about amazing music, most of it ranging quite FAR from metal, actually. They could DJ the rest of my life. I think as our proficiencies develop we’ll be more likely to wander away from the comfy hexatonic gloom of drop-d; who knows, maybe we’ll even start to use rests. In any case, I think we’re all convinced there’s a motherload yet to be mined if we keep following this Hawkwind-Sabbath vein.
CL: Actually, no.
SR: My first gig in a proper venue was at Amigos with Shakey Wilson’s original Co-ops lineup. I remember I couldn’t stay because I was underage, but that suited me fine because I thought I had a shot at getting laid at a party that night. I was quite wrong, of course.
CL: Being on mushrooms in Bellvue, SK and watching two elderly couples playing cards from across the street, while listening to Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew.
SR: Camping with Jim, I (thought I) woke up to the hum of a million bloodsucking insects in a tent on an island near the ruin of a trapper’s cabin. But no insects were inside the tent, and none were out in the forest either. The ground was heaving up and cracking open to show the green glow of something under the moss. A hulking cave bear skeleton rose out of the ground with a ribcage full of skulls. In utter silence, I was swallowed up into the ribcage and the beast plunged back into the damp earth. Season after season flashed by, leaves followed by snow, followed by melting, and fungal blooms. Decades. It was pure beauty. I was unafraid. Outrunning death is ridiculous. We belong to the earth; it’s not the other way around.