MORE FUN THAN THROWING ROCKS AT A HORNET’S NEST
The amalgamation of some of the most definitive voices and energies in Calgary’s storied rock and roll history, Jar of Wasps is guitarist Lee Shedden’s answer to the local music scene’s midlife crisis. Drawn from the ranks of Western Canada’s most durable musical acts, this four-man dream team has deliberately lowered the bar by which they measure success despite possessing an imposing cumulative skill-set.
“I write really slowly,” explains singer/songwriter Shedden. “It’s mainly stuff I started writing after I left Fire Engine Red, but there is also some super recent material that I’ve written over the past couple of weeks. It’s inspiring to have a new project to write for. It is a great way to address a midlife crisis, as things go — it’s cheaper than buying a Jaguar.”
For Shedden, the highlight of sharing his compositions with pedigreed friends and mentors guitarist/vocalist Andrew Wedderburn (Hot Little Rocket, Night Committee), bassist Steve Elaschuk (Wagbeard, The Daggers, Fire Engine Red, Idle Eyes) and drummer Steven Zolmer has been taking the time to enjoy the creative process. Though driven to perform, producing the best songs possible is the only objective on Jar of Wasp’s collective mind.
“Each of us has either crossed paths numerous times throughout our musical careers, but we’ve never played all together as a group. It’s pretty exciting getting together with guys who share a similar aesthetic, but don’t mind going out on a limb and trying new things. It’s a pretty open atmosphere, there’s almost a kind of experimentalism about it, but really all of us are still traditionalists. Steve Elaschuk says it is useless to say you want a band to sound like something, because it always winds up sounding like the people you’ve thrown together. When we’re jamming each of us has our own thing, but our mutual sensibilities allow us to dovetail our styles together in a way that doesn’t make people want to run screaming from the room.”
As comfortable performing on the stage as under it, the basement-dwelling Jar of Wasps are prepared to unleash a maelstrom of buzzing fury regardless of the number of spectators they may draw. According to Shedden, their attempt to capture off-centre punk motifs within the framework of a taunt four-minute pop song is an explosive proposition.
“There’s a real value to that kind of tension of having song that is both accessible and hummable yet seems to be forever clawing its way through a thickets of sharp thorns. I’ve spent the last decade somewhere in the middle, so it doesn’t feel like stretching. It’s great knowing that the band is expecting me to keep coming forward with these fresh ideas that are taking shape. We’re digging hard to find our common ground and I’m loving the music as it comes out. It’s like 1996 all over again, but in a good way. This stuff has got some ass behind it.”
Catch Jar of Wasps at Broken City on October 18.
By Christine Leonard