One of Calgary’s best-kept secrets, The Pygmies are an unrepentantly nostalgic super group that packs a mighty sweet garage-rock punch. The band’s creation myth is all the more wondrous when you consider that head-Pygmies guitarist/vocalist Jim Blood and percussionist/vocalist Brendan Tincher had no idea what lied ahead when they branched off from a tribe the elders referred to as The Neckers. Soon, relentless Amazonian keyboardist Kenna Burima (Beaver Squadron, The Brenda Vaqueros, Woodpigeon) joined and the trio minted a self-titled LP with producer Cam Hayden at his Huge Ear Studios Huge Ear Studios in 2012. Their next collective move involved recruiting a sociable but dedicated bass player with an honest handshake and his own recording/rehearsal space. Enter bassist Ryan Lottermoser (a.k.a. Restive Hands).
“Personality wise, they’re the two easiest people to get along with on the planet. We waste 50 per cent of our practice time just fucking around and making each other laugh,” say guitarist Jim Blood the addition of Lottermoser and Burima.
“Our songwriting process pretty much stayed the same, but having a member in the band with a recording studio in his garage took away any pressure for timelines. We could start and finish when we wanted to and with our crazy schedules it took four months to record all of the songs. In the past, I’ve never spent more than a weekend recording an album; I would never waste studio time recording songs that weren’t going to be used. This time around we had the luxury of recording 15 songs and then narrowing it down to the final 10 that we will be releasing.”
Cooking up something special to hail the arrival of their new album, Inside Your Mind, indie rock veteran Burima felt the occasion required more than your average beer-and-no-pretzel affair. Like the proverbial Charlie, Kenna mustered favours from angels across the four local burrows in order to arrange what promises to be a musical extravaganza of legendary proportions.
A speedy and compact outfit, The Pygmies pride themselves on being a tight-knit bunch. Careful consideration by the group’s bass player and resident sound engineer/producer Lottermoser has resulted in an explosive and captivating new album that is at once fresh and familiar. Stamping their own modern-primitive motif across an open range of tempos and moods, The Pygmies are capable of turning spines to jelly at will. Witness the electro-shock elocutions of three stand-up guys caught in the thralls of a voodoo queen’s psychedelic keyboard emanations. After all, there’s no denying the gitchy mojo of cuts like “Chain Reaction,” “Inside Your Mind,” and the delicious “Cannibal.” Hypnotic and atomic, The Pygmies are the soundtrack to your blurry Kodachrome memories and possibly anything by cult-film idol Russ Meyers.
“Our songs sound so much bigger and more dynamic as a result of being a four-piece, especially having four vocalists,” Blood confirms. “I believe that the majority of the tracks on this album could be described as heavy, and that has a lot to do with having a badass bass-and-drums section and virtuoso shredding it on the organ! We’re still about the fun garage-punky stuff, but a lot bigger and louder and more dynamic. The album is only 22 minutes long. But, trust me, there’s a lot packed in there.”
The Pygmies are set to release Inside Your Mind at Wunderbar (Edmonton) on November 15 and at Broken City (Calgary) on November 22.
By Christine Leonard
Photo: Arif Ansari