BETTER TO BURN OUT THAN TO FADE AWAY
Anyone who has experienced the Canadian Prairies from the backseat of a car can attest to the placating effect of rolling down an endless black ribbon of highway that traverses a vast and seldom-varied ocean of waving wheat. An homage to those derelict driftwood-coloured farm buildings which dot our cultural landscape, the incendiary new House of Burners compilation is destined to become the unofficial road-trip soundtrack of summer 2014. Bringing together 16 of the best-loved hardcore, punk, stoner and heavy rock bands from across the country, HoB was conceived by infamous Saskatchewan doom rockers, Shooting Guns.
“Basically, up until last year, we got our records out there by dropping them off at record stores while on tour,” explains Shooting Guns drummer Jim Ginther. “Our group comes from a strong DIY background, so we’re used to getting things done on our own. When Shooting Guns was fortunate enough to come together with the good people at Easy Rider Records, who were willing to distribute our albums in the U.S., we knew that if wanted to make a go of it in Canada we’d have to do it ourselves. We contacted those record stores that had gotten to know us over the years and asked if they would be interested in carrying our stuff if we went to the trouble and effort of setting up a label. As it turns out, they were!”
Established veterans of music festivals and marathon tours, instrumental rockers Shooting Guns had amassed a little black book chalk full of likeminded bands. A fantasy team wishlist and rebel yell RRSP in one, the House of Burners compilation was born when the Saskatonians had occasion to ponder the future plight of their headbanging brethren. Observing the bleak True Detective-esque aesthetic of the rundown out-buildings that haunt their bucolic backroads, Ginther and company surmised they would all wind up deaf and infirm at in old timers’ compound to be known as “House of Burners.” A little graffiti signage professing the dead address’s new moniker was all it took to put the lid on this pan-Provincial firestorm. Hosting resident bands including Bison, Hawkeyes, Chron Goblin, Krang, Black Thunder, Clunt & The Scrunts, Lavagoat, The Switching Yard, Mahogany Frog, Cop Shades, Rehashed, Devonian Gardens, Powder Blue and The Pack A.D. at the height of their creative powers, House of Burners is as impressive as it is important.
“The House of Burners idea was inspired by a lonesome stretch of highway we encountered on a 15-hour leg of a trip. As our cities, like Regina, keep growing, the rural areas are shrinking, resulting in a goldmine of abandoned buildings. I must have taken hundreds of pictures of them while driving around the province. We were joking about all of these older doom and metal bands ending up in a retirement home, called House of Burners. After toying with the idea for years, we decided to reach out to some of our favourite acts and see if they were interested in co-investing in Pre-Rock’s compilation. We were absolutely floored that every one of them came back to us with a positive response! Coordinating all 16 bands has been awesome. Everyone has been so appreciative and easy to work with. Each band chipped in equally and then received equal shared of the album. We’re not making money, but, on the flip side, each band is equally motivated to get the word out there.”
Canadian rock icon, Ian Blurton’s new band Public Animal contributed the track “One Way Ticket” to the mash-up, adding that Pre-Rock’s handling of the affair was altogether “excellent.” Thoroughly stoked to have crammed their label’s handsome debut with as much lava and thunder as possible, while showcasing their true Prairie pride, Shooting Guns hopes to continue building bridges and supporting better listening as they and their fellow young bloods rock their way towards their golden years.
“We’re not trying to put a name on the scene. This is just a loosely affiliated gathering of strong and heavy bands coming out of Canada right now. It’s a snapshot in time of each band and what they’re doing. It almost seems too perfect how it all came together and what a thrill it’s been.”
House of Burners, a cross section of Canada’s heavy/psych/garage scene featuring 16 bands from coast to coast, was officially released on April 1 on Pre-Rock Records.
By Christine Leonard
Photo: Trevor Hatter