“Man, I’m hesitant to even use the term, ‘garage rock.’ Every band wants to be a garage rock group these days, from the wimpiest indie rock stuff to the most straightforward punk bands. The term doesn’t really mean much anymore,” says Travis Sargent of Edmonton’s Betrayers, immediately making an interview about garage rock and Betrayers’ place within a little difficult. But, he’s right: particularly when you extend “these days” back to the early 21st century, when every band had a The name, tight jeans and vintage leather. Maybe some shared Sargent’s conviction that “we play ’60s-influenced stuff because rock and roll really never got any better after that,” but most saw a way to a cheap buck and a mountain of drugs. I’m going to go out on a limb and tell you that Betrayers are the real deal.
Betrayers (completed by Justin Zawada, Scarlet Welling-Yiannakoulias, Terry Fairfield and Joe Stagliano), were friends before they were a band. Sargent lists Andy Kim (of “Sugar, Sugar” fame) as a songwriting influence and at times, like on “Song for Sue,” on their Perfect Master-released record, Let the Good Times Die, they approach sweet bubblegum pop. Butm they’ve also got a way of writing nasty, dirty little numbers like, “White Horse,” “Creep For Me” and “Spinnin’ Wheel.” Then they’ve also got a line in sadder, slower songs that belie their influence from the Shangri-Las and the raw sound of early ’60s soul.
Right now Betrayers are working on a new record, with a more laid back and cohesive sound: “I want to make something that sounds good both on Saturday night and on Sunday morning, dig me?” They’ve got more festival appearances in the pipeline this summer, a European tour and some split 7-inches coming up. Mostly, and this is the TL;DR point so please pay attention: Betrayers are damn good at what they do.
By Gareth Watkins
Photo: Fish Griwkowsky