Local trio release a limited edition cassette that will help you power-up, make things that much better.
Sometimes the reason to begin something is also the reason to end it.
Other times, well, it’s the reason to keep going.
Calgary artist Chris Naish started his Nugget-ty good, garage-rock trio Scratch Buffalo a couple of years ago as something of a response to a difficult time he was going through. His mother was quite ill and he wanted, he needed an outlet, something different from his rootsier, singer-songwriter persona.
Sadly, his mother passed away in March of this year and the effect it had on him, not surprisingly, made him question just about everything, including his band.
“It’s the worst,” Naish says, sitting at a table outside of a southwest Starbucks. “But it’s just nice that it can be the worst. It’s just, ‘Yup, it’s just straight up what it is.’ ”
He pauses. “You sort of double down on the things that matter, the things you like, the things that mean something. You figure out why.
“I thought, well, ‘I started this around the time that she got sick, so it would make sense to end the band now that she’s gone.’ Then I thought, ‘No, that’s so dumb. Why would I do that? It doesn’t make any sense. Mom would think that’s dumb. This is fun …
“The idea of ending the band was so stupid. Like, ‘No, I should make more of the band. Let’s make that cassette, let’s make more things, let’s do more things that matter.’ ”
Which brings us to Scratch Buffalo’s new, three-song EP Seven Minutes in Heaven.
The title reflects the get-in, leave-a-bruise, get-the-hell-out mentality of the music — three songs clocking in at about seven minutes, with no lingering, just the bash and pop and bang and wail of those who’ve done their homework of the sounds of the ’60s.
“Well, one of them’s almost three minutes,” Naish says with a smile. “So it’s kind of proggy a bit, it really gets into it …
“It’s got sort of our tentpole styles,” he says before running down the three tracks that make up Heaven. “Back to Me is kind of our glam rock or power-pop song; I Know My Lines is more of just straight-forward, punkish, garagy rock; and then Fly Alone is … just sort of weird.
“I think that’s what’s cool about it.”
There’s a lot that’s cool about it, including how little it seems to care while inflicting the maximum amount of excellence.
Naish admits it was recorded by the three friends — he, drummer Mark Straub and bassist Scott Wildeman — live during a two-hour rehearsal, with a limited amount of overdubs added later that night.
“It just sounds like a band playing,” he says simply. “Which is what we are.”
Fans will get a chance to hear that at Scratch Buffalo’s EP release Thursday, June 8 at the Nite Owl. And, if you’re lucky enough to snag a very limited edition cassette version of Seven Minutes in Heaven, you can take them home to keep.
The B-side of the tape is a concert they did this past April at local club Vern’s, and it will be available only on their cassette — not for download, as the rest of the album is, nor anywhere else.
“I love the idea,” Naish says. “There’s not just a million of them — it’s fun.”
He admits the show was actually the first Scratch Buffalo performed since his mother passed away — something he neither references during the gig, nor which seems to affect his performance, although it did, in a way.
He once again returns to the idea of the band, the need to play and be part of something in order to deal with what he was going through.
That said, he dismisses the notion of Scratch Buffalo, their live shows as being escapism. Instead, he compares it to playing the original Mario Bros. game — which he’s quick to point out that he beat in 10 minutes on his birthday earlier this year, calling it likely the highlight of his 2017 — and the power-ups that the stars provide to the moustachioed protagonist.
“The music I like, that’s what it does. It doesn’t take you out of the game, it doesn’t take you out of the situation, it just maybe makes it a little easier to get through …,” he says.
“At the end of the day, it just is about having fun and making life easier.”
Scratch Buffalo release their new EP Seven Minutes In Heaven Thursday night, June 8 at the Nite Owl.
Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for theYYSCENE.ca. Follow him on Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.