Out of the ice cooler and into the deep freeze.
Shawn “The Harpoonist” Hall is lamenting the fact that his home of Vancouver Island is under a foot and a half of snow “that hasn’t been rained away yet.”
This just before he hops a plane to Calgary for a three-day recording residency with his band The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer at the King Eddy Feb. 15 to 17, when -17 is the extended expected high and two days of flurries are on the way.
“Oh, fuck are you kidding me, man?” Hall says.
To quote one Det. John McClane: Welcome to the party, pal.
Actually, that said, vocalist and harmonica player Hall, his musical partner guitarist Matthew “The Axe Murderer” Rogers and a handful of other musicians are sure to start their own housewarmers and barn burners every time they take the stage during their two-night, one-afternoon run at the Eddy.
During those shows, the ridiculously electric and energetic psych-blues-soul-rockers will perform and record each performance on Studio Bell’s famous Rolling Stone recording truck, with the best results then being combined, mix and mastered in-house for a Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer live album tentatively scheduled for a fall release.
They’re making history in and with history, and you can be part of it.
Well, actually, unless you already have tickets for Friday and Saturday night, no you can’t as those two shows are already sold out. But there still are tickets available for the Sunday afternoon show, something that Hall is more than happy to hustle.
“Come on folks, it’s a matinee — you have enough time to come out, enjoy the show, get drunk, sober up before bedtime and pack a lunch for your kids,” he says.
Well, the fact that Monday is Family Day means that mom and dad are more than welcome to keep on going, sleep it off and let the kids fend for themselves, but you get the point — there’s no reason not to keep the fire burning on Sabbath aft.
Prior to hitting town for their Eddy residency (Eddydency?), Hall spoke with theYYSCENE. Here are excerpts from that interview.
Q: You’re coming here to record an album live, off the floor.
A: Yes, we are going there to be (one of the first bands in Canada) to do a live record in front of an audience on the Rolling Stones truck. So not to do just live, off the floor, but to do a real live record or die trying. We’re very romantic, nostalgic people and it’s kind of a romance with circuitry I think. I don’t think, I know. It’s an amazing opportunity in life and things have come together, the universe has come together in an incredible way so we’re diving in for it.
Q: How did the opportunity come about?
A: We became aware of the existence of the Rolling Stones mobile truck when it was folklore years ago before they did the big reveal, and then we thought, “Wouldn’t that be an incredible thing to get that truck and bring it into someplace realistic like the Kananaskis, the foothills and bring it up to a cabin,” but that’s impossible because that truck’s not moving anywhere. And then we did a gig last winter at (Studio Bell) for Block Heater and we got a tour of it — we’d had a tour before in the summer and we talked about it — but we talked to (National Music Centre’s) President and CEO Andrew Mosker last winter and the chief engineer and we talked to those guys about how do we do a show at the King Eddy and how do we do a romantic, three-night run that seems to be a thing of the past. Bands don’t do that anymore, why don’t bands make live records any more? And it’s not just because everything was great in the ’70s, but live records arguably haven’t been better than they were in the ’70s. There’s a lot of factors at play. The players were better, probably, they were less tentative that they are in this digital age, they weren’t worried about trying to fix everything in overdub, there was an arc to the story that they were telling when they put together live records that appears to have been lost in the digital age. There’s a great romanticism that has disappeared with more modern bands. So it’s the perfect story of not a typical blues band, but a soul blues outfit wanting to make history in a historical room with historical equipment at the point of our career that just feels like it is the perfect time. There’s a lot of amazing things. You don’t get an opportunity, we have never had an opportunity like this in our lives.
Q: Is this all new material you’ll be recording?
A: No, no, no. Heck, no. No, for a live record we would be — imagine doing a live record of all new material in front of people that don’t know all of these songs. Can you imagine the disappointment? Anyone that knows us knows that we’re a different beast from record to live, and this is answering the (question), this is to see what we sound like live, because we actually don’t know, because we’re doing our stuff, and we’re not a band that has been amazing at historically recording our shows; we’re getting from one gig to the next and beating the crap out of ourselves and moving on down the road. So this is our attempt to capture what we’ve been building and what we’ve developed over the 11 or 12 years we’ve been together.
Q: So this will be all of the hits?
A: This will be all of the hits. Obviously there’s going to be surprises and we’ve got guest performers and we’re not just doing verbatim, but we are going to try to capture something that we haven’t tried to capture before and do things that we’ve really built well with crowds throughout the years. We’ve got a new record in the wings that’s a remix album (of their fifth album, 2017’s Apocalipstick, called Post Apocalipstick) that’s coming out down the road, but this is not that, this is capturing what we do live in the best way that we can.
Q: You said guests, do you want to reveal those?
A: Yeah, sure, we’ve got Geoff Hilhorst on Hammond Organ from the Deep Dark Woods — he was on our last record … And then we’ve got Dawn Pemberton, who sings with us all the time on the road, paired up with Andrina Turenne from Winnipeg, and she sings with us as well but we rarely have them together. Oh, and we have (Calgary bluesman Tim Williams) — we brought him onboard to open every show.
The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer perform Friday Feb. 15 to Sunday Feb. 17 at the King Eddy. Tickets for the Friday and Saturday shows are sold out, those for the Sunday afternoon matinee performance at 3 p.m. are available here.
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.com. Follow him on Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at email@example.com.