Since their formation in 2008, Saskatoon’s Shooting Guns have developed a reputation for reducing audiences to putty-like goo with their gut-churning rhythms. No stranger to the business of weaving intricate harmonies and vibrant flourishes, guitarist Chris Laramee has found his comfort zone working alongside bassist Jay Loos, keyboardist Steve Reed, drummer Jim Ginther and guitarist Keef Doepker. Compounding the droning somnolence of stoned-out desert rock with the hair-raising clout of dark metal, the resulting melodic tour de force is something the band aptly refers to as “instru-metal” music.
“We’ve known each other for years and in that time nothing has ever been verbalized between us about exactly what kind of a band we were going to be,” Laramee says. “It was more of an exercise in teenage volume and the madness of having a good time. I think we had one conversation about getting a vocalist, but things were working so well within our dynamic that we didn’t feel the need. Even though I already do vocals in my own projects like Wasted Cathedral, having a singer was never a necessity for Shooting Guns.”
Like the soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic moonshine harvest, the band’s 2011 full-length debut, Born to Deal in Magic: 1952-1976, dazzled metal pundits and hardcore debutants alike. Laden with all of the sludge and fury that graced earlier efforts, including the highly consumable tracks “Dopestrings” and “Harmonic Steppenwolf,” the independently produced full-length album provided further evidence as to why these sloth-core instrumentalists were worthy of being nominated for the Polaris Prize long list. Despite being the first Saskatchewan band to receive that honour, Shooting Guns isn’t about to let such lofty praise go to their heads. Splitting a vinyl sandwich with fellow gerrymanders Krang this past July, Shooting Guns is sitting tall in the saddle courtesy of a new 7-inch EP via Teargas Recording Tree.
“The new stuff we’ve been working on consists of mainly longer songs that are definitely very slow with a heavier kind of vibe,” says Laramee. “We’re sort of going for that old Hawkwind sound we all love. I guess you could say that our next full-length album will be a little more conceptual in nature, but I hate to use that word. The songs are going to be interlinked by movie dialogue and other assorted samples with bigger intros and extros. I think that’s going to be the next step for us. There’s a charity store on the village green near us that has a treasure trove of dusty cassette tapes. Lately, I’ve been playing with a lot of sampling; layering-up our little drones using found bits and pieces. I’m especially fond of recycling tapes of insane Baptist preacher rants.”
It seems that a self-imposed gag order may no longer be a requisite aspect of Shooting Guns’ technique in the future. Hinting that the band’s tidal heaves and plunges won’t always remain unencumbered by lyrical content, Laramee has reason to suspect that the duty of providing vocal embellishments may soon fall to him.
“The thought of adding vocals to our set blows my mind. Even though nothing’s set in stone, I’m already considering where vocals would go and if there’s space for them with all of the noise we’re making. Our next record is already in various stages of being recorded. The guys and I are really looking forward to going out to the country to do the rest of the album in an old garage a friend of ours has converted into a studio. I consider our music to be somewhat atmospheric in the sense that it reflects our different environments. I like the idea of getting away from it all while we’re trying to figure out what to do with it all. It’s exciting to be turning over new earth and digging out a wide-open sound that will allow us to branch off in any direction.”