By Keith Sharp
Kiss bassist Gene Simmons may insist that rock n roll is dead but this isn’t the sentiment being shared by Saskatoon’s One Bad Son who are about to kick off a national tour in support of their third major studio release; `Made In The Name Of Rock N Roll’.
“Gene Simmons is talking through his arse,” cracked band lead vocalist Shane Volk on the phone from Calgary on the eve of his band’s record release. “When you are old and irrelevant like Simmons, you want to say things that shock people. But the fact that we have just had a No 1 record in Canada with “Raging Bull” and “Scream For Me” (both off the new album) is currently top 20 tells me that rock n roll is very relevant.”
“We just returned from playing some shows in Germany and it is totally crazy over there,” Volk continued. “Even in Rock’s heyday, when Led Zeppelin were at their zenith, ABBA were still commercially more successful. But over the years, rock has proven to be more than a fad, it’s a permanent fixture in our culture”.
It’s a creed Volk, drummer Kurt Dahl and guitarist Adam Hicks followed when they launched their band in Saskatoon in 2004 (bassist Adam Grant joined in 2007). Encouraged by a local Saskatoon deejay who gave airplay to “Alive In Texas” off their 2005 `This Aggression Will Not Stand” E.P (a reference to The Big Lebowski movie). One Bad Son achieved further recognition with two more E.P releases `Orange County’ and `Rust Bucket’, formulating a touring relationship with Vancouver’s Default who brought them to the attention of Vancouver-based 604 Records, launched by Nickelback lead vocalist Chad Kroeger.
With Default drummer Danny Craig producing their self titled debut release in 2012, One Bad Son have toured Canada continuously building a strong reputation for themselves, developing their chops touring with the likes of Judas Priest, Def Leppard Three Days Grace and Buckcherry. Experience and prowess which came through on their 2014 release `Black Buffalo’ produced by Eric Ratz (Monster Truck, Billy Talent, The Arkells).
“There were times in our past when we suffered from a bit of an identity crisis, where we were trying to find out exactly who we are,” Volk acknowledged. “But with this record it all came together. We are Guns N Roses, we are Soundgarden, there’s no reason to shy away from that. We have gotten to a point where we are very comfortable in our sound. We don’t apologize for who we are.”
Volk credits the work of producer Gavin Brown in refining the band’s sound. “It’s vital to have a record producer who we have confidence in. We have always been competent song writers but it’s nice to be able to take raw songs to an established hit-maker/songwriter and let him unleash his talent on our stuff.”
The result is a 10-song set which nicely balances pure rockers like the title track, “Raging Bull” and “Scream For Me” with more melodic tracks like “The Promise” and “Rise Up”. “Within the 10 songs, we were given the encouragement to try different things and get outside our comfort zone,” noted Volk. “I guess that’s just a sign of our growing confidence.”
As the band is set to embark on a major national club tour which kicks off October 17th in Red Deer, hits Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre November 16th and concludes December 16th with a homecoming party at Saskatoon’s O’Brien Event Centre, Volk notes that he is seeing a major leap in the band’s popularity.
“Being a Western Canadian band, it’s logistically more difficult to achieve national exposure. If you are from Toronto, there’s just so many more people to play to. Being from Western Canada it’s a harder start but we’ve never apologized for being from out here. But now Eastern radio is starting to get on us, that’s helping a ton,” noted Volk. “We’ve never been the big darling band of the day, unlike Monster Truck or Glorious Sons but that’s okay. Every band follows its own path, and we’ve followed our own organic growth but it’s starting to pay off for us and we feel it’s sustainable. We want to be doing this in 20 years’ time.”