EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH BISON B.C.’S DAN AND
The rest of the world might know them as Bison B.C., but here in British Columbia, we just call them “Bison.” After ceaseless touring and breaking through into new territory, Vancouver’s favorite stoner sons made a prodigal return to home turf delivering a spectacular live show as direct support to Priestess and 3 Inches of Blood at a sold out Commodore Ballroom last Saturday night. Just before this live trampling, I was able to corner guitarist/vocalist Dan And in the bathroom outside the Bison dressing room where he told me about being signed to a label, life on the road, and how real dog barks made it onto their sophomore release, Quiet Earth.
I’d say it’s been a pretty big year for Bison. Would you like to tell us a little of what’s been happening?
Just playing all the time, getting signed to Metal Blade, recording our new album and getting them to put that out, and just touring as much as possible.
You got signed to Metal Blade over the summer. How did that happen?
Sarah Lutz, who works for Metal Blade in Toronto, she was in town while we were playing a show and she just happened to come by and check it out. I guess she totally loved it and went back to Metal Blade and was like “You guys have got to get into this.” It was kind of weird because nobody else at the label had seen us play. They’d heard the album that we did on our own but she was like, “You got to see them live!”
Congratulations on Quiet Earth. What was the recording experience like for that album?
It was awesome. We recorded in the same spot with the same guy, at The Hive just outside Vancouver with our friend Jesse Gander. He’s amazing, he’s recorded hundreds of Vancouver bands. He used to do a lot punk bands and he hasn’t done a ton of metal. He did one of the old 3 Inches [of Blood] recordings. He’s a friend of ours who recorded James’ [Farwell, guitar/vocals] old band, S.T.R.E.E.T.S., and we loved the way Earthbound came out and I think Quiet Earth turned out just a hundred times better. We had more time. Earthbound was like four days to do everything, mixing, mastering, all that stuff.
How long did Quiet Earth take?
About two weeks. Just under two weeks.
Was the atmosphere different?
It was pretty much the same. The Hive is awesome. It’s so chill and everyone that works there is awesome. You can hang out and play video games or watch TV when you’re not recording or tracking. The fact that Jesse had more time, he was able to really push himself to try new things. When I first heard back some of the early mixes I was like “HOLY FUCK!” It just sounded so huge! He was a lot more confident doing it and having more time.
So you said you were trying new things, experimenting, did that include the violin and the dog?
Yeah! James’ dog Milo and the violins, that was all just sitting around, looking at the time frame and these ideas come to you and you’re like “Woah!” After a couple beers you’re like “Hold on! Check this out, this is gonna be awesome. Let’s get the dog!”
I think it turned out pretty well, too.
I couldn’t believe it because that dog is the nicest dog in the world. Fucking huge huskey-great dane and I had never heard him bark unless James gets him worked up. He just barks like he’s playing but if you calm him down while he’s barking he does this growl. It’s really weird.
You also managed to get Jamie Hooper from 3 Inches of Blood to do some guest vocals. You guys and 3IOB are pretty tight, yeah?
I was friends with 3IOB even before Cam [Pipes, vocalist] was in the band, back when they first got together in Victoria. We’ve basically been friends with almost every single line-up change. We’ve been bros for years.
The first album is Earthbound and the second is Quiet Earth. What’s the reference to the earth in the title mean?
We’re just a fucking bunch of hippies [laughs]. It’s kind of a story, not like a concept album but it’s a story about this race of Bison warriors on another planet. A lot of James’ lyrics are like “the earth is fucked, doomsday is coming”. So its an idea that this other race of conquering warlords taking over our civilization at the peak of its collapse. We were just joking about this just like with the violins, but it’s the story about these guys traveling through space to conquer the earth. Earthbound was like their home world and you can see the earth in the background and this one is them sending out this mage to declare war.
Yeah, exactly. They’re showing up and that’s the “quiet” like in Independence Day when the spaceship is coming down. I don’t know where it’s going to go from there.
Do you think you’ll continue the concept?
Probably, we think we’re hilarious so we’ll keep going with shit like that.
You were talking earlier about the “doomsday” lyrics. Is there an environmental message in Bison?
We’re not a political band or anything, but I think you have to be a total idiot to think that the world is doing good. I can’t really speak for James’ lyrics but that’s what I get out of them. He’s writing about what he sees going on in the world, and I’m just telling stories about wendigos, wizards. I’ll let him take that and I’ll just write a story here and there.
What are some of your major influences?
I’m not going to name any bands because it will take forever. There’s totally punk, thrash, stoner metal, we love all that shit, but also classic rock, ’70s blues rock. We love all that, too. James and I definitely grew up as total punks and hardcore kids, so there’s crust and that sort of stuff.
How has the touring behind the album been?
Awesome. Right before the album came out we went out to start the “Exclaim” tour with Baroness and Genghis Tron. We did that for about three weeks, went home for five days, went to the states for a month, then we were just in Toronto for maybe four or five days. Then we just started this tour which has been another 3 weeks. So that’s three tours in a row, but the response has been great. The feedback that we’re getting from kids at the shows has been just awesome. It boggles my mind.
Are you starting to catch on in the States now?
Yeah, there’s been towns you hit more than once, and if you go back a month later the kids are stoked. We haven’t done a lot of US touring, just the West Coast last year, but especially in Canada the towns that we’ve hit like Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Winnipeg, when we come back it’s like “Holy Shit!”
Have the other bands been good to tour with?
For sure, this tour has been awesome with Priestess, Barn Burner and Flash-Lightning. Baroness and Genghis Tron were awesome. We had a mini-tour with 3 Inches. Down in the states we played with probably a hundred different bands because we were jumping on tours here and there but there were some awesome bands.
Have you ever been on the road that long before?
No, I’ve been in touring bands for the past ten years but it’s always been two weeks, three weeks as little guys. Now we’re doing ten weeks.
You totally roll with it. I thought I would be absolutely dead by the time I got home but you just find a good pace. This sounds lame but you try to eat some vegetables and drink a lot of water. Maybe don’t drink beer every night. Make the switch to some hard liquor every now and again. Have a nice cocktail and treat yourself [laughs]. Having 24 Budweisers every night doesn’t really help the gut.
What’s the Bison cocktail of choice then?
I’m a pretty big fan of whiskey sour, bourbon sour. I also love Jagermeister and we’re all pretty into Jamesons. Caesars, of course.
Of course, that’s essential. What kind of future goals do you have for Bison?
The only goals that I ever had was writing tunes that we’re stoked on and getting to tour. So as long as we can keep writing songs that I love to play and keep touring and recording, that’s it. That’s all I really care about. I’m stoked other people like it but I don’t want a guitar-shaped pool, that’s James’ goal [laughs]. I might steal it, too, I’ll see how it looks in his backyard.
No, but just being happy with what I’m doing, being into it and being excited about it that’s all that’s important.
Are there any albums that have come out this year that you’ve been stoked on?
Oh god yeah! The new Fuck the Facts record is awesome. What else? Ha, the last time I did this, every album I said came out last year. Tombs, we played with them and they fucking blew my mind. This album got handed to me when we played in Edmonton by a Canadian band called Exit Strategy. That was a band that just absolutely floored me. I couldn’t believe it. It was tech/grind but not over the top, not the kind of tech where you don’t know what’s going on, because I love grind and that sort of stuff. Just giving shout outs to those Canadian bands [laughs].
Any last words to your fans or to the world?
Stay rad. Have fun. Be cool to each other. Peace. Hippie Metal!