The Hi-Strung Downers have risen to be one of Calgary’s strongest rockabilly bands. They play at Bo’s on Feb. 27th.
A rock and roll four-piece, the band wields strong rockabilly, early rock and roll and punk rock influences. Made up of members from some of southern Alberta’s veteran groups (including The Black Coffee Cowboys, The Surefires, The Southern Twisters and The Ruminants), The Hi-Strung Downers are writing the next musical chapter of Western Canadian rock and roots.
The Hi-Strung Downers consist of Earl Garnet, Joe Love, Greasy Greg and Terry Starchuck.
From the get-go, there is no question these guys have had a terrific time both in producing and performing their music.
“You’ve got to sell it to yourself before you can sell it to the crowd,” explained Garnet with a laugh during a recent chat.
“It’s about four years ago that Joe Love and I decided to form this band, and we had kind of a direct idea about how we wanted to do this,” he explained, adding that the guys had played in a number of rockabilly bands over the years.
With the formation of the Hi-Strung Downers, it was time to venture into new territory beyond traditional rockabilly sensibilities.
“I wanted something a little more rock and roll with a little bit more freedom to not be sticking within the confines of traditional rockabilly. So we’ve really pushed that and I think our record reflects that as well.”
Meanwhile, their disc – Here She Lies – kicks off with an unstoppable energy and really doesn’t let go – sheer entertainment from start to finish with all kinds of influences popping up as the project briskly moves along. Influences include Eddie Cochran, Starday Records, Roy Kay Trio, Ronnie Hayward, Grady Martin, Charlie Feathers and Jail Houses.
Here She Lies was produced by Brent Cooper of the Ramblin Ambassadors, whose extensive knowledge of rock history, guitar tones and techniques makes its way throughout the recording. As much as the storytelling is upfront and honest, so is the playing and sound quality.
“Brent and Cam Hayden were very integral to our process,” said Garnet. “Brent brought all these ideas in guitar-wise and for arrangements that I hadn’t even thought of.
“Cam was also just awesome – he had lots of good ideas as well. Without those two guys, the record wouldn’t have been nearly as good as it is.”
For the Hi-Strung Downers, everyone has creative input. Each of the guys are songwriters in their own right, but when they get together and merge their creative energies – the tunes are lifted to even higher levels of expression and quality.
“Most of the time someone will bring in a song and then by the time the rest of the band provides their input, the song can really change. However, it still will have the original lyrics for the most part.” Other times, it’s a collaboration from the start. Whichever way the song ideas are sparked, the band members each inject their own style into a given project which in turn contributes to the band’s unique and increasingly popular sound.
Meanwhile, the guys are gearing up to lay down tracks for their next project next month.
“We don’t want to record the same record – which was like a ‘break-up’ record,” said Garnet, adding the lyrics will reflect that and of course the same irresistibly catchy grooving foundation will still be there.
“We are all ready to go in and record.”