Raygun Cowboys are described as a ‘psychobilly rock band’ that serves up energetic rockabilly that wields an irresistible urge to hit the dance floor.
They play The Vat May 16.
Wielding a engaging sound quite unlike much out there these days, the guys first formed back in 2000, and in 2005 released their first recordings on a compilation. Their own debut, Underworld Boogie, was unveiled in 2006.
The following year, they added a horn section to the traditional three-piece rockabilly line-up. In 2008, they recorded a follow-up album and signed a deal with Stumble Records, and promptly hit the road in 2009 criss-crossing Canada.
Since that time, they’ve been busy touring and in 2010, ventured across the pond for a three-week trek across Europe. Their last CD, Cowboy Up! was released in 2012.
“In 1999, I was really into rockabilly,” explains frontman Jon Christopherson, describing how at the time he was listening to lots by everyone from the Stray Cats to Chuck Berry to Elvis Presley. “So I wanted to put together a rockabilly band.” He hooked up with drummer Derek Thiesen, who, like Christopherson, was a big fan of punk as well.
The guys started playing in 2000, and performed mostly cover tunes. Their bassist moved away, and it seemed that once a replacement came along (Oakland Valleau) the band’s creative energies continued to emerge.
“We started writing more songs and doing more original material.”
By 2005, they had enough material for a CD. “I wanted to do a traditional rockabilly CD, but because I came out of the punk scene, things sounded a little more ‘punkified’,” he laughs. “So there’s this offshoot of rock called psychobilly – horror kind of themes – so we kind of went with that vein.
“Bringing in the horns (Nate Connolly and Michael Johnson) added more fuel to what we were doing, too. Things sound much ‘bigger’, and it made us more versatile as a band.”
Since they added the horns, they’ve toured Canada three times and also did a European three-week trek which included stops in the U.K., Belgium, Croatia and Germany.
“We also did a couple of shows in Romania, and they knew who we were,” he says with a laugh. “They were singing along to some of the songs, and I was thinking this is kind of mind-blowing.”
They’ve hit up much of the west coast of Canada and the U.S. as well.
Looking back, music was just a part of growing up.
“My mother was adamant I play an instrument. So from the time I was four years old, she had me playing the violin.” The lasted for about six years, then along came the guitar. And he was hooked.
“I really got into it. And throughout my teens, I just went on my own learning punk songs and power chords. And when it came to rockabilly, it was a little more involved in the guitar aspect of playing than was punk, so I started learning more. Then I got into the blues as well. That’s where the bug really bit me, and I realized that I had to do this.”
He went on to teach guitar, but the draw to play in bands was always at the forefront as well. And today, he wouldn’t have it any other way. A new CD is in the works, for tentative release either late this year or early 2015 as well.
“The most fun I have is on stage with my buddies,” he explains of the life of a musician. “When it’s a good show and everyone is dancing and having a good time, it’s an amazing feeling.”