There’s rockabilly and then there’s what’s known as ‘hard rockabilly’. And that’s precisely the style that Saskatoon band the Classy Chassys serve up via their latest EP Rebel Heart.
The guys are touring western Canada with their ‘white hot brand of rockabilly madness’, and are set to perform at Fratters on June 13th.
Fans will love the cuts from Rebel Heart, and those who have never heard the band before could very well be blown away from the fired-up energy that explodes through the speakers. With Class opens the project in true, driving rock/rockabilly fashion. The title track follows with a bit of a mellower tempo, but still coasts along with an engaging, sunny 50s kind of feel.
But the Classy Chassys’ are by no means trying to copy the folksier rockabilly sounds of the 1950s. This is a gutsier, tougher, leaner sound – absolutely unique within the myriad of sound-alike pop treacle hitting the airwaves currently in abundance.
Ultimately, the goal is to tap into a few of those old-style sensibilities of rockabilly to be sure. But as mentioned, it’s more of a foundation than a defining label. Indeed, the Chassys’ influences of rock and roll, punk, blues, jazz and more combine to create a high energy, hard-hitting sound.
They cite influences as diverse as the Stray Cats, B.B. King, Meat Loaf and Green Day to The Beatles, Roy Orbison, Billy Joel and the Blues Brothers.
And with an emphasis on an explosive live show, guitarist/singer Matt Joyal, upright bassist Dan Neumeier, saxophonist Kenny Martelli and drummer Luke Saretsky prove that this ‘just ain’t 50s music anymore’.
“We all basically met in high school,” said Saretsky, discussing the band’s formation. The members had all been playing in other bands prior to teaming up as the Classy Chassys in 2007. “Matt, Kenny and Dan all had a band throughout high school, and we kind of formed this one afterwards.”
Elements from those other band experiences were blended into the defining tones of the Classy Chassys, including the overall driving rock feel. “We still have those classic rock elements.”
Meanwhile, the sounds of rockabilly certainly have their charms, what with the big double bass and intrinsic energy that pretty much just defines so much of their tunes.
“Looking back to Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley – they had those same kinds of roots, right? So this brings back some of those original elements of rock.”
After releasing their debut CD Ain’t No Thang in 2013, the Chassys joined forces with Danny Craig of Default to produce Rebel Heart . “We met up with Danny Craig through our friends in One Bad Son,” he said. They headed off to Vancouver last summer for some recording sessions, and it proved a really rich creative experience all-around.
Mixing and mastering were completed earlier this year.
Joining forces with Craig proved to be a smart move on the Chassys’ part, as the resulting EP showcases not only the rockabilly influence but also captures the urgent rock feel they were aiming for.
Taking the songs on the road has been a blast as well. “We try to bring a really high-energy show – we always say if you aren’t breaking a sweat onstage, you aren’t trying hard enough.”
Saretsky’s own musical aspirations came along quite early; he has quite a legacy of musical appreciation and performance in his own family. Early country leanings later broadened to a penchant for rock.
With the Classy Chassys, he’s certainly found his niche. “We want people to hear a new, fresh sound,” he explains of the guys’ shows with brim with originality. “We want to bring a new style of rock. We hope people will come out to dance, party and just have a great time.”
The band will also be joined by Gunner & Smith for the Red Deer show.
After spending much of last year on the road with almost 100 shows across Canada and the U.S., Saskatoon’s Gunner & Smith frontman Geoff Smith is gearing up to tour as a solo artist.
Starting in 2010 as a solo project by Smith, the band evolved into a multi-member indie country rock ensemble described as one that, “Traverses the rocky line between post-prairies balladeering and grit-covered rockers for those given to heavy highway drives and long, expansive thoughts.”
Gunner & Smith fluctuates between full band and a solo endeavor; and after releasing a couple EPs they released their first full-length CD He Once Was a Good Man in February 2014. As pointed out on the group’s web site, much of the credit for Gunner & Smith’s success can be given to lead singer/man-in-charge Smith.
“2014 was all about trying to get our album out to as many people, in as many places as we could,” he said. “We are hoping to take what we’ve been learning from this last year and put it into our new album.”
Upon the completion of the spring tour, Gunner & Smith will be heading to the studio to demo new material with plans to release a new CD early next year. Until then, Gunner & Smith plan to stay on the road throughout 2015 with a mix of full-band and solo dates.