Vancouver-based rockers One Bad Son heads to The Vat on April 25.
Described as an ‘honest to goodness rock ‘n’ roll band that occupies a world of its own’, singer Shane Volk, drummer Kurt Dahl and guitarist Adam Hicks first joined forces in Saskatoon back in 2004.
The three friends moved into a house together, forming a tight-knit brotherhood and spending every free moment jamming and building up a catalog of songs.
They independently released the albums This Aggression Will Not Stand in 2006 and Orange City in 2007. But it wasn’t until Adam Grant joined on bass in 2007 that One Bad Son was truly complete.
The band’s reputation for tight musicianship and explosive, unscripted live shows spread through word of mouth and before long the group was playing to sold out venues in its hometown and embarking on a string of well-received national tours.
This propelled the outfit to high-profile opening slots for Godsmack, Buckcherry and Default, and the singles Rustbucket and Retribution Blues landed Canada-wide radio play.
Maintaining an independently creative spirit has always been a central focus of the band. “We’re outsiders and we always operate in our own bubble,” says Dahl of the band’s grassroots origins. “We don’t get things handed to us – we have to work to get them.”
The four friends relocated to Vancouver in 2011. It was a bold move, considering their loyal following in Saskatoon. And after a few months of steady gigging, the band had won over a new legion of fans and inked a record deal with the local 604 Records, which released the band’s latest self-titled CD in September of last year.
This collection, produced by Default drummer Danny Craig, is a culmination of everything the band has achieved in the past eight years.
“There’s a reason why it’s self-titled,” explains Volk. “We really feel like this is the new starting point. There was everything that happened before the release of this record and everything that’s going to happen after this. This is a true One Bad Son record.”
The album channels the electrified energy of the band’s thunderous concerts and also adds a new dimension to its diverse sonic pallet.
Upbeat scorchers like Rustbucket and She’s on Fire are packed with ’70s-inspired hard rock riffs and fretboard fireworks, while the searing, menacing singalong London Kills taps into something darker and more groove-based. Moneytrain pounds away in with that full-tilt classic rock fury while the relatively toned down I’m Still Here reveals a more personal side to the band lyrically, and shows another side to Volk’s vocal strengths.
Elsewhere, the band shows its stylistic breadth with the melancholic ballads Scarecrows and El Camino, the latter featuring little more than an acoustic guitar and a mournful string section.
These passionate and uncompromising tracks are the product of years of devotion to the life of rock ‘n’ roll.
Of course, the guys are no strangers to hard work.
“Lyrically, it’s a very blue collar record,” Volk observes. “I’m a farm kid. Kurt’s dad is an auto body man. Adam’s dad is a painter. That’s what we grew up with. It’s a really good reflection of where the band has been the last few years — just working, working, working.”
Now that the band is finally seeing its labour pay off in the form of a record deal and a quickly expanding fan base, folks shouldn’t assume One Bad Son will compromise its independent spirit and timeless approach to rock music any time soon.
“We’re four guys who write all the songs together,” Dahl says. “We play our own instruments. We don’t play to a backing track. We’ve lived together as a band.
“We do it ourselves. There’s no one else pulling the strings behind the scenes. We live and breathe this band and these songs,” he adds. “That’s what real rock ‘n’ roll is all about.”