5 Questions with Rags #49 - The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer (Shawn Hall, The Harpoonist)

The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer have been the most exciting, innovative west coast blues act for awhile now. The need to have my face blasted off overtakes me fairly often, and these two cats have been a go-to since I first got the stellar A Real Fine Mess into my ears a few years ago. A few months ago I caught the video for “Forever Fool,” (Which is amazing and you watch it now) the first single from their latest album, Apocalipstick. That's also when I found out the title for the their new album, Apocalipstick. What was that title?! What was happening to this bad-ass blues band that I loved so much?! Then I listened to the album and sweet Jesus, it's the most perfect title for maybe the duo's most bad-ass record yet.

“I used to fool around with this line that said, 'She kept me up all night in a post-apocalipstick, she held me in her fingers like a chicken in a chopstick.'” says Shawn Hall, the Harpoonist, talking to me from Regina, a brief stop in the band's current tour. “Matt [Rogers, The Axe Murderer] came up with the name for the record. It's like the inescapable grip of road life, the grip of that style of relationship people can have – the toxicity, the skin-deepness of that kind of allure,” explains Hall. “It's open to a lot of interpretation but that was where Apocalipstick stemmed from. You think about what's going on what whores we are for attention on such a minute level of detail, then moving on to the next thing. This vast, vacant consumption of everything.” Apocalipstick is a goddamned burner, their finest album yet. And that's saying a lot.

“We've been working on it forever. It's not a dinner party record. We don't fucking care. I hadn't listened to it for a bit until we got it on vinyl and I was like, 'Holy shit, that sounds wild!' I totally forgot.” With the release of a new record comes a new tour, and this one is unlike anything the band has done. “We're just making sure we can really bring it. Being able to bring these new songs on the road with a second drummer is unreal. People are just used to hearing Matt play the drums with feet and now they can hear Matt with his feet plus the drummer behind him who's also playing bass synth with his left hand, and singing backups. You can't join our band and just play one instrument. You gotta be able to do the whole thing!”

The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer on the West Coast

April 19, Nanaimo @ the Queens

April 21, Victoria @ Sugar Nightclub

April 22, Vancouver @ Commodore Ballroom

1. What's your best memory of an elementary or high school teacher?

The best memory I have is when I was 19, my grade 8 school teacher sat down next to me at the Alma Combo in Toronto. I was watching Albert Collins, the blues guitar legend. Right after my teacher sat down next to me, the Black Crowes, the fucking Black Crowes at the peek of their heyday, sat down next to me at an empty table. That wasn't a teaching moment, but it was a pretty unique experience.

2. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?

The first album I bought with my own money was the soundtrack to Stayin' Alive. Stayin' Alive was not Saturday Night Fever, but it was the sequel. And it was horrible.

3. When's the last time you did something for the first time?

Last summer in Victoria, going whale watching.

Sweet.

Yeah, the boat broke down in the middle of Juan de Fuca Strait. It sucked balls.

Oh, that's not as sweet. Did you get to see whales at least?

Yeah, we got to see some whales breaching. There was 15 minutes of whale watching packed into a four-hour trip.

Obliterating Tall Tree Music Festival 2015. 

Obliterating Tall Tree Music Festival 2015. 

4. If you could spend the day with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?

On this particular day I would hang out with my grandfather. I would go down to where he kept his boat. I would eat Cheetos and cruise around the Toronto Island on his boat and listen to his corny things and check out babes on his cigarette box. I'd go right back to the late 80's to early 90's and float around the harbour with my grandma and grandpa listening to cha-cha-cha music.

5. Have you ever felt or a seen a ghost or ghost-like presence?

Yes. I live in Nanaimo when I'm not touring. When I first moved into the house there were boxes that got moved and thrown to the floor quite a few times. One night there was a loud knock at the door in two or three in the morning and there was absolutely nobody there. This was five years ago. Scared the living shit out of me. Woke me straight up in a cold sweat.

6. The guest question comes from legendary Canadian slacker-troubadour B.A. Johnston...Which 80's wrestler best describes your band?

Koko B. Ware. Flamboyant, unpredictable, has a parrot, something slightly tropical but familiar.