CONTEST ALERT: We also have BISON BISON self titled CD autographed by all members of the band – email us here and put “BISON BISON CD” in the subject line – winner notified February 20th. Check out all our other open contests here Jan 17 2013– Very few things are as exciting as finding something new you love. Much like archaeologists that dig to find hidden treasures, we here at T-Mak World really enjoy trying to find new bands that we love. Once we find such bands, we approach our favourites to request interviews for our Emerging Artist Spotlight series. Although we are a Toronto based website and the vast majority of our Emerging Artists are local we do enjoy setting our sights to bands from other places. Today we set our focus on a band from Portland, Oregon named Bison Bison. All bands we talked to are asked similar questions to each other so we can get to know them better. The description on Bison Bison’s website reads:
Formed in St. Johns, Portland, Oregon in early 2011 by Grant Miller (guitar/vocals) Dylan Reilly (bass, harmonica), and Eric Johnson (drums), Bison Bison has one boot firmly planted in the groove-based riff rock of the 70s, and the other trudging the nebulous sludge of Doom. Bison Bison has coalesced a range of creative styles that make them versatile enough to open for acts ranging from the moody metal of Witch Mountain to the gravelly roots rock of the Builders and the Butchers. A brawny strain of rail-splitting rock ‘n’roll, whether reveling in the rumble of Sleep or the diesel driven locomotion of early Grand Funk, Bison Bison stampede through various musical landscapes, leaving the listener with hook-laden earworms that burrow in the brain for days, flood the ears in a warm glow of psychedelia, and leave one either head tripping, head banging, or head scratching: in a good way.
Here is what they had to say to us:
1. Hey Bison Bison, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. Let’s start off with the obligatory introductions. Who’s in the band and what instrument does everyone rock?
Bison Bison: Hello, T-Mak World. Thanks for having us. We are a three-piece rock band from Portland, Oregon. Eric Johnson is our bombastic drummer. Dylan Reilly holds the groove on the bass. Grant Gerald Miller sings and plays the guitar.
2. How about the history of the band, when did you get started and how did it happen?
Bison Bison: I (Grant) work at a tiny little neighborhood bar in North Portland. One night it was pretty mellow, and I put on Flower Travellin Band. Dylan was sitting in the corner with his girlfriend, and when FTB kicked in his ears perked up and we struck up a conversation about music. We quickly discovered that we liked many of the same bands, that we played compatible instruments, and that neither of us was currently involved in any active music projects. We exchanged phone numbers and the following week I met up with Dylan and his drummer acquaintance, Eric, and we started laying down Rivertown.
3.Who are some of your musical influences?
Bison Bison: Our influences are vast, but somewhat obvious. If it weren’t for Flower Travellin’ Band, I wouldn’t have met Dylan and Eric when I did. There’s Black Sabbath, of course. We all love the early Grand Funk records. Groundhogs. Townes Van Zandt. Metallica. We didn’t really have a strong, specific vision of what we were going to do musically, and we knew we weren’t trying to reinvent the wheel. We just wanted to write rocking music that you could bob your head to, space out to, and catch a groove to.
4.So based on the above how would you describe your music to someone that has never heard it?
Bison Bison: I tried to explain this to my girlfriend’s aunt over the holidays. It was difficult. The best I could come up with was “groovy, moody, rock and roll.” Which I guess sums it up, but adjectives never have really done music much justice.
Photo by Kitty Center
5. Why should a music fan come and see your show instead of all the other choices available to them on any given night?
Bison Bison: I think people enjoy our shows because they never know quite what to expect if they haven’t seen us. We get lumped into the “stoner rock” or “stoner metal” categories all the time, and I think when people see us, they’re a little surprised that we don’t fit the rigid categories of the stoner metal genre. We always play our guts out, and our music is diverse enough that there’s a little something for everybody.
6. What is your favorite single line of lyrics the band has written and why?
Bison Bison: That’s a tough one. I like the lyrics on “Waiting for Saturn.” They’re punchy and abstract. “Unchain the earth from its sun, sit and lay in wait for Saturn.” Each song is like a new experiment for us. We try out a lot of different stuff both musically and lyrically, and I think some stuff works better than others. We’ll keep taking chances and exploring different musical and lyrical directions. It’s really easy to get bogged down in genre and just write songs about graves and space and witches and stuff, but we have to explore to keep ourselves interested, and hopefully that will keep our listeners interested as well.
7. What does 2013 hold for you?
Bison Bison: 2013 will see us touring quite a bit. We’re also going to work with Totem Cat records to get the debut album on wax. And then it’s on to the next album, which will hopefully see 2013.
8. Keep me updated – I love wax! Imagine that you were asked to be the opener for any band’s world tour (both current and historical). Which band and tour would be your dream opening gig.
Bison Bison: Goodness, that’s a huge question. Obviously, Black Sabbath is the best band ever, but I don’t imagine I would make it through a tour with them without becoming a drug addict or a raging alcoholic (these things are important, right?). Realistically, the Swedish band Graveyard is one of my contemporary favorites. Great songwriting. Perfect amount of oomph mixed with hooks. They’re touring the US soon with The Shrine from California, and I must say I’m slightly jealous.
Photo by: Colin McLaughlin
9. What is the future of the music industry? With the concept of the album and physical CD’s facing extinction, how will we be consuming music in 10 years? Are the economics feasible for emerging artists?
Bison Bison: That’s a tricky one, too. And I have no idea. With information and attention spans perpetually shrinking, I’m assuming people will start focusing more on single releases. CDs will die off completely and probably be replaced with download cards or some such thing, and I’m sure bands will get more creative with how the download cards are packaged and presented. Vinyl will most likely stick around, which might preserve the concept of the album for a while. It’s hard to say. As for the economics, with the demise of “The Label” bands are having to support their own recording and touring and etc, but bands have more control over their art and money. So like everything else, it seems there are both good and bad aspects of the new musical frontier. Bands aren’t really making money off their music anymore, so we have to figure out other ways to foot the bill. That’s why you see bands rolling off mixes without vocals and hiring publicists in hopes of having ESPN or Budweiser buy the rights to a song and slap it in a commercial. I hear stories of people linking up with car companies and other corporations, and they’re getting paid x amount of money every night to display some socks with the Scion logo on their merch table. It’s not pretty out there if you’re trying to make money off your music, but I don’t guess it ever really was. Back in the day bands made money off their music and got advances for studio time, and etc. but more often than not, the label fucked them out of most the money or owns the copyright to all the band’s songs or what have you. So yeah, it’s a mess, but I guess it sort of always has been in some ways.
10. Where can people get your music/CD, is it being sold anywhere?
Bison Bison: Right now you can download our debut album or purchase a CD at http://bisonbison.bandcamp.com/ If you’re in Europe you can get a CD through Ozium Records www.oziumrecords.com/
11. At the end of 2012 we published our picks for top 10 albums of 2012. Lists like those are always a reflection of personal tastes so if you were making the list what are some albums you would you have had on it?
Bison Bison: This is Grant’s list in no particular order:
Graveyard’s “Lights Out”
Godspeed You Black Emperor’s Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
Bison Bison: Just want to thank everyone who’s come out to a show, did some art for us, made a poster, gave us a place to crash, reviewed an album, bought an album or has otherwise wished us well these last couple of years.