“I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna to love it.”
So says Back to the Future‘s Marty McFly, after launching into some pseudo-Halen guitar licks at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance and kicking over his amplifier. It’s a scene that sent a wave of kids rushing to the guitar store, but it means something a little different to Dave “Fat Dave” Johnston, vocalist/guitarist of the Fuzz Kings.
“We play a lot of funny rooms,” Johnston explains. “The rock ‘n’ roll rooms but also the small-town neighbourhood bars with the regulars just kind of staring at you, and sometimes they don’t know how to deal with live music. They don’t really clap between songs, so you’ll finish a song feeling great and look around the room and you’re just being stared at. So our drummer would always quietly say, ‘Well, your kids are gonna love it.'”
For its new album, Your Kids Are Gonna Love It, the band turned up the amps and reconnected with their punk-rock roots. It wasn’t anything deliberate, Johnston explains—things just kind of went that way.
“We didn’t even really set out to make a record,” Johnston says. “For a couple years we would do this thing where we would play as many in-store shows as we could on Record Store Day. It’s a good time to break in new songs and kind of get road-tight all in one day. The next day we’d set-up and then record everything, and that’s kind of how this collection of eight songs happened.”
The artwork for Your Kids Are Gonna Love It will be familiar to anyone with knowledge of Western Canada’s punk scene over the years, as the Fuzz Kings were able to wrangle the talents of Tom Bagley to custom-illustrate a portrait of the band on stage.
“I was always a huge fan of his band [Forbidden Dimension] and a huge fan of the artwork—Chixdiggit, Huevos Rancheros, Forbidden Dimension, obviously—all these bands that kind of embodied what Canadian punk rock can be, and is,” Johnston says. “And I’d love to be associated with that in any way possible, so we became Internet pals after we’d played together, and I pitched it to him and he was like, ‘Sure, I’ll draw a cover for you.’ And I had the best day ever after that.”
Edmonton is home for the Fuzz Kings, and the city provides the setting for many of the band’s lyrics. It’s name-checked in the first few lines of the opener “Never Too Late (To Be Too Late)” (“My heart’s at home in Edmonton”), and tracks like “The Black Dog Bathroom Wall” serve to drive the point home.
“I’ve always really liked songs where names and places are dropped in—it personalizes it a little bit,” Johnston explains. “You hear something like ’53rd & 3rd’ [by the Ramones] or ‘9th and Hennepin’ [by Tom Waits] and it sets a time and a place. You’re telling a story, essentially, so it’s cool to be able to do that with Edmonton. The flipside is that for a while it seemed like a lot of bands and a lot of musicians were doing everything they possibly could do to leave. I spent some time trying to get out of here too, but then I became a dad and I had to decide to love this town. And I’m proud of the fact I live here. Proud of the fact that I was born here, I’m still here, and I make music here with some world-class players. And it’s awesome.”
Fri, Apr 15 (8 pm)
With Kimberley MacGregor & Her Handsome Band, Debutant
Bellevue Community League, $10