Old formulas die hard
How many friends did you have in junior high that you can honestly say you’re still friends with today? You can’t be blamed for losing touch—even the Stand by Me kids drifted apart, and they found a dead body together. Some childhood friends are just held by thicker strings, like a mutual appreciation for ripping tunes. One of the rarest of those groups stuck together for 20 years, and is called The Blame-its.
It’s pretty inspiring to see a band stay together this long. When so many bands just couldn’t keep it going, bassist Tye Hayes, guitarists Travis Hayes and Chris Workun, and drummer Marco West have figured out how to keep the show on the road.
“We started getting into punk rock when we were around 11 or 12,” says Workun. “Like Screeching Weasel, and AFI, and the Descendents. We just fell flat in love with it and then we just had to try it. Growing up in a small town, there wasn’t a lot to do.”
In the good old days, they’d play hall shows and at the few pubs that weren’t too quick to card a bunch of 17-year-olds. It was a good way for a tight knit group of teenagers to make rent or party.
The anniversary show is like a homecoming for The Blame-its in that sense, and the band is making every effort to recapture what made those early days so special. Missing that Legion hall scenery, Workun specifically wanted to play the anniversary party at The Sewing Machine Factory because he says it’s got “the nostalgia factor.”
“For this EP, we wanted a more stripped down recording,” says Workun. “We used to always make tapes in my parent’s garage with a ghetto blaster. This time we recorded on a 4-track at Wright Automotive so we could record one more tape in a garage.”
Taping in a garage, a venue with a familiar feel, and even contacting the original artist behind the band’s first album art for this latest offering: the formula hasn’t fundamentally changed since the days of “Kitchen Party” and “Methadone Slurpee.” If anything, it’s just matured.
The Blame-its got its start in Hinton in 1997, when Workun and the Hayes twins were still in Grade 8. One of them suggested the name while they were waiting for a ride to the school dance and it just stuck. Originally a three-piece, Workun moved from drums to guitar in 2007 and the band brought West, formerly of punk band Blacklisted, into the fold.
The golden rule across every album appears to be just having a good time, but after 20 years in the Edmonton music scene, some things have changed since the band first moved to town.
“It’s really way more divided than it used to be,” says Workun. “When we got here it was just like everybody played with everybody. Everybody had fun, and now it’s way more divided by genres, I feel. Everyone just kind of sticks to their own it seems. It’s not good, but I’ve made some of the best friends I’ve ever had in the last few years too, so good and bad.”
The Blame-its boils down to two things: friends making friends and a killer soda-pop punk soundtrack. It’s what 90 percent of their songs are about, and it’s what made those earlier times worth creating in the first place.
“We’ve never viewed it as a thing that we have to pursue like a career or a job. The whole thing is just the three or four of us just hanging out, having beers and writing songs,” says Workun. “There’s no ulterior motive. It’s just as pure as we can keep it. If it ever came to be a career or a job we would probably start liking it a lot less. It’s our thing that we do as buds.”
Fri., May 19 (9 pm)
The Blame-its w/ Uptights, Bad Buddy and Vibes
Mill Creek Cafe (originally at The Sewing Machine Factory), $10 at the door