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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

Does Not Compute

Craig Silliphant
Published Thursday May 14, 06:37 pm
Shooting Guns at the Junos? That’s gotta be a hilarious story

Photo Credit: Myron Campbell

Local doom-rockers Shooting Guns are never done surprising me. Let me count the ways: they’re an instrumental stoner-rock band consistently garnering audiences who wouldn’t be into that sort of thing on paper; they’ve ended up on the Polaris Music Prize longlist twice; and they recorded the soundtrack to the internationally seen indie movie Wolfcop. Most recently, I was filled with a confusing mix of pride and hilarity when it was announced they’d been nominated for a Juno Award.

It’s not that I don’t think they’re worthy — quite the opposite. I’ve known most of these guys since high school, so I’ve been in a unique position to follow their musical careers with ever-swelling pride. But seriously: of all things possible, who’da thunk my knucklehead buddies would be nominated for a fuckin’ Juno?

“Cue much laughter and surprise when it was announced that we got a nod in the [Metal/Hard Rock] category,” says guitarist Chris Laramee. “There’s about a thousand or more deserving bands in Canada that could’ve easily gotten picked. Why us? From my view, the Polaris exposure, which was also weird, was probably the biggest factor. Beyond that, who fucking knows?”

“I had a blast!” says drummer Jim Ginther. “Sure, the awards themselves are pretty ridiculous, but that's no big secret. The coolest part for me was the fact that we were there at all — pretty much the only band that wasn't there on their label's dime, and just doing our thing on our terms.”

I actually tuned in to the Sunday Junos telecast to watch Shooting Guns’ category — thereby subjecting myself to all manner of horrors, from a hyperbolic presentation about Alanis to the douche from Hedley MCing (and making all kinds of sexist jokes with as little charisma as humanly possible). But what I quickly learned was that the band’s category had been awarded the previous evening at the pre-broadcast Juno gala dinner at the Hamilton Convention Centre. Thank gawd — I could change the channel away from that televised train-wreck.

But from the inside, what did the band make of this weekend of industry posturing and general hoopla?

“Well first, the profound and palpable disconnect between a band like us and the industry was writ large from the outset,” says Laramee. “Walking into the Saturday night gala event, everyone was dressed to the nines in their suits and gowns. We were in our shirts and jeans, squirming uncomfortably in front of the cameras on the red carpet photo-thingy, salivating at the thought of all those unopened Steam Whistle beers awaiting us on the other side of the flashes.”

Soon enough they were inside, hanging with buds and fellow local nominees The Deep Dark Woods, lapping up as much free beer as they could, clinking bottles and laughing at the surreal nature of the thing.

“I had this paranoia we were gonna get tossed out at any moment,” says Laramee.

They weren’t kicked out, so they made their way upstairs to the main ballroom for dinner and the pre-broadcast awards presentation.

“So we get up there and discover that we’re seated at the front, right near Rush and their family and management,” Laramee says. “Clearly, someone fucked up.”

The band had dinner and more wine, and were sonically harangued by a lame nu-country band that Laramee describes as “strangely sound[ing] like ‘Cherry Pie’-era Warrant.” Though he couldn’t remember her name, he does remember the MC being funny, tossing out Jian Ghomeshi jokes with reckless abandon. (Some quick research indicates that it was former MTV Canada host Jessi Cruickshank.)

“The best thing that happened that night,” says Laramee, “was Daniel Lanois performing a set of free electronic skree accompanied by a wall of effects, a great drummer and a couple of dudes who just skulked around the stage, glaring at the audience. Wicked — but not many people seemed to like it. Go figure.”

When their category came up it was actually The Devin Townsend Band that won, though he wasn’t there to claim his prize. But Shooting Guns had to exit to rip over to their JUNOfest show, where they had a blast playing for and partying with the crowd and friends.

“[It was] an obvious reminder to me of exactly why I do this,” says Laramee. “To share our primitive assault with whoever gives a toss.”

The following day — the day of the actual broadcast gala — was spent at their hotel in Burlington, eating pizza and watching extreme watersliding on television until it was time to go to the big event. Laramee says his stomach was a bit off, but he decided to suck it up and go anyway. As they approached the red carpet, they were assaulted by the sound of young girls screaming. Not for them, but for Shawn Mendes.

“That said, we got along really well with the press and photographers,” says Ginther. “Everyone was taking so many serious pictures and we just rolled in as ourselves with beers in our hands, which seemed to really differentiate us from the majority of people who were there with some delusion about actually winning an award.”

After being subjected to a barrage of photographers who didn’t really know or care who they were, and meeting the excellent Mac DeMarco (who was there for Chart Attack Magazine), they made their way into the bowels of the FirstOntario Centre.

“The show?” says Laramee. “The less said, the better. I left after the third commercial break to go have a nap in the van. Didn’t go back.”

“There was confusion on the way out,” says Ginther, “as they weren’t expecting anyone to leave so early and they couldn't find enough seat-fillers, but I'm sure they figured it out. We found an incredible El Salvadorian restaurant down the street and did what we do best: crush some beers and hang out.”

“The only thing I can possibly say to sum it up is that while that whole sort of thing may be someone’s version of reality, it’s not mine,” Laramee says. “I play music for myself and whoever may happen to enjoy it, not for a shot at seeing my reflection in what is the glittering neon of zero consequence. Yeah, we went, we did it, but we should’ve put out a 7” record instead. Just my lowly opinion. So there you go.”

Sounds exactly like those knuckleheads I know and love.

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