Electro Quarterstaff Gretzky

Electro QuarterstaffGretzky
Photo: Boris Minkevich
Much like the hockey legend for which the album is named, Winnipeg’s Electro Quarterstaff bring unbridled skill and undeniable talent to the heavy metal arena. Three cunning axe wielders hold up the lack of low end by manoeuvring through complex and epic melodies, harmonising, duelling, and destroying their respective fret boards faster than the Oilers dynasty came crashing down in the early ’90s. With this much going on, there’s no need for vocals; they’d just detract from the shrewd songwriting and over the top musicianship. A resounding strength, their ability to piece together songs always maintains a sense of coherence though somewhat elusive and unconventional. Ruminative riffs transition flawlessly while beats are fired off with razor-sharp precision and slapshot ferocity. They’re quick to descend into tough, groove laden madness, all the while continuing to challenge their listeners, relentlessly executing savvy plays, their battle tactic best characterised as seek and destroy. Unleashing their instrumental stylings with the force of a thousand Gretzkys, EQ definitely scored with this full-length debut.

First a big screen hunk, now a hockey superstar — why Swayze and Gretzky? Guitarist Drew Johnston: Both words just sound really appealing on a linguistic level, regardless of any connotations they may exude. Obviously we don’t have lyrics or any kind of social/political agenda as an instrumental band, so we had to create concepts that would resonate with people. For some inexplicable reason, two-syllable last names containing Y and Z seem to do the trick. It’s total nonsense; both titles are basically non-sequiturs and do not relate to anything musically or personally. The enunciation of the last names themselves and the aesthetic value of how they may be perceived are undeniably endearing to us... we didn’t want typical or pretentious titles for our releases, so it was important to choose something bold but totally goofballs.

How do you feel the lack of low end contributes to your acoustic aesthetic? We’ve never really consciously strived to avoid having a bassist — it had more to do with complacency and circumstance than any kind of aesthetic choice... we’ve adapted our sound naturally over time to be concentrated in the lower registers of the guitar to compensate for the lack of bass. People have told us we sound fine without a bassist, but personally I hear it as a handicap... I came to realise first-hand the density and impact a bass guitar can provide in context, and to extend that "luxury” to EQ would give the guitars more freedom to explore independent phrasings and counterpoint punctuated by a real rhythm section keeping the low-end jet stream intact... we have enough momentum behind us at this point to at least experiment with the idea. (Willowtip)