Published Oct 02, 2007The unofficial charter of what makes Canada the Great White North needs to be revised. Theres another institution that deserves accreditation along with snow, back bacon and Coleman stoves: White Cowbell Oklahoma. Easily this countrys finest group of musical malefactors, the touring circus that is White Cowbell "Cowbell or "WCO to the informed is a visual spectacle that renders watching shock rockers Gwar with a been-there, done-that tedium.
However, its not just the stage show that has featured decimated Thanksgiving dinners, ejaculating rubber "members and wet t-shirt contests that make a Cowbell show. Their muscular instrumental chops only serve to amplify the already-raucous onslaught thanks to a contributors list that reads like the backwoods family reunion it is.
Featuring the likes of guitarist Clem, Sgt. Rock (vocals), Hollis (double neck guitar), Chainsaw Charlie (various tomfoolery), the Cousin Who Hath No Name (guitar), Bubba Lee Phett (bass), Sheriff R.F. Horton (more tomfoolery), Jesse (organ), Jessup H. Christ (guitar) and Dingo Von Devereaux (drummer), White Cowbell Oklahoma gear up to decimate the country once more on the heels of their third full-length Casa Diablo (on the bands Slick Monkey label). A smooth, confident blast of high-energy Southern-fried rock, Casa Diablo blends the unforgettable, sweeping guitar flare of Lynyrd Skynyrds finest wankery with the boogie-down backbeat of, well, Lynyrd Skynyrd. After much tracking down and to-do, Clem offered up some insight on his usual gang of idiots.
Casa Diablo is sharper and more focused than your already-fine previous albums. What are your thoughts after some time to sit on it?
Casa Diablo is an incredible, magnificent musical document. Many critics have alluded to its magnitude and excellence. It's maybe a bit more focused album than its predecessor, Cencerro Blanco. When we wrote the last one, we were trying to pull from all of our Southern and boogie rock influences in all their gloriousness. With Casa Diablo, there's still a lot of boogie and even some country but because our keyboardist Jessie and I were pulling a lot of the strings in the lab on this one, there were a few more Deep Purple sounds creeping in. I play a Strat and he plays an organ, so there ya go. I also often play with my organ but never with his.
We also had a lot of druids, Balkan magicians and Bolivian soothsayers working behind the scenes to make Casa Diablo the pinnacle of our catalog thus far. Still, people seem to still like the first one a lot too, especially in Europe where it still sells. And they both have saucy album covers.
Were there any drastic elements you didn't expect the band would delve into or was it meticulously-planned?
Well, some of the band members are complete cunts, so I noticed an unexpected bit of cuntiness in some of their guitar tones. Actually, the guitars sound amazing. Jessie has this Tardis thing in his underground laboratory. You can lock the amps in there and play so its all sound-proof, or you can lock yourself in there and travel time and space, kinda like Dr. Who or that Altered States movie.
The first album was based mainly on live arrangements, because we'd been playing them songs forever but most of these songs were new, so the arrangements were drawn up in advance on our "bristle board of power." We had that shit taped all over the walls. It was made from the finest two 2000-old Roman papyrus.
How has the band's musical style/ability grown?
When White Cowbell Oklahoma started, there weren't just nine guys. There were nine guitarists. It was complete and utter cacophony, which is glorious but they all got too expensive to feed. We had half of them "disappear." We actually have cryogenic tanks for former members. It keeps the rest of the band in line out of fear. They may be impossible to kill but you can keep them locked in a tank forever.
As far as mind-blowing musical virtuosity goes, White Cowbell Oklahoma have never been better in the same way as the bad guy in Terminator 2. Johnny Mercurypants was a way harder cunt than Arnold in the first movie.
I've also noticed that while still busting at the seams, things are pared down from the countless instruments and bit-players. What brought that about?
Well, truth be told, the band have made the underground shadows of Toronto its home for a while now. And WCO's Toronto shows used to be unmanageable orgies of sight and sound. They still are but on the road you can't take every dirty thespian you find on the street. Touring definitely made the band better, tighter and harder to destroy. We do tend to pick up dancers and other freaks wherever we are in any particular moment. Veronyca VerBoom performs a lot with us on the road too. She's superhuman. Don't mess with her. She's quick with a knife.
I assume this lets you focus on the music more?
Admittedly, we are rocknroll octopuses with a finger in every fanny but it is nice to play, jam things out, build an even bigger musical mountain every night rather than just bash people over the head with the same dull object. We like to abuse the audience in increasingly complex ways. You should hear the insane prog riffs that Bubba comes up with. He's also a home breaker and heart wrecker.
White Cowbell is setting up for another cross-Canadian tour. What number is this now? How has the reaction from people blossomed over the years? Hallelujah, this will be the fifth time out west and the third time east for White Cowbell Oklahoma at least on this dimensional plain. In one parallel universe, we own the tar sands so we live there 24/7 and work in an ivory tower. But in this time and space, there will be several cities that have never enjoyed the band's assault previously, plus some snazzy U.S. dates with the Wildbirds. The entire continent is in a state of complete rocknroll jubilation over it.
WCO have always had a shocknawe approach to touring. The reaction is always the same: a state of dumbfounded shock, followed by massive intoxication and self-abuse. There are just lots, lots more people now. Oh, and those few lucky souls from the first tour have since established cults and religions based on the worship of trees and rocks carved into our likenesses.
Reflect on how reactions have changed, since I'm sure folks didn't get it the first time out.
Well, there were a few early shows that were booked in inappropriate sports caverns. You really haven't lived until you've played to several dozen disapproving Mormon jocks just looking for a reason to start an Albertan Inquisition. But we thrive on extreme reactions. If it's not orgiastic bliss, we prefer people to become horrified, appalled and vengeful. Nobody wants to get yawned at in this band.
How has the band's attack altered over the years? Do you approach each city differently seeing as say, Winnipeg may act different than Calgary or Moncton?
White Cowbell Oklahoma have never actually played Moncton, sadly. Though we are going absolutely rectify that abysmal situation immediately! We did have a lurid stopover there one time when the touring Zeppelin couldn't handle a blizzard any longer. I can't really get into it, though it still makes me shudder.
I believe we're still banned from the Calgary Holiday Inn because of a dubious circumstance arising during the first tour. Apparently 9 a.m. is a bad time to invite half the town's underbelly over for a party.
Winnipeg is weird. Some of the guys have intimate ties to the town, so who am I to diss it? And the audiences are awesome but the place we often play has questionable things going on (such as) tales of bloody murders and jewellery stolen from Susan Sarandon. Really! And someone always wants to steal our dirty underwear. I got a couple weird kinks myself but that's fucked up. People in Winnipeg always seem mad at you because you get to leave the next day but man, you can get good pancakes in that town! Whoowee!
While we're on tour, I think them Exclaim! folks want me to pen one of them bogs you know that's what they call shithouses in England. Oh, you mean a "blog?" Anyhow, yeah, I'm gonna tell the readership all kinds of nasty shit over the next couple months. It's gonna be like youre right there. And ladies, if you play your cards right, you might just be in the blog. We have a contest at every gig where a couple of ladies get to win 15 minutes in the van with the whole band.
How are things globally for the band since the youre an international success now?
WCO have toured Europe several times now. It's a pretty different scene over there, especially in the Netherlands, where they really lay it on thick. Thank you, Dutch government! Try getting that kind of service out of Paul Harper, or whatever his name is forget it! In Holland, the venues treat you like the true rock gods you are. They actually feed you, give you hotels and offer unlimited amounts of really good booze and beer all a band really wants. But then you also get a bus and get to play with huge bands like Iron Maiden in front of thousands of beautiful, musically-aware European people. Then they tip you out and draw you a map to the red light district. By the way, if you didn't already know, we in White Cowbell Oklahoma are semi-immortal rock deities, secretly controlling all of the world's industry. So we thought we'd soon shake things up in Canada with a psychic coup. Then we'll re-model the country after the Netherlands, with us as ruling overlords. Hope that's cool!
What are some personal goals you'd like to see the band hit in the future or have you surpassed expectations?
We want to buy vast tracks of natural resources to sell to alien races once they finally arrive from space it should be any time. We also want to manipulate the stock market and make a killing off of pig bellies and silicone chips. Currently, we're bidding on the little known country of Turkmenistan. I think we'll be closing on that shit next week. Oh yeah, I think we're gonna record a new album and DVD too. We might even make a weird hybrid version of our two full-lengths, along with some magnificent tracks that have yet to see the light of day for some places that haven't had the albums released yet North Korea and Zimbabwe for example.
As for personal goals, I'd like to see a White Cowbell Oklahoma video on full rotation on MuchMusic, sandwiched between Nelly Furtado and Rihanna. If they played all three of our videos back to back, it'd be cool too. Dangggg!
Click here to visit White Cowbell Oklahoma's Tour Blog.