This month, the mighty Bison will be returning to the Yukon.
Dark, heavy, and prepared to crush any and all audiences, Vancouver’s heavy metal behemoth will be once again taking the stage at the Local Bar, their second visit in 13 years.
The last time Bison played Whitehorse was in 2009, when they shared a bill with 3 Inches of Blood and local band Minotaur. Since then they have released three studio albums, one EP, and have undergone some lineup changes, adding drummer Eugene Parkomenko and bassist Evan Joel, both formerly of Vancouver band Black Wizard.
According to founding member James Farwell, the band is very much looking forward to returning to the territory.
“It was a great time, everyone was super friendly,” he said of the band’s 2009 show. “I love going to a place and being a part of something that will bring the community together and get people hanging out and talking, it’s awesome.”
The process of bringing the band up was made easier this time around by the fact that their new bassist moved to Whitehorse two years ago. Joel is excited to share his main project with the local community.
“Bison is fantastic, it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “Eugene and I used to listen to Bison many years ago, probably around the time they were coming up to Whitehorse to play. I feel like musically and spiritually I see eye to eye with the other guys in the band, I really like their stance and opinions and life in general. It’s fun to show everyone in Whitehorse what it is that I get to do in Vancouver and some people have seen it before, some haven’t. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
For those unfamiliar with the band, Bison’s sound is a mix of stoner rock, thrash, and classic heavy metal.
“It’s loud, it’s hateful, but it has a happy ending, it’s uplifting,” said Farwell. “It’s not completely a downer, there are swells of gratitude and love and positive feelings, but it’s mired in a general disdain for the modern world… We cram so many different elements into the music. We all like different kinds of music, and playing the same kind of song over and over again is stupid and boring, unless you’re Bad Religion.”
Bison has been continually working to keep things interesting; they began work on a new album pre-pandemic, and are looking forward to finally finishing it now that band members can actually meet up to practice. Farwell says the new material will be moving in a different direction from their previous release, You Are Not the Ocean You Are The Patient.
“I want to write a little bit more thrash, a little more punk on it,” he said of the new album. “I think it’s a little more carefree, to be honest. It’s not so one-sided, Ocean was pretty unified and polished, with a feel from beginning to end. I think this one is going to be a little bit more jagged… It’s still going to be achingly honest on my part, which I’ve never shied away from.”
With the release of the new album still a long time off, Bison’s live set will comprise a range of tracks from all of their albums and EPs, offering a varied and dynamic performance.
Considering the band is composed entirely of experienced touring musicians, the set list certainly won’t be the only energetic aspect of the night.
“If you haven’t seen it or heard about it, word on the street is it’s still a pretty fun show to see,” said Farwell. “It’s just a spectacle, you get to see this old dumpy guy with bad tattoos jump around the stage… with these other young men, it’s fun.”
For his part, Joel looks forward to bringing a veteran metal band to a northern audience, promising an immersive audience experience.
“It’s going to be loud, energetic, and very sweaty,” he said.
“It’s going to be a show [we] haven’t seen in a while, so it’s definitely going to be one people won’t want to miss.
“In a bigger city, you have more passers-by and people that are a little less die-hard. Here, there’s just people that want to see music. It’s awesome to see people just out to see music, they might not have liked us before, and they might not like us after, but they’ll have heard some rock and roll for sure!”
Bison will be playing the Local Bar on Aug. 12 accompanied by local openers, prog rock group Antarticus and doom metal duo Franklin.
The show begins at 9 p.m. and tickets are $25 at the door, or $20 in advance from Molotov & Bricks Tattoo, Road Dogs Music, or Yukon Provisions.
Willow Gamberg is the owner of Road Dogs Music Supply and The Lab Rehearsal Studios in downtown Whitehorse.