The Sheepdogs, Deep Dark Woods and now The Pistolwhips — if award-winning bands keep rolling out of Saskatoon, then maybe location has something to do with it.
Zach Davies of The Pistolwhips credits the long Prairie winter for helping narrow his focus.
“We have really cold winters here, and no mountains around to go skiing, so people tend to sit around at home and practise their guitar playing,” said the bassist, who performs with the rest of his band on Tuesday at Bo’s Bar and Grill.
Saskatoon’s music-central status could also be connected to the city’s pro-arts mindset. “We’ve got some great live music venues (and) a really great scene where all the bands really support each other,” said Davies, who admitted this close environment can create some cross-pollination.
For instance, before forming the Pistolwhips, Davies and the group’s frontman, Rylan Schultz, played in a Saskatoon band called Guns at Dawn with Leot Hanson, who later became the guitarist for The Sheepdogs (he left last year).
Schultz and Davies eventually signed on guitarist Paul Kuzbik and drummer Tallus Scott and officially became The Pistolwhips in 2012.
But the band’s throwback rock sound still prompts comparisons to The Sheepdogs, which rose to fame after being chosen from 15 North American bands to become the first unsigned act on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
While Davies believes The Pistolwhips have their own sound, he said, “We all grew up listening to Hendrix and Zeppelin and the blues.”
When these retro inspirations are mixed with those of The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Arctic Monkeys, it goes towards explaining the psychedelic undertones in Whatcha Doin’, the first single from the group’s new album, On Your Side.
The CD was recorded with a $10,000 RAWLCO 10K20 grant awarded to the group from Saskatoon radio station Rock 102 FM.
Davies said the money was a huge help in creating the first the full-length recording, which was named Best Album of 2014 by Planet S Readers in Saskatoon.
On Your Side helped launch two Canadian tours. “We’ve been right across the country,” said Davies, “from Charlottetown to Tofino.”
Along the way, The Pistolwhips performed during Canadian Music Week, at JUNOfest, The Sasktel Jazz Festival, The Red Bull Sound Stage, Sasktel Summer Invasion, and Winnipeg’s Prairie Barge Festival. Last fall, band members made their first overseas trip to perform a string of shows in London, England.
Davies, a Prince Albert, Sask., native who grew up in Fort McMurray, hopes to make some new Red Deer fans after the group plays for the first time in this city next week.
“I’m really looking forward to the show.”
Tickets for the 8 p.m. show with The Capones are $10 in advance from the venue or ticketfly.com.