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L.A. Beat

Big John Bates’ music moves in a more southern gothic direction

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Vancouver musician Big John Bates is moving onwards and upwards as his music continues to evolve.Big John Bates and Brandy Bones return to Lethbridge this week. photo by Richard Amery
 Bates, who first came to the fore as part of ’80s metal band Annihilator, became an underground psychobilly sensation complete with burlesque dancers as part of  Big John Bates and the Voodoo Dolls, but has changed his sound again over the past few years.

 Big John Bates returns to the Slice, Nov. 21 with White Cowbell Oklahoma and The Paceshifters from the Netherlands.

“I think we explored the direction of psychobilly as far as we could with the Voodoo Dolls. So we were searching for a new direction and Brandy (Bones, stand up bassist/ vocalist) came up with some great ideas for that,” Bates said, standing by the side of the road in West Vancouver, waiting for a tow truck after the band’s van engine blew en route to the second gig of the tour  on Vancouver Island.

 They released a new EP “ Black Timber Bitter Root” in April which showed off some of the more Queens of the Stone Age/ Gothic Americana/ desert rock sound the band is exploring.

“It’s still pretty heavy, but it’s very dark and has a lot of orchestral textures,” he said crediting much of the orchestral sound to cellist Leanne Laboucher. The band also includes Brother Chris playing percussion.

“ Leanne plays beautiful cello so it’s slightly more epic sounding,” he continued adding the cello complements Brandy Bones’ bass as well as her haunting contralto voice.

“ We’re doing more sonic experimentation. So it’s less boppy and more textured which we combine with more spaghetti western music ,” he said adding there's no burlesque dancing in the show now.

“ We stopped doing that a couple years ago. We wanted to make the show more about the music,” he said.

 Around the same time they started changing their sound on their last full length LP “ The Headless Fowl,” they caught the ear of punk icons the Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra, who signed them to his record label Alternative Tentacles.

“ He brought us onto his label and gave us a push. He legitimized us in America,” he said adding Biafra doesn’t sing on any of the bands’ new music. They are working on a new full length album which they plan to release in 2015.
“ Not yet anyway.”

 They always enjoy their Lethbridge shows, which sometimes features fans  joining the band on stage.
“ The fans are always really enthusiastic there and we love playing the Slice,” he said.

 Tickets for the show, which also features White Cowbell Oklahoma and The Paceshifters, cost $20. The show begins at 9:30 p.m.

 — By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 18 November 2014 11:12 )  
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